But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
(2 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV underline and italics were added by author)
God has chosen to save people through sanctification by the power of the “Spirit” causing us to “believe” “the truth.” There is no salvation without sanctification. Sanctification is the road that salvation travels on to eternal life. Enough of this nonsense of whether we can make Jesus LORD or not or whether we can choose to be justified by Christ but not sanctified. Christ does not give us those options or choices when he says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” He says this over four times in the Gospels! To be blunt, if we are not on the road of sanctification, we are not on the road to salvation.
What is sanctification?
Sanctification is a word used to describe the process of one becoming more and more like Jesus. It is a supernatural work of God that causes one to repent or turn away from their former loves, passions, pursuits, and goals and turning towards Jesus as revealed in the Bible. The Scripture speaks of this process practically playing itself out in several ways such as: one beginning to have a hunger and love for the Bible, a growing hatred of things that God hates, a sense of torture on the spirit of a person when in the prescence of sin and wickedness, a longing and pursuing to see God in the Bible, nature, history, and His coming. In other words, sanctification is the complete surrender of the self, and finding ones meaning, purpose, and identity in Jesus Christ.
Jesus says in John’s Gospel, ” And Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him'” (John 12:23-26 ESV). The writer of Hebrews says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) Our assurance that we have obtained salvation by grace because of the LORD’s work is that we see the LORD’s work in our lives making us HOLY and like Jesus!
God promises those who put there only hope and trust in Jesus will be sanctified and ultimately saved. We are called to “work” and “strive” and even “labor” but in the end it is God who is at work in us causing us to do so. Continue to read the Bible often throughout the day and work to obey what you are called to do. Do all of this with regular prayer; confessing how you fail, acknowledging your need for him, and your hope that He will help you. Look frequently to what God has done for you in Jesus at the cross. This is the center of your hope and confidence!
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV)