1 Thessalonians 4:1-2. "Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the
Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye
would abound more and more.
2: For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus."
Paul is pleading and encouraging the Believers in Thessalonica to grow in God's grace and in the knowledge of Christ. The believerís walk is very important and is emphasized in many places in scripture. A believer can't do as he pleases; he is to do as the Lord pleases. [Verse 2] Our lives are better when we enjoy God's Word. It will give us comfort for our problems.
We like to look forward to the day when we will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord, but in the meantime our feet are down here on the earth and we need to do some walking in a way that will please and honor God.
Paul reminds them of some commandments from the Lord. These arenít the Ten Commandments, Christ fulfilled their requirements on the cross.
The Bible makes it clear that man isnít able to keep the Ten Commandments, then how can he keep some that are on a higher plane? Peter wrote this to some Jewish Believers who wanted Gentile Believers to keep the Law of Moses. Acts 15:10-11 "Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11: But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." The "yoke" of verse 10 was the 10 Commandments. Those commandments could only condemn us.
These commandments are for the believer and are the standard for Christian conduct. This sets them on a much higher plane than the Ten Commandments. Man canít keep the new commandments of his own will. From the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells us and the Holy Spirit enables us to keep His commandments. In John 14:15, Christ said, ďIf ye love Me, keep My commandments." In John 15:12. "This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you."
Paul continues writing some things that are God's will for the Believer.
Verse 3. "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:".
Sanctification doesnít mean that we are in a sinless state, it means that we are "set apart" from non-believers and for God so that we can live for Him and bring honor and glory to Him. We canít do this in our unsaved state, no matter how hard we would try.
Our sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit and has a threefold aspect, positional, practical, and total.
1. Positional means that Christ has paid the price to make us accepted in Godís sight.
2. Practical sanctification is the Holy Spirit working in our lives to produce holiness in us. We will never be perfect as long as we are in these sinful bodies.
3. Total sanctification will be when we are transformed into the image of Christ in heaven. At that time, both our position and practice will be perfected. We'll know the full meaning of being set apart to God.
In the Old Testament, the tabernacle vessels, pans, spoons, forks and such were sanctified. After being dragged around in the wilderness forty years, and following centuries of use in the temple, I imagine they were pretty beat up. God didnít tell the people to throw them away. They had been set apart to be used for God in the Temple. They were Holy. The same thing applies to the Christian. Every child of God is set apart for His use. Not just preachers or missionaries or Christian workers, but every believer is set apart for God. Whether he or she is a brand new believer, or one who has been around for decades, they are still set apart for Godís use.
Verse 3 ends with "Ye should abstain from fornication." Sexual immorality was a Pagan religious practice in Thessalonica and Paul warns the Believers to stay sexually pure. His admonition hardly needs elaboration in light of todayís world. Sex outside of marriage has always been a thing that God condemned, and still is. The world then, as now, sees it different than God, but God is the final judge and He says "no." God intends sex to be good and right in marriage and not at any other time. Keep your mind and body away from temptation.
Verses 4-6. "That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; 5: Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified."
Almost every situation comedy on TV includes an unmarried couple living together as man and wife. We see this daily if we watch those programs. This is what our children and grand-children have grown up with, whether they watch TV or not. Satan has established it as the normal lifestyle of today.
You canít serve God and live in sin. You have to be honest if you are going to be a child of God. A child of God may get into sin but he isnít to stay there.
The Prodigal son got into the pigpen for a while, but he didnít stay and live there. He repented, which meant a whole change in his lifestyle, attitude, and actions. While he was in the pigpen he never lost his status as a child of his father, but he lost his fellowship with his father and his family. He repented, returned to his father and was forgiven, and his fellowship was joyfully restored. Believers, we can be in the same situation, but God the Father will forgive the truly repentant one and restore fellowship with Him. The Bible teaches that you can't lose your salvation but you can lose your fellowship with God.
The child of God has the Holy Spirit in him and isn't happy living apart from God. There is a conflict of interests. Spiritual fellowship with God and other Christians will be missing.
7. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8: He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit.
In verse 8, "despiseth" means to reject God's teaching given here. If you are living apart from God morally you are despising not only man but also God. You wouldnít steal another manís car, why would you steal his wife? You are rejecting God's authority. How can someone who has the Holy Spirit within them challenge God like this? But, at times we do, maybe not in this way but in other ways.
Notice that all three members of the God Head are involved in the sanctification of the Believer. Verse 2, The Lord Jesus. Verse 3, God. And in verse 8, The Holy Spirit.
Verse 9. "But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another."
The believer's heart should be filled with love for his brothers and sisters in Christ. The Holy Spirit teaches us and enables us to love one another. God also uses other Christians as teachers and examples to help us learn to love one another.
Verse 10. "And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;"
Their love toward one another was also our example. We are to practice brotherly love more and more with our fellow Christians. He refers to it as their love toward "all the brethren" and that included all those in that area. Where this love is present, there is unity. God wants Christians to live in unity and harmony, and God blesses that fact. Psalm 133:1-2a: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 2. It is like the precious ointment upon the head."
Sometimes it's difficult for us to love the brethren. There is a poem that goes: "To dwell above with saints in love, Oh that will be my glory. But to live below with the saints I know, Well thatís another story."
Evidently the love of the saints at Thessalonica was very good, but Paul reasoned it could be even greater, so he encouraged them to ďincreaseĒ their love. One of the best and surest evidences of the abundant spiritual life is a heart overflowing with love.
Verses 11-12. "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12: That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing."
More good advice. Study to be quiet. I think I heard that from my high school study hall teacher once or twice. We have all kinds of schools today teaching us how to speak but not too many telling us how to be quiet. There have been many times I wish I had studied harder how to be quiet. There is a story of a lady who went to a discussion on speaking in tongues. When she was asked if she wanted to speak in tongues, she said "No, but I would like to lose about forty feet of mine."
Control your tongue is a commandment of God. James 3:5-6. "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6: And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell."
Verse 11 says, "And to do your own business." Mind your own business. Tend to your own knitting. Keep your nose out of other peopleís affairs. This means idle curiosity, not genuine love and concern for other Christians and the unsaved.
"And to work." God wants us to be productive members of manís society as well as of Godís society.
Colossians 3:23-24. "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24: Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."
2 Thessalonians 3:10. "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."
1 Timothy 5:18b. For the scripture saith, The laborer is worthy of his reward."
Donít be a moocher, sponging off others. In another vein, are we spiritual moochers? Do we contribute to the work and glory of God or do we set back and let someone else do it? It's wonderful to hear a good message from the platform, but do we go home and study further or do we just live off the work of another?
Becoming a Christian doesnít relieve us of the responsibility of a practical life, either. The world of non-believers is watching us and judging the Savior's worth by our lives. Let the pattern for our lives come from Scripture and always live properly and be independent of sinful influences. Our lives should be honest before God and man. What kind of testimony is it if we are able to earn our own way and yet we live off other taxpayers? We may not live too well earning our own way, but we'll be honorable before man and God.
In verses 11-12, Paul gives a fourfold prescription for the Believer's welfare: (1) maintain a calm orderly life; (2) mind our own business; (3) work for our living; and (4) conduct ourselves as is fitting for a child of God.
1. First, study to be quiet, exert every effort to live a calm, tranquil life.
2. Second, be occupied with our own affairs. Don't be an expert in other peopleís business when we may fail in our own.
3. Third, we are to work for our living. Paul had passed this to them from Christ. Both the Lord Jesus and Paul had set the pattern of manual labor with dignity, in contrast to Greek and Roman ideas that work was only for menial slaves.
4. Fourth is the practical behavior of the believer. Live daily lives consistent with the Christian life we claim to represent. It's very important that the unsaved see us practice what we preach concerning our lives and our daily dealing with others. They judge by appearances. What kind of testimony will a local church be to outsiders when it's represented by gossips, critics, and people who don't get along together? Even the godless world has higher standards for the church than this.
There is also the physical and financial welfare of the Believer to consider. If we are profitably occupied, we generally won't need anything material from any man. There are cases when one isn't able to work because of accident or disease, but when one is able to work and still lives off the tax supported programs, that is wrong.
If at all possible, don't look to others to provide for you. This way you will be able to look the unsaved world in the eye, and you will owe no man anything but love.
God has promised to provide what you need, not what you want. There is a big difference. He has provided you life and the ability to read, or hear this message read, that tells you how to be saved. God has provided the most important thing for all of us, a Savior, who is Jesus Christ.
Almost 20 centuries ago, a little boy was born into this world in a manger. He grew up working for His living as a carpenter. One day, while John the Baptist was baptizing people who believed in the coming Messiah, John baptized this Man, and a strange thing happened. Matthew 3:17. "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Here was the very Messiah that John had told the people about! It was Jesus Christ of Nazerath, the One born in the manger. He truly was God's Son, not the son of Joseph. The Holy Spirit had caused Mary, a virgin, to conceive and bear this child.
That child was the Messiah and He came to take away the sins of the world by shedding His
sinless blood as a sacrifice to God.
Galatians 4:4-5. "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5: To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
God has always required a blood sacrifice for sin, and this was the f"red">Hebrews 10:12-14. "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13: From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14: For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."
Jesus paid for all our sins, past, present, and future, when He died on the cross. Now all that is required of us is to admit we are sinners and can do nothing of our own to pay for them. Then sincerely ask Jesus to forgive our sins and believe in our heart that He will. God says we are saved from hell for all eternity. Our dwelling, when we leave this earth, will be with Him in heaven.
John 3:16-18. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17: For
God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through
him might be saved. 18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that
believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the
only begotten Son of God."