May 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. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV)

The word blameless here is the Greek word amémptōs; faultlessly.[1] Paul goes as far as stating “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” 1 Thessalonians 2:10 (NIV) This blameless thing does not sound like a recommendation to me. We can also add that it is surely something that can be pursue with moments of great victory, even as we trip and fall because of the flesh. Paul is surely not blind to this reality when he says,

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. Romans 7:14-17 (NIV)

Paul is acknowledging the reality of the work of the flesh in us, but his teachings do not promote or embrace moral and physical mediocracy. Our spirits are willing, but the heart of the struggle is in our flesh. Jesus tells us, Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 (NIV). 

Our first instructions in our journey towards perfection is to watch and pray. The word watch is the Greek word grēgoreúō; meaning “To watch, to refrain from sleep. It was transferred in meaning from the physical to the moral religious sphere (Matt. 26:38, 40, 41). It denotes attention (Mark 13:34) to God’s revelation or to the knowledge of salvation.”[2] Some of us are asleep, accepting our condition as disability, giving up on physical exercises, embracing sedentary lives, void of any kind of discipline. The flesh will never feel like doing the right thing… NEVER! So, as we deal with the flesh Paul tells us, 

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. I Corinthians 9:26-27 (NIV)

As you can see, there is no nice way to put it, Paul tells us to strike a blow to our bodies and make it a slave. There is no other way around it.

To be continued…

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

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