“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Many preachers who speak about the Second Coming of Christ fail to recognise how important holiness is to the subject. We believe in something called ‘imputed righteousness’ which makes us right with God, but there is ‘imparted righteousness’ too, this empowers us to live right in this world as we await the Lord’s Return.
Prepared for His Coming
Let us take note of four passages of Scripture which make the connection between Christ’s second advent and sanctification.
1. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 … “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”
2. 1 John 3:2-3 … “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
3. 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12 … “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
4. Titus 2:13-14 … “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
It is obvious to even the casual reader that the Lord Jesus Christ expects His Church to be holy in preparation for His return. It is clear that purity of heart and His appearing cannot be separated.
Would we not be ashamed if He came today and found us full of pride, malice, bitterness and unbelief? Would He honour us for our fear of man and shame of the Cross?
How unclean can we be?
Maybe we think that the Lord winks at our uncleanness. Maybe we comfort ourselves with the notion that God overlooks our sin because He knows we are human. This the same as saying that sin justifies us in His sight. To suggest that God ignores the sins of His children is to reject the cleansing power of Christ’s blood.
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
All believers tell of the white robes – the wedding garments – that they shall wear at the Lord’s Great Feast, but somehow fail to realise that His bride has to be pure and undefiled. Ephesians 5:27 tells us that Christ wants to present us “to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Being prepared for Christ’s coming again is not merely a question of our right to enter His Kingdom. We cannot disregard the need for holiness while we await Him. We may feel that we have a right to enter, but let us not forget the need of fitness. How many will be ashamed before Him at His appearing?