Bible Verse: "May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless. . . " (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
From Paul's letter to the Ephesians, we learn that Adam and Eve were created "with true (perfect) righteousness and holiness." (Eph 4:24). They were the only human beings ever to be without sin. They were sinless until they rebelled against God.
God seeks to work in all Christians that original state, for all are born in sin. "For in Adam all die. . ." from inherited sin (1 Cor 15:22; Rom 3:23). Our sin nature, inherited from Adam, put us outside of God's Kingdom. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "You were dead in transgressions and sins. . . " This showed itself in overt rebellion against God and His laws.
Only God, in His grace, could stir a desire in their dead spirits to escape the hold Satan had on them. Like Paul we cry out, "Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Rom 7:28)
The answer is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin. His blood paid the ransom for our sin, and the blood keeps on paying the ransom for our sins, as we confess them to God. (1 John 1:9).
Paul prayed for the Christians that God Himself would work in their lives to sanctify them, not just a little, but "through and through." (1 Thess. 5:23). Sanctify here means to set them apart to live a holy life. Only God, working by His Spirit can sanctify a person.
This is God's purpose in calling men and women to Himself by the preaching of the gospel (1 Thess 4:7). The call to receive Christ, once accepted, puts us under an obligation to let God work His will and purpose in our lives.
God's work of sanctification is a process. It is God teaching and molding our new natures to live a new life in Christ. Sanctification is a way of life that must be learned from God by the Spirit. He teaches the believer holiness by His word (John 17:17,19). So we need to be "in the Word" to learn what God requires of us. And we must earnestly pursue holiness with obedience, without wavering (Heb 12:14).
A holy or sanctified character cannot be imputed or transferred to an individual. It is a character built up, little by little, as a result of obeying the word of God and following the example of Jesus Christ. (Eph 4:20-24).
"It is God's will that you should be sanctified." (1 Thess 4:3). But this won't happen automatically. We must not be shy about sanctification. God says "strive to enter in." Be zealous, forward, diligent, exerting oneself, to cooperate fully with the Holy Spirit in his area of personal holiness. I believe this is what Jesus meant when He said, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door. . ." (Luke 13:24)
Prayer: Lord God, I am Your child. But I feel empty and restless. Please fill me with Your Spirit and teach me holiness, that I may be sanctified and set apart for Your service. I will obey Your truth and serve You for the rest of my days. Amen.