God’s Work

Nov 7 2023 - Eric Buresh

Talk about setting high expectations, try this one on for size: “Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22. Paul isn’t mincing words here. He is saying, quite literally, be perfect. And it is written as a command by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 

A command directed to you and me. To pursue holiness. Hebrews 12:4. It is a command, like every command, that is drawn from the nature of God. It is designed to bring us ever more into unity with Him so that we can ever more enjoy the fullness of pleasure that is found and experienced only in His trinitarian presence. Our God is Holy. He is perfect. And to be able to exist in perfect unity in the fullness of His presence, we also need to be holy and perfect. We must be holy because He is Holy. 1 Peter 1:6. 

We should take this task seriously and be diligent in our pursuit of holiness as we desire to grow more and more into unity with our Maker so we can more and more fully enjoy the fulness of His presence. We are not waiting on eternity because we desire this joy now. We want the abundant life that Christ promises. The joy and pleasure of God’s presence, both now in us and fully in our eternal future, is the fruit of our salvation. Romans 6:22. So, we passionately pursue holiness. In all candor, though, we know holiness is humanly impossible. We are not on our own able to abstain from every form of evil. We are not on our own able to be perfect. We cannot on our own attain holiness.   

I heard it said once (I can’t recall where) that God never gives us a command that He does not also give us the power, by His grace, to satisfy. He is not arbitrary and capricious. He gives what He compels. And this command is no different. To this huge command, Paul quickly adds that the “God of peace Himself will sanctify you completely.” “He who [gave you the command] is faithful, He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. While we exercise every ounce of will that God gives us in our pursuit of holiness, we acknowledge that our sanctification is ultimately God’s work. The Holy Spirit will work in us, through us, in our circumstances and by the words, actions, and prayers of those around us to guide us into His holiness. He will transform our minds and our motives at his own perfect pace.   

We don’t achieve holiness, we receive holiness. We depend on God to fulfill His command in us. Sanctification is God’s work! And He is faithful. He will do it! We can be confident that everything we need for our good and His glory, He will provide.