For this is the Will of God, Your Sanctification

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The Apostle Paul begins this next set of instructions to the believers at Thessalonica with the admonition, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification ... " The will of God is clearly set forth in many places in the Bible. Even though we may have difficulty applying His will in every-day decision making, it is clear that God's will includes a holiness of heart and life for the believer.

There is probably no other book in the Bible that more clearly outlines the degree of holiness to which we are to obtain than the Old Testament book of Leviticus. It=s a book that so many of us seek to speed-read through in our Bible reading because it is devoted to the minutia of laws governing the life of Israel. One commentator describes it as Digest of Divine Laws. It defines how God desires for His people to live their lives. The two key words of this book are Access and Holiness. Access to God comes through sacrifice and offering. The book of Hebrews reminds us that "without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin." In chapters 12‑20 God lists laws which are to govern the civil, religious and personal conduct of the people. They are laws which emphasize purity of life as a condition of divine favor. God desires a holy people for His people. God is very clear about the need for holiness in the lives of His people. "Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you." (Le 20:7-8, ESV)

If there is one thing that all of us should be deeply concerned about it is our practical holiness of heart and life; our sanctification of character and conduct. Other things may have their due and relative importance, but according to the repeated word of Scripture, this is priority #1 for the believer. God has called us to and insists upon holiness in the midst of His people. It is God Himself who develops this holiness in us through the process of sanctification.      


"Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, ... " (1 Th 5:23, ESV)

            1. sanctification is the theological term applied to the process which refers to the ongoing, progressive conformation of the believer into the image of Christ
                1. in fact, our ultimate conformation to our Savior=s image was predestined by God
                  • "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." (Ro 8:28‑29, ESV)
            2. simply put, sanctification means that day-by-day you and I are to become more and more like Jesus
                1. it is a process which happens naturally in a practicing Christian's life
                2. the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 that God himself, the God of peace will sanctify us through and through/
                  • ILLUS. We have a picture of this in our own lives. I am amazed when I look at myself from time-to-time how much of my father's personality I see in me: The way I react, the way I do certain things, in the way I approach tasks. Yea, it's a little scary at times, isn't it. He is there. I cannot deny his presence or the affect he has on me.
            3. so it is with God=s sanctifying presence in the believer's life
                1. if you truly belong to God, you will see more and more of your Heavenly Father's character in your personality
                2. God is in us, through His Holy Spirit, conforming us into the image of His son, Jesus Christ, our Lord
                3. Paul gives us evidence of this inward process of sanctification when he writes to the Christians at Phillipi
                  • "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Php. 2:13, ESV)
            4. Paul's pray for the Thessalonian believers is that they will allow God to accomplish His sanctifying work in their lives
                1. this is God's desire for your life today


            1. fragmatice is a term coined by Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood
                1. he uses it to describe the lives of the typical American and what=s happening to us
            2. we have become a fragmented people with a self-afflicted physical, moral, and mental schizophrenia
                1. physically, we find ourselves going (or being pulled) a dozen different directions at once
                2. mentally, our minds are going a million miles an hour attempting to multi-task all the items on our to-do lists
                3. morally, we've compartmentalized our lives into the "secular" and the "religious" and hardly ever does the latter have an effect upon the former
            3. we're Christians, and we know we=re Christians, but we find ourselves so frequently acting like we're not Christians
                1. so what gives?


            1. the unity of mind, soul, emotion, will and body has been wrenched apart by sin
                1. the fragmenting of man's nature, began in the Garden of Eden with Adam's rebellion
                2. and the result of that fragmentation is still resounding in our lives
            2. it creates havoc in our personalities
              • ILLUS. How many of you have determined to set yourself upon a certain course of action to accomplish a specific goal only never to begin? That's a lack of the will. Which of us have said to himself, "I'm not going to let this person upset me any more, only to find the hackles on your neck standing straight up at your next encounter with that person?  That's an inability to control your emotions. Which of us have said to ourselves I'm not giving in to that jelly donut, I'm going to loose weight," only to find yourself wiping jelly from your lips fifteen minutes later? That's a lack of bodily control!
                1. the Apostle Paul dealt with this one-step-forward-two-steps-backward dance that so many believes find themselves doing
                  • "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." (Ro 7:19-25, ESV)


