The blog “I Have Written to You” had the opportunity to interview the brother Cezar Menegucci, also known as Cezinha, from the church in Brasília. In an informal conversation full of joy and willingness our dear brother answered some questions about the subject “Sanctification”. We hope this interview will help you to seek sanctification in your daily living and to express your positioning towards the Lord Jesus.
– I Have Written to You: In a practical way, what is sanctification in the life of a young person?
– Cezinha: “First of all, the young person has to realize that he has been bought by God, and the redemption of Christ through His blood has set him apart from the world for God. The word Sanctification means “to be set apart”. “To be set apart” has two different aspects: the objective aspect – before God, and the subjective aspect – inwardly. For a young person to have a practical experience of sanctification, he must realize that he has been bought by God. Once he belongs to God, he no longer belongs to the world, Satan or sin. This is the first step. After that he has to develop the subjective aspect, which comprise of his inward struggles and impulses. This is something that will happen through the life of God growing in him. If he does not realize that he has been bought, set apart and that now he belongs to God, he may not develop anything else.
– I Have Written to You: Why do we have to sanctify ourselves?
– Cezinha: “The bible shows us many motives. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification (…)” 1 Thessalonians 4:3a. “Pursue peace with all men, and sanctification, without which no one will see the Lord” Hebrews 12:14. On one hand the Lord wants us to be His Holy people. On the other hand we need to want such sanctification in order to see God.”
– I Have Written to You: To which part of our being does Sanctification relate?
– Cezinha: “It includes our whole being: Spirit, soul and body. Our spirit is sanctified the moment we believe in the Lord. Although we are saved, our soul still has many imperfections. That’s why it needs to receive the Holy element from God. It involves our mind, our thoughts, our plans, and our desires, everything that makes up our soul. It is possible for our love to be impure, is it not? Even our love has to be sanctified and purified. Certainly our body must also be sanctified. In his epistle to the Romans¹, the apostle Paul says that in the same way we used to offer our bodies to impurities and sins, we now need to offer them to be sanctified. The way we care for our body also has to be set apart”.
– I Have Written to You: How can we sanctify ourselves from sinful thoughts?
– Cezinha: “The life of God will perform this work of sanctification. In 1 Corinthians 6:11 Paul says: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God”. The way for us to sanctify our thoughts is exercising the spirit and calling upon the name of the Lord every time bad thoughts enter our mind. By doing so, we allow the Spirit to clean and renew our minds. Our minds are bombarded by impurities all day along. That’s why our minds always need to be renewed. How can our minds be renewed? The Lord said: “Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). The more contact we have with the word of God, the more our minds can be sanctified from such thoughts. The Word and the Name.”
– I Have Written to You: Does sanctifying myself mean that I will no longer sin?
– Cezinha: No. Why do we sin? Because we have a sinful nature, and this nature will follow us until the very end of our lives. In Philippians Paul says: “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Why does he say that? He puts “have no confidence in the flesh” on the same level as two wonderful things. It is because the flesh remains. Young people have to realize that their flesh cannot be converted. During the process of sanctification they must understand that if they give room to their flesh, they will sin. When there is no longer sin, then the Lord may come and rapture us up! It is a process!
– I Have Written to You: Dating, going to parties and listening worldly songs are sins? And in what way do these things affect our sanctification?
– Cezinha: “This matter of categorizing things, if is or not a sin, we need to always remember the principle that Paul established for us: all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful¹. Let’s analyse each one of them:
Dating: On the eyes of God, the normal is for a young brother to meet a young sister and if there is empathy between them, in a moment that they have conditions to get married, they should get to know each other, pray, have fellowship and, this does not mean they belong to each other. The problem is that today the concept of dating is wrong, and even sinful. Even on the dictionary, the concept of dating involves sexual relations. On the eyes of God, sexual relations outside marriage is a sin. If “dating” to a person means to have fellowship and getting to know someone, talking with the objective of getting married one day, you cannot call this a sin. However, if “dating” to someone means that she can touch the other person’s body and to make use of it as if it was her own, this is a sin! We have no right over someone’s body until we get married. Inside marriage, yes, one belongs to the other.
Going to parties: it is relative. There are many kinds of parties. There are family parties, work parties, and on this matter, the principle that all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. It is not a matter of going or not. Christ himself went to a wedding feast in Cana. The question I always make to young ones is: when you go to parties, are you going to change the water into wine? Or, even, are you going to become an empty vessel? If you do go to a party and you have the opportunity of preaching Christ to someone, what is wrong with it? Now, if you go to a party and your values are corrupted, you conscience is not in peace, you displease God, then what is the point of even going?
