1 Thessalonians 4:3a – It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…
Today’s devotion will no doubt disappoint you if you came to it with the hope and expectation of learning how to decide what job to take, whom to marry, or where to move. (**Read to the end for some hope on that score.**) Those often seem to be the leading candidates when people want God’s will unveiled in their own lives. I am no different.
But quite often those desires turn to despair when it is discovered that God doesn’t say in Paul’s letter to the Romans or the Gospel of Matthew that you should indeed take that job, marry that person, or move to that place. And because it doesn’t give such specifics, folks sometimes end up frustrated over the apparent “inaccessibility” of knowing God’s will for their lives.
My usual counsel to such troubled souls is to encourage them by letting them know that God’s will can be found on virtually every page of the Bible. Today’s text gives us an example of what I’m talking about. Paul tells us in our verse:
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.
“Sanctified” is a fancy word which simply means “to be set apart.” But what does that mean? Set apart from what? Set apart for what? Well first, it means to be set apart from something – specifically, from the world, the flesh, and the devil. It means that the fallen, rebellious, autonomous, sinful patterns to which we once belonged, and which we once practiced, are to be put off, died to, and left behind.
“Sanctified” also means that we are set apart for God. In Christ God has made us his own. He is recreating us into the image of his Son. Thus, he now calls us to love him, trust him, obey him, walk with him daily, and be like him. Peter, in his first epistle – and quoting Leviticus – reminds us that God says to us, “Be holy, as I am holy.” Just a few verses from today’s text, in verse 7, Paul reminds us “…God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”
When we hear Christ’s redeeming call and are born anew by the power of the Holy Spirit, we immediately (though imperfectly) begin the process of becoming what God says we already are. God, in a manner of speaking, says to us:
You are holy. Now go and be holy. Go be who you are.
To die to self, pick up your cross, and follow Christ is what it means to live a sanctified life – one that jettisons the old, fallen self, and instead, puts on Christ as of first importance and immediately seeks his righteousness.
This is God’s will for you. And I believe that the more you know God, and know of God – his person, work, ways, and word – and the more you pursue them daily and whole-heartedly in your life, the better you will be able to discern his particular will for your life – that job to take, that person to marry, that place to move.
Seek first God and his righteousness, and all those other things will be revealed to you as well (Matt. 6:33). In the mean time,
Grace and Truth,