Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he who calls you, and he also will bring it to pass. (verses 23-24)
This is a prayer I pray regularly for myself, several times a week.
Sanctification is something that has already been accomplished for us, but also something that will continue to be accomplished in us until Jesus returns.
To be sanctified means that our holy God, in Jesus, sets us apart as holy – we are “in Christ”, therefore we are indeed holy, as if we have been clothed in a robe of absolute righteousness from Jesus himself. But the work is not yet completely finished. It’s as if from under that spotless robe in which he’s clothed us, the Lord is continually extracting impurities, cleansing us in our inner being as well as our outer behaviour, making us more and more like Jesus.
So, let's celebrate both aspects. First: we are indeed sanctified already – the work is done, the declaration made.
Writing to the church in Corinth, which was by no means perfect, Paul addresses them as “those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Later, addressing them personally, he says, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Sanctification is a work that has been accomplished in their lives – in Jesus, they have been set apart as holy.
But, secondly, sanctification is also an ongoing process. It needs yet to be completed. This is what Paul has in mind when he prays: “may the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely … may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame.”
Wow. Imagine. What a day that will be, when the whole of my being, in every inter-related part, is without blame! My thinking and imagining and emotions and motivations and spiritual sensitivities and actions and cravings and attitudes and perspectives and on and on and on. All of it untarnished, unblemished, uncontaminated – spotless. Knowing myself, and knowing the failings in even my best moments, I can hardly fathom it. But this is where this prayer is aiming.
It’s why I keep praying it, regularly, over myself, again and again. It’s so incredibly good!
And it’s not just wishful thinking. No! This prayer is completely anchored in the God of peace himself, “peace” being that Old Testament concept of “shalom” that implies wholeness and completeness and fullness of health and life. If our God, who embodies this wholeness of life, is choosing to work such completion in me, then all is well. For what is absolutely clear is that our God is faithful. Fully trustworthy. Never letting us down. Since he is the one who has set all of this in motion, since he is the one who is currently working sanctification in me, then there is full assurance that he will complete the work. He will do it, plain and simple.
Praise his name.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify me entirely; and may my spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he who calls me, and he also will bring it to pass.
Praise his name.
Pray: Take these 2 verses and pray them for yourself several times throughout this day. Give him thanks. Rejoice in his faithfulness to do what he has promised.