Christianity 201

August 23, 2013

Sanctification: The Potter and the Clay

” … that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:26)

Today’s article is much longer and you MUST (!) click through to read it in full at so please don’t just read this outline; but if time is tight right now, you might want to scan what’s below and then highlight a section for consideration.
The potter and the clay image isn’t actually quoted in the article; the author assumes you know it comes from Jeremiah 18:

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

and again in Romans 9:

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”  18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”  21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

The former passage seems to speak of nations and kingdoms, the second might be used to speak of election or predestination. Still, Biblical commentators over the years have embraced the image of the potter in reference to God working out his perfect will and our sanctification in each of us.

(As I was preparing this, my wife pointed out that the popular verse — also in Jeremiah — “For I know the plans I have for you…” (29:11) is spoken to Israel as a nation; but “we are an individualistic society, and we figure if it’s there it must apply to me…  to an extent if it applies to the nation it does apply to the individuals that make up that nation, but the context is plural.)

Back to the actual reading for today — which you might want to bookmark and read on a day you have extra time — here are the ten points:

1. God Needs the Word in Us Before He Can Start the Sanctification Process

2. You Have to Be Properly “Centered” in Jesus Christ

3. Sanctification is a Slow, Steady, and Progressive Process

4. God’s Hand Will Personally Mold, Shape, and Transform You

5. Let God Develop You to Your Fullest Potential in This Life

6. God Knows Exactly What He Wants to Do With Your Life

7. Do Not Stretch Beyond the Boundary Lines That God Has Set Up For Your Life

8. God’s Eyes and Attention Are Always on You

9. God Will Always Be Doing Major Pruning in Your Life

10. Let God Mold You Into the Specific Person He Wants You to Become in Him

Previously at C201:  We’ve looked at the potter and the clay here and here. There’s also a 3-minute video here.

Related music: Have Thine Own Way (traditional hymn)