Gift of Salvation: Sanctification
As we open to First Thessalonians 5:23 we are going to read the plan God gave to Paul to start a recovery program in a rough, tough, vice-filled, seaport city named Thessalonica.
In AD 50 or 51, the Gospel had arrived in this thriving commercial transportation hub where intercontinental caravans met at the docks of a huge seaport. In less than three weeks, a group of drunkards, sex-addicts, greedy and dishonest business people, as well as normal well-adjusted lost pagans and Jews had come to Christ.
God's Recovery Program is
Now the sanctification work had begun. God's Recovery program is sanctification. Listen to this in-depth description of the process God uses to make us useful and fruitful to Him:
Sanctification is a process of becoming more like Christ, of growing in holiness. This process begins the instant you are converted and will not end until you meet Jesus face-to-face.
Through the work of His Spirit, through the power of His Word and fellowship with other believers, God peels away our desires for sin, renews our minds, and changes our lives.
Sanctification is about our own choices and behavior.
It involves work. Empowered by God's Spirit, we strive.
We fight sin:
We study Scripture and pray, even when we don't feel like it.
We flee temptation:
We press on; we run hard in the pursuit of holiness.
What did God tell Paul to do? Teach the new saints the truth of Sanctification.
I Thessalonians 5:23 "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Remember that God never commands me to do what He hasn't already given me the grace to accomplish by faith through His Spirit! Listen again to the theological description of this powerful doctrine:
"Our participation in the process of sanctification comes only after we've been totally accepted and made right before God through faith in Jesus."
So yes, we work hard at obeying God's word. We read our Bibles. We pray. We meditate on Scripture. We memorize Scripture. We share the gospel. We serve in our church. We fast.
God commands us in His Word to do many things, and our obedience is both pleasing to Him and brings His blessing to our lives. But not one adds to our justification, our standing before God, our eternal life.
Only grace sustains lasting change and sanctification. Through the cross we overcome not only the guilt of sin, but the power of sin as well.
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