1 Thessalonians 5:22-24
Abstain from all appearances of evil . . . and the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” These two verses are linked together by the word “And” at the beginning of verse 23. Verse 22 is our responsibility; verse 23 is God’s response and activity of grace and power. The two are inseparably linked together. Here and in many other passages of Scripture, the Holy Spirit reveals that man’s responsibility is inseparably linked to God’s operation in our lives. “Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the God of peace sanctify you wholly” (1 Thessalonians 5:22-23). “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: I am the LORD which sanctify you” (Leviticus 20:7,8). “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12,13).
Believers must desire and pursue holiness of heart and life, yield themselves to God, consecrate and submit to His will in sanctification, pray and believe with the expectancy of faith, then God will sanctify, purify and make them entirely holy. Salvation precedes sanctification; sanctification is subsequent to salvation. With the grace received at salvation, we “abstain from all appearance of evil” and “the God of peace” who had already given us “peace” when we were “justified by faith” now sanctifies us. “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” “Abstain” is a strong word that means “to hold oneself back from”. The emphasis of the Holy Spirit is on the believer’s complete separation from any known evil teaching, act, habit or influence and then the God of all peace, purity and power will sanctify him wholly, completely, entirely.
Perfect Provision For The Sanctification Of Our Spirit
1 Thessalonians 5:22-24; Psalms 32:1,2; 51:6-10; Proverbs 16:32; Ecclesiastes 2:7; Ezekiel 36:26; 11:19-21; Ephesians 4:23,24; Hebrews 2:9-11; 10:10,14-16; Jeremiah 31:33,34; 32:39,40.
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” The God of peace is the God of purity and the God of power. “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). He has unlimited power to do all He has promised and purposed to do. “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, (He is the God of power who is able to raise the dead), make you perfect in every good work to do His will” (Hebrews 13:20,21). He is able to sanctify, purify and even make our spirit perfect. The God of peace, the God of purity, the God of power is the Source and Author of our sanctification. The believer cannot sanctify himself “wholly”, but he can sanctify, consecrate or surrender himself to the Lord, set apart himself for the Lord (Leviticus 11:44; 20:7;
Numbers 11:18; Joshua 3:5; 7:13). After our consecration, separation from all appearance of evil and the prayer of faith, God sanctifies us, purifies our spirit, makes us holy in the inner man. “And I pray God your whole spirit be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This sanctification of our spirit is a divine operation of God’s grace wrought within the believer, whereby the heart becomes holy, transformed and recreated after God’s own heart. A sanctified spirit bears God’s own image and becomes a partaker of God’s own holiness. A sanctified spirit loves God with all heart, mind and understanding. God does not delegate the sanctification of the spirit to an angel or an Apostle, neither does He accomplish it by some distant decree. Rather He accomplishes it by His own act of grace and power. This sanctification, wrought by God according to His promise, leaves no part of our inner being unaffected. He sanctifies completely and entirely. In response to the sanctification and holiness of the spirit, the inward man or the inner man, every part of the believer’s life becomes holy unto the Lord.
Proper Perception Of The Sanctification Of Our Soul
1 Thessalonians 5:22-24; Hebrews 4:12; Deuteronomy 30:6; Psalm 24:3-4; Isaiah 26:8,9; 61:10; 1 Peter 2:9-11; 2 Peter 2:8; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30,33.
What is meant by “a soul wholly sanctified”? In the soul’s innermost chamber dwell the affections. It is the home of human affection, the mother’s love, the bridegroom’s love, the deep fellowship of congenial affinity. “The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul (1 Samuel 18:1).” The soul is the seat of the emotions and passions – joy and sorrow, enthusiasm and discouragement, hope and despair, happiness and sadness.
“We saw the anguish of his SOUL when he besought us, and we would not hear (Genesis 42:21).” “The SOUL of the people was much discouraged, because of the way (Numbers 21:4)”. “The SOUL of all the people was grieved (1 Samuel 30:6).” “My SOUL shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in His salvation (Psalm 35:9).” “My SOUL thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:2).” “Why art thou cast down, O my SOUL? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God (Psalm 42:5).” “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my SOUL refused to be comforted” (Psalm 77:2). “My SOUL longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD” (Psalm 84:2). “Their SOUL is melted because of trouble” (Psalm 107:26). While the spirit of man makes us conscious of God and spiritual things, the soul makes us conscious of earthly situations and experiences.
What is meant by the sanctification of the soul? A sanctified soul is purified and restored to the desirable state of affection, desires, emotions, passion, love, ambition and kept under God’s control. A sanctified soul is purged of “inordinate affection”, he loves father, mother, children and life but he loves God more (Matthew 10:37). A sanctified soul may be sorrowful but he will still be committed to doing God’s will (Matthew 26:38,39). “Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair, sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 4:8; 6:8). In all situations and in all conditions, the sanctified soul loves the Lord, his God “with all the understanding and with all the soul, and with all the strength” (Mark 12:33).
Purifying Participation In The Sanctification Of Our Body
1 Thessalonians 5:22-24; 4:3,4; 2 Timothy 2:21,22; Romans 12:1,2; 6:12-22; 1 Corinthians 3:16,17; 6:19,20; 9:25-27; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Colossians 3:1-6,17; James 3:2-6; Hebrews 10:10-17,22.
“Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole body be preserved blameless. “Every one of you should know how to possess his vessel (his body) in sanctification and honour ” (1 Thessalonians 5:22,23; 4:4). Paul prayed for the sanctification of our body and he also emphasised our responsibility of keeping our body in sanctification and honour. We must learn the inseparable link between divine power and our participating performance if our body is to be preserved in sanctification and holiness. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is the house in which Christ, the Holy Spirit and our human spirit dwell. Our body was formed and fashioned by the infinite wisdom of the Almighty God. Those who are ignorant of divine revelation dishonour their body but we are warned: “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility, in will worship and humility, and neglecting of the body” (Colossians 2:18,23). “Now the body is for the Lord; and the Lord for the body” (1 Corinthians 6:13).
The Apostle’s prayer, in accordance with the Lord’s provision, is for the sanctification of our body, that is, its cleansing from all impurity. A sanctified body glorifies God in the use of its powers for Him.