According to Bradford A. Mullen in his "Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology, 1996, 708", 'The generic meaning of sanctification is “the state of proper functioning.” To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer ... In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. A human being is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose.’
So, when we read our theme verse here, which is 1 Thessalonians 5:23
23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We understand that there is an action by God to sanctify us, it is God’s intentional plan that we live “wholly” according to God’s design and purpose.
We also hear Paul’s prayer as the writer of this letter that our “whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless”.
If we read the whole context of this letter, we understand that God has taken action to reconcile us to himself through Jesus Christ when He raised Jesus from the dead.
And, God is working by the Holy Spirit to set us in this place where we are fit for purpose and examples to all around us.
What this looks like is that we take action in ourselves as
we are patient toward all in vs 14
we follow that which is good in vs 15
we rejoice evermore in vs 16
we pray without ceasing in vs 17
we give thanks in everything in vs 18
we embrace the moving of the Holy Spirit in vs 19
we value prophecy in vs 20
we prove, and hold onto the things that are good in vs 21
Then, we come to this verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 which is followed immediately by
24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
God will do it.
God will prepare us and make us ready for the work He has for us just as Jesus did with Peter and Andrew, His disciples.
Jesus said to them in Matthew 4:19
19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Jesus was working with them to transform them into the men they needed to be to fulfill his plan.
Let’s look at the word used for sanctification in our theme verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
Sanctification is one of the group of words that includes the root idea of ‘separation’ or ‘restricted use’ (HOLINESS).
Our understanding of sanctification begins in Genesis 2:3 where
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
The Lord blessed the seventh day and “consecrated” it, making it holy (Gen. 2:3). This is the first use of the Hebrew verb qadash. Here it indicates that God set aside the seventh day because He rested on it.
This day has a purpose, it is a day for us to rest from our work and to commune with God.
However, Sanctification sometimes denotes the process by which men are made holy; but in the NT it is used also to describe the state into which men pass as they become holy because of that process.
If we look at Acts 26:18, we see the process and the end state
18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
The process is “to open their eyes” and to “turn from darkness”, “the power of Satan”, to “light”, “God”.
The state is “forgiven of sin” and an “inheritance”
But let’s back up here. What why do we need this sanctification?
In the beginning, in Genesis 1:1,
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
As God created, He also commented that what He had created was good beginning in Genesis 1:4
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
We won’t go through the whole description in Genesis
but finally, God created man in Genesis 1:27-28
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God gave us full dominion, authority.
And, in Genesis 1:31 "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”
But God created the heavens and He formed the earth for a purpose.
It says in Isaiah 45:18
18 For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, He created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.
God did this for “it to be inhabited”
God did this in Malachi 2:15
15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
If we read the context, in vs 14 this “did not he make one” refers to a man marrying and living with the “wife of his youth” to raise a godly seed.
God did this in 1 Timothy 2:2-3 where it says we are to pray for those who are leaders
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
This is so we can lead quiet and peaceful lives
It is also that “all men” have an opportunity to be saved.
We could expound more on the goodness of God demonstrated in creation and our relationship with Him
Lets look though at the last reason God created the earth, and I believe His driving purpose found in Ephesians 3:9-11
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
God did it to demonstrate His wisdom to principalities and powers “by the church”.
By creating man and giving us free will, we can choose to follow God who is love and peace and joy.
Or, we can choose to follow the devil who is the accuser, the liar, the deceiver.
The problem is that a liar or deceiver cannot be known until the result of their actions are fully manifested.
The deceiver will fail to deliver what he has promised and all that follow him will fall with him.
While the main focus in this message is not on sin, it is necessary to understand that the world is caught, and the dominion God gave to man at creation was given over to the devil by sin.
The entrance to sin into the world is found in Romans 5:12
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
By sin, we were cut off from God and dead to Him
It says in Ephesians 2:12
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
That we were aliens, strangers, having no hope.
But salvation came to us through Jesus Christ in Ephesians 2:13
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
We are no longer separated from God by sin.
It says in 1 Corinthians 6:20
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
We were purchased back by God.
We can be confident that our eternal life is secure with Him.
There is though, a process of “Sanctification” for us to go through.
This process is for us to come fully into the plan and purpose God has for us.
Sin, and the ways of sin,
blinded us to the ways God wanted to use us
The focus of sanctification is the healing of the dysfunctionality of sin.
Sanctification has an initial, progressive, and final phase.
We “are being transformed” as it says in 2 Cor 3:18
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
We are “changed … from glory to glory” as we turn from sin in every area of our lives
Paul said it this way in Acts 20:32
32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
God’s word working in us is transforming us into the image of Christ.
There is a point where we have stepped into the plan and purpose God has for us and we are living a sanctified life.
And, the sanctified life is victorious
As it says in Romans 8:37
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
We need revelation, wisdom, insight, to move away from the dysfunction of sin and to wholly embrace holiness
What areas are there in our lives where we need to make a change?
What is the perfect will of God for us?
Where are we living only in the good or acceptable will of God?
We are admonished to present ourselves for God’s plans in Romans 12:1-2
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We may know we are saved.
We may be doing our routine in support of our local Church.
But are we fulfilling all of God’s perfect will for our lives?