Today’s Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7
For this is the will of God, your sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3a)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Sanctification is the word of the day from Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians. Sanctification means “to make holy.” If you look at church history, you’ll notice that a lot of ink has been spilled about the Scripture’s teaching on sanctification, and the Christian life of good works. Some say that good works are required for salvation, like paying for tickets to ride a rollercoaster at the fair. Some say that good works are harmful to our salvation, because we might be tempted to use them like a crutch. Notice the problem in both errors about sanctification and good works: They both focus the Christian inwardly, back to our navel-gazing ways.
Paul, however, points us to the work of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in our sanctification. It is the will of God, he writes. That’s the way it is with anything that is called holy. It all comes from, is supported by, and happens through the work of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God’s Word is holy, for it comes from Him who is holy. God’s gifts of Absolution, Baptism, and the Supper are holy because they are filled with His Holy Word, promise, and life.
Anything that is holy comes from God. The same is true of our sanctification, or our life of good works. We are God’s holy people because we have been declared and made holy in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Holy One of Israel.
When we look in the mirror, we see an unholy mess. Sexual immorality, lust, unbelief, stealing from others, and the list of our uncleanliness goes on, Paul writes.
Thankfully, that list is wiped clean, and you are made holy by the blood of Jesus crucified. God gave His Son to live a holy, sanctified life for you. Jesus died an unholy death to clothe you in His holiness. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son to work faith in your heart, and holiness in your life. Rejoice, for your salvation and your sanctification are the will and work of God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O Lord, strong and mighty, Lord of Hosts and King of glory: Cleanse our hearts from sin, keep our hand pure, and turn our minds from what is passing away; so that at the last we may stand in your holy place and receive your blessing; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
-Rev. Samuel Schuldheisz is pastor of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Milton, WA.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Learn more about your favorite hymns and find the deeper meaning behind the text with Eternal Anthems: The Story Behind Your Favorite Hymns. The book includes devotional commentary and historical facts from forty different contributing authors on fifty different hymns. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.