God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives.1 Thessalonians 4:7 (NLT)
Here’s a great, big, theological word for you today: sanctified. Theologians love their big words. For the record, I’m a pastor, not a theologian. What’s the difference? A theologian is generally a teacher, a professor, who dedicates themselves to studying every nuance of the Scriptures in the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic languages. They get twitter-pated if they find an extra “the” in the Greek manuscript that does not appear in the English translations. They are more academic. Pastors are more people oriented. Our ministry is less about the academics and more about the people in our immediate care and the community that surrounds us. For the church to function well, we need both the theologians and the pastors. But, I digress.
Sanctification is simply this: The process of becoming holy, or more God-like. So, our verse today is dealing with the fact that God isn’t calling us to live out our lives on our own, sinful terms. Instead, He is calling us to live as if we belong to the Kingdom of God. But, how do we live a sanctified/holy life? We’re sinners after all.
Let me be clear, this verse is not calling us to be perfect – as in without sin. It is telling us where to put our focus. You see, we can’t live a holy life without focusing on the One that is holy. It comes down to the very first commandment, “Don’t have any other gods.” If our lives are focused on other things or other people, and God is not given the priority He is due, then we are incapable of living a sanctified life. We live an impure life.
Anything that commands our focus becomes our god. When we focus on gossip, gossip is our god. When we focus on gaming, gaming is our god. When we focus on beauty, vanity is our god. When we focus on ourselves, selfishness is our god. When we judge others, then pride is our god. When our focus is on music, music is our god. And so on, and so on.
Instead, God is calling us to spend time with Him, to focus on Him. The more time we spend with Him, the more we become like Him. When our focus in life is on Him, and His mission, we begin living a holy life, not an impure life. When we focus on Jesus, we come to more fully understand, and live out, His grace, mercy and compassion. When we focus on listening to the Holy Spirit, He will show us how to live a life of love – a sanctified life.