SANC-TIF-I-CA-WHAT? The overarching life goal for all Christian people is sanctification (v3), yet very few even know what the word means. The root word sanct means 'holy' (think of how the word 'sanctuary' often means 'holy place'). Thus, becoming sanctified means looking more and more like Christ in all parts of your life. The first 8 verses of this chapter remind you of this goal and illustrate what a sanctified life looks like.
SANCTIFICATION IS A LIFELONG JOURNEY: There are two big 'ification' words to remember in theology. The first is justification, in which you were declared righteous before God because you are in Christ. It was a one time thing that counts forever. You will never be any more or less justified than the moment you first believed. The other word, sanctification, is something that you will work on for your entire life. There will be times where you do really well with it, and then times where it all goes down in flames and you need to get back up again. Although none of us will ever become fully sanctified in this sinful world, we are to keep as our goal living in order to please God (v1).
MIND YOUR OWN BEESWAX: One big criticism leveled at Christians is that we try to 'legislate morality' by imposing Biblical values into civil law. Although this is an illogical criticism on its face, we do need to recognize that as Christians we do not have a Biblical mandate to transform civil society. This is made clear in v11-12, where it says to keep your head down, work hard, and love one another. Paul doesn't call the Thessalonians to advocate for Godly values in their pagan Roman government. Certainly as citizens who have been given the blessing of representative government, we should do our best to make sure our governments conform to Biblical values, but our focus needs to be on transforming & sanctifying our own lives, not necessarily our neighbor's.
FUNERAL POTATOES: The last half of chapter 4 is one we often read at funerals, especially during the graveside ceremony at the cemetery. As we commit the physical remains of a fallen saint to the earth, we do so in tremendous hope that in a miraculous, supernatural way, that dead body will once again live with the Lord forever (v17).
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father God, who is holy and calls us to live holy lives (v1-8)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God will equip you to live your life in a way that wins the respect of outsiders (v12)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: