by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1 April 19, 2015 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(131)Thesis:A proper understanding of God's "sanctification" of a human being requires that we understand the various elements of the human nature that are in God's "target" area.
Introduction:Because of the nature of 1 Thessalonians 5:23 as a "summary" text, we miss a great deal of the real significance of the biblical revelation if we pass over it too quickly, or, worse yet, dismiss it entirely. All proper interpretation of God's words require that we have some level of understanding of what it is that God is addressing by His words. It is beyond argument that words cannot simply be "understood" in terms of just any "subject" that happens to pop up in a person's mind. All of God's words have a very particular "context" that includes, as a matter of primary import, a "subject" (What is it about which God is speaking?).
For this cause, we are going to spend some time this evening looking into 1 Thessalonians 5:23 as an overarching summary reality that insists that we look for its meaning throughout the Bible.
I. My Meaning of a "Summary Reality".
A. Occasionally, biblical writers will make what I call a comprehensive summary statement so that their readers can begin to get a legitimate grasp of that about which they are actually writing.
1. John was notable for the use of these comprehensive statements, especially in 1 John.
a. Example One: 1 John 2:16.
b. Example Two: 1 John 2:25.
c. Example Three: John's multiple "These things write I unto you so that..." statements (8 of the 10 verses in 1 John that contain an equivalent phrase are either "because" or "so that" expressions).
d. Example Four: John 20:31.
2. Peter turned his first letter into a detailed presentation of "true grace" in 1 Peter 5:12.
B. Paul's statement in our current text is unique in its bringing of spirit, soul, and body together as the object of God's "sanctifying" efforts.
C. Hebrews 4:12 clearly declares that the Word of God has this intention: to clarify the details of God's efforts in respect to "soul and spirit" as is mirrored by "bones and marrow".
D. Conclusion: "Summary Realities" can be seen all through the biblical revelation.
1. If we begin with Genesis 3, we see the introduction to John's "summary statement" of 1 John 2:16.
2. If we move to Genesis 12, we see God making a commitment to Abraham to address all three of the "weaknesses" of a human approach to "life".
3. When we move to Matthew 4 and Luke 4 we see Jesus being subjected to "the three".
4. When we read James' letter, we see from the first and last chapters that he is dealing with "what to do when Genesis 3 happens to you", and, lo and behold, each of the three intervening chapters focuses upon one of the "three" [chapter 2 is about "the lust of the eyes"; chapter 3 is about "the boastful pride of life"; and chapter 4 is about the impact of "hedonism" -- the "lust of the flesh"].
II. Paul's "Summary Categories".
A. "Spirit" as an area wherein God works because there is something "broken" about man's spirit. (there is no need for "sanctification" if there is nothing "broken").
B. "Soul" as an area wherein God works because there is something "broken" about man's soul.
1. It is at this point that our studies address a critical misconception regarding the "immaterial" aspect of man's makeup: that "spirit" and "soul" are too complicated to make any statements regarding so we just dismiss the issue.
2. The "spirit" is not the "soul" and the "soul" is not the "spirit" and each has its own problems and solutions.
C. "Body" as an area wherein God works because there is something "broken" about man's body.
III. Paul's Concept of "Sanctification".
A. Does not, technically, mean that the "broken" will be "fixed".
B. Sanctification, as clarified in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, is not about "fixing" what is broken; it is about separating God's input so that the "brokenness" is no longer a real problem.
C. Sanctification is fundamentally "learning how to avoid the traps that the 'brokenness' tends to set for us if we are unwary".