How does Hope Serve to Sanctify our Souls?1
The words of the apostle John in 1 John 3:2-3 are both inspired and inspiring. He tells us that if we put our hope in the return of Christ, in the prospect of seeing Jesus “as he is,” this will serve to purify or sanctify our souls. Here is the passage:
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).
How exactly does this work? What is it about our hope for the return of Jesus and seeing him face to face that serves to purify our souls? I can think of four things.
(1) We know that we will stand in the presence of Jesus to be judged for the things done in his grace and power. We will then receive our rewards. Knowing that this will happen when Christ returns can only serve to motivate us to holiness of life now.
(2) In Romans 5:2 Paul said that we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” If you are truly born again, your greatest and most passionate desire is to glorify Jesus in your life. Sin does not glorify him, but obedience and holiness do. I assume that your hope to honor and extol him when he returns will stir you to godly living now.
(3) Notice John’s emphasis on the fact that when Christ returns, we will “see” him, we will look directly upon his face. As you anticipate that day when you and Jesus will lock eyes for the first time, does it not energize you to devote yourself completely to living a life now that conforms to his, a life that will make him smile?
(4) Paul says in Romans 8:25 that when we hope for that coming day of final redemption, we learn to be patient! We are purified of impatience.
My prayer is that you will get up every day with the deep longing, anxious expectation, and the living hope that soon you will see Jesus as he is, and when you do you will be set free from this corrupt physical frame and will experience the redemption of your body. If you do this, I assure you that you will discover, through the Holy Spirit, that your heart and mind and soul are being ever more purified from sin.