Many of us, as Christians, do not have a clear understanding of what is supposed to happen after we become believers. We know that we have put our trust in Jesus, so that our sins are forgiven, and we have eternal life. That is just the beginning of the Christian life, not the end. God still has a plan for each of us as we live out the rest of our days on this earth. His plan is that we become more and more like Jesus. We call this process sanctification. It comes from the word that means to be "set apart." We are to be set apart from the world, which is led by Satan and his forces. We are to be set apart to the Lord, so that we follow His will, not what others are doing. Paul gave us a clear summary of what should be happening. (I Thessalonians 5:23) He prayed for the believers in Thessalonica to be sanctified completely by the God of peace. Also, he prayed that their whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let's unpack this important verse for a minute.
Every one of us is a spirit, soul, and body. The spirit is what enables us to relate to God and draw near to Him. Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions. It is who we are as a person. The way we think, make decisions, and feel. Our body is how we relate to other people and to this world. In order to be completely sanctified all three parts of our person must be set apart for the Lord. We must decide to give our whole heart to the Lord in surrender to Him every day. We must give Him our mind, will, and emotions, and ask the Spirit to make them function as God designed them to function, not as sin had corrupted them before we were saved. We even need to give Him our entire body, and ask Him to set it apart from all evil actions and words. This is possible to accomplish, though we will not be perfect. We can become like Jesus as a mature Christian. Then, we are to maintain that relationship with the Lord every day through focusing on Him and His will for us until Jesus comes back to receive us to Himself. See what I mean? God has a great plan for us, and if we miss this process, we will live outside of His will, and our lives will not be pleasing to the Lord, so He can't bless us the way He wants.
Tomorrow, I intend to read II Thessalonians 1-3.