Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessaloniansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In reading the Scriptures we need to touch the burden in the spirit of the writer. In particular, we need to know the burden in Paul’s spirit when he was writing 1 Thessalonians. Paul concludes chapter three of 1 Thessalonians with a word of blessing: “That He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints” (v. 13). Paul’s desire was that the readers of this Epistle would be established in their hearts blameless in holiness.
In chapter four Paul goes on to charge the saints to abstain from the defiling sin of fornication: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you abstain from fornication.” In what way does Paul charge the saints to abstain from this sin? He charges them in the way of sanctification. First he tells them that the will of God is our sanctification. The will of God is that we would be sanctified, kept, preserved, and guarded in sanctification. The best way to abstain from fornication is to be sanctified, preserved, in God’s holiness.
In 4:3, 4, and 7 Paul uses the word “sanctification” three times. In verse 3 he says that the will of God is our sanctification; in verse 4, that we should know how to possess our vessel, our body, in sanctification and honor; and in verse 7, that God has called us in sanctification. According to 4:4, we should possess our body in sanctification and honor. Sanctification is before God, and honor is before man. Every fornicator loses his honor before man. In every society fornicators are despised; they have lost their honor before man. Therefore, we need to keep our body from such a sin, and the way to do so is in sanctification.
In 5:23 Paul gives a concluding word concerning sanctification: “And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here we see that our entire being—spirit, soul, and body— needs to be sanctified. We need to be sanctified by the God of peace not only in our soul and body, but also in our spirit.
According to 5:23, we bear some responsibility for being wholly sanctified. On the one hand, God will sanctify us wholly. On the other hand, our spirit, soul, and body need to be preserved. Although God preserves us, we need to bear a certain amount of responsibility to be preserved.
We may regard the words “be preserved” as an active-passive verb. This means that although we are being preserved, we need to take the responsibility, the initiative, to be preserved. Thus, “be” implies something active, and “preserved” implies something passive.
God intends to preserve us, but are we willing to be preserved? We may use the matter of giving medicine to children as an illustration of our need to bear responsibility to be preserved. Sometimes a child may need medicine, but he may not be willing to take it. In fact, he may resist the attempt of his parents to give it to him and even make it necessary for them to hold him down. Parents do this in order that the health of the child may be preserved. Sometimes we do not cooperate with the Lord to be preserved. This forces Him to do certain things to subdue us or restrict us so that we may take in what is necessary to be sanctified and preserved.
In 1 Thessalonians, a book on a holy life for the church life, we are told that different parts of our being need to be preserved. Our heart needs to be sanctified, our body needs to be preserved in sanctification, and eventually even our spirit, the most hidden part of our being, also needs to be sanctified.
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