1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, Your Sanctification.”
I recently preached on Colossians 1:9-14 where we see Paul pray for the Colossians to be filled with the knowledge of His Will. His desire for believers is that they know in their hearts what God desires for them. One text that immediately came to mind, but I didn’t include in the sermon was 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, Your Sanctification.” Now knowing the will of God is a deep subject, it covers many areas and I don’t think this the whole of the issue.
However here we have one very clear, very straightforward statement of what God’s Will for his people is. Our sanctification. Sanctification is a from the Greek word, Hagiasmos (ἁγιασμὸς). It means simply purification or holiness.
John Piper recently defined sanctification well saying it is “our progressively becoming like Jesus.” and also, “Becoming conformed to the image of Christ. Little by little, over time — from conversion till Jesus comes back, or you die.”
In this text we are reminded that while our standing before God as Christians, (as those who have faith in Christ, having been redeemed by the blood of Christ) is a position of righteousness. Our lives our still sinful, our thoughts, our actions, our hearts. All still sinful. Yet we are in battle against this sin and we do not fight alone, but with the power of the Holy Spirit who literally lives in us.
So while we are counted as righteous and we are counted as pure and we are counted holy because of Jesus Christ. God is still in the process of making us more like Jesus.
So relax, because God knows you are not perfect like Christ, but also fight, because God is making you perfect like Jesus. That is his stated goal for you in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 as we learn this. To put it in new terms for the sake of better understanding the actual terms hear it this way. “Do you want to know what God desires for you and from you? For you to be little by little thinking and acting and living more like Jesus your Savior.”
Make this your focus.
How much stress do we experience because we wonder if God wants us be an architect or a fashion designer. How much stress as we wonder if we should marry the guy or girl we are dating. Where should we go to college? Should I take this new job oppurtunity, when should we have kids? Public School, Christian School or Home School? This list goes on and on. What big question of God’s will is rolling through your brain today?
And while those questions are important, I want you to focus today instead on what God is calling us to in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, focus on how you today as a Redeemed Christian and in the power of God can love others more like Jesus. Consider today how you can purify your mind more like Jesus, how you can serve others more like Christ and so on and so on.
God is very clear what he desires for you here, sanctification.