Wholly Blameless

Posted: December 10, 2008 by cthoward in Scriptural Question
Tags: , , , ,

Paul writes in 1Thessalonians 5:23 (ESV):
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

What does he mean by “completely sanctified”? Can one be partly sanctified? How does God keep our “whole spirit and soul and body…blameless”? How can our spirit and soul become guilty (rather than blameless)? What is the difference between the soul and the spirit?

  1. Justin W. says:

    This looks like a prayer…He’s calling on God to do this work in the Thessalonians (no one else is being asked to do anything). I think he’s referring to the last day, coming of Christ. So “completely sanctified” would be to have that complete body of perfection, just like Jesus’ body (I Jn.3:2). God does that. So yes, we have partial sanctification up to that point (but then it’s complete forever).

    I think God keeps our whole spirit, soul, and body blameless simply by His power. Again, it has to do with the WHEN…and I don’t suspect that at the coming of Christ it will be too hard for God to keep us blameless. As to the fourth question…once that day comes, we will not have any guilt in our soul or spirit or body. Finally, I’m not sure about the difference between the soul and spirit. I think the soul (“psyche”) has to do with our own spirit/drive/inner self, and the spirit (“pneuma”) has to do with God’s spirit living in us. It may seem odd that God would need to keep His own Spirit blameless, but there are several scriptures indicating that we can harm the Spirit by our actions (I Thess.5:19; Eph.4:30; Heb.10:29). So it makes sense that God would be concerned for His own spirit living in His people. But again, I’m not sure there’s any huge difference in those two terms.

    I think over all, Paul is just trying to encourage them. They all knew (and we all know) that God is able to accomplish complete sanctification, but it’s VERY ENCOURAGING to have reassurance from an inspired apostle!!

    In Him,
    Justin White

  2. Johnny B says:

    There was a question that came up in one of our men’s bible studies on Sunday night, that I would like to see discussion on.

    The question was, “Where do we get the authority to change the bread and the wine, to matsa bread (crackers) and grape juice?”

    I would like to see where the discussion for this question goes…I’ll hang up and listen.


  3. cthoward says:

    Will do, Johnny….especially since this current question seems to be producing very little participation…

    Thanks for the question.

  4. Brian King says:

    Well, I thought that was because Justin handled it quite well already. I had nothing more to add…

  5. cthoward says:

    I agree, Justin handled it well…

    Although I would still like some input regarding the difference between soul and spirit…and also how our soul and spirit can become guilty (I understand the body being guilty of sin…but the spirit and soul less so).

    Any thoughts?

  6. Justin says:

    Well, I’m not exactly sure what you’re hinting at. Certainly there are many sins that involve the mind/the inner self that bring guilt upon us. Lust, pride, etc. I would say those don’t have as much to do with our physical body as they do with our “psyche” I like Eph.4:17-18. There are terms in those verses that indicate the guiltiness of the inner self: “futility of their mind,” “darkened in their understanding,” “ignorance that is in them,” and “hardness of their heart.”

    That’s all I can think of for now…I kinda have a feeling you’re thinking of something else, though 🙂

  7. Brian King says:

    I have heard before that the “soul” is essentially the combination of the living body & living spirit into a living person.

    A person must have both the actual literal “breath of life” in his nostrils; as well as a living spirit (in fellowship with God) to be a truly “living soul.”

    So I am saying that the body concerns the physical body of man.

    And the spirit seems to embrace all the rest of man that God has created that is not the strictly physical nature of man. All of the abstract nature of man: the ability to think, the free will to choose, the volition of man, and possibly our God-given conscience as well. (hence 1 Cor. 2:10-11)

    The soul seems to be the uniting of these together in the body of man.

    This is how death for mankind can be 2-fold. God told Adam that in the day he ate from the tree he would die. Well, he ate… and his body “physical life” did not die immediately… but he did die immediately. He was cast out of God’s presence. His spirit became separated from God’s Spirit.

    Sin begins when the spirit of man gives into the lusts of his flesh… (Jas. 1:14-15) and is driven to take place by the will of man, and ends up finally being carried out by his body… thus his spirit, body, and entire “soul” are all guilty of the sin he commits.

    Didn’t Gerald say something like “When our lust and our volition are mated, it gives birth to an unholy child, sin.”

    I just wanted to throw in a quote from Gerald so you all could imagine him saying that in his voice.

  8. Johnny B says:

    There are some interesting ideas set forth by Watchman Nee in his book “The Spiritual Man” on the difference between the soul and the spirit. I have just begun to read this book and have not vetted or studies out his statements, but they provide interesting fodder for examination.


  9. cthoward says:

    Thanks guys for the input…

    I’m not hinting at anything or thinking anything in particular. I just wanted some thoughts from others.

    I had heard different views about the body, soul, and spirit, but I just wanted a little more discussion about it. The prominent view I have heard is that the spirit is our mental aspect and the soul is the eternal part of us. Brian gave a little different take which I thought was interesting.

    I suppose what kind of stumps me is the blameless part. I understand keeping the body blameless, as I’ve said…I can even understand keeping the spirit or soul blameless if one of those represents our mental aspect…our thoughts and emotions. But the remaining part (whether you consider it spirit or soul) is a little more difficult to get my head around. Is that eternal part of me polluted by sins of action and thought? Or are there sins I can commit with my “soul” like there are with the body and mental/emotional/spirit part.

    I’m probaby over-analyzing anyway. As you said, Justin, this is a prayer of encouragement. I suppose we ought to be encouraged and leave it at that.

    thanks for the book reference…I’ll look into it.

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