How are we Sanctified and Preserved in Christ?
Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.
There are two key words we are going to look at today. The first is sanctified and the second is preserved. Let’s look at what they both mean before we go any further.
The word sanctified (hagiázō) means “to render holy, to separate from profane things and dedicate to God, to purify, consecrate, devote, or set apart from common to sacred use.”1 It’s the condition of a believer after regeneration takes place, after their salvation. Some Bible translators replace sanctified with the word beloved, and that is unfortunate. It would then read, “to those who are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept (preserved) for Jesus Christ” (NASB). Although it is true, we are beloved in Him and by Him, the essence of what Jude is saying about his intended audience is that they have been set apart by God the Father for a holy and righteous purpose. They have been, past tense, sanctified. Their sanctification came by way of the Holy Spirit who now lives in them and their salvation is now “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13).
Most of the modern Bible translations remove the word sanctified and replace it with beloved. In essence, they make the verse more about us and what we receive from God and less about who we become by God. That seems to be the way we go today, living in the land of self-indulgence and having our narcissistic attention focused solely on us. But to be sanctified is to be changed into something that reflects the nature of our God. And that nature is holiness. It was the single attribute both Isaiah (Isa. 6:3) and John (Rev. 4:8) heard the angels proclaim when they were allowed to see the throne of God.
But we are not only changed; we are changed for a purpose. We are “set aside for a holy purpose” in much the same way the Old Testament priests would take gold and silver utensils and remove them from everyday use and set them aside to be used exclusively in the temple of God. There was a change in their purpose and their audience. We are to be sanctified, like God, and reflect His glory and His holiness, just like His Son. To change that into “beloved” is to lessen our responsibility and our calling. Are we also loved and cherished in God the Father? Yes, without question. But we are also created for a purpose. And that purpose is not for our self-gratification, but to be used by the One who gave us eternal life. We are to be like the One who saved us. Sanctified. Set apart. Holy, because He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
Note also that the person of the Godhead who came to reside in those sanctified by God the Father is the Holy Spirit. Note His name, attribute, and description: Holy Spirit. Not loving, or forgiving, or gracious Spirit (which He is also). But Holy Spirit. His nature is holy. And it’s this Holy Spirit that now lives in us to do His will through us, His bondslaves. Again, are we beloved? Absolutely. But more so, we are called to a deeper purpose. We are set apart for something much more important. We have the privilege of allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest His life through us.
The second word is preserved. This word (tēréō) means to “keep an eye on, to take care of, to attend carefully, to guard like a warden watches over those prisoners under his care.”2 It implies watching closely, like a doting mother or a protective father does their young child. It’s the same Greek word used in verse 21 where the believer is to “keep (tēréō) yourself in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” The implication is to not only “watch” or “carefully guard” but to also remain secure through obedience.
This promise is reflected in the prayer of Jesus in John 17:12 where He prays: “While I was in the world, I kept (tēréō) them in Your name.” And now, with Christ seated at the right hand of the Father (Eph. 1:20), He keeps us in Him through the Holy Spirit who now resides in each of us.
By the Father, in Jesus Christ
One last point that involves two small words, by and in. The passage reads we are “sanctified by the Father” and “preserved in Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1). Sanctification is something done for us “by the Father” and our being kept or preserved is accomplished by our position “in Jesus Christ.” Both are gifts and blessings from our God who loves us as His beloved. Yet, one comes as a part of our salvation and the other is the promise because of our salvation.
We are sanctified and set apart by the sovereign act of the Father. Our sanctification is what makes us a child of His. It’s now part of our nature. It’s in our DNA. And we are guaranteed not to fall or lose our salvation, our sonship, because we are found in Christ. We belong to Him and are “joint heirs” with Him (Rom. 8:17). Plus, we are now seated “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). How? Because we are “in” Christ. Where He is, so are we.
And because of this— our being sanctified, beloved, and secure in Him, we can rejoice at the promise given to all who belong to Him:
Romans 8:38-39 – For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rest and abide in this truth today. You are truly loved by Him who “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24).
1. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (pp. 69-70). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
2. Ibid., 1380-1381.