“For this is the will of God…that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4
Christians should have an intuition toward moral purity. This built-in knowledge about how to control ourselves comes from the Holy Spirit. Why then do we sometimes think and act more like the world than like Christ? Moral intuition isn’t about learning to distinguish right from wrong, because the nature of Christ within us automatically does that. But we have to deliberately put that knowledge into practice in order to become who we’re meant to be in Jesus.
In today’s verse, Paul was talking to believers who lived in a permissive and immoral culture. Sound familiar? And he used a word we don’t hear much anymore—sanctification. Simply put, sanctification is the process of maturing spiritually. It’s leaving who we have been in the past, to achieve what God has for us in the future. As a result, believers should think and act differently than those “who do not know God” (v5).
This positive result starts with a negative action—separation. If we want to be in fellowship with the righteous, then we need to separate from the sinful. Every impure behavior was first an impure thought. That’s why your thought life is crucial to your spiritual health. Remember, impure thoughts are just as sinful as impure actions (Matthew 5:21-22; 28).
How you think is determined by what you feed your mind. For instance, your moral intuition tells you that a particular television show dishonors God. But you have to intentionally develop the spiritual discipline to turn it off. Otherwise, your spiritual growth will be stunted and you’ll begin to think more and more like the world.
How we think and act separates us from the world and identifies us as believers. So, choose to act on your moral intuition. Live in a way that honors God; not because you fear negative consequences but simply because you want to please Him. If you’re struggling, remember that the same grace that brought you to salvation helps you live for Christ every day. And no matter where you are in the process of sanctification, there’s always room to grow.