by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 6 May 31, 2015 Dayton, Texas
23 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.
24 Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it].
1901 ASV Translation:
23 And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at thecoming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it.
I. The Sanctification of the "Body".
A. This is Paul's clear signal regarding what we can "expect" God to do in "sanctification". Paul is unambiguous about the fact that the "body" has been turned over to the processes of death without remedy other than resurrection after death (Romans 8:21-23).
1. This means that God's "sanctification" is not about "fixing" the spirit, soul, or body so that they function in a higher degree of holiness as an outworking of their essential composition.
2. This means that God's sanctification is most fundamentally about a divine input that compensates for the weaknesses of men so that those men actually produce godliness out of a legitimate love/faith complex while they reside in a corrupted body.
a. Perhaps the clearest statement of this is Romans 8:10: "...if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness". Though the statement is not as clear as it might be, there is no doubt that Paul is saying that our abilities to manifest true godliness (right action out of right motives) are of the "Spirit" in spite of the actual condition of the body.
b. Sanctification is a consequence of God's activities within us, and external to us, that have their greatest impact upon us when we are actively "believing" Him as to His provision of His Spirit in our bodies.
1) The issue of "active trust" is an issue, not of whether God will do His work, but of whether that work has an impact upon us becauseof our cooperative attitude, or inspiteof any oppositional attitude we might be embracing. In other words, God is committed to our "sanctification" whether we are or not, but we experience more fully what He is doing if we are willing to actively trust Him while He works.
2) The very fact that Paul wrote the Thessalonian letters indicates his understanding of just how much more we can enter into of God's work on our behalf if we are gripping the "Hope" with a tenacity of "faith". However, within this letter (specifically, the next verse of our study), Paul clearly declares the impact is God's to accomplish. He alluded to this by his reference to "election" in 1:4 and caps it in 5:24 by clearly telling his readers that it is God Who will accomplish the goal. However, because he wrote this, it is clear that he expected the Thessalonians to "believe" him, thus indicating how much of a role "faith" has in the entire process. God's children who are not "believing" are not left to their own devices and fail to be "sanctified"; they are, instead, subjected to the "sanctifying" processes of divine discipline and encouragement to faith.
B. This sanctification does not directly affect the physical processes of the body.
1. There is no indication in the Bible that physical health is, necessarily, a detriment to God's "sanctification of the body". Thus, there is no new covenant commitment on God's part to provide physical health. Also there is no indication that the new covenant contains any commitment on God's part to "repair" physical damages done to the body. He may do such, but He has made no promises to do so.
2. Because God's sanctification in regard to the body does not rest upon promises of health or the restoration of the body from physical damages, it has to be that the "sanctification" has its most effective focus upon getting us to get our focus off of our physical state. Most of us are idolaters at heart when it comes to the physical issues of our health: we believe that "Life" is a product, or at least a by-product, of a well functioning physical body. Nothing could be further from the truth as has been demonstrated for centuries as God has produced extraordinarily godly servants in spite of their physical issues. Our idolatry is exposed every time we get frustrated and angry when we do not "feel good".
3. However, the Bible does make mention upon occasion of the fact that a healthy relationship with the God of Grace has a beneficial impact upon the function of the physical body. Those who study and work with things "physical" know that hopefulness, joy, peace, and such like attitudes affect blood pressure, nervous tension, and other issues that can tend toward health in the body. So, walking by the Spirit tends in the direction of better physical health, but there are no promises of such health for New Testament believers. It is simply a nice side affect when it exists.
B. The areas of "need" regarding our physical bodies.
1. Are revealed by the temptation accounts to focus upon "the lusts of the flesh" when the body is what is meant by "flesh".
2. Consist mostly in two directions.
a. The body seeks "to feel good".
b. The body is strongly averse to "pain".
c. Thus, "pain" and "pleasure" pretty much sum up the areas where we are temptable in respect to the body.
C. God's commitments in regard to these twin weaknesses.
1. Are revealed by the promise accounts.
a. Abraham was promised a "land" to meet the physical needs of his body (Genesis 12:1-3).
b. Paul was promised "sufficient grace" when his physical needs were being denied (2 Corinthians 12:9).
2. This means a couple of things.
a. God is interested in our physical condition when it is not a matter of idolatry.
b. God is more interested in our understanding of how to relate to Him in grace.