In 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Paul writes, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification….” We often ask, “What is the will of God for my life?” As the Christian writer Kevin DeYoung notes in his book, Just Do Something, we tend to overcomplicate that question. We certainly ought to pray when it comes to major decisions and should always want to submit to the will of God, but Paul is making a point about what the will of God is ultimately for every Christian—sanctification. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks in question 35 “What is sanctification?” The answer provided by the catechism is, “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” In other words, this means that if you are a Christian, God is at work in you. You are not saved by your holiness; rather, you are saved by Jesus Christ who lived sinlessly on your behalf and who died bearing your sin and guilt. But now that you are a Christian, God is at work in you to make you more like Jesus. Do you love Christ more and hate sin more than you once did? That is because the Lord God is at work in you.
Paul, knowing that God is doing this work of sanctification in the lives of his hearers exhorts them then unto holiness and brotherly love. And those two things really go together. As one is being made to be more like Jesus, they will love His people all the more. Is your fellowship marked by brotherly love?