1 Thessalonians 5:23
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly…
I. THE AGENT in our sanctification is the Spirit of God (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Corinthians 6:14; see also Romans 8). By the Father we are sanctified, as we are chosen by Him unto sanctification; as by His good pleasure and free grace the atonement of Christ and the sanctifying agency of the Spirit exist. By the Son we are sanctified, as His death is the only means by which we ever become holy, and by which the Spirit came into the world for the benevolent purpose of making us holy. By the Spirit we are sanctified as the immediate Agent in applying to us the blessings of Christ's redemption, particularly in renewing and purifying our hearts and lives. Thus, although this work is immediately performed by the Spirit as the proper Agent, yet we are truly, though more remotely, said to be sanctified by the Father, by the Son, and by the Godhead universally considered.
II. THE INSTRUMENTS of our sanctification are generally the Word and Providence of God.
1. The Word of God is the means of our sanctification in all cases in which it contributes to render us better, whether it be read, heard, or remembered; whether it be pondered with love, reverence, wonder, or delight; or whether, with similar affections, it be faithfully obeyed; whether its instructions and impressions be communicated to us directly, or through the medium of Divine ordinances, or the conversation, or the communion, or the example of our fellow Christians.
2. The Providence of God becomes the means of our sanctification in all the ways in which it makes solemn and religious impressions on the mind.
III. THE PROCESS of sanctification may be summarily exhibited in the following manner.
1. It is progressive through life. The first sanctifying act of the Spirit of God is employed in regenerating the soul. Succeeding acts of the same nature are employed in purifying it through all the successive periods of life.
2. This process is not uniform. By this I intend that it is not the same in manner or degree every day, month, or year. From whatever cause it arises, our views are at times brighter, our vigilance more active, our resolution stronger, our temper more serene, and our energy more vigorous than at other times. This is visible in all that we speak, or think, or do, whatever may be the objects of our attention. That a state of things in us, which so materially affects ourselves in our very nature, should have an important influence on our religious interests is to be expected of course. The changes are here wrought in ourselves; and we, the persons thus changed, are those whose religion is concerned. As we are changed, therefore the state of our religion must in a greater or less degree be changed also.
3. The process of sanctification is universal. By this I intend that it affects the whole man: his views, affections, purposes, and conduct, and those of every kind. It extends alike to his duties of every kind; toward himself, his fellow creatures, and his Maker. It affects and improves indiscriminately all the virtues of the Christian character: love to God and to mankind, faith, repentance, justice, truth, kindness, humility, forgiveness, charity, generosity, public spirit, meekness, patience, fortitude, temperance, moderation, candour, and charitableness of judgment. It influences ruling passions and appetites, habits of thought and affection, of language and practice. It prompts to all the acts of piety: to prayer, praise, attendance upon the sanctuary and its ordinances, oar sanctification of the Sabbath, Christian communion, and Christian discipline.
4. The progress of sanctification is conspicuous in the life. From the commencement of Christianity in the soul the Christian course is that of a general reformation.REMARKS:
1. The considerations suggested concerning this important religious subject furnish every professing Christian with an interesting rule for the examination of his own character.
2. The same considerations furnish abundant encouragement to the Christian. Think how much God has done to accomplish this work, and you can find no room for despondency.
(Timothy Dwight, D. D.)
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.