Date: October 18
Category: Godly Character
2 Thessalonians 2:13b
"God chose you from the beginning as His firstfruits (first converts) for salvation through the sanctifying work of the [Holy] Spirit and [your] belief in (adherence to, trust in, and reliance on) the Truth."
Right before this section of the verse, Paul says that he is obliged to give thanksgiving to God for us. This section of the verse is the reason why he is thankful. First he says that God chose the believers from the beginning, meaning before time began. Time only exists in our reality. Time does not exist with God. In our reality, we have yesterday, today, and tomorrow. But God experiences all those things now. To Him, there is no time. So before time even began for humanity, God already chose us. But what did He choose us for?
Well it says that He chose us as His firstfruits, meaning the first coverts for salvation. Having salvation means having freedom from sin. Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary so that you and I will have forgiveness for our sins when we confess our sins to Him. When He forgives, He forgets. It's like we've never sinned. Along with that, salvation is also freedom from the powers of Satan. Now that we have received salvation, sin has no power over us, and Satan has no power over us because greater is He who is in us than he who is in this world (1 John 4:4).
In order to receive salvation, we have to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that He rose from the dead (Romans 10:9). Forgiveness of sins comes when we confess our sins to Jesus and believe that He has forgiven us. It says in 1 John 1:9, "If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]." So confessing and believing are essential to receiving salvation.
But there's more to salvation than just that. Some people think that if they say the sinner's prayer at one point in their lives then that's enough to receive salvation. But that's not true. Salvation does include confessing Jesus as Lord and Saviour, but once we do that, there's something else we have to do. According to 2 Thessalonians 2:13b, salvation also comes "through the sanctifying work of the [Holy] Spirit"
So not only do we have to confess our sins, we have to believe, meaning we have to adhere to, trust in, and rely on the Truth. But along with that, we also have to allow the Holy Spirit to do a sanctifying work within us. If we are really born of God, then we are going to live a sanctified life through the Holy Spirit. That means setting ourselves a part FROM the use of this world and setting ourselves a part FOR the use of God. So not only do we have to confess and believe in Jesus, but we also have to live a lifestyle that is sanctified for God.
In John 6:63 Jesus said, "It is the Spirit Who gives life [He is the Life-giver]; the flesh conveys no benefit whatever [there is no profit in it]. The words (truths) that I have been speaking to you are spirit and life." So the more of the Word of God that you take into your heart, then the more of God's Spirit you'll have in your spirit as well because His words are spirit and life. He is the One who gives us the knowledge and clear understanding of how we are to sanctify ourselves. He gives us this knowledge through His Word.
For example, in Leviticus 19:2 it says, "Say to all the assembly of the Israelites, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy." In other words, God wants us to be like Him, meaning we should live holy because He is holy. In order to do that, we have to be sanctified. Our bodies, our minds, our time, our talents, our gifts, our money should all be used for the glory of God. That's what true salvation is. A person who lives his life for himself and not for the glory of God has not fully received salvation, even if he has said the sinner's prayer at one point in his life. Salvation requires a change in our entire lifestyles.
Confessing Jesus as Lord over our lives is our choice. Believing that Jesus rose from the dead is our choice. And sanctifying ourselves is also our choice. In order to really be saved and have the fullness of life that Jesus wants to give us, we need to make the conscious decision to sanctify ourselves for His glory. So today, let's determine in our hearts to live our lives in a way that is set a part and pleasing to God.