Wholly Sanctified

Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. (NRSV)

How many times do we read something like these words from Paul and rush by them without thinking about the depth of the words?  Paul is asking that God himself sanctify the Thessalonians and, by extension, us.  He is not asking simply that God set them apart for God’s holy work although, that is certainly an aspect of what it means to be sanctified.  Paul is asking that we be blameless in our spirit, in our soul, and in our body.

That is an amazing thing in this day and age as I’m sure it was in Paul’s day and age as well.  Things have probably not changed that much.  But Paul is suggesting that God can transform us so radically, that our heart, thoughts, words, and deeds can be blameless.  We will not lash out at those with whom we disagree (I love how Paul refers to God in this case specifically as the God of peace) if we are radically transformed in this way.  We will not gossip about our coworkers or fellow students if we are wholly sanctified.  We will not abuse our power to gain material possessions at the expense of others with less power or privilege if we are completely set apart by God.

Paul is basically praying that all our excuses for living in ways that are hurtful and harmful be removed.  If God himself entirely sanctifies us, we can no longer cry out, “Well it is just the way I am”.  We can no longer blame our upbringing.  We can no longer say that it is simply because of the way things have always been.  Because it will no longer be we who are trying to be blameless under our own power, it will be God who is working within us to bring about this change in our lives.

The only way for this change to take place for which Paul is praying, is for us to receive the transforming power of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives.  We could never be entirely sanctified by our own will power or by our own action.  It is the Holy Spirit working in and through us that radically changes us into the new people of God that God has claimed us to be.

Won’t you pray with Paul that the sanctifying power of the God of peace be made real in your life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

Pray with me:

God of peace, pour out your Holy Spirit upon me and change my heart, my soul, my mind, and my actions that I might be entirely sanctified by you.  Grant me the desire to be all that you have called me to be as a disciple of your Son, Jesus.  AMEN.

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