1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
A Life Pleasing to God
Finally, brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God (as, in fact, you are doing), you should do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; 4 that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honor, 5 not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one wrong or exploit a brother or sister in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we have already told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever rejects this rejects not human authority but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you.
9 Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, 11 to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, 12 so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one.
In the Wesleyan theological tradition, we place a lot of emphasis on sanctification. To explain sanctification, we sometimes use a house analogy. We talk about Prevenient grace inviting us to the house, say on the front porch. We talk about Justifying grace as leading us across the threshold of faith, whereby we profess our faith and receive forgiveness and are justified by faith in Christ Jesus. Then, we further the analogy by talking about what God will do in us as we “live” in the house, and we refer to this work as “sanctifying grace.” Paul says in this passage from Thessalonians that this is the will of God!
One of my favorite sayings is that, “God loves each of us right where we are, but loves us way too much to leave us there.” This is Sanctification! Coming into relationship with God in Jesus Christ calls us to live lives that are different. In this passage, Paul enumerates what some of those distinctions will be. We will control our passions within our own bodies and be “holy,” and then we will also treat each other with respect, minding our own business and tending to our own affairs without judging the affairs of others. This is the work of Sanctification, and it is God’s work in us. Cooperating by living intentionally in the house of faith is our proper response.