January 7, 2017
1 Thessalonians 4
Shawn Bumpers / General
1 Thessalonians / Sanctification; Sexual Immorality; Marriage; Pleasing God; Obedience; Walk
Paul deals with immorality in the Thessalonian church and exhorts them to walk pleasing to God
We’ve all heard the comparison of the Christian life to a “walk.”
Ephesians 4:1 NKJV
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
Ephesians 4:17 NKJV
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,
Ephesians 5:2 NKJV
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Ephesians 5:8 NKJV
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
In chapter 3, when speaking of discipleship, we observed that believers, like little children, must learn to stand before they can learn to walk and to walk before they can run.
Philippians 3:13–14 NKJV
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 6:10 NKJV
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
That is not to say what happens in between doesn’t matter … because our walk often reveals whether we are “in Christ” or not.
So, in our chapter, Paul instructs the Thessalonians further on living to please God (4:1–2).
• He reminds his converts that God calls believers to live holy lives, separate from sexual immorality and lusts (vv. 3–8).
• He urges them to love each other and all the brothers even more than they do now (vv. 9–10)
• He reminds them of the importance of honest work (vv. 11–12).
• And finally, he clears up a misunderstanding about Christ’s return (vv. 13-18).
The Roman Empire was certainly not what we might call a good moral climate.
What Christianity defined as immoral was general practice among the people of the time.
So, it was not easy for these recent converts to stand against the temptations that were all around them.
Paul wanted to give them a full understanding of why the Christian should abstain from these things.
So many people today live only to please themselves.
They do not care about the needs of others
No Christian should be going through life seeking self-pleasure above the needs of others or as a greater importance than glorifying God.
Romans 15:1–2 ESV
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
1 Thessalonians 2:4 NKJV
But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.
The major motive of our Christian life should be pleasing God, and to this Paul now speaks.
Paul has something important to say to his brethren and so he uses some aggressive terms, “urge” and “exhort.”
“Urge” is ἐρωτάω erotao (eh-roh-TAH-oh) and it’s a step above simply asking … “supplication” is a word that could be substituted.
John 14:16 NKJV
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—
And that’s the word παρακαλέω parakaleo meaning “to implore and exhort.”
The point is that what Paul is about to say must be very important, given the words he is using.
Philippians 3:12 NKJV
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Notice that Paul’s urging and exhorting is, “in the LORD Jesus.”
The world … the world system … will urge and exhort you in other things such as self.
The fact that Paul is urging and exhorting in the Lord Jesus tells us that he is not speaking out of his own, but from the Lord.
“Abound” is περισσεύω perisseuo (pehr-ree-SEH-voh) meaning just that, “to be over and above.”
Today we might say, “I’m in this 110%.”
The Christian life is one of open-ended growth.
When we use that word “Abound,” we are generally speaking of “abounding in” something.
What is it that Paul desires the Thessalonian Christians to be over and above – to abound – in?
verse 2 … “To walk and to please God.”
Paul and his team “instructed” them which is the word “commandment” in verse 2, παραγγελία parangelia (pah-rahn-gah-LEE-ah).
Pleasing God is the major motive of the life we live in Christ.
The Holy Spirit works in our lives, “Both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
Philippians 2:13 NKJV
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Hebrews 11:5 NKJV
By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
John 8:29 NKJV
And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”
Pleasing God means much more than simply doing God’s will.
The New King James Version Chapter 15
These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
So then, we might gather that pleasing God has something to do with where our heart is in addition to obedience.
Ephesians 6:6 NKJV
not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,
• Our hearts are pleasing to God when we honor Him
• A heart that is pleasing to God exalts Him as King in their life.
• A heart that is pleasing to God is soft and repents from sin.
• A heart that is pleasing to God desires to please God.
So then, a right heart pleases God, but so do acts of obedience done with a right heart.
“Through the Lord Jesus” … that is the Word of God.
Anytime you are reading scripture and you see, “This is the will of God” … pay attention.
Mark 3:35 NKJV
For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”
John 6:40 MEV
This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Romans 12:2 NKJV
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
John 6:29 NASB95
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
That was to believe on Him … the Messiah.
Romans 10:4 NKJV
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Jesus had just fed the multitudes with fish and bread of His own provision.
John 6:26 NASB95
Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
John 6:51 NASB95
“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
John 6:39–40 NASB95
“This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
Following the work of God of believing in Jesus, we have the will of God for us in our new life in Christ.
And Paul says here that is our, “Sanctification.”
Sanctification here is the Greek word ἁγιασμός Hagiasmos (hah-gee-az-mahs), literally “sanctifying work.”
James 2:18 NKJV
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
The use of this word here indicates a process leading to a state of holiness, a “sanctifying work” … and that is conformity to God’s character.
While believers are sanctified to God, He is also doing a progressive work of sanctification with us.
2 Corinthians 6:18–7:1 NASB95
“And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
When Paul ministered to the Thessalonians, Paul instructed the new believers that sexual immorality was not pleasing to God.
“Sexual immorality” here is the Greek word πορνεία porneia (pohr-NEE-ah) which in the New Testament context means illicit sexual intercourse.
• We’ve already touched on this one, but to reiterate, sex was designed to consummate the lifetime union between a man and woman.
Mark 10:9 NKJV
Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
• procreation and the creation of families.
• we allow lust to direct our choices, and that never leads in the right direction.
• destroys the picture of the unbreakable covenant God has with His people.
• sexual sin has spiritual significance.
While the term holiness itself is broad enough to encompass the full range of Christian behavior, Paul focuses on a single aspect of what it entails, namely, sexual morality.
It encompasses all sexual sin which holiness demands that Christians reject.
Now, understand that temptation itself is not sin.
This is something we need to understand because temptation DOES feel wrong.
Hebrews 4:15 NKJV
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
James 1:13–14 NKJV
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
Temptation becomes sin when we allow it to become action … even in our minds, such as is the case with lust, covetousness, and pride.
Matthew 5:28 NKJV
But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
The best way to handle temptation is to flee at the very suggestion of sin.
1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Christians, who are saved out of the judgment of the world should not be living like those who are under judgment.
“Possess his own vessel” is a very interesting phrase.
“Vessel” is the Greek word σκεῦος skeuos (SKEE-vohs) and is often used in scripture for a metaphor of the body.
We might think it applies only to the sexual immorality Paul warned against earlier, but verse 6 opens that up a little.
The phrase “Possess his own vessel” speaks of controlling ones own body.
The person who masters his body has the real freedom.
But “possess his own vessel” also speaks to not taking actions that cause damage to other people.
In verse 6 “take advantage of” is “transgress against.”
But it is first and foremost a transgression against God using the mind and body that He has given us.
We also might transgress against God and another in other matters such as business and other relationships.
As you can imagine, there are any number of situations where one person can “use” another in a way that is exploitive or deceptive.
Colossians 3:23–25 NKJV
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.
While it is true that the Christian is not under condemnation, it is also true that he is not free from sorrow that comes when we sow to the flesh.
An immature Christian might try to argue that he is forgiven of all sins, past, present, and future and belongs to God and God will never cast him out.
1 Peter 1:15 NKJV
but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
Galatians 5:16 NKJV
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
1 Corinthians 6:19–20 NKJV
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.