Songs: for me, the principle of music is the one on the Old Testament. David was playing songs to Saul in order to expel evil spirits. Does music expel evil spirits, or does it call them? Music can also draw us away from God and, which is worse, attract evil spirits. Because there are songs which contain subliminal messages, some are sensual and awaken the desires of the flesh. These songs, of course, are not helpful. Young ones need to learn to exercise their spirit and to notice: “Is this song drawing me near to God or not? If is only drawing me away from Him, I need to flee from this!”
¹1 Corinthians 6:12
– I Have Written to You: How do we express sanctification outwardly? Is there any way of dressing that is inappropriate?
– Cezinha: This matter is very problematic, right? (Laughs) The principle of the dressing is to cover the nakedness. The dressing must be decent and cover your nakedness. There are some kinds of clothes that expose your body, some are sensual and some stir up other’s lasciviousness. Sometimes you may not have the intention, but you are causing others to sin. The young person, as he dresses himself, must consider: Am I dressing myself in a decent way or not? Will these clothes I am wearing cause others to stumble? I have a responsibility regarding that and I need to consider it before the Lord.
– I Have Written to You: As Christians we have to preach the gospel. To do so, we need to relate to people. How do we reconcile relating to the world, while still being set apart?
– Cezinha: The Lord prayed in John 17:15: “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one”. We would like if the Lord had prayed in another way (Laughs). The world is dirty, it is a evil system that belongs to Satan. Inside this evil system there are slaves of this living. These ones need the gospel! That’s why is very important for the young person to know who he is and what his function is here. He will socialize, but he will look at others with the intention of praying for them and taking them to salvation. Our living changes when our target changes. If we walk in the world seeing that there are people created by God and that He has a plan for them, our approach will have the goal of rescuing them. This demands a life of prayer, for to God place in them the “desire to be saved”.
– I Have Written to You: What should we do when the friends who influence us to taste the world are Christians?
– Cezinha: The same principle applies. What happens with saints in this situation is that they do not yet see their positioning before The Lord. Despite being saved, they cannot see the price that the Lord paid for them; the life of God has not grown within them. They are childish people, in some their conscience is even being cauterized. There are many situations that can cause a christian young person to lead others in this way. What can we do? Pray for them, show them that they don’t want to do many things or go to many places because they will not have peace within; the Lord does not allow them to do so. When someone changes inwardly, it does not mean that they will became a boring person. The Lord Jesus was the most pleasant person that has ever existed. You read the bible and you get inspired by Him. He used to relate to sinners and to the disciples who committed many mistakes. The young people have these kind of conflicts. There are ones who are conformed to this world, and ones who don’t want to conform themselves. Those ones who don’t want to be conformed to the world have more of God’s life. To those who have more life: don’t judge, but have mercy on the others. We must not be conformed to the world in order to take others out of it. On the other hand we may not judge them. We must have mercy on them, pray for them and express the Lord in such way that they will be encouraged to come out of their situation.
– I Have Written to You: If a young person do not sanctify himself, what would the consequences be?
– Cezinha: “Spontaneously, he will conform himself to the world. He was set apart to God outwardly, but inwardly he is still from the world. If he does not seek sanctification, more of God’s life, more intimacy with the Lord and to know more His will, he will be vulnerable to sin, to the world and to Satan. May the Lord keep us with a heart seeking sanctification. In the book of Revelations, there is a word of encouragement, but also of caution: “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still”¹. We are holy, aren’t we? What must our attitude be? To continue sanctifying ourselves. For How long? Until the Lord’s return. This must be a continuous process until we are wholly conformed to image of the Lord!”
– Cezinha: “I believe that the young person has to learn that, once saved, reached by the mercy of the Lord, and bought by His precious blood, he needs to have a life of knowing His Lord. He needs to seek drawing near to his Lord, exercise His spirit, call upon His name and seek intimacy with Him. This will strengthen his faith, his sanctification, his relationship with others, his expression and his function of preaching the gospel. If we are united with the Lord, we will release a fragrance that attracts others. The process of sanctification occurs through the Spirit, and the Spirit will sanctify us. We have to be people that seek to be full of the Spirit! This process of sanctification must be daily! Amen?”