Living the Christian Life
Living in Light of the Second Coming
Some important facts that we need to keep in mind as we study Pauls letter to the Thessalonians include the following:
· It’s a young church
· It’s an exemplary, growing, faithful church
· It’s a persecuted church
· It’s a Church that needs to be strengthening established in the faith to stand and not flounder.
o That’s why Timothy was sent back.
1 Thessalonians 3:1–2 (ESV)
Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith,
o And that’s why Paul Prays so earnestly to meet up with them to strengthen and establish their faith and walk with God. Look at Chapter 3:10,13
1 Thessalonians 3:10 (ESV)
10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
1 Thessalonians 3:13 (ESV)
13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
· In Chapter 4:1-12 Paul expands on his desire to strengthen their faith or put differently showing them how to live the Christian Life. How to walk the Christian Walk:
o The Christian walk is a Walk to Please God
o The Christian walk is a Walk of Holiness
o The Christian walk is a Walk of Love
o The Christian walk is to Walk Properly before outsiders
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A WALK TO PLEASE GOD V1-2
1 Thessalonians 4:1–2 (ESV)
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
· Finally, then Brothers:
At last then we get to the admonition the lesson about living the Christian life. How should a standing strong Christian walk.
· we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus
o these words set the The tone of the message is not a demand or a rebuke the terms ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus Come as a positive friendly appeal but it’s a firm enough encouragement, that it urges one upward.
o The tone is further positive and encouraging because it is appealing from and to those in the Lord, those motivated because of a close relationship with Jesus. And because this is what Jesus requires. Do this for Jesus.
· Paul then unpacks the basis of the appeal:
o as you received from us It’s based upon the message, we preached when we were there, the one you received and accepted from us.
o Its based on the instructions Paul says that we gave you through the Lord Jesus the message backed by sound apostolic authority, the authority of Jesus Himself.
· The point of this whole message:
o how you ought to walk and to please God, This is the point of the Christian Life to please God. The Christian life is not about what God does for me all the benefits of being a Christian its about being God focused living to please God. This basis undergirds the whole of the Christian Life. pleasing God. It’s the Title of the Christian life it is the theme of the Christian life. Pleasing God in everything
o just as you are doing, shows that Paul saw that they were living that way he acknowledges their passion for pleasing God he is affirming them. Giving credit where credit it due. It is encouraging.
o that you do so more and more let’s not miss Pauls very important point, we never arrive. As mature as we are, we are never finished growing and pleasing God. There is always more we can and must do. If you are worshipping go further go deeper, if you are serving go deeper go further, if you are growing go further go deeper.
What we have so far is the title the theme the heart of the Christian life everything we do and think depends on this one truth everything flows from this truth, to Please God more and more continuously and increasingly.
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A WALK OF HOLINESS V3-8
1. It is Gods Will – To Change and Sanctify You making you Holiness
Paul now turns and teaches us HOW to walk the Christian walk how to live the Christian life that pleases God. It is the answer to the Christians most basic life question “What is God’s will for my Life”. “HOW” do I live to please God. Paul says TWO WORDS One thought “YOUR SANCTIFICATION”.
YOU MUST CHANGE and BECOME HOLY IF YOU ARE TO PLEASE GOD
1 Thessalonians 4:3 (ESV)
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification:
· SANCTIFICATION THEN is the process of changing us, equipping us in such a way that we can please God.
· The Christian life is about being set apart for holy living its about changing from ungodliness to godliness and Christlikeness it’s the process of maturing from wickedness to holiness. This is God’s will He is changing and equipping you to please Him.
In Rom 12 :1-2 Paul states Gods will this way
Romans 12:1–2 (ESV)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
2. To Be Sanctified and made Holy is to walk a moral Sexually Pure Life
Now Paul could list hundreds of ways we must be transformed and changed to please God and he chooses firstly to focus and give a large portion of his address to Sexual Purity. Living a moral life is paramount in pleasing God.
Sexual immorality porneia is a broad all-inclusive term for all sexual misconduct, whether single or married whether physical, or fantasy through the eyes or ears all sexual impropriety.
1 Thessalonians 4:3–8 (ESV)
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
Let’s ask two questions going forward. WHY does Paul focuses on sexual purity, then HOW can we change to live moral, sexually pure lives, Lives that please God.
2.1 WHY would Paul focus on Sexual immorality?
Paul doesn’t give a specific reason as to why he addresses sexual promiscuity, but reasons abound in history and for the Thessalonians and for us today. No one would argue that sexual immorality is s scourge that displeases God and something that must change if we are to please God.
· Those times were dominated by Pagan worship dominated by sexual sensuality with its Temples and temple prostitutes honouring fertility gods. A culture who’s very fabric was sexually immoral.
· The Bible itself addresses and point out the depth or extent of immorality found throughout the Bible lets look at but a few enough to say Wow Immorality is no minor issue:
o Remember Lamech’s Polygamy his two wives Adah and Zillah Gen 4:19
o Abraham’s adultery with Hagar Gen 16:3-4
o Sodom and Gomorrah with its lewd lust for homosexuality and rape Gen 19:4-10 men banging publicly on a mans door so that they may have sex with them
o Lot’s daughters engaged with incestuous sexual relations with their father with a so called excusable motive Gen 19:30-38
o Shechem who lusted and raped Dinah all because he supposedly really loved her Gen 34:2
o Judah who engaged the services of what he thought was a prostitute. We aren’t even out of Genesis.
o Not to mention the NT teaching on fornication adultery, lust and divorce.
o Then just look at our own sexually immoral society with its emphasis and acceptance of all kinds of sexual deviations in and out of marriage: homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual, incest, rape, pornography, trial relationships, wife swapping, casual sex, bestiality, living together as friends with benefits……..
o These are just some of the reasons I believe every generation needs to know that if we are to live the Christian Life and please God
o Then we need to know that sexual immorality is wrong it does displease God.
