God Has a Plan for That!

Our theme this year is "A Zeal for the Church." We at Grace Church want to have an all-consuming desire for this local body to succeed spiritually. Anyone God has saved, He has a plan to use in the church. Our heart, soul, mind, and strength are to be utilized in living for His purposes. Paul calls this being sanctified "entirely" or completely.

Spiritual disciplines are our part in sanctification. This summer, we will study four disciplines of the spiritual life. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 lays a solid groundwork for our understanding.

This verse comes at the end of Paul's letter, in which he mentions Christ's return five times. This is our motivation for holy living. We want to be like Christ because we could see Him at any moment.

Our pursuit of righteousness takes place in an environment of God's grace. God's grace is able to save, sustain, and preserve us completely. Sanctification has three aspects:

  • Positional. God is completely and forever satisfied with the believer because of His Son. If Christ lives in you, you are no longer measured by your successes and failures.
  • Practical or Progressive. We become more like Christ through our daily choices and the work of the Spirit.
  • Final. When we see Him, we will be made perfectly like Christ.

The source of our sanctification is "the God of peace." God provides omnipotent power for us to be sanctified. Imagine the power of Niagara Falls. This is a small picture of God's infinite ability to sustain you.

The word "peace" in this verse refers to salvation, permanent rest for one's soul. A person can have no holiness in living without receiving positional righteousness. As D. Edmond Hiebert wrote, "God can work practical holiness only in those who have ceased rebellion against God."


God's agenda is to sanctify us "entirely." We will reach final sanctification because God compels us to be practically sanctified. This is called the perseverance of the saints. If our salvation were based on us, we could and would lose it.

Believers are excited to grow every day because they know their promised future. We live our whole life in light of its end, pursuing Christ-likeness in preparation for the day when we will be fully like our Savior. No area is left untouched in the sanctification process. It is not natural for a believer to have parts of his or her life to be left worldly for long.

The entire person is involved in sanctification. Paul names three parts of a person:

  • Spirit – the part of you that communes with God.
  • Soul – your personality, mind, will, and emotions.
  • Body – the physical part of you which gives a visual testimony for others to know whether you are godly or not.

Sanctification involves your effort working with God. His grace is the source, but you still have personal responsibility.


The goal and end result of sanctification is that we be found "without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Blameless does not mean perfection. C.F. Hogg and W.E. Vine clarify the word's meaning as describing something "not utterly without defect, but giving no just cause for complaint."

Application Points

  • Are you ready for Christ's return? Do you know Him as Savior and Lord? How would you respond if you saw Jesus today? Would you be ashamed or joyful at His coming?
  • Growth happens in the context of prayer. How is your time with God? Think in terms of quality, not whether you are on track with a reading plan or other structure. As your relationship with God deepens, you will notice increased governance of the Spirit over your soul and body.
  • Ancient tombstones have been found that contained the word "blameless." Can you be remembered that way? No one can be a perfect person, but our goal is to be someone who does not give any just cause for complaint.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Romans 5:1-2, Philippians 1:6 – We find peace in salvation because God's grace initiates and finishes.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Complete In Thee"

Complete in Thee! no work of mine
May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee.

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!
And sanctified! Salvation wrought!
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And glorified, I, too, shall be!

Complete in Thee—no more shall sin,
Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand complete in Thee.

Complete in Thee—each want supplied,
And no good thing to me denied;
Since Thou my portion, Lord, will be,
I ask no more, complete in Thee.

Dear Savior! when before Thy bar
All tribes and tongues assembled are,
Among Thy chosen will I be,
At Thy right hand—complete in Thee.