Salvation through Sanctification
2 Thessalonians 2:13
But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
The apostle was grateful for the work that had been done in the hearts and lives of the Thessalonians. They had been transformed and saved by being sanctified. This was made possible by the work of the Holy Spirit and their belief in truth, that is, in Jesus Christ!
Far too often we separate the concepts of salvation and sanctification and fail to understand the relationship between the two. I know that in my tradition we have tended to make this into a two-tiered process with the result that some have thought that sanctification was an optional plan for only a few super-spiritual individuals. There seems to be an attitude that we can opt out of that sanctification bit and still be saved, and that's okay. The problem with that is that it's a complete misunderstanding of what Christ has done for us. By being born in human flesh Jesus lived daily sanctifying human life and setting right that which had been corrupted through sin. Through his death and resurrection the process was made complete and the pathway was created for all to follow in his footsteps and be made holy, just as he is holy.
You can never separate salvation from sanctification. Jesus came to provide the way for us to become God's holy people and the result is that we are saved through sanctification. God's desire is for all to be holy and Jesus' activity provided the way to make it possible.
When we humbly follow after Jesus Christ we are never satisfied with "just being saved." If we have convinced ourselves that we can be satisfied there I would suggest that we are being fooled by the enemy. The Christian life is transformational, one in which we are ever drawing closer and following after Jesus Christ. The closer we are to him the more his holiness is reflected in us. There is nothing about our personal behavior that makes us holy, but our nearness to Christ sanctifies. How could you ever be saved without being near to Jesus? It's not possible. We are saved when we are made holy, restored in the image of God. The command is to be holy and without holiness no one can see the Lord.
Lord, at this Christmas season we are reminded again and again the incredible impact of your birth. Thank you for your sacrifice, and please help me to follow closely after you. Amen.