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Sanctified Entirely: Body, Soul, and Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

Welcome to Paul Pavao's new blogging site. I will add a page soon explaining the move and, for new readers, who I am and what I blog about. Today, though, I want to do what I often do on my blog: share something I have learned that might motivate you to love Jesus more or know how to serve him better.

1 Thess. 5:23 says, "May God himself ... sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Man, in the image of God, is three parts: spirit, soul, and body. God wants to save all three.

When Adam sinned, our spirits died. Thus, "we are dead in our trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). Obviously, our body and souls are not currently dead; it is our spirit that is dead in sin. When we are born again, it is our spirit that is resurrected and given life. There is nothing at all we can do to make this happen except submit to Jesus as Lord and be baptized. We can never "work" our spirit back into life.

**I have to point out here that this was a Facebook post. Commenters argued that our spirits may not be dead, as I claim, but the death that Ephesians 2:1 describes is separation from God. Their argument may be valid, though having considered it a while, I don't agree. I think the death of the spirit part of man fits Genesis 2-3 (Adam and Eve) better.

Afterward, though, God wants to "sanctify us through and through." We must "pursue ... holiness" (Heb. 12:14). We must "purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."

While it is God who works in us both to desire and do these things (Php. 2:13), we must be like Paul and "labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me" (Col. 1:29; Php. 2:12). While Paul said this about his ministry, he took the same attitude in regard to his personal life (1 Cor. 9:24-27; Php. 3). We, too, are told, "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).

The Experience of a Living Spirit

I was raised Roman Catholic but gave up on it, thinking it was powerless, when I was 12 or 13. When I joined the Air Force at age 20, I met a number of people who were testifying to me about Jesus. I read the four Gospels, was thoroughly impressed with Jesus, and when I said out loud that I believed him to be the Son of God, I was utterly transformed. I naively thought all evangelicals had that experience, but the next few months made it clear this was not true.

I was attending an Assembly of God church, and the pastor said one Sunday evening that when he was a kid, the adults used to come back from high-powered meetings saying, "I feel good beneath my fifth rib." He then commented that he had no idea what they were talking about. 

I did, and I began to wonder if this pastor was saved. Salvation had filled my heart with joy. Some days my whole chest seem to glow with a heavenly happiness. Had he never had that experience?

I'm older now and less judgmental. I know God interacts with humans in many different ways. I would guess that Samson experienced the joy of the Holy Spirit in a much different way than, say, Daniel did. Nonetheless, once your spirit comes to life, there should be some sort of communication with God. From 39 years of experience, I can tell you that it comes in many forms. Sometimes it is simply an unquenchable but somewhat mundane urge to obey God through the Scriptures. Sometimes it is the overwhelming, transforming joy that I experienced. Sometimes it is something in between or various experiences over time.

Whatever the case is, the Scriptures say that the mark of the New Testament is that all believers have the Holy Spirit poured out upon them (Acts 2:17-18). The result is that all believers can prophesy, which means that all true believers experience God speaking to them in a living way. 

If that is not your experience, you should claim your promise. Jesus said that everyone who believes [that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jn. 20:31] and is baptized would be saved (Mk. 16:16). There were some, however, that despite believing and being baptized, did not receive the Holy Spirit. The apostles Peter and John had to go to Samaria to lay hands on those believers. Why they had to do that is a matter of debate. I believe that Peter was promised the keys to the Kingdom of God (Matt. 16:19), so he had to be there for the entrance of the Jews in Acts 2, the Samaritans in Acts 8, and the Gentiles in Acts 10. Whatever the reason, if you are one of those who has believe that Jesus is Lord and been baptized, yet you do not have a spiritual relationship with God, I give you this advice from Jesus:

"I tell you, keep asking, and it will be given you. Keep seeking, and you will find. Keep knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he won’t give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he asks for an egg, he won’t give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" (Luke 11:9-13)

Keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking. Living by the Holy Spirit is the mark of a Christian (Gal. 5:16-24) and the promise of redemption (Rom. 8:2-4).

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