1 Thessalonians 4:4

Monday, 31 July 2017

…that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 1 Thessalonians 4:4

This verse begins to explain the “will of God” Paul mentioned in the previous verse. That will of God for the believers in Thessalonica (and thus us!) is “sanctification.” After noting this, he began the idea of sanctification with abstaining “from sexual immorality.” In order to meet this goal, he now explains it with “that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel.”

Paul likens our body as a vessel. Elsewhere, he calls it “an earthen vessel” (2 Corinthians 4:7). We are a soul which is transported around by an earthly shell, thus it is a vessel. In 2 Corinthians 4:7, the vessel is explained as containing something, meaning the Holy Spirit. In this verse now, it is a vessel for doing something. We are to “possess” it. The wording doesn’t just mean “to grab hold of,” but “to gain hold of.” We can grab something and not have control of it, like a rider in a rodeo who gets bucked off the bronco. Or, we can gain hold of something through continued diligence, thus subduing the horse and making it a useful tool around the ranch. The same is true with our bodies.

When we come to Christ, our soul is reconnected to God; it is our spiritual rebirth. It is contrary to the notion of being reconnected to God to continue to live in a worldly manner. Instead, we are to use our members in a life ever leading towards holiness. Paul gives a description of how to do this in Colossians 3 –

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.” Colossians 3:5-7

In living righteously, and in the other ways that the Bible explains to us concerning a life of holiness, we will each possess our “own vessel in sanctification and honor.” The sanctification is for ourselves in accord with what the Holy Spirit has already done for us, sanctifying us before God. The honor is as an outward display to glorify God. The word translated as “honor” is one which carries the meaning of a price. Thus it is a perceived value. Of what value is the glory of God to us? This is the idea of what Paul is saying. Christ paid the ultimate price for our sins, and so we should deem His work in this manner as most precious, showing others what we believe the price means to us.

Life application: If we continue in sexual sins after accepting Christ, what type of value are we placing on the work of Christ, and what does the sanctification of the Spirit mean to us? We were called in our sin, but with the idea that we are to come out of our sin. By remaining in, or returning to, whatever sin we we saved from, it demonstrates that we hold this way of life in a greater esteem than the new life we have been called to? Is this earth our home? Or are we looking for a return to Paradise which we lost so long ago. Let us ever strive towards holiness, sanctification, and honor.

Lord God, what value do we place on the precious blood of Christ when we return to the sins which He saved us from? Help us to place our sanctification and Your honor above this earthly life we live. Our first father lost paradise. Since then, we’ve been in a fallen world full of woe. Is this the place we want to linger in? Or should we set our hopes and goals now on a return to that wonderful place You have prepared for us? Help us in this Lord. Amen.

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