“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” 2 Thessalonians 7:1
The Bible says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). To be sanctified is to be made holy. The process by which one is sanctified is called sanctification. Therefore sanctification is the process of making or becoming holy, set apart, holiness, consecration. Through the process of sanctification, the believer learns how to live her life on earth in a holy way. She learns how to “…walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). You could say that as a believer is sanctified she becomes pure in her life-practices. For it is through the process of sanctification, that the Christian becomes increasingly purer in her thoughts, her actions, and her words.
Sanctification is the process by which God conforms the believer to the image (or likeness) of Jesus Christ. God’s will is to make all of His children holy as His Son Jesus is holy. Second Corinthians 3:18 says that we are, “…being transformed into his [Jesus’] image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (NLT). The same idea is found in the book of Romans where it says, “…For those whom he [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).
This transforming, sanctifying work is a lifelong process which all Believers undergo. It will have its final fulfillment for us in glorification when we see Jesus face to face, and we are completely transformed by seeing His glorious presence. The Apostle John said, “…we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3)
As you can see from that last verse, the children of God co-operate with the Lord in His sanctifying work by purifying ourselves as Jesus is pure. We purify ourselves by believing and obeying God’s word. The Bible says, “God chose you… …to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth…” (2 Thessalonians 2:12-13). Belief in the truth is belief in God’s word. Real belief in the truth activates our obedience to the truth (as we saw yesterday), and our obedience to the truth is what purifies us and makes us holy. It is how we cooperate with God in His sanctifying work, in our lives. Obeying God’s word is how we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, as Philippians 2:12-13 commands us to do.
If we are going to believe, obey, and be purified by God’s word we have to know what it says. Romans 12:2 tells the Believer to “…be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Therefore, we must be in the regular in our habits of reading God’s word. We need to know the truth of the Bible if we are to obey it and thus be changed by it.
Jesus prayed to His Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Truth cleanses the human soul from sin. Jesus said, “… and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). You see it is the truth of the Word of God that sanctifies us. The truth of God’s word sets us free from the lies of Satan. It also frees us from our bondage to sin and death by teaching us how to live life by depending on the indwelling Spirit of God. In this way, Believers are sanctified by, in, and through the truth of God’s word. The Word of God is the purifying, sanctifying water of God (Ephesians 5:26); through which the Holy Spirit of God washes and makes the Believer in Christ holy (sanctified).
This is why 2 Thessalonians 7:1 says, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” So read you Bible, say your prayers, do the next right thing, and watch God accomplish His sanctifying work through His precious promises; as He produces the holy life of His Son in you that pleases Him so very much.