Now that we have some reasons for WHY Paul looks at Moral purity as a means of pleasing God lets ask How we can live morally pure lives.
2.2 HOW Does Paul Teach us to live sexually pure lives
So How does Paul help us to change to live pure sanctified lives honouring God and not satisfying self.
1. Abstain from sexual immorality v3b
1 Thessalonians 4:3B (ESV)
3 …. that you abstain from sexual immorality;
Total abstinence. No participation or involvement whatsoever Not limited abstinence or acceptable levels no first second or third base. We need a Joseph like mentality who was lured by Potiphar’s wife and refused even at the great cost of imprisonment It was Absolutely No, not under any circumstances.
2. Live Controlling your own body v4
1 Thessalonians 4:4 (ESV)
4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
Focus on self-control, restraint, discipline keeping oneself for holiness and honour. Paul says elsewhere that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit a temple a vessel for holy worship purposes. It is designed to worship God not to satisfy the lust of the heart. Exercise self-control Paul teaches elsewhere that at times we need to beat our bodies into subjection, not asceticism or ritual beating but strong self-control.
3. Don’t live like pagans v5
1 Thessalonians 4:5 (ESV)
5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
Living like pagans is further qualified as those who don’t know God. God does not feature in the way they chose to live. It is truly a sign of a godless society. Their sole purpose in life is to satisfy their passions with no restraint and respect for anyone else. Even their Gods Paul tells us in Romans are created in their own image. A worldview that is permissive.
4. Don’t dishonour your brother v6a
1 Thessalonians 4:6 (ESV)
6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter,
Living pure lives that honour God also honour others. Sexual immorality is a direct attack against another person. Is dishonouring and disrespectful to others: Involving another person willingly or unwillingly when you know it to be wrong is still disrespectful to that person. Law says that consent is no excuse for a minor God says consent is no excuse for any immoral behaviour. Sexual immorality is disrespectful to a Father or mother as it violates rightful parental values. A husband or wife are deeply betrayed and hurt by the immoral behaviour of a partner, a future husband or wife is dishonoured through immorality. True sanctification and holiness thinks seriously about the honour of others.
5. Don’t forget God will avenge v6b
1 Thessalonians 4:6 (ESV)
6 …, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.
We are helped to say no to an immoral life and challenged to say no when we take to heart this solemn warning. We will all one day answer to God who will avenge and bring justice to bare. The immoral will be held to account.
6. Remember your call is to holiness v7
1 Thessalonians 4:7 (ESV)
7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.
It will help our resolve and determination to stay pure when we remember that our sovereign call was not only a call to salvation but also a call to a resist uncleanness and strive towards holiness.
7. Consider Pauls warning v8
1 Thessalonians 4:8 (ESV)
8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
The overarching purpose of the Christian walk is to please God. When we excuse or engage in Immorality, we disregard God we dishonour and disrespect God himself. Yes it dishonours all the human players but ultimately and of greatest significance is that it is a sin against God. After David as King had exhausted all his excuses and rights and lusts he realised that the real wrong was a wrong against GOD…. And it stopped him in his tracks.
Psalm 51:4 (ESV)
4Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A WALK OF LOVE V9-10
Lets look at another vital area that need to change if we are to live the Christian life and please God. Change and walk habitually in Love.
1 Thessalonians 4:9–10 (ESV)
9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,
· Living the Christian Life walking the Christian walk that truly want to please God is a walk of holiness and purity, but it is also a walk of love.
· A central principle that was already at work in their lives. We saw in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 that they were characterised by a 3 …. a labor of love
· Here though is the crunch of Christian Love at the ned of v10 do this more and more,
· There is always more room for more love. We never arrive we are never loving enough because the bar the right standard it’s not about what is enough the goal is God’s love.
· The point here is not just that we do love but that we constantly Grow in Love.
That we do this more and more
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE WALK PROPERLY BEFORE OUTSIDERS V11-12
Now as important as Holiness is for pleasing God and as central as Love is for pleasing God, it is just as important …to walk properly before outsiders …to please God by being a good testimony to all and especially the outsiders, those lost without Christ.
1 Thessalonians 4:11–12 (ESV)
11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
· A good testimony that pleases God is a witness that attracts and does not repel others.
· It is about being light and salt to the world, Its about impacting them, attracting them, drawing them to God not being distracting, offensive, or repulsive.
So, what produces a wholesome attractive God pleasing Testimony:
1. A Quiet life
aspire to live quietly
The Christian life should not be turbulent, agitated, filled with strife and offensive. It should be characterised by peace. The writer of Hebrews puts it nicely
Hebrews 12:14 (ESV)
14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
Romans 12:18 (ESV)
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Romans 14:19 (ESV)
19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
2. Mind your own affairs
and to mind your own affairs
An attractive Christian life is when you mind your own business. Not a busybody not a life that meddles and interferes in other people’s affairs. A busybody does not make for an attractive God pleasing Christian.
3. Work with your hands
and to work with your hands, as we instructed you
No one is attracted to a lazy person or a person that mooches off others one who doesn’t contribute to the wellbeing of society but is a drain on family community and society.
So a Christian with a good testimony is one who lives a quiet peaceful life one who doesn’t meddle but works and contributes to society.
So we ask in closing how can we best live productive God honouring Christian lives?
o Walk to Please God
o Walk in Holiness
o Walk of Love
o Walk Properly before outsiders