Summary: Just as the two Great Commandments are both vertical and horizontal, so spiritual growth comes predominantly from vertical and horizontal sources.

North, South, East and West

(1 Thessalonians 5:23-28)

Like an X and Y axis in Algebra, so spiritual growth comes from both vertical and horizontal directions.

1. God has a lot of work to do in our lives; for some of us, God has cleared away the biggest hurdles, but there are plenty of lesser ones. In other cases, Hi is working on the big ones!

2. It is easy to get frustrated, but the fact we care, the fact we want to grow, the fact we have indeed grown in some areas is a sign of God working within us.

3. Hopefully we are not like the little boy who prayed, "Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am."

4. Back in the 1970’s, someone came up with buttons and stickers that had these letters:


Please be patient with me, God is not finished with me yet!

5. So, how do we grow? It obviously starts with salvation, but what then?

Main Idea: Just as the two Great Commandments are both vertical and horizontal, so spiritual growth comes predominantly from vertical and horizontal sources.

I Vertical Growth: Our SANCTIFICATION Through God (23-24)


A. A WISH (23)

• In the original Greek, this is the optative mood, the mood of wish

• A blessing is a prayer in the third person (may He, God, do this for you)

• Rick Warren expressed his opinion that songs of worship to God, written in the second person ("Lord, I Lift Your Name on High") are more worshipful than songs that sing about God; but if the Psalms are any clue, then Rick Warren is wrong. "I love the Lord because He hears my prayer."

• "The Lord is righteous and blameless in all His ways…"

• You see, whenever you talk about God, He is eavesdropping…hence this blessing

1. WHAT is sanctification?

• comes from the God of peace, so it must refer to living in harmony with Him

• "set apart for God;" same as the word "holy"

• John MacArthur writes, "Sanctification is the ongoing spiritual process by which God increasingly sets believers apart from sin and moves them toward holiness."

• The one thing God uses more than anything else to help us grow is His Word.

John 16:17-18, a text in which Jesus is praying for His disciples, reads:

" They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world."

The most important thing you can do to grow in the Lord is to read and study the Bible.

One secret to keep Bible study interesting is to change levels of depth…

My brother in law is a video game fanatic, going back to the days of Atari…expert level, beginning level…

2. The TENSES of sanctification

• Past -- We are legally set apart as holy for God when we believe

• Present -- The Holy Spirit is helping us to become more holy progressively

• Future --When we seen Christ, we shall be completely sanctified

In I John 3:1-3, we see all three tenses:

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! [past: this happened when we believed]. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is [future: we will be completely Christ-like when He appears]. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure [present: we purify ourselves on the basis of hope].

3. The WHOLE extent of sanctification

• "through and through" means completely, all of us

• to be kept "blameless" means that we will not be embarrassed when He returns

I John 2:28, "And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming."

• Both the I John verse and this verse in Thessalonians connects the concept of being blameless to the return of Jesus Christ…

• How many parts does a human being have?

B. An Assurance Based on GOD’S Character (24)

• This blessing is not just a wish and not just a prayer; it is, rather, an assurance….

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