Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24.
What does it mean to be “sanctified wholly” and “preserved blameless” at the coming of the Lord? Shouldn’t we be that way, even now?
In today’s passage Paul returns to the language of prayer. His style is similar to that of 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13. His main theme is also similar: being found blameless in holiness at the Second Coming. Paul makes a transition here from what the Thessalonians are supposed to do (1 Thess. 5:12-22) to what God does in us (holiness) and for us (the Second Coming).
Believers have often disagreed as to exactly what this text says about the nature of human beings and the kind of character they can expect to have when Jesus comes. In our brief encounter with this passage, we will focus on what can be said clearly on the basis of this text.
Paul is saying that what God does in believers is to extend throughout the entire person. Every part of the believer’s life is to be affected by sanctification as the return of Jesus approaches. In speaking of “spirit, soul and body,” Paul was not attempting to be scientific and precise about various layers of the human person (in biblical thought mind and body are a unified whole, not parts that exist separately). Rather, he was expressing that every part of our mind and body is to be submitted to God. God is to be allowed full control of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Paul’s prayer extends from the present time to the Second Coming. Believers are to be preserved, or kept blameless, until the coming of the Lord. Paul is praying that the completeness of their dedication to God will be maintained all the way to the end. According to this letter, the Thessalonians were far from perfect, but what they did have was worth preserving until Jesus comes. As much as anything else, then, Paul was praying that they would continue to grow in grace through a relationship with Jesus (see also John 15:4-6).
In what ways can you, and should you, be preparing every day for the Lord’s return?