“For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
What is this big word you might ask? I have received Christ into my heart as my Savior and Lord you might say. But Paul says, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:12). This verse seems to say that salvation is an ongoing process. Yes and no. Salvation is a one time event sent from God to those who repent their sins and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We are at that moment saved, “born from above” in Christ Jesus. We are then filled with the Holy Spirit. “He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:22). This is the beginning of our faith journey.
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Transformation is a process and not a simple event. This is a spiritual transformation or transfiguration. He is talking about our being “living sacrifices holy and pleasing” to God.
The Holy Spirit, our Counselor, will convict us of sin and guide us in all righteousness. “The Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). There is only One who is perfect and holy and He is making us holy too, as we trust in Him, until we see Him face to face. We see darkly now, but then we will see clearly, fully.
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Paul tells us in Romans 15:16 that we are offerings, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. He prays for his disciples “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
“Be holy for I am holy, says the Lord” (1 Peter 1:15). That is what he wants through our obedience and submission to Him. He is making us holy. Author Jerry Bridges calls it The Pursuit if Holiness. We have a lifelong struggle to holiness. God does the work through His Holy Spirit as we obey and submit to Him. This is a personal discipline given through Christ.
I am on this journey of sanctification through Christ who loves me. Daily and truly by the moment I must seek Him to do His will, His good and perfect will. I am finding the peace I did not have in my life for over 40 years. This peace is beyond our understanding as Paul tells us in Philippians. Coupled with this increasing peace has been joy. Now my favorite life verse is “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may be filled with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). God is saying, stop striving; I am doing it in you. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding and He will direct you heart” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
So, have you begun your journey to holiness, your sanctification? Have you received Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? Have you recognized your sinfulness and need to confess, repent and be saved and sanctified through Christ. Begin now by praying to receive Him into your heart to replace yourself as your center. Now “being confident of this, that he who has begun a good work in you will complete it in the day of the Lord” (Philippians 1:6).