“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14).
In the above verse, we discover an important life principle: the process of sanctification for an unsaved husband or wife actually begins when their partner is born again of the Spirit. The word sanctify means “to consecrate or set apart to God.” In this context, however, sanctification does not automatically imply salvation; rather it means that a process leading toward possible salvation has begun in earnest.
From God’s view, the influence of Christ’s power working in the life of the redeemed has a drawing effect upon the unsaved marital partner. The unbelieving spouse experiences the blessings, benefits and influence of a life in the process of transformation; they are eyewitnesses to Christ’s love as He reveals Himself to, and then through, a redeemed spouse. In all these ways, the “unbelieving” soul “is sanctified through” the “believing” spouse, so that even their “children . . . are holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14).
What is true in principle for a marriage is also true on the wider scale of a neighborhood or community. An unbelieving city can be sanctified, or “set apart for God,” by the presence of a believing, praying, active church. Even a very evil region, one that is due the penalty of divine wrath, can be set apart unto the Lord because holy people are walking its streets, praying for its sinners and working toward redemption. God sees the influence of the redeemed and, because we are willing to walk in mercy, He is willing to forestall wrath.
This preserving effect of the saved upon the unsaved is exactly what Abraham discovered when he interceded for Sodom. As he stood praying before God, Abraham learned that the influence of ten righteous souls could spare an entire city from divine wrath (see Genesis 18:23-33). This also is exactly the same thing Moses realized about the power of his intercession. The Lord would have destroyed Israel for its flagrant sin, yet He granted mercy instead. Moses “stood in the breach” (Psalm 106.23). The result? “The LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people” (Exodus 32:14).
The positioning of Moses in prayer, even while Israel had not yet repented nor sought God, opened a mercy door in heaven. As long as Moses stood in intercession before God, mercy flowed toward Israel. Amazingly, “the Lord changed His mind.” Oh, the power Christlike people have upon the heart of God! Let us never diminish the great privilege God gives us through prayer!
This intercessory positioning before God is what Jesus seeks for us today. As His representatives before God and man, He says a most profound truth concerning our role: “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Salt, from ancient times, has been used as a preservative. The ancients would take meat and rub it with salt. The salt stopped the process of decay and preserved it. The process was called “curing.”
Your praying, fasting, caring commitment to your neighborhood or city sanctifies that community unto God. The influence of a godly church has a curing effect upon that which otherwise will soon decay.
As we stand praying for our cultures, we are mindful of the many predators stalking our world: there are terror threats, bird flu, earthquakes and hurricanes, the bold advances of sin, the effects of global warming and the threat of all out war, plus many other enemies. While we do not deserve divine help, we need God’s protection. You ask, “My life is but a single soul. What can I do?” Your life is a seed in which God sees a future harvest. The moment you open your mouth in prayer, a process of redemption is beginning for your region. And as long as you don’t give up on your community, God won’t give up either.
Lord, I come before You again today, carrying in my heart my people. Oh Master, I pray for mercy. You said “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). I plead for mercy, for revival, for forgiveness to fall upon my nation. You said the blood of Your Son would “sprinkle many nations” (Isaiah 52:15). I offer the blood of Jesus for my country. Forgive us and change us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.