1 Thessalonians 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The doctrine of sanctification applies to all three parts of our being—spirit, soul, and body. In order to grasp this, we must understand that God is one God in three Persons. We call this the doctrine of the Trinity. Now the matter of the Trinity is one that cannot be fully explained in a whole book. As finite beings, we cannot completely comprehend the nature of God. This is a difficult subject that people have struggled with throughout the history of the church. Allow me to take you with me on a journey to look beneath the surface a little so that we understand the relationship of the Trinity to our sanctification.
The Trinity is very important part of theology, and we need to understand how the three-part nature of man relates to the three-part nature of God, and how that impacts our sanctification. Our tendency is to prioritize the physical over the other two aspects of our nature. When someone asks, “How are you?” the first thing that usually comes to mind is our health and physical well- being. We may say, “I’m feeling pretty good today.” But that’s just part of the picture.
Being made in the image and likeness of God we have a level of potential and the opportunity and obligation to be sanctified. This is the process through which the power of the Spirit of God through the Word of God causes us to become more like the Son of God. That is what 3-D sanctification does. So let’s take a look at the Trinity and how the fact that we have a three-part nature flows from that.
There is only one God, but from the very beginning of the Bible, we see the idea of three Persons. Genesis 1:26 says, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” If there were not three Persons in the Trinity, God would not have said “Us,” He would have said “Me.” The Hebrew word used for God “elohim” is a plural word—reflecting the Triune nature of God.
The best way for us to understand the nature of God is to look at the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says Christ “is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) Colossians 1:15 says He “is the image of the invisible God.” Hebrews 1:3 tells us Christ is “the express image of his [God’s] person.” Jesus declared His equality with God when He said, “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30) Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. At the same time He was both fully God and fully man. I don’t completely understand how that is possible, but I know it is true because the Bible says it is true. Not only was Jesus God, but in His life and person He reveals to us what God is like. Jesus said, “he that seeth me seeth him that sent me” (John 12:45) and “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
It’s very important for us to understand that Jesus did not come into existence when He was conceived in Mary’s womb. He is and always has been God. John 1:14 says, “the Word was made flesh.” Jesus took on human form, but He existed before His birth here on Earth. Not only that, but even when Jesus was on Earth, God the Father was present with Him in unity. And the Bible uses the exact same language to describe both God the Father and God the Son.
God made us like Him so that He could fellowship with us. Before the Fall in the Garden of Eden, God walked with Adam and Eve and talked to them day after day. Until sin entered the world, there was perfect fellowship between God and man. Sanctification prepares us for the restoration of that relationship. It is a process that will never be fully completed in this world, but it is a process that should continue as long as we live.
Because of sanctification, we should never give up on anyone—not ourselves nor on someone else. The blood of Jesus Christ can sanctify us (we are sanctified the same way we are saved—it’s all because of Him) and make us new. Because of our work with Reformers Unanimous, we see many people the world has given up on become something wonderful for God. But this process of sanctification is not just for “them” it is also for us.