Lesson 7 -- third quarter 2010
July 18, 2010
© Copyright 2010
How does "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" affect my life?
"Let no man deceive you by any means" -- what am I doing to implement that?
Do I have "the love of the truth"?
In what do I find pleasure, enjoyment, and/or entertainment?
By what means does the "sanctification of the Spirit" express itself through me?
"Stand fast, and hold" -- how am I doing?
Such good things to enjoy and live by in verses 16 and 17! Do I?
The first part of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 urges: "Let no man deceive you by any means."
But how do I do that? After all, deception is sneaky and hard to detect. That's its nature. That's what makes it hard to see.
A few verses later in the same chapter we have this: "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (10).
To keep people from deceiving me, I must know the truth. Love the truth, in fact.
And believe it, according to this piece from verse 13: "salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." So that's another way to avoid deception: allow God's spirit to make me holy (sanctify and cleanse me).
Then at the end of the chapter we have this blessing: "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work" (16,17).
What brings me pleasure? From what do I derive it? What do I do for enjoyment, entertainment, and/or fun?
Two answers require particular caution and vigilance: reading and Web browsing. If I had TV or some other sort of video, the challenge would be magnified for me.
That's why a piece of 2 Thessalonians 2:12 serves me well as both a warning and a reminder: " . . . Had pleasure in unrighteousness."
I'm not talking about books and other sources who primary focus is sin, although they are certainly included.
I have in mind pleasure sources that may be amoral (or even moral for the most part) but have unrighteousness scattered through them.
I know, I know. Life is life, and life has loads of unrighteousness through it. But why must my "entertainment" present it?
The Bible speaks frequently about God's people being holy, sanctified, and set apart. A verse in today's lesson reminds me of that; listen to a piece of it. "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit" (2 Thessalonians 2:13). So one way of explaining my salvation is that God accomplishes it through the sanctifying work of His own Spirit. That means our salvation hangs on our sanctification.
Sanctification is wonderful and blessed. It can also be a continuing frustration and even discouragement. I say that because some days I just don't feel very sanctified . . . then the devil has a hey-day introducing his doubts into my mind. Also, all too often I don't act, talk, or even think in a sanctified fashion . . . and then the devil really has a fistful of ammo to use on me. Two questions come fairly naturally:
"What's wrong with me?!"
"What happened to my sanctification?"
Sanctification requires a separation from profane things and a dedication to God. Sanctify means "to consecrate or purify." The biggest hindrance to sanctification is our own flesh (Romans 7:18). It constantly tries to act contrary to our sanctification. I know grudges and bitterness, lust and covetousness, deceit and evil speaking are wrong. In consecrating myself to God I have rejected these and other profane things. But my flesh thoroughly enjoys every fling it manages into any of them! Does this mean that my dedication to God is destroyed every time I fail? No!
Sanctification is a position and a process. When I surrendered my life to the Lordship of Jesus, God declared me just and sanctified. That is my position in Jesus; that is called "beginning in the Spirit" (Galatians 3:3). As long as my heart is perfect toward God and my spirit earnestly strives to remain submissive to Him, my position is secure. However, that position does not translate into immediate, 100% practical, livable sanctification. My flesh and the devil see to that. That is where the process of sanctification enters in. Day in and day out, my flesh must be crucified, denied, brought into subjection. God works in conjunction with my spirit to make it exercise increasing control over my flesh. God began something good and He will continue working on it! "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
No, the process of sanctification does not happen all at once. But our position of sanctification is established very quickly. From that position of strength we can daily deal with our flesh in a continuous process of cleansing through exposure to truth. "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17).
Exodus 19:5,6 apply to God's people through all ages, not just back then. Let this promise encourage your heart: "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me . . . and an holy nation." Sanctified!
This concludes my comments based on the passage for the International Bible Study. To read my comments on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications, click here: The Minister's Call and Commitment.
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