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God’s Word for You

1 Corinthians 10:31 All to the glory of God

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, April 11, 2023

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.

This verse is an excellent summary of the doctrine of sanctification. “Sanctification” in its narrow sense is the new life of the Christian, both in the heart and in the conduct. “Dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Sanctification is never complete in this lifetime. It is the constant renewal of the heart, the shoring up and building up of one’s faith and life of faith. Good works rise out of this, but good works are different in different people at different times (“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do” is not specific at all).

The relationship of the Christian life with salvation, that is, of sanctification and justification, is that we are justified, saved, first. Justification is complete and finished (John 19:30), but sanctification continues for the whole life. Yet the two cannot be separated. The presence of the sanctified life points to the reality of justification (being saved by Christ). No one who is not saved and who has not come to faith can do anything to God’s glory or which God would ever be happy with. Consider what he says about the chief good work, which is prayer: “‘When I called, they did not listen, so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 7:13).

In the same way, the lack of a sanctified life is evidence of a person who has rejected Christ. But not all sanctification can be seen with the eyes. Let’s see the difference another way:

Justification is an act of God performed outside of man. It is God’s declaration that we are forgiven for the sake of Christ. It gives (imputes) to man a foreign, alien, righteousness.

Sanctification, on the other hand, is a medicinal act of God placed into the hearts of people. It produces an habitual righteousness. While the Christian does not participate in being saved, he does and must cooperate in his own sanctification. Paul says: “Offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life” (Romans 6:13). For our whole lives, the sinful nature clings to us. It gets in the way of sanctification; it is always trying to regain control of the sinner. “For the sinful flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit, and the spirit what is contrary to the sinful flesh. In fact, these two continually oppose one another, so that you do not continue to do these things you want to do” (Galatians 5:17). But the fact that there is a struggle at all shows that your faith is alive (Romans 7:18-23; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5), and all believers have gone through these same attacks from their own flesh.

So our good works are done by Christians willingly according to God’s rule laid down in the Ten Commandments. This we call the “third use” of the law, where God’s will in the law becomes a guide to believers for godly living. This is why Paul says: “Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” When my conscience is clear about a work (I know that it pleases God), and when my conduct shows tender respect for the equal liberty of others, especially the welfare of weaker Christians (1 Corinthians 10:27-32), then I can perform the act, no matter what it is, to God’s glory. I might eat, drink, get a job, help my neighbor, pay my bills and other debts, sleep, wake, take a walk, entertain or be entertained, give a gift, or get married—all to God’s glory. Our praise and worship will continue to give him glory in heaven (Revelation 19:1), and so whatever we can do to give him glory while we are still here is an honor and a delight to offer.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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