Friday, December 09, 2011

Instruction and Sanctification

Time flies fast... The last one, it seems to me, was just very recent... And now it's our cell group's turn again? Anyway, here's another sharing I prepared for our Wednesday night service... 

(RE: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28)

Good evening.

Our text for today is the last part of 1 Thessalonians where Paul, to sum up, leaves last words of instruction and a benediction.  In this passage, there are three types of “What to do?” applications that Paul wanted us to do. 

First, according to verses 12 to 13, is to honor our spiritual mentors – pastors, ministers, cell group leaders, elders, etc. – who bother to pray and nurture us for our spiritual well-being.   In verse 12 also states that admonishing us when we do wrong is part of these spiritual mentors’ job description.  So we should not take it against them when they rebuke us of our wrong-doing because they only do this to take care of our spiritual health. Rather than harboring ill feelings in our hearts against them, we should “hold them in highest regard.  We should be eternally thankful for these God-sent spiritual mentors who effort to take care of our spiritual well-being and bless them always.          

Second, according to verses 14 to 15, is to create a loving and healthy relationship environment with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We should give warnings to each other when we became lazy and disruptive which can affect negatively our work and health as a church.  We should lift the spirits or cheer up those who are weak, discouraged or brokenhearted.  We should defend and take care of the weak among us.  We should be patient with each other, especially those who are our spiritual baby brothers or sisters in Christ.  We should do everything in our power to see to it that no harm shall fall on each other but rather only bring the best for him or her.  In summary, we should encourage and protect each other with dedication, passion, and enthusiasm.  According to pop culture, in Mafia famiglias, they have strong sense of loyalty and “you mess with him, you mess with me” mentality for each other, and as Christians, we should have a stronger bond than Mafia famiglias or any form of brotherhood in this world, because we are made one in Christ!

Third, according to verses 16 to 22, is how to live out our own lives.  We should always rejoice, pray continually, and be thankful in all circumstances.  We should aim to maintain our bodies a favorable place for the Holy Spirit to dwell in.  Hold on to what is good and throw away those who are evil.  This is the life we should live as individuals.    

These might seem very hard instructions to carry out.  Indeed, they are hard.  Alone, we can’t do them at all.  But I am very much encouraged by verse 18b: “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  God’s will will always happen.  Therefore, if it’s God’s will for us to do these things, then we can certainly do them!  By God’s help we can carry out these instructions for us!

Indeed, alongside these instructions is Paul’s reminder that it is God who fully sanctifies us.  Verse 23 says: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Amen.  God started it in our lives, he will certainly finish it to the end.  We can’t ever in the slightest carry our His instructions and live holy lives by our own.  All credit belongs to God.  It is God who will enable us to carry out His instructions and to live holy lives.  Only God can really make us a holy Bride – to be presented perfect and blameless and worthy before the Bridegroom, to enjoy His presence forever.

And I love to be reminded that this is for sure!  Victory is guaranteed.  As verse 24 says, “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” 

To God be the glory.         

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