Q: I have read in a couple of different places where we are to possess such things as our souls in patience and our vessels in sanctification. What does it mean to possess ourselves in such ways?
A: According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, “possess” means to acquire, own, obtain, provide what it takes to possess, and purchase if necessary. The Scripture that commands us to possess our souls in patience is found in Luke 21:19. It is in reference to the last of the end days when much will affront the souls of God’s people.
Our soul is made up of the will, emotions, and intellect. We are told that in the end days, our resolve will be worn down (Daniel 7:25). If our resolve is constantly affronted by wickedness, our emotions will become frayed, and our understanding will be plagued with confusion, uncertainty, and fear. In order to possess or take ownership of our souls, we must take responsibility for how such challenges affect us. Are we going to define how challenges affect us or will challenges define us and we find ourselves giving way to the lies and despair of our situation? Regardless of how weary we are because of what is affronting us, we must line up to God’s will, step over our emotions by choosing the Scriptural, godly, excellent way, and have faith towards God when our understanding is being swallowed by confusion and fear.
People who learn how to take ownership of their souls will be able to stand in faith, withstand with truth, and continue to stand in light of heavenly hope. They will have the integrity and character to endure the adversity that will try to consume them in these last days. They will not be swayed by circumstances for their will, will be set upon an immovable Rock, their emotions disciplined by the Word of God, and their mind being transformed by the Holy Spirit.
The second Scriptural reference is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:4. In this verse, we are to possess our vessel, (body) in sanctification. When you read 1 Thessalonians 4:3, it explains why one must possess his or her body, “For this is the will of God even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.”
Fornication is every illicit sex outside the Scriptural boundary of marriage, which includes adultery and pornography. (Note: The root word for fornication in the Strong’s Concordance is “porn.” Therefore, all acts of fornication are considered a type of pornography.)The Apostle Paul tells us that when a person commits fornication, he or she commits a sin against his or her own body (1 Corinthians 6:17-20). The reason is because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are to glorify the Lord in and from our temples. If we fail to sanctify or set our bodies apart for the sole purpose to glorify the Lord, they can easily be taken captive by the lust of the flesh and driven like an undisciplined wave on the ocean of life. When lust reigns it brings a person into an unholy agreement or union resulting in fornication, defiling his or her life and testimony.
Since there is a spiritual aspect to our being, unholy agreements also point to a spiritual agreement. Often such agreements serve as avenues for Satan to operate in a person’s life or in the relationship, bringing guilt, condemnation, and oppression. In summation, to bring our body into agreement with the profane is also an act of spiritual whoredom or idolatry, which is another form of fornication. As the Apostle Paul stated, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:16-17).
Therefore, to ensure that we sanctify or properly set our bodies apart in order to glorify God, our attitudes towards the matters of sex must be respectable, our motive must be pure, our intention honorable, and our conduct godly. We must not only possess this type of disposition, but we must insist on it, not only from ourselves but from those whom we come into contact with. If we see that such an attitude is lacking, we must flee such an environment to prevent our lusts from being stirred up in a destructive way (See 2 Timothy 2:19-22).
As believers, we must take possession of every moral aspect of our lives. We must not use our bodies to please every sexual desire, pursue every physical attraction that catches our eye, give in to our emotional whims, or fickle passions; rather, we must use our faculties to bring glory to God, honor to our Christian testimonies, and credibility to our Christian life.
In closing I want to end this subject with this stern warning, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17K).