Psalms 103:10-12 (NIV) 10he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
These songs of praise are rich with teaching. In this psalm, the writer tells us a fact we need to remember. We never get what we deserve. Never ask for justice, or you may get it. We always forget our sins and remember our good deeds with a little embellishment. If we got what we deserve, we would all be cast into the Lake of Fire. We are by nature rebels against the loving goodness of our Creator. Instead of giving us what we deserve, God lavished His love upon us by sending His one and only Son to take what we deserved. Only Jesus could bear it.
How did we ever learn to fear Him, that is, to reverence His just nature that will not let sin go unpunished? It is only an undeserved gift of grace! It is an expression of His great love. That love is much greater than you or I could ever muster. What is your attitude toward those who have betrayed your love for them? God just continues to love us to the fullest extent of His love.
Satan would try to get us to dwell on all our failures and past mistakes. God doesn't, so why should we? Satan's accusations are true, but so is the fact that those sins are covered by the sacrifice of Jesus. They are removed from us as far as east is from west. That is a long ways! Next time the enemy tries to get you down about a past sin, remind him of this verse. The future is as bright as the promises of God. You are a work in transition, but the scrap that has been chiseled away is already cleaned up and hauled off.
Remember: Look forward, not back, and praise God for loving you so! Praise Him for sending Jesus to get what you deserved.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV) 23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
Paul concluded his letter to the Thessalonians with a summary of all that he had been expressing in detail. His desire is that God sanctify them completely. To sanctify is to set apart for the sole use of God. It means to be holy. The verb tense is aorist, active, optative. Expanding that meaning, we might translate in the following way. It is my desire for something that may never come to completion, that is that God, having begun to purify you for Himself, might continue to do so.
The optative mood had almost disappeared from usage at the time this was written. It indicates a desire for an action to occur in which the fulfillment is doubtful. Yet, Paul added that the One who called them is faithful and will do it. Paul mentioned in the letter to the Philippians that he had not yet attained perfection. But this is what God is faithfully doing in our lives. It is God who is at work sanctifying you. Though Paul has just listed a number of commands that are helpful in the process, it is a work of God.
This passage mentions the three parts of man. Paul is praying that each be sanctified completely. The spirit is the place in us that is born to new life and communion with God. Without the new birth, this part of us is void and empty. The soul is our mind, will, and emotions. If we let the Spirit direct our lives from within our own spirit, our soul will submit to and serve Him. But when the soul is leading, we will walk in our carnal nature. The sanctification of the soul means the complete identification with the Spirit's thoughts, desires, and emotions. As that is increasingly complete, the body then acts in accordance with the sanctified soul. Our actions are the final expression of the completeness of the sanctification process. That is why Jesus declared that you can know a tree by its fruit.
Consider: Don't get discouraged if you are just beginning the process, God is the One at work faithfully completing what He started.