The word “sanctified” means, ‘cleansed of sin’ and therefore righteous – in God’s eyes. Keeping the Law of Moses was the way in which the Jews of old could feel sanctified, for this reason, having a place where they could make offerings and worship was of high importance to them. We are reading in the book of Ezra of the diligent efforts of the returned Jews to rebuild the Temple for this purpose: their refusal of the help of the people already in the land (who became the Samaritans) is therefore understandable.

In Acts 26 our minds are attracted by the greater detail Paul goes into – about the words Jesus spoke to him when he was struck blind when he was nearing Damascus. Paul is explaining this in his defence before king Agrippa. He was told he is to be Christ’s “servant” and “witness” (verse 16) “ … to those in which I will appear to you delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles – to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (verses 17,18).

‘Satans’ surrounded Paul when he came up to Jerusalem. We recall how Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan” (Mark 8:33) and Peter’s conversion was completed by his agony and weeping when Jesus was arrested. The ‘spirit’ of mind of so many today is a constant challenge to us, for some of us a daily challenge to “turn (away) from darkness … and the power of Satan and become stronger in our “place among those who are sanctified by faith in me (Jesus)”.

To be “sanctified” is to be holy, to have a sanctuary in our heart – the result of our genuine faith – until there is a literal sanctuary (Temple) in Christ’s kingdom and our faith is turned to wondrous sight – an experience of immeasurable wonder compared to the efforts of those with Ezra.

Let us be truly “sanctified by faith” today, and then we will witness, indeed be part of, the time in the kingdom when, as Paul’s experienced, “the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily” (19:20) – but it will then be known throughout all the earth.