"That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5:26, NKJV).
The most endearing portrait of Jesus is that unveiled in Ephesians 5. There His unfailing love for the church is compared to the love of a husband for his wife. Christ's love for the church is so deep and enduring that He gave Himself for it. The gift of Himself is a permanent, self-sacrificing gift. Jesus gave His life on the cross for our redemption, sanctification, and restoration.
As Paul puts it, "Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1, NKJV). This status is the initiation into a life of regeneration and growth. It is through this important process that Christ becomes the sanctifier of His people. This is essentially the work of character development until we are settled and complete in Christ. While the Christian must make a daily, intelligent effort to grow toward perfection, it is through Christ's enabling grace that he or she is made ready for heaven. It is Christ, by His Spirit working in and through us, that makes us ready for heaven.
The ultimate goal of Christ's sanctifying work is to enable us to be like Him (see 1 John 3:2). Christ gave Himself for the church that she might become spotless, sanctified, and able to abide with Him forever. As the sanctifier, Christ has taken away the filthy garments of our sinful characters and has clothed us in the robe of His righteousness (see Matthew 22:11). Only in this way can we become a glorious church without spot or imperfection. "When the human life is in communion with the life of Christ, then it is sanctified through the truth, and the prayer of Christ is answered: 'Sanctify them through thy truth' "--Signs of the Times, May 10, 1910.
My Prayer Today: Lord, thank You for promising to present me to Yourself as a glorious church without spot or blemish. Amen.