“For this is God’s will, your sanctification.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3a)
Sometime when you’re feeling especially aggressive, stop someone on the street and ask, “Do you know what “sanctification” is?” and see what answer you get. Ask the average church member the same question, and you’re likely to get a similar answer. Some people have no clue what sanctification is, and some are very uncertain and unclear about what it is. And yet, Paul says that it’s God’s will for you. If it’s God’s will for us, it seems that maybe we should know what it means.
Sanctification is the process of spiritual growth that changes your behavior and your relationships. It is a maturing process that leads us toward right living and right relating. This process is instigated and guided in our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit who exposes us to God’s truths, creating spiritual movement or flow that moves us continually closer to God and others. This leads us to see particular behaviors or ways of relating in the past in a new light, with the result that we conclude that those behaviors and ways of relating are wrong. This conclusion then leads us to act and relate in new ways that God’s Spirit teaches us. This process continues throughout life, continually moving us toward a closer and deeper walk with God and others. There may be setbacks from time to time, like a boat dropping anchor in a river, but God’s Spirit is unrelenting and will work to help us weigh anchor and start moving forward again.
Lord, We thank You that You do not let us just stay where we are, but that You help us to grow past where we have been so that we can move more and more toward You. Amen.