Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: November 06, 2020
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 (L 11)
Welcome back to HBS.
Last week we looked at 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 and God’s commands re: the Believer’s “sanctification,” relative to their “moral purity” or “conduct.” Why? We have not been called “unto uncleanness (moral impurity; defilement by sin; sinfulness) but unto holiness.” This week we’re going to take a closer look at what the Bible has to say about the Believer’s positional and practical sanctification. Since the true Believer undergoes positional sanctification the moment they Believe Paul’s gospel, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 2:16, 16:25-27) we’ll start there.
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied” (I Pet. 1:2).
This phase of our sanctification is not affected by one’s conduct. In Ephesians 5:1-3 the apostle Paul declared, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;”
In short, Paul said Believers should “walk… as becometh saints,” i.e., sanctified ones, but I believe it goes without saying not everyone does so wouldn’t you agree. For instance, even the carnal Corinthians were addressed as “saints – sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:2), but Paul goes on to name and rebuke sins which some of these Believers were committing, “And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, (eternally positioned in Christ Jesus) but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11). Thus, we learn Believers, whatever their , are called:
“…them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32; 26:18).
“…the elect of God, holy and beloved…” (Colossians 3:12).
All this, of course, pertains to our position and standing before God. It was who, in infinite love and grace, set us apart as His own, declaring us righteous before all. But how can a righteous God justify a sinner? How can a holy God embrace a back-sliding son or daughter of Adam? The answer is, through the glorious, all-sufficient work of Christ on the cross on the sinner’s behalf.
“We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).
“For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).
Positionally, then, eliever , or set apart, for Himself through the operation of the Holy Spirit and on the basis of the shed blood of Christ. In Romans 8:33-34 Paul put forth the question who can challenge what God has done, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?…”
These biblical truths are precious so every true Believer ought to be aware of them, which is why we’re here. Yet, the apostle never teaches positional truth without applying it in a “practical way.” Since in love, set us apart , should it not be our heart’s desire to be “wholly His,” vs making room for God in our lives on a Sunday for a time and demonstrate this in every aspect of our lives.
When we began our study of I Thessalonians chapter 4 we entered the section of Paul’s letter where he deals with the Believer’s “practical sanctification,” so let’s find out what that means.
It is this very thing that the apostle has in mind as, by the Spirit, he writes: “(God) hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” (Ephesians 1:4-5).
“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…” (I Thessalonians 4:3).
Here I offer a word of caution, lest in seeking to be wholly sanctified to God, i.e. no “slip-ups in our walk,” we leave ourselves open to the schemes of Satan and find ourselves discouraged and disillusioned. Please know nowhere in the Bible, even in Paul’s writings, is the Believer commanded to sanctify “the flesh” to God. The Scriptures teach that “the flesh,” “our Adamic nature,” “the old man” is totally corrupt and experience bears witness to this truth. “The flesh” cannot be improved, reformed, or converted, and “they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:8). It is for this reason that God sent His Beloved Son to do what the Law could not:
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-5).
The Believer is not, then, to seek to improve the old nature or dedicate it to God, but to recognize it as condemned by God and crucified with Christ:
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him…” (Romans 6:6).
“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11).
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20-21).
But while the Believer’s “flesh” cannot be sanctified to God, their can and should be. The Apostle Paul has much to say about this:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).
Thus our apostle Paul writes to the Thessalonian saints:
“That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor” (1 Thessalonians 4:4).
“For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:7).
And thus concludes:
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
In his very last letter to Timothy he declared that while “the Lord knoweth them that are His,” all who name the name of Christ should “depart from iniquity,” and goes on to explain that—“…in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:20-21).
The Body of Christ, the Church, is indeed “a great house,” and in it there are all kinds of vessels. Most of these, sad to say, live lives that dishonor the Lord and are fit for the Master’s use. God grant that we may not be counted among them, but may rather be “vessels” that bring honor to God,
In closing, therefore, as we consider “ to be sanctified to God in our walk we must again place the emphasis where God has placed it, that is, upon His Word. No one will deny that prayer is an important element in practical sanctification, yet the Word of God places the supreme emphasis upon itself in this matter; for our Lord prayed this prayer for His disciples: “Sanctify them (how) through thy truth: thy Word is truth” (John 17:17).
The Apostle Paul declared that our Lord “loved the Church, and gave Himself for it,
“That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water (how) by the Word” (Ephesians 5:25-26).
Some time back one my students said, “If only I could remember these Bible truths, but my mind is more like a sieve then a storage container.” But pour water through a sieve and it will at least have a cleansing effect. In like manner, the Word of God has a cleansing effect upon those who prayerfully read it and study it diligently. It is the Word which its Author, the Holy Spirit, uses to cleanse and sanctify us more and more to God, and those who are not deeply and sincerely interested in the study of God’s Word will never benefit from practical sanctification no matter how often they pray.
(To be continued)
© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved