1 Thessalonians 3:13
To the end he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before God, even our Father…
God is carrying on a process of culture with his people, training, educating, and forming them according to his own ideal of humanity. To ignore this process while admitting the merciful kindness of God in other respects is to take a low view both of providence and of Christianity. To recognize it is to do much towards lightening the burdens and the mystery of all this unintelligible life. For pain, temptation, and disappointment can be better borne when we know that the end of God's dealings with us is not our enjoyment of present ease, but our education in character.
I. THE SUBJECT OF DIVINE CULTURE. "Your hearts." The education that secures good habits is a shallow training if it leaves the source and spring of conduct untouched. It may drill; it cannot discipline. Neither is the mere infusion of knowledge, nor even this with the addition of the cultivation of taste and the development of mental energy, the great requisite in God's culture. He aims at renewing and purifying the heart. He is not satisfied with decorous conduct as a mask for a corrupt heart. But, having secured purity of heart, he knows that right conduct will follow. Moreover, if the external act may appear to men questionable, God, reading the heart, accounts his people blameless when the motive is good.
II. THE CHARACTER MOULDED UNDER DIVINE CULTURE. "Unblamable in holiness."
1. It is holiness. God does not satisfy himself with the forgiveness of the past; we should not be satisfied with that. He aims at the real and positive holiness of his people. Holiness is more than dutifulness, more than virtue. It includes these human types of goodness, but it goes beyond them. It goes down to thought, affection, and conduct, seeking clean hands and a pure heart. It rises to the character of God himself. Holiness is godlike goodness, as virtue is human goodness.
2. This holiness is to be unblamable. It is to be perfect. It is to stand the test of a searching scrutiny. Yet it is not a barren negative purity. For we may be blamed for sins of omission as much as for sins of transgression. It is the unprofitable servant who is cast into the outer darkness. To be unblamable we must faithfully discharge our trust.
III. THE STANDARD AIMED AT IN DIVINE CULTURE. The holiness is to be unblamable before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
1. God is satisfied with no less holiness than such as is pure in Ms own sight. Our standard is low because our conscience is corrupt. The height of God's aim is only to be measured by the loftiness of his own character, Nevertheless, be it remembered God will expect no more of us than is humanly possible. The gardener aims at producing a perfect flower up to his own ideal, but still only up to his own ideal of what a flower should be; he does not seek in it the properties of animal or man.
2. The test is to be applied at the coming of Christ with his saints. They come to judge the world.
IV. THE STABILITY SECURED BY DIVINE CULTURE. "Stablish your hearts." High culture often produces a result which is brief in proportion to its excellence. The forced hot-house flower soon fades. Knowledge acquired simply to meet an examination is quickly forgotten. This is not education. God aims at more than the momentary elevation of rare seasons of grace. He will have a firm and lasting character - a spiritual life which is also an eternal life.
V. THE MEANS EMPLOYED FOR DIVINE CULTURE. Ver. 12 describes this. It is an increasing and abounding love. Holiness springs from love. They greatly err who seek it in the lonely and chill altitudes of an inhuman saintliness. By mutual Christian love, and by a broad, practical love of mankind, we are trained in the purity which may be at last quite blameless, even in the sight of God. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.