1 Thessalonians 5:23
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly…
What Paul prayed for his friends we may well pray for both ourselves and our friends — a blameless spirit, a blameless soul, a blameless body. This is the whole man.
1. What we mean by the body we very well understand. Mystery even in the body there is, it is true; but still, on the whole, what is meant by a blameless body requires no great exposition. The man with a perfect physique, the man who is a picture of perfect health, verifies himself to our senses, with his broad shoulders, his brawny, muscular limbs, the glow of health upon the cheek, his unwearied vigour by day, his sweet, undisturbed sleep at night.
2. We look in the Greek, to find the same word indiscriminately rendered "life" and "soul." We look in the Latin, and find the word that stands for soul to be "anima," that which animates the body. The soul, then, is that which gives life to this physical organization, The brain is but ashes, without intellect behind it. The heart is a mere muscular valve, if there be no affection and love which make it beat quicker in the presence of the loved one. That which gives physical organism its use, that which makes it an instrument, that which links man to his fellow man, that which deals with the transient and the visible, with that which is round about us, what philosopher's classify as "the intellect, the sensibilities, and the will" — we call this the soul.
3. But what is the spirit? It is by the spirit that we discern the truth. It is the spirit which is ever against the flesh, antagonizing, striving for full mastery of it. It is the spirit which links us to God. It is the spirit which is the Divine and immortal principle in man, undying. So that if there be no spirit, or if it be left to die, there is no immortal life. Let us look for a few moments, and see what are some of the characteristics of this spiritual nature, what some of the indications of the possession of this spiritual in man. But how shall you know what is the value, worth, character, of your spiritual nature? He that has a spiritual nature —
I. WILL HAVE AT LEAST A HUNGERING AFTER THE SPIRITUAL.
1. This may be, indeed, the only evidence of spiritual nature in him. It certainly is the first. Before as yet the artist knows how to paint or draw, he has in him the desire for painting; and the little boy takes up his pencil and scrawls away, trying to make forms, so bearing witness to a seed-art within him that needs development. The bird has a wish for the air before its wings are fledged and it can soar out from the nest. Our hungers indicate what we are.
2. And as the Bible expresses and interprets the desire of spirituality, so it gives its promise to those desires. You may wish for wealth, and stay poor. But the soul that longs for a stronger conscience, a clearer faith, a more eager and joyous hope, a diviner reverence, shall not go unsatisfied.
II. HAS IN HIM SOMETHING THAT PERCEIVES THE SPIRITUAL.
III. WILL FIND EXPRESSION FOR THE SPIRITUAL. We are not all teachers, but we all live; and, after all, the true measure and final test of spiritual life is not what we think, nor what we say, but the way in which we live. I pray God that you present yourselves, spirit, soul, body, blameless before the throne of His grace.
1. Blameless in body: with no wart upon it of intemperance or sensual self-indulgence.
2. Blameless in soul, with no ignorant superstition degrading it, with no social coldness, no disfellowship of humanity, no idleness shackling the hands that should have been busy in service.
3. Blameless in spirit — what do I mean by that? I pray God that you may have —
(1) A reverence that shall always show something higher and grander and nobler and diviner than the eye has ever shown you, and shall always make you bow before it and follow after it.
(2) A hope that shall summon you to a nobler and diviner life than can be interpreted by anything the eye has ever seen or the ear has ever heard.
(3) A conscience that shall hold you rigorously and undeviatingly in the path of rectitude, not turning to the right hand nor the left under beckoning enticement or under threatening pressure and menace.
(4) A love so large, so catholic, and so inspired by Him that no wrong shall weary its patience, no iniquity shall blur or hinder its sympathy, no sorrow shall fall to touch its pity: for this makes manhood and womanhood. Not what we know: ignorance does not defile us. Not what we have done: doing does not make us. But what in the higher developments of our soul, what in our reverence, in our hope, in our faith, in our love, we are — that really makes us.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.