Advent devotions: December 15th
By Gianni Gracia
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
Between the “now” of our daily lives and the “not yet” of Christ’s return, the apostle Paul writes to encourage believers in the faith. First, he who sanctifies is God, who is also “the God of peace” (v. 23), a peace established on the cross. Additionally, God’s sanctification of us signifies our separation from a life of sin, and he creates in us the desire to devote ourselves to a life set apart for him.
Second, this sanctification is the transformation of a being in its entirety. Certain groups of people in Greece and Macedonia placed a low value on the human body, considering it merely a prison from which the soul must be set free. For this reason, many believers in Thessalonica felt overwhelming sadness and uncertainty when someone died because they were doubtful of whether or not buried bodies would participate in the glory of the coming of Christ. But Paul reassures the believers that, as a result of their sanctification through God, they will be entirely and completely conserved by the power of God to be accepted in the glory of Christ when he returns for his church.
Lastly, Paul affirms, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this” (v. 24). In other words, the guarantee here is that our God is not a mediocre God, and that should fill us with an abundance of hope and trust. We doubt, we fail, and we feel the weight of our sufferings, but God does not doubt, God does not fail, and he does not falter. Hence, not only does God’s sanctifying work reassure and strengthen us, but it also renews our yearning for Christ’s return, where he will receive us as unblemished and blameless and with exuberant joy because it will be the moment in which we will ultimately fulfill our purpose.
Prayer: Jesus, come soon. Your people are here, and in the midst of our own struggles and the pain of a broken world, we yearn for your return. Only then will everything be made new. Only then will we will abide in your perfect presence forever. Help us be renewed in your sanctification today and every day. Amen.
Gianni Gracia is pastor of Vida y Esperanza Church, an RCA church plant in Miami, Florida.