a devotional response to I Thessalonians 4:1-12
Twice in the book of I Thessalonians Paul specifically speaks to the will of God for the Christian. The first incidence in found in I Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;
Sanctification is God’s will for our lives, but what is sanctification? One person put it this way: I was justified when Jesus saved me; I am being sanctified daily; one day I will be glorified with Him. A believer is declared holy at the time of new birth because of the righteousness of Jesus, and then the Holy Spirit begins the work of bringing about holiness in the life of the believer. This inward work of the Holy Spirit, which allows the inward change in our hearts to change our outside, is the process of sanctification. It will continue until we reach Heaven.
Sanctification is not a requirement for salvation, but it is the result of salvation. It is not about trying to be good, but it is about allowing the goodness of God to have full control of our lives. It requires our cooperation as we yield to the instruction in God’s Word and the leading of His Holy Spirit. The goal is to become more and more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).
Paul goes on to describe some evidences of process of sanctification in the life of the believer.
- avoidance of sexual sin, which is a by-product of self control (verses 3 – 5)
- honesty and integrity (verses 6 – 7)
- submission to the Holy Spirit, following God’s direction (verse 8)
- brotherly love, even beyond our immediate circle (verses 9 – 10)
- a productive lifestyle that is generous to those in need (verses 11 – 12)
A simple message from this chapter is that when God is working in us, His work becomes visible on the outside of us. This doesn’t mean that I attain perfection overnight, but it does mean that my attitudes and actions are tempered and molded by His Spirit in me.
So, I wonder – am I more like Jesus today than I was five, ten, or twenty years ago? Am I yielding to His instruction in my heart as I read His word?
I can’t clean up my outside unless God cleans up my inside, and then I need His daily help with the outside work. The good news is that He is really good at that!
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 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.
I Corinthians 8:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.