Journal 1 Thes 4 (all references are from the ESV unless noted otherwise; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Finally, then, brothers: We ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and please God (just as you are doing), that you do so more and more.
For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God: Your sanctification…” (1 Thes 4:1-3a)
Observation: If my destiny (see yesterday’s post) is found in the hands of the Potter, what is His will for me?
Analysis: “For this is the will of God: Your sanctification…”
The statement is pretty clear. What constitutes chasing His Will for Believers? Is there an emphasis on doing tasks that takes precedence over pursuing His Will? Is sanctification on my mind? Is it even on my things to do list today?
Yesterday, my wife had a visit from a long-time friend (a believer). Among other subjects, we spoke about some acquaintances we were familiar with. These acquaintances claim to be Christians but, as we all attested (knowing that we do not have condemnation rights but can evaluate with sober discernment (note: this is an inference of many passages but esp. Col 1:10 “…so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God…”), it was difficult to see even the simplest fruit of the Spirit being exhibited, much less any more complex fruit being pursued, or sin being resisted.
Therefore, what do I see and contemplate when I look into the mirror? Do I see a “coaster” in the Faith, or a runner/athlete in the Faith?
Being a Christian is hard, made easier by the ministry, presence, and power of the Holy Spirit. Reformed Theologians call this Man’s Responsibility. God’s Sovereignty (the other side of the coin) provides the Redemptive power of the Cross; Sanctification is the partnership between the Holy Spirit enabling/powering a person’s active and Man’s energetic pursuit of becoming conformed to the image of the Son (c. Ro 8:29) Nevertheless, sanctification is that dreaded four-letter word, work.
If I were to graph my Christian walk from my own perspective, I do not think I would see a steady, inclining, growth line showing that I am irrevocably gaining sanctification. Quite the contrary, I am sure that my graph would show a “saw-tooth” growth line, probably even dropping “below the line.”
Preaching the Gospel should always start with the Face in the Mirror. Promoting maturity in Christ (teaching sanctification) and discipling others should always (again) start with the Face in the Mirror. Doing good works in the Name of Jesus must start with a foundation of growing in sanctification.
Reasoning from the reverse: Matt 7:22, Jesus says, “On That Day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not (do many deeds) in your Name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you…” and then equated those works with lawlessness.
I think that is sobering…
Prayer: Father, keep my eye stayed upon You. Keep me focused upon serving You all my days and pursuing seeking Your Face (presence).
Ricky Two Shoes
PS: I am fully invested in the following verse: “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” (Ro 2:1) It is a slippery road to practice evaluation, for it can lead into condemnation. I cannot think of myself higher than another, but I should practice such discernment soberly.