In the Old Testament, after the blood of an animal sacrifice had been shed, the sacrifice had to be washed in pure water. First John 5:6 says that Jesus came “by water and blood.” The blood is the redeeming blood of Christ, shed on the cross, and the water is the pure water of the Word. Christ redeems us by His blood, then sanctifies and cleanses us by the washing of water by the Word. (See Ephesians 5:25–26.)
Praying to the Father for His disciples, Jesus said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). One primary way in which the Word of God sanctifies us is by changing how we think. Sanctification proceeds from the inside out, not from the outside in. Again, the “religious” way to sanctification is to lengthen the dress, cut the hair, wipe off the lipstick, and so forth. Yet in Romans 12:2, Paul said, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” In Ephesians 4:23, he said, “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” The Holy Spirit renews our minds through the truth—God’s Word.
In English, we have the term brainwash, which usually has a negative connotation. The word would be appropriate, however, to describe in a positive light the way in which the Holy Spirit renews our minds, washing them clean with the pure water of God’s Word. This must happen by our faith, an indispensable element in our sanctification. God’s Spirit and God’s Word never vary; our faith enables us to receive what God offers through these agents. Furthermore, there is a direct connection between the Word of God and our faith, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The more we give heed to God’s Word, the more our faith expands, enabling us to appropriate the total provision God has made for our holiness.