Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ – 1 Thessalonians 5:23
“Sanctify” is one of those weird words that modern folks hardly see anywhere else but the bible. It means to set something apart as holy and special. It means to make something 'uncommon.'
I remember watching a movie called 'The Sandlot.' In the movie the main character was a boy that was just getting into playing baseball, but didn't know much about it. His new stepfather was a baseball fan. He, for some reason unknown to the boy, kept one particular baseball in a special case on top of the mantle. When the boys that he was playing baseball with hit all of their baseballs over the fence where the mean dog was, this particular boy decided to get this ball off of the mantle so they could continue playing. What he didn't realize was that this was no common ball. This was a special ball that was set apart for a special reason: It was signed by Babe Ruth! As you can imagine, this boy was in big trouble when his stepfather's ball also went over the fence into the yard with the mean dog!
This baseball was set apart. It was uncommon. Sure it was a baseball, just like all the other baseballs, but there was something that was special about it that made it different. In the same way, we are not ordinary human beings. We have been saved by God, and anointed by the Holy Spirit, so that we also might be set apart as 'uncommon.'
And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him. – Lev 8:12
To start out, Aaron was just a normal dude. Born to a normal family, lived a normal life as a slave in Egypt, just like every other Hebrew boy at that time. But Aaron is a picture of us. God saved Aaron out of a life of the slavery of sin, baptized him in the Red Sea, and called him to be High Priest. He would be the only man (besides Moses) that would be allowed to enter in the Holiest of Holies, God's very presence on earth. No other man would be allowed. But this was a special, uncommon task, so only a special, uncommon person could do it. So God took Aaron, and anointed him with oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Why? So He might sanctify him. Or you could say it like this: So He might set him apart as uncommon, so that he could fulfill an uncommon task.
Now we can thank God for Jesus, because it is not limited to one man to enter in the holiest place anymore (Heb 10:19), but it is for every person that will allow God to set them apart as uncommon. Whosoever will may now enter, and those who allow the Holy Spirit to set them apart will also be entrusted with an uncommon task.
Now in a great house there are not only articles of gold and silver, but also others of wood and of earthenware; and some are for specially honorable, and others for common use. 21 If therefore a man keeps himself clear of these latter, he himself will be for specially honorable use, consecrated, fit for the Master's service, and fully equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 2:20-21
So the choice is yours. You will be used by God for something. You can either be a golden plate, or a dog bowl. Which would you choose? You can be a regular old baseball, or you can be one that worth a million (maybe…) dollars.
When I played soccer in high school the coach would at a certain point in the practice tell all the players to go to the sidelines to get a soccer ball. So, of course, I pick the nicest looking ball I can find. “Put that ball back, Hal! Thats a game ball!” Certain balls weren't allowed to be used for practice. They were uncommon. They were set apart for the game.
What about you? Do you want to be a practice ball, or game ball? Ladies, do you want to be a practice ball for every sweet talking guy that comes around, or would you rather save yourself for the prime time?
Look at what the scripture says. We must keep clear of the things that will make us common. We must set apart everything in our life as special for God. Don't hold anything back. Everything in our lives should be given over to God completely so that He can take it and make it into something special rather than something common.
Look at the people of the bible. Peter for example. He gave up everything for Jesus (Mark 10:28). God turned Peter into one of the most influential people in the world. He was such a powerful person that people who were sick would just try to get into a place where his shadow might fall and they would be completely healed.
Samson is such a great example of this. He was set apart as a Nazarite. This meant that didn't drink alcohol, had a special diet, didn't touch any dead things, and would never cut his hair. I can imagine in high school he would be made fun of for not going to drink with his buddies and having long, mangy hair. But they weren't laughing when he picked up the city gates and carried them away. Samson's power didn't last forever though, as soon as he decided he wanted to be like everyone else, alas, he became like everyone else.
David, too, separated himself for an uncommon cause. I'm sure his brothers would laugh at him for staying out in the field with the harp, singing praise to God, while they honed their battle skills. David had the last laugh when he became the giant-killer, and king over his brothers.
God wants you to have two uncommon things: an uncommon relationship with Him, and an uncommon mission in this world. But it's your choice. You can take the easy road and be a trash bucket (because God will use you for something), or you can separate yourself and be the fine china. I don't know about you, but there are plenty of plastic trash buckets in the world. I want to be something uncommon.
How do you become uncommon? You need to get before God and examine your life. Is there anything in your life that you have kept from God? Do you trust God with your soul, but not with your love life? Do you leave God out of your relationships? Do you leave God out of your entertainment? Out of your eating habits? Out of how you spend your free time? Do you say, “God you can have this, but you can't have that!”?
If you are serious about God, God is going to ask you to give up some things. It's going to hurt a first, but when you obey God you will see that He is doing it to make you a more uncommon person. It's like a rose bush. The gardener is going to cut off some branches. It may seem mean to the untrained eye, but the gardener knows that it is only going to make the plant more beautiful.
Will you do what it takes to be uncommon? Will you separate yourself? Will you set apart everything about you to God? God is so gracious and He will take you step by step all the way. He will cause just enough discomfort in your life (if you let Him) to cause you to grow, but not to fall away. He'll take you from a humble acorn and turn you into a mighty oak. You'll be a vessel set apart for honorable use. Your life will be of uncommon value. You will not regret it.
But if you don't, you will fall in line with the masses. Your life will be just another speck, meaning nothing. You will be like a garbage can, used up only to be thrown away itself. All because you were stubborn. All because you chose to live for the moment and not for the Master.
Set your self apart. Allow God to sanctify you COMPLETELY. You will be useful to the Master, ready for every good work.