There’s a lot of things we don’t know up front when it comes to the will of God. A ton of details we are left to humbly try and discern as it pertains to the call He has put on our lives. All kinds of possibilities. Forks in the road demanding a commitment to one way or another. Facts to be weighed. Counsel to be sought. Decisions to be made. Truth is, this knowing the will of God thing can sometimes be quite overwhelming.
Maybe that’s why a piece of Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonians lands so powerfully on my radar this morning. He makes known, at least in part, with great clarity and without ambiguity, the will of God.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification . . . For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
(1Thessalonians 4:3a, 7-8 ESV)
Might be a ton of stuff I don’t know, but this I do know, this is the will of God, my sanctification. This is the call of God, holiness. And this is the great provision of God, His Spirit.
Whatever else I might be trying to figure out about the will of God for me for tomorrow, this is the will of God for me today.
I have been set apart in Christ. Consecrated by the sovereign determination and over-flowing grace of God. Declared holy through the finished work of Christ on the cross. And the will of God is that what I have been declared to be, I should be. That the divine banner of holiness which envelopes me should increasingly be the practical reality that characterizes me. That, as Paul says, I should be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). That I should put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24). That the work God began by saving my soul, should be made complete through the redemption of my character.
This is the will of God, my sanctification. This is the call of God, my holiness. And this too a work of God, by His Holy Spirit.
Sanctification is part of our salvation. It is the now part. The on-going part. The “God’s not done with me yet” part. And a big part of the will of God for my life.
Mine is to desire the will of God. To cooperate with the way of God He has chosen for me. But it’s not like God’s done His part and now I need to do mine.
Just as the gospel is the power of God for salvation, it’s the power of God for sanctification. For the faith that believed He would declare me holy in His sight, is the same faith that believes He will make me holy in His sight. While by faith I believe that I am betrothed to Christ as part of His bride, by faith I trust that on that day I will be presented to Christ “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing . . . holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).
The power of the gospel is that it lies not in who we are, but in who He is. The power never found in what we can do, but in what He has already accomplished. And in that power, in response to what He has done and what He has promised to do, we seek to be holy, for He is holy.
Realizing we have not been called for impurity, we determine to abstain from sexual immorality. Knowing that we have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3), we say no to the fleshly cravings for the cheap counterfeits offered by the world. Believing we are, as He has declared, new creations in Christ (2Cor. 5:17), enabled by the Spirit we purpose to put off the man and put on the new.
We behave in accordance with what we believe. Our practices informed by His promises. Our conduct directed by this confidence, “not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2Cor. 3:5).
This is the will of God, our sanctification. This is the call of God, our holiness.
All by the grace of God. All for the glory of God.