The Sanctification of the Complete Man
1 Thessalonians 5:23
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly…


1. What does Paul mean by being sanctified wholly?

(1) In man there is a trinity of powers linking him with three different worlds.

(a) By the body, with its sensations, etc., we are connected with the earth.

(b) By the soul, powers merely natural, faculties, passions, and affections, we are connected with the sorrowing, rejoicing, toiling world.

(c) But there are deeper things linking us with a sublimer region, an emotion that pants for the eternal, prayers that cry out for the infinite — these are voices of the spirit.

(2) These, Paul says, are to be sanctified, i.e., consecrated.

(a) The body, not by crushing and despising it, but using it as a gift of God for His glory.

(b) The soul, not by despising its gifts as carnal, or shutting our ears to the appeals of affection, but by dedicating it to God; thus making hopes, ambitions, loves, holy.

(c) The spirit must be sanctified, for when men have used the powers of their spirit as their own they have fallen into spiritual sins, intolerance, bigotry, pride.

2. Why does Paul lay such emphasis on the consecration of all our powers? Because they are gateways of temptation from three different worlds, and unless they are consecrated we are never safe.

(1) Men have tried to purify their outward life alone, leaving soul and spirit unguarded, and then secret sins of pride and imagination break out.

(2) Men have left the spirit unconsecrated. Guarding body and soul, subduing bodily fear, and ready to meet scorn and shame, Peter, relying on his own strength, fell at the first temptation.

(3) Men have tried to hallow the spirit only, to keep their higher life apart, hence the dishonesties which have so often blemished men professing peculiar saintliness. We must be consecrated through the whole range of our powers or we shall not be consecrated at all.


1. We cannot consecrate ourselves. We try it.

(1) We subdue the body, but the soul, with its temptations, is too strong for us.

(2) We strain all our energies to subdue sins of the intellect and affections; and then we are tempted with spiritual pride. Weary of the struggle, we say, "It is all vain." It is not. Admit your weakness, and cry to God the sanctifier.

2. God preserves the entire sanctification by imparting peace. The calmness He gives when we cease our own efforts is our truest might to maintain this complete consecration.

III. ITS MOTIVE. "Until the coming," etc. This coming is —

1. A day of manifestation. Because that day is coming sanctify —

(1) The body, that it may shine out a glorified body in that day;

(2) The soul, that it may be able to receive the truth and light of that day;

(3) The spirit, that it may be able to commune with the Eternal Love.

2. A day of everlasting gatherings. Sanctify, therefore, body, etc., "that you may be meetened for the Church of the firstborn."

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Result of Obedience to These Commandments - Sanctification
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