I’m loving 1 Thessalonians more and more. Tonight I get to tackle that perennial issue — finding God’s will for your life. And the great news is that Paul tells us clearly and directly (1 Thessalonians 4.3-6):
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; that each one of you knows how to control your own body in holiness and honour, not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one wrongs or exploits a brother or sister in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we have already told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.
This is how to please God. (Yes — you can please God! But that’s for another post…)
This is what God wants for you. He wants you to be sanctified. Made holy.
The content of sanctification here is primarily ethical — it’s about the distinctive way those who trust Jesus will use (or rather not use) their bodies; he’ll go on to speak more positively a few verses later.
But I can’t help thinking about the ‘sanctification’ or ‘consecration’ (in the original languages they’re built around the same linguistic root) of the Old Testament priests.
Sanctification, in the Old Testament, came at a massive cost.
There’s only one way to describe it: bloody — gruesomely bloody.
I challenge you to go and read Exodus 29, close your eyes and imagine it. Imagine the smells. Imagine the noise. Imagine the blood is dashed and splattered everywhere — even on you.
And we think sanctification for us is something warm and fuzzy — something God’s holy Spirit does to us and in us without much cost or effort at all?
Truth is, our sanctification comes at a massive cost too. And it too was gruesomely bloody. Yet we still cringe at the distinctive lifestyle God wants for us…