1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication:…
I. OUR SANCTIFICATION.
1. This word has been misunderstood and abused.
(1) There are some who expect to become different beings, with different ideas and qualities from those they now have. Thus when they find old sins reappearing under new names, needing the revival of grace, they become disheartened, and doubt their Christianity.
(2) Others take refuge in small improvements, and think the work of sanctification is going on because this lust has died out or that temper curbed.
2. Let us grasp its meaning. It is applied in Scripture —
(1) To things: the Sabbath, Mount Horeb, the Tabernacle, Altar, Temple; and in each case means consecration, for no moral change can pass over these things.
(2) To persons: priests, prophets, the Jewish nation; and still the idea is appropriation, the stamping with God's image and superscription.
(3) We pass on to gospel times.
(a) Sometimes it is the grand universal consecration which Christ made in redemption: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all."(b) Sometimes it is the first great individual consecration at conversion: "The blood of the covenant wherewith he warn sanctified"; "But ye were washed, ye were sanctified."(c) Sometimes, as in the text, it is the progressive realization in spirit and conduct of the one all embracing consecration; not a change of nature, but an increasing, brightening presence of the Holy Spirit in the soul, into transformation of character and life.
(d) Sometimes the complete identification of the will of man and the will of God, which is consecration consummated.
3. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this view. This is the redeemed man living his redemption, the forgiven man living his absolution, the consecrated man living his consecration.
(1) Here is the antidote to self-righteousness: "Nor I, but Christ liveth in me."(2). Here is the antidote to despondency: "In me" truly "there dwelleth no good thing"; but I am encouraged to look to God for help.
(3) Here is the antidote to all that petty, piecemeal, retail righteousness which dwarfs the aspirations of many. There are many who are building their little separate towers for the chance of reaching heaven — one trying to build a treasure house of charity, another to beautify taste into piety, another to construct a substitute for grace out of natural negative virtues, but all missing the very point of Christian perfection, the becoming in deed that which God has made us all in idea — His entirely. Consecration is the being absolutely, and of a glad heart, God's.
4. There are special foes of this consecration.
(1) It is a ruinous error to dream of the ideal and to neglect the practical This is antinomianism.
(2) There are sins which make havoc of this consecration, of which St. Paul speaks in the context — sins which divide allegiance, sully loyalty, and fill God's temple with foul and filthy idols.
II. Our sanctification is THE WILL OF GOD.
1. God's will is the true law of our lives. This is expressed without reservation, and all amounts to this — our consecration.
2. What God wills He will help us to realize. If there is failure, it is attributable to want of prayer, faith, and cooperation with God.
3. There is no way of acceptance with God but in conformity to His will. God being what He is, must will our sanctification. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."
Parallel VersesKJV: For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: