1 Thessalonians 5 (NASB)
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In verse 9, not only does Paul say that we believers in Jesus are saved, but we are saved from wrath, God’s judgment. Paul is showing the opposite of God’s salvation, His wrath on humanity for their sin, their turning away from Him. We see God destined and planned for us not to experience His anger at our sin. Sin makes us unholy and separates us from Him and the relationship He created us to be in with Him. We see from verse 9 what God’s plan was from the beginning of the world, to give us deliverance from the sin into which our free will placed us. This deliverance comes by the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation is not something we can get for ourselves, salvation is something God has in mind for us from the beginning of the world; our life with Him was destined, but our sin stole it away. Salvation is deliverance to safety of our souls. The gift of Jesus is from God. The gift of salvation is from God. The gift of relationship is from God. There is nothing we can do to make any of this happen; salvation is from God.
The 23rd verse compels us to offer our whole self to God, not just a part. Often when we come to Christ, we accept with joy the gift of forgiveness of sin and eternal life, but we hold back pieces of our life. Sometimes we do this by separating our life into parts, for example school, work, church, and friends. God did not send His Son to be this sacrifice for salvation just to save part of us. Jesus did not partly die; He died completely in His human form. This is what Paul is telling the Thessalonians in this letter when he says, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely.” God wants you to give Him all your life, your soul and body, your work and play, your religious times and your profane times. God wants to sanctify you completely.
Sanctify means to be holy or set apart from profane things. How can God make us entirely holy if we do not give Him all our life? You cannot be somewhat holy. Remember what Jesus said about the cup? If the inside of the cup is clean, the wine is clean. What is on the outside does not determine cleanliness, but what is on the inside, in your spirit. God wants you to give Him every part of you, your thoughts, actions and relationships. What does this mean then? We must offer ourselves as a sacrifice, as Paul told Timothy at the end of 2 Timothy, as an offering to God. Paul said he offered himself as a drink offering to God. You have to understand, God does not ask every one of us to serve Him to the point we are arrested and killed. What He is asking us to do is give ourselves completely to God so we are willing to do just that, should the need arise, so we are willing to die for our belief in Him if the need arose. To offer ourselves completely, we must pray through each facet of our lives, give each part to God one at a time, and keep giving ourselves to Him each day and each minute.
In these two verses, we see a progression from the moment of salvation from our sins to the journey of giving our whole selves daily to God for His purpose, being set apart for His service, being sanctified for Him. Salvation is a journey; being a Christian is a journey. Jesus did not tell His disciples just to go and make disciples. He told them to go and keep on going. Jesus told them to disciple and keep on discipling. We are to keep learning, keep, going, keep teaching, and keep growing in Christ likeness. Paul is saying offer and keep on offering, sacrifice and keep on sacrificing yourself to God so He can sanctify you entirely, your soul and body. We must each day sacrifice our desires for the purposes of God, to work wholly committed and dedicated to Him. God wants us to dedicate ourselves to Him so He can consecrate us wholly to His work and for eternity in His kingdom. This is sanctification, the giving to God all of ourselves, soul and body, so He can make us Holy, purify and consecrate us fully, for eternity. God wants us to be preserved complete, to be offered up to Him completely.
The questions remain, have you asked God for forgiveness of your sins, all those times when you chose what you wanted and disregarded what God wanted? Have you accepted His gift of salvation from your sins? Do you offer to God daily a sacrifice of your whole self, body and soul, work, church, school, and play? Finally, if you do, accept His sanctifying power to dedicate you exclusively to Himself and His service and to preserve you to live in His kingdom and to be in His presence forever. Be set aside and consecrated, be devoted and dedicated, solely for God and for your God-given fulfillment.
Salvation – a preservation of self; a deliverance from our sinful self; that which concludes to the soul’s safety or salvation; complete deliverance of the spirit, soul and body.
Sanctify - to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow, to separate from profane things and dedicate to God; consecrate things to God; dedicate people to God; to purify; to cleanse externally; to purify by expiation: free from the guilt of sin; to purify internally by renewing of the soul.
Entirely – perfectly and completely.
Preserved - to attend to carefully, take care of; to guard; metaphor to keep, one in the state in which he is; to observe; to reserve: to undergo something.