In recent years many books have been written concerning how a Christian can live their best life now. Some of these books have some marginally good things to say, but they miss the core of what is the best life for the Christian. What is the best life for the Christian? To live in the center of the will of God, of course!
Before you begin to panic over the insertion of the phrase (the will of God), which too often causes unnecessary panic for far too many Christians, let’s look at the scriptures for a moment to see, that knowing God’s will is not nebulous and mysterious…
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
When we zero in on the underlined phrase “not willing” we can clearly see, that God’s will is for all men to be saved (although only those who repent and live by faith in Christ are saved). Simply put, a large portion of the will of God, concerning those who follow Christ, is to speak the truth about Jesus in ways that offer an opportunity for the lost to repent and be saved. Closely related to God’s will, in this endeavor, is the quality of character we are to have while walking in the afore mentioned area of His will…
1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,
The above passage of scripture is obvious in the way it reveals the will of God for the Christian…
- that we be sanctified
- that means we are not sexually immoral
- that we command ourselves as a vessel for God’s purpose alone
Simply put, the word sanctification and it’s various forms (sanctify, sanctified) means to be set apart from evil and unto God for His purposes alone. In the context of I Thessalonians 4:3-4, our being called to possess our vessels in sanctification and honor, is a reference with a picture; that picture is the holy vessels of the temple.
Remember these vessels were set a apart for one purpose, no matter if it was the menorah, candlestick, cup, pitcher or basin (among hundreds of others). These vessels were to be used for the only purpose they were created for and when not used they had to be cleaned and prepared to be used. Concerning our sanctification, this means that we are set apart for god’s purposes alone, not to be used for anything other than His will–we are also to be being cleansed from the influence of the world, our flesh and the devil.
The word sanctification and its various forms is intimately connected with a word that also too often causes adverse emotional reactions in American Christians.; the word holy and all its forms. I Peter 1:15-16 gives us further clarity.
1 Peter 1:15-16 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
When examining the Greek words used for both “sanctify” and “holy” we find they are actually of the same root word. The word holy speaks to our position in Christ, based on our being justified by the blood of Christ, as well as our calling to live a life of holiness daily. Two passages of scripture reveal this monumental truth.
2 Corinthians 5:21 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Romans 5:8-11 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
In the shedding of Christ’s blood on our behalf, our sins were washed away, and we for all time and eternity are counted justified or “not guilty” for our sin, so long as we continue in the faith. In this we are holy, as if we have never sinned. This does not mean we will never sin again, but that the basis for our once for all forgiveness has been met in Christ’s once for all sacrifice (I Peter 3:18). We are glad that when we fail in the Christ life, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, and so long as we confess our sins, He is just and faithful to forgive them and cleanse us from the unrighteousness. This is the first aspect of our being holy.
The second aspect of our being holy is the truth communicated in the statement “be holy, for I am holy“. When looking at the words being used, it conveys that the person is not only holy in God’s sight, but is to be practically, progressively more clean and Christ-like with each passing moment. This is where the word sanctification comes into view. As “holy” is to be our positional character, “sanctification” is the process by which holiness becomes our practical character and life expression. God of course has the largest and most supernatural part, for Christ is the Sanctifier (I Thessalonians 5:23), but our part is to possess our vessel in sanctification and honor.
Our best life now is to be holy in character, submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leading us into greater and more consistent love, joy, moral purity, peace, power in the Spirit, righteousness and grace. This sounds wonderful, but too often, we want in error to see holiness as a behavior list, only. In this manner many get frustrated and quit.
In the first place this error often degenerates into religious self effort, where we accept “doing the list”, as being righteous. This error is the reason Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write Romans 6-8 (especially chapter 7). Let’s always remember, no matter how high the quality of ones moral character, apart from Christ, it means nothing. Our righteousness is not our own, but Christ’s imputed to us by faith. According to Galatians 2:20, the righteous life and actions that come from our lives, are not even ours, but Christ living them in and through us, as we submit to the Holy Spirit.
Secondly this error can degenerate into defeated Christians, who feel they are second class citizens, not being able to overcome. In both cases it leaves out the Holy Spirit as the one who brings our best life now.
This is where we will settle to explore a bit further; finding how to live this best life: one of holiness without which none will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). In this let us remember that the best example of our best life now, is the life of our Savior Jesus Christ, who shows us how we are to live in complete dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit.
JESUS CHRIST, THE MIGHTIEST LEADER AND BEST MODEL TO FOLLOW
To say that our Lord Jesus Christ is holy is to admit the obvious. He is the Holy Anointed One, the Alpha and Omega, the expressed image Person of and brightness of the glory of God, who is a consuming fire. In the days of His first incarnation, He was the epitome of holiness, which was surprisingly down to earth and drawing to the most vile of sinners. It might surprise you to know that Jesus shows us what it means to be sanctified. This seems contradictory to His holiness but is not at all.
John 17:15-19 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
In our next post, we will explore the ways Jesus Christ our Lord sanctified Himself in being practically powerfully holy, as a model for us to be able to live obeying His command, “be ye holy, for I am holy”, which is the pathway to living our best life now.