            1. before the Fall, Adam was in perfect harmony with himself and with his Creator
                1. his spirit was alive
                2. his soul was wholly integrated in mind, will and emotion
                    1. he though what God thought
                    2. what he purposed in his heart to do was in line with the will of God
                    3. his emotions were characterized and controlled by the fruit of the Holy Spirit
                    4. his body was under control
                3. Adam was the guy that every women dreamed of: A man "in touch" with himself and sensitive to the need of others
            2. but the emergence of sin in his life changed all that
                1. his spirit died
                2. his soul became fragmented and out of touch with God
                3. his body became a slave to sin with its lust and passions
            3. this is a picture of a lost man, isn't it?
                1. until the spirit is made alive again by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, the sanctification of soul and body is impossible
                2. this is why so many people who try to change their lives fail at it
            4. but even after being born again, why do so many practicing Christians
                1. it's possible, you see, to believe that Jesus is the Christ and still be a fragmented person
                2. the reason is that you have not allowed God to invade every aspect of your personality and begin his sanctifying work through the Holy Spirit
            5. the question then is How do we become a whole person?
                1. who do we allow our mind, our will, our emotions, and our body to be conformed into the image of our Savior?
                2. the answer, in part is found in 1 Thess. 5:24
                  • "He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." (1 Th 5:24, ESV)


            1. Paul's pray for the believers at Thessalonica was that their spirit, soul and body be kept blameless
            2. the degree of that blamelessness is found back in chapter 4


" ... that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;" (1 Th 4:3-5, ESV)

            1. there is probably no other aspect of modern secular life that has been compartmentalized then our sexuality
                1. we're told that it's personal—it's private—and it's none of your business
                2. and for the most part in the pulpits of America it's ignored
            2. young people mess around, married people play around, relationships are broken, lives are changed, marriages are dissolved and the church stands back and for the most part wonders why
            3. the truth is—sexuality and sex are beautiful gifts from God
                1. it's like cheesecake
                    1. you can do things to make cheesecake better—add cherries, you can sprinkle it with chocolate
                2. but when you apply worldly wisdom to this beautiful gift from God—it's like adding artichokes to cheesecake
                    1. it's just not good
            4. the Bible makes it clear that God's will for marriage is between a man and a woman
                1. the Bible makes it clear that until you enter into a marriage relationship, you should be sexual pure
                2. after you get married you should be faithful to your spouse
                3. it's really that simple
                4. but the fallen world we live in "muddles this up" handing Christians a paint brush more gray than black or white
            5. Paul concludes with a solemn warning
              • "For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you." (1 Th 4:7-8, ESV)


"Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more," (1 Th 4:9-10, ESV)


"and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, ... " (1 Th 4:11, ESV)


" ... and to work with your hands, as we instructed you," (1 Th 4:11, ESV)


            1. the Apostle Paul had found the secret
                1. the growing unity of his nature was the result of dying daily to his flesh
                  • " ... I die every day!" (1 Co 15:31, ESV)
                2. Paul took Jesus seriously
                  • "And he said to all, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Lk 9:23, ESV)

It's personal—it's private—and for the most part in the pulpits of America it's ignored. Young people mess around, married people play around, relationships are broken, lives are changed, marriages are dissolved and the church stands back and for the most part wonders why.

The truth is—it's a beautiful gift from God—it's like cheesecake. You can do things to make cheesecake better, i.e. add cherries, and you can sprinkle it with chocolate. When you apply worldly wisdom to this beautiful gift from God—it's like adding artichokes to cheesecake. It's just not good. The Bible makes it clear that God=s will for marriage is between a man and a woman. The Bible makes it clear that until you enter into a marriage relationship, you should be sexual pure; after you get married you should be faithful to your spouse. It's really that simple. But the fallen world we live in "muddles this up" handing Christians a paint brush more gray than black or white.

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