Summary: 7th in the series, "Left Behind: 1 & 2 Thessalonians." Examines God’s Plan to make us holy.
In the Army we did nothing without an operations order. The operations order defines important things like who is responsible for what, what the objective of the mission is, when and where the operations will take place and supplies that will be needed.
When I say we did nothing without one, I mean we did nothing… we couldn’t have a battalion picnic without an oporder—supply annex and the whole 9 yards.
As I was reading verses 23 and 24 of our text it occurred to me that it read a lot like an oporder for Operation Sanctification. Sanctification simply refers to the process that is supposed to happen in our lives once we trust in Jesus, it is this process that causes us to become more like Jesus and helps us become what the Lord means for us to be.
Since these verses read like an OPORDER I thought I’d present them that way. So I decided to go through it with you in that way.
Command and Control
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you
Before you can talk about what the mission objectives are, you’ve got to know who the operatives are and especially who is in charge.
With regard to our becoming followers of Jesus, the oporder makes it clear that the prime mover is God Himself.
So what about all of the things we usually associate with being a follower of Jesus Christ? What about church attendance, Bible reading, prayer, avoiding sin, giving, and serving? Aren’t these the things that Christians do?
Yes, they are. Here’s the difference. All of these things are nothing more than an empty performance if we do them to try to make ourselves acceptable to God. Or if we do them for the purpose of making others think that we are spiritual. This is pretending. This is play-acting. This is nothing more than doing spiritual things outwardly to impress God and/or other people. So why should we do these things?
We do them in response to what His Spirit is doing in us—to give Him opportunity to recreate the life of Christ in us. Our sanctification occurs as we submit command and control to Jesus.
The most important part of any oporder is the commander’s intent. This is what if all else fails the commander intends to have accomplished when the day is done. This is the bottom line and in typical army fashion an oporder puts the BLUF. What is the commanders intent in Operation sanctification.
sanctify you through and through.
God’s plan to sanctify us is a take no prisoners approach.
When a person becomes a Christian, he usually undergoes some radical life changes, especially if he has had an immoral background. Through the first steps of spiritual growth and self-denial, he gets rid of the large, obvious sins. But sad to say, many believers stop there. They don’t go on to allow the Holy Spirit toeliminate the little sins that clutter the landscape of their lives.
Gordon MacDonald, in his book Ordering Your Private World, told of an experience in his own life that illustrates this truth. "Some years ago, when Gail and I bought the old abandoned New Hampshire farm we now call Peace Ledge, we found the site where we wished to build our country home strewn with rocks and boulders. It was going to take a lot of hard work to clear it all out....The first phase of the clearing process was easy. The big boulders went fast. And when they were gone, we began to see that there were a lot of smaller rocks that had to go too. But when we had cleared the site of the boulders and the rocks, we noticed all of the stones and pebbles we had not seen before. This was much harder, more tedious work. But we stuck to it, and there came the day when the soil was ready for planting grass." Our Daily Bread.
The Commander’s intent is that not just the boulders but the pebbles go. Not just the drunkenness but the gossip. Not just the sexual immorality, but the envy as well. Not just the sins of commission, but the sins of omission.
The commander’s intent is that you be sanctified through and through. Next let’s look at the target area for this operation.
May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless
The military uses the term “battle space” to refer to the entire battlefield land air and sea. The battlespace for Operation sancitification is your whole spirit, soul and body.
This is a biblical way of speaking about the whole self. Soul when it’s used in this way means your mind. So the target for the Lord’s cleansing work is your entire spirit mind and body.