When guests visit our home, we usually do a whirlwind cleaning of our home. We vacuum, we dust, we clean, we pick up the mess in a whirlwind. Thankfully we can hide things in certain places where guests will not see them! However, when Christ comes, everything will be exposed before his eyes. We cannot compartmentalize our lives into areas of faithfulness and neglect: tithing while neglecting justice (Matt 23:23), sober while embracing gluttony, faithful in quiet times while indulging in materialism, caring for social justice while neglecting to share the gospel. Instead, we must be blameless in every way until the return of Christ. When Christ comes, we must pray that our “whole spirit and soul and body” would be “blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:23).
How is this even possible? We need the power of God. Paul prays, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely.” The power for holiness is not found in our moral will but in the power of God Himself. However, God’s power paradoxically is manifest as we work out our salvation. We must “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak…seek to do good…rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:14–18). All these are clear commands. When we obey these commands, then God’s power is manifest in and through us (Phil 2:12–13). This power is not when we “let go, and let God” but as we “work hard, then may God” work in and through us. What a paradox! Why is that?
As we work out our salvation, we see our need for and depend more and more on the power of God. When denied Jesus three times, Jesus looked at Peter and moved him to tears of repentance (Luke 22:61–62). Before Peter’s failure, he was confident in his own ability (Luke 22:33). After this failure, Peter looks to Jesus. Jesus restores Peter and empowers him with His Spirit. Similarly, as we work out our salvation, we see more keenly our own failures. Just as a runner feels the deletrious effects of a Big Mac so much more than a couch potato, so a spiritual runner will feel the deleterious effects of sin much more than a spiritual spectator. The more we feel our sin, the more we look to Christ. The more we look at Christ, the more we experience his power to “sanctify [us] completely” (1 Thess. 5:23). As we work out our salvation, we will experience his power and be blameless at his coming!
Therefore we must fight for holiness. We must pursue forgiveness, love, service and sacrifice. The more we feel our inadequacy, the more we must look to Christ. As we look to Christ, we will find His power to make us blameless and ready for Christ’s coming. Jesus Christ is coming again. Will you be ready?