Word for Wednesday…Sanctification
(Note: For the Advent Season we are doing a series on the gifts of God. For these four weeks, the “Word for Wednesday” will be a follow-up from the preceding Sunday.)
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, NRSV
The root word in both Hebrew and Greek for the word “sanctification” is the same root word for words like “saint” and “holy.” This is one of many reasons that most Christians think sanctification is something God reserves for a select few of his children. But sanctification doesn’t necessarily imply a sinless perfection. To be sanctified means to be set apart for a specific purpose. I remember a former professor, in a class called “Theology of Holiness,” telling us that his pen was sanctified. He went on to explain that the purpose for which his pen was created was to write. As long as it was doing that, it was sanctified, it was perfect, at least in the Biblical sense of the word. According to the Westminster Catechism, our purpose is to worship God and enjoy him forever. This is the purpose for which we have been created. As long as we are fulfilling it, we too are perfect. Of course, in order to offer ourselves to God in worship and glorify him in fulfillment of our purpose, we must be transformed into the image of Jesus, as Jesus is representative of who God created us to be. As long as we are in Christ, we possess the designation as God’s holy people, set aside for this purpose, but this doesn’t preclude us from this ongoing journey of transformation. We need to daily yield ourselves to God’s sanctifying grace as he continues to shape us into the person he created us to be. Along the way we may have moments of perfection, but then life happens; we are challenged, tempted, and made more aware of our shortcomings. In these moments if we confess, repent, and submit ourselves to God, growth in grace happens. Paul’s hope for the Christians in Thessalonica, and for us as well, is that this work of God would be completed in us by the time Jesus comes again. This is my wish for myself and for all reading this post this Christmas. That we would all continue to unwrap and experience these gifts of God that we’ve been given.