If I’m parsing it up right, my last reading in 1Thessalonians starts with sixteen charges to this body of believers. Sure, a couple of them are more along the line of “asks”, but the clear majority are commands and imperatives. Sixteen of them in eleven verses.
Everything from respecting church leadership, to admonishing the idle, to encouraging the fainthearted, to being patient with everybody. From rejoicing always, to praying without ceasing, to not quenching the Spirit, to holding fast to what is good and abstaining from every kind of evil. Talk about your holy honey-do list! I noodle on it for a bit and another verse comes to mind, “Who is sufficient for such things?” (2Cor. 2:16).
But then this . . .
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.
(1Thessalonians 5:23-24 ESV)
Reminded that I’m called to cooperation but God is responsible for sanctification. That I’m to aspire to be holy, but He is the only one who makes things holy. That while I’m to give attention to the honey-do list, ultimately it is my faithful Father who will do it.
Sanctify completely. That’s the endgame. That’s the outcome of the work begun in me on that day I first believed. How far I’ve come since then. But oh, how far I have yet to go. I get it when Paul writes, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own” (Php. 3:12).
Yet, it’s God Himself who will sanctify completely. The Father who has determined to finish the work. The Creator of all things, the Overseer of all things, the Keeper of all things, somehow able to attend to the one thing of my perfected holiness.
How great is our God? Pretty great! How active the agency of the Spirit living in us? Pretty active. How sure can I be that I’ll be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ? Pretty sure! Because how powerful is the finished work of the cross? Pretty powerful!
He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.
Sixteen commands for me to obey. One God who will sanctify me completely. Sixteen to do’s which I know, because of the weakness of my flesh, will trip me up from time to time. But one God who is faithful. More to do’s than I can possibly get “to done” on my own. But one great promise that He will do it.
He will surely do it.
By His grace. For his glory.