1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 “How and Why Are We Sanctified?

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 – Bible Study & Exploration

Why the Urgency in Paul’s Sanctification Message?

(Verses 1-2) After the first three chapters of his letter which are filled with prayerful praise, encouragement, strengthening, lovingly urging and guiding his new flock, he opens here with urgency on a single point of Christian doctrine. It is one of the most important aspects of our daily Christian walk with Christ.

Paul states to the Thessalonians in verse 1, “we instructed you on how to live in order to please God.” Then he goes on to raise the level of his instruction to a state of urgency saying, “Now we ask you and urge you to do this more and more.”

Immediately, Paul makes it very clear these instructions are not his but were given to them by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

Remember, in Ch. 1 verses 4-8 Paul reminds the Thessalonians that their experience of Paul preaching the gospel, them receiving and accepting the gospel and their sharing of the gospel was no ordinary “one and done event.” By no means, because they felt the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives once they accepted and put their faith and trust in all matters, in Jesus Christ.

But here in Ch. 4 we see Paul urging them that what they’re doing in the name of Jesus is just the first step. Now comes the journey toward being holy and righteous. They must continue to love one another and to separate themselves from the world. This must be done so they will be seen as true followers of Christ. This will add validity to the Thessalonians message of sharing the gospel in a vital region that has the potential to spread far and wide.

What Does It Mean to be Sanctified?

Paul sums up his urgency to live in order to please God by stating in verse 3, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.” This is the Christian journey; our walk toward holiness and righteousness through the guidance of the Holy Spirit that comes to dwell in us in exchange for our sins.

“He made Him who had no sin to be sin, so that through Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

The Three P’s of Sanctification

(Verses 3-12) I once heard it wonderfully and simply explained.

“Sanctification is Putting into Practice what we are in Position.” What exactly does that mean?

Paul introduces and reminds his Thessalonians readers of this sanctification journey and how it progresses in the previous chapters we just read.

Positional Sanctification

It is when we fully accept and place our faith and trust in our Savior Jesus Christ, we are justified by God in His eyes. We have become positionally sanctified as a child of God. This is the first step toward our final reunification with Christ and presented unblemished (Glorified) to the Father.

“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”

1 Thessalonians 4:7

Progressive Sanctification

When we accept the free gift of salvation that God extends to us through His son Jesus, the Holy Spirit then comes to dwell within us. It is the Holy Spirit that will guide us on the next step in this journey of sanctification to become more holy and righteous in the eyes of God.

This journey will continue up until the day we leave this world through falling asleep or the rapture. Thereby, we should with urgency increase our holiness and righteousness each day through the help of the Holy Spirit, progressing in our sanctification.

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;”

1 Thessalonians 4:3

Perfected Sanctification

This will mark the end of our sanctification journey as our sanctification is perfected in our glorification. This will occur when Christ returns and we depart from this sinful flesh and blood and are presented with our glorified bodies.

The Perfect One (Jesus Christ) will perfect us in order to make us worthy to stand in the presence of our God after we are raptured.

“May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.”

1 Thessalonians 3:13

Paul’s encouraging words of how to live a sanctifying life are even more applicable to us today as we approach the imminent return of our Blessed Hope and Savior, Jesus Christ. Let these words edify us and remind us daily of what it means to live in a way that is pleasing to God.