The Bare Soul -
August 10, 2008
1 Thessalonians 4:3a - For this is the will of God, your sanctification; ...
Ever struggled with understanding God's will for your life? This week's verse states in just two words what His will is for us -- our sanctification! Without sanctification, it is impossible to live the Christian life as Christ intended. How is it that a man or a woman could truly "love the Lord your God with all their heart, soul, and mind" without the sanctification of the Lord? In simplest terms, sanctification means "to be set apart" -- to live a life of love-obedience to the One who gave His life for us all. To truly understand what sanctification is and to be moving downward and upward in both humility and growth, respectively, is the essence of the sanctified life. To know Christ and to understand that He has done so much for those who can return so little, and to respond in humility and obedience is to accept the life of sanctification.
What puts us on the path (and keeps us there) to sanctification? Obedience! True Godly obedience can only come by an understanding of what Christ has done for us on Calvary's tree. God is not so much concerned about what we think are the end goals of obedience, rather He is concerned how we get there through obeying Him. We can never expect to grow as Christians if we continually deliberate with God on what we know He is telling us to do. The accomplishment of the "doing" is not what God is looking for as an end-product, but He is looking for the continual "turning" toward Him or the process of obedience. For only when we learn to turn toward Him in all things, then we are truly learning what it is to live a sanctified life.
Undoubtedly, sanctified living is keeping the external law, such as the Ten Commandments. However, it is so much more! As a believer allows Him entry, God will perfect obedience to the Law of Liberty that He puts within the heart of every man and woman. For instance, God may speak to a person to give up something in their lives. Let's use caffeine as an example. Is there anything inherently evil or bad about caffeine? Certainly not! However, if someone had acquired an unhealthy dependence on this stimulant, then the Lord might want to test their desire to follow the Lord absolutely. This would not be a command for anyone else but to whom the Lord had GIVEN the command. (Unfortunately, that's how sects and cults are created, when those "enlightened" by the own personal direction impose these "revelations" on others.) What may seem like a restrictive command in the beginning, turns into a liberating aspect to the one who would follow the Lord's individual direction. This "law" becomes "liberty", not so much because the person quits this or that, or started doing this or that according to the voice of the Lord. However, it becomes "life" within the believer because he or she has obeyed and continues to obey. Therefore, the end result is not really what God is after, but the obedience along the way that will perfect the saint into Jesus' likeness. For Jesus said, "I am come to do the will of the Father". This does not necessarily mean to win so-and-so many souls to the Father or to create a church here or there. Obedience is the natural outflow of the believer's life -- the very asphalt that paves the road of sanctification and true usefulness to the Lord.
Many believers may feel their proverbial roads of sanctification have "crumbled", that their ways are strewn with "potholes" of sin and disobedience keeping them from their focus on loving the Lord and obeying him. Souls that have become trapped and snared in ways they know are not pleasing to Him need to cry out to God, confessing their tolerance of disobedience in their lives, asking that He would grant them the spirit of repentance to move onward and upward from their pit of despair. Then, they must accept the Grace of the Lord regardless whether they "feel" they have received it or not, but they must start obeying what they know the Lord is speaking. In time, they will once again experience the smooth way of the Lord. Will there still be difficulties in life? Certainly, but they will grow fainter and less consequential. Of utmost importance, there will be in the soul of that believer a growing peace and resolution to not offend their Lord with the slightest deviation of what they know to be the law of liberty in their own lives. This truly is the will of the Lord to be delighted in -- sanctification's journey that will only be complete as we pass from this life to the next!
Lord, we thank you for your voice in all of our lives. We thank you that you are directing us daily to walk closer with you by your life-giving commandments. Help us not to shrink from or ignore your direction, but to embrace your laws of liberty that will ultimately set us free to do Your will. Sanctify us in your holy name, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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