“But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth…“
Paul now shows how God chose us by two dynamics: the divine and the human, the dynamic of the sanctification of the Spirit, and the dynamic of trust in God’s provision through Christ’s death on the cross.
First the divine side, God set us apart from others for salvation by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11; Acts 1:8; 16:14; 1 Peter 1:2). This is the Divine responsibility in salvation.
The basic idea behind the word “sanctification” is set apart, separation. God sets us apart for a special purpose. The Holy Spirit separated the Thessalonians unto God by their belief in the truth.
Sanctification is the eternal state God predetermined for believers (1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Peter 1:2). He calls people so designated “saints” (separated ones unto God). As saints, Christians live a course of life befitting those separated unto God (Romans 6:19, 22; 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4, 7; 1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 12:14).
by the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the agent of sanctification (Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Peter 1:2). The sanctification of the Spirit both elects us to salvation and progressively sanctifies us.
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
“…elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:2 ).
The Holy Spirit sanctifies us eternally and thereby seals our salvation.
There is both a positional, progressive, and ultimate sanctification. Positional sanctification is our eternal position of being set apart unto God. This is the idea in our verse. Progressive sanctification is the daily-dealing-with-sin issue. One day, God will completely set us apart from the presence of sin in the eternal state.
Because Christians hold the unchanging position before God of being completely set apart for Christ, they should sanctify themselves. It is God’s will (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and the purpose of their calling by the gospel (1 Thessalonians 4:7). The Christian is to pursue sanctification earnestly with undeviating determination (1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrew 12:14).
The Holy Spirit seals the Christian’s salvation until the day of redemption.
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).