(Article for publication week of 1-29- AD 2015)
"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;" (I Thessalonians 4:3-4).
Dear Reader, do you desire to know God's will for you? Well, I can tell you what God's will is for you. God's will for you is that you be sanctified, that is that you be holy. You see, we may know the will of God without any extraordinary revelation, for He has given us a more sure word of prophecy, that is His Word ( II Peter 1:19).
God has clearly commanded us to "be ye holy", as He is Holy (I Peter 1:15-16). We are also told in Hebrews 12:14 that we shall not see God without holiness. Dear Reader, do you see something of the vital importance of sanctification, i.e., holiness? (Holiness and sanctification are virtually synonymous; both words in our Translation are translated from the same Greek word "hagiosmos.") Unless you become pure in life, including thought and deed, you will never see God in peace. Be sure the only people that God will allow into heaven are holy people, for He is of purer Eyes than to behold iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13). It is God's Eternal Purpose to have a people who are "holy and without blame before Him"(Ephesians 1:4). We must be both "without blame", and "holy." "Without blame" would be our justification, which gives us a good record with God, and "holiness" is our sanctification, which gives us a nature like God.
So what does it mean to be sanctified, or holy? Well, our text this week gives us a starting point. Sanctification means purity, and the Apostle calls us to sexual purity in particular. Of course our sanctification includes much more than sexual purity, but the Apostle mentions this first because licentiousness was so rampant in the Greco-Roman culture, as it is in our American culture. Although there is much more to sanctification than sexual purity (which we will be showing in following articles), it is a vital and necessary part of our sanctification. The fact is no one will ever see God in peace without purity of life, including sexual purity. Sanctification, or holiness means to love what God loves, and hate what God hates. It means to think as He would have you think. It means to behave as He would have you behave. It means to be set apart from the world; to be radically different from the world; and not to love the world (I John 2:15). It means to be like Christ and conformed to His Image. This is God's will for you dear Reader, even your sanctification.
This truth of sanctification should influence and motivate us in every area of our lives. We should make this a vital and urgent consideration in every decision before us. When we are considering a course of action, there are two chief concerns for a Christian. The first is the glory of God. That is our chief end to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever." When we are praying about God's will in a particular matter, we may first ask ourselves, "how will this promote God's Glory?" The second consideration is, "How will this promote my sanctification?" For you see dear reader, you will not enjoy God now, or forever unless you are sanctified, that is holy. This is the will of God, your sanctification.