What do United Methodist Christians believe? Sanctification & Christian Perfection

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

Kudzu is nasty stuff. It will grow and cover everything in its path. I’ve seen trees, fence lines, and power poles just swamped with kudzu. Abandoned houses, wrecked cars, and warehouses can be covered up by kudzu. It takes much work to get kudzu plants eradicated from an area. Sprays will not work. Mowing just keeps the plant trimmed back from an area.

The only way to get rid of kudzu is to dig down to a root crown. Then, using a pick axe or shovel, you have to cut below the root crown and take it out of the ground. Knowing that there will be several root crowns among the kudzu, totally removing the kudzu is difficult work.

But it is not impossible. When kudzu is removed, the land looks better with trees and grass growing. The land becomes useful once again. The homeowner will be happy to see a nearly pristine landscape when all of the kudzu is gone. The neighbors will actually like it as well!

Sin is like kudzu. Sin gets so overwhelming that it covers everything in our lives. Our relationships with each other are hurt because of sin. Our sense of self-worth is strangled by the dominance of sin. Our hope for a good future is darkened by sin.

Then we meet Jesus.

As God has invited to life with him in his household, we respond by repenting of our sins. The faith of Jesus Christ justifies us before God and we are welcome into God’s house, his kingdom. Sins are forgiven. Now starts the process of being cleansed thoroughly from sin. The church helps us stay focused on the work God is doing in our lives. God is the one who makes us holy as He is holy. How does this work itself out?

A. We help discover the will of God in Christ Jesus for us (5:12-22)
+++1. We thank God for those who train our morals in the church
+++2. We seek to do good to one another and to all
+++3. What can we do to discover the will of God?
++===+a. Rejoice always
+===++b. Pray without ceasing
+===++c. Give thanks in all circumstances
+++4. What do we avoid doing in discovering the will of God?
++===+a. Do not quench the Spirit
+++===b. Do not despise prophecies (or prophets)
++===+c. Abstain from every evil
+++5. God has brought us together. It is as we are church together that we are able to be ready for God to work in us. It seems these are the means that God can use to make us holy. God doesn’t want us to suffer wrath for our sins, our rebellion against him. God wants us to have salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. God wants us to have freedom from sin. God wants us to be free in Christ so as to be holy, perfect. How does God do this work?

B. God makes us holy (5:23-24)
+++1. The God of peace makes it so we have peace
+++2. God helps our spirit, soul, and body are sound and blameless
++===+a. Sound – Love for one another and for all
+===++b. Blameless – strengthens our hearts so we can be ready for Jesus’ coming
+++3. This perfecting grace does not grant us these items:
++===+a. Freedom from ignorance – we cannot know everything
+===++b. Freedom from mistakes – we will mess up
++===+c. Freedom from infirmities – our bodies will suffer from disease & such
++===+d. Freedom from temptation – But we won’t be controlled by sin anymore
+++4. God has brought us together, this thing we call church. As part of the church we find encouragement and nurturing to grow as followers of Jesus. God uses this encouragement and nurturing to prepare us to be holy, to be perfect. God wants us to be with him for all time. So God is going to do what he needs to do so that we will be with him. This is called grace, for we are unable to be with God through our own ability.

I don’t know how many times in my life I have heard Christians say,” Well, I can’t be perfect.”

That is correct. Apart from God, no one can be perfect. Apart from Jesus and the church, no one can be perfect. We can be holy as we live the faith we have in Jesus Christ. For it is by this faith that God is able to transform us completely to be like him.

We have the household of God to correct us, to encourage us in our faith. God uses our love for one another to show us how good his love is for us. God shows us his love even as we love those outside the church. For if God can love us, who were once outside the church, then surely God is still loving people outside the church so they too can know Jesus Christ.

Life is so much better without kudzu messing up the landscape. Life is so much better without kudzu choking life out of the area. Life is so much better without sin messing up our lives. Life is so much better without sin choking our life out of us. With God all things are possible. God can even work to make us holy.

Kudzu isn’t rooted out quickly. It may take us a while to be made holy. God will do this, he will make us sanctified.

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