1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

GodsWillAs for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Observation

  • Paul instructed the Thessalonians how to live in order to please God.
  • The Thessalonian were living in a manner that pleased God.
  • Paul asked the Thessalonians to do more than they were doing to please God.
  • Paul gave the instructions to the Thessalonians by the authority of Jesus.
  • The Thessalonians were aware of the instructions left by Paul.
  • God’s will was that the Thessalonians be sanctified.
  • It was God’s will that the Thessalonians avoid sexual immorality.
  • It was God’s will that the Thessalonians learn to control their body
  • The Thessalonian were to control their body in a way that was holy and honorable.
  • The Thessalonians were not to allow themselves to indulge in passionate lust.
  • Pagans engage in passionate lust.
  • Pagans do not know God.
  • No one was to wrong another person.
  • No one was to take advantage of another person.
  • Wronging and taking advantage of another person is sin.
  • God will punish those who wrong or take advantage of others.
  • God called us to a pure life.
  • Rejecting instruction to live a pure life is the same as rejecting God.
  • God gave the Thessalonians His Holy Spirit.
  • The Thessalonians were taught by God to love each other.
  • The Thessalonians did not need instruction on loving each other.
  • The Thessalonians not only loved each other they loved all of God’s family throughout Macedonia.
  • Even though the Thessalonians love each other and all believers Paul asked them do more.
  • Paul urged the Thessalonians to make it their goal to lead a quiet life.
  • The Thessalonians were to mind their own business.
  • The Thessalonians were to work with their hands.
  • The goal of minding their own business and working hard was
    • To win the respect of outsiders.
    • Not be dependent on any one.

Interpretation

The Thessalonians had no problem with love and faith. Timothy’s report stated the Thessalonians faith was strong. They loved Paul, each other, and the entire church of Christ. (1 Thessalonians 3:6) Paul praises the Thessalonians for this. Even so, Paul challenges them to go farther. Paul acknowledges the Christian’s constant need to grow. (Phil 3:13) Complacency is contrary to the Christian faith. Paul calls on the Thessalonians to continue to make progress in the doctrine.

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.” One of the most asked questions by a Christian is, “What is God’s will for my life.” Paul answers that question in this chapter. The answer is simpler than we prefer. God’s will for your life is your sanctification. We want to know, “Should I choose this job or that one?” We want to know, “Should I go back to school for more education?” Paul in this chapter to the Thessalonians gives the answer. God’s will for your life is that your sanctification. Nothing else matters. If going back to school, or choosing particular job aids in your sanctification, that is the will of God.  Otherwise, it does not matter.

Paul says we are to increase in our understanding of the doctrine we had received. Paul contrasts pursing an understanding of doctrine with a pursuit of immorality. Unlike so many Christians who claim doctrine is unimportant, rejecting doctrine is rejecting God. Paul tells the Thessalonians to exercise self-control. They were to behave in a manner that was holy and honorable.

Notice when Paul says not to behave like the pagans he is talking to Christians. The pagans behave like pagans because they are pagan. We should expect nothing else. They do not know God.

There is no reason to expect non-Christians to behave like Christians. Why should they? They have no reason to. They do not know God. Instead of trying to change the culture, introduce people to Christ. Our goal is not to change people’s behavior. Our goal is to glorify Christ.

As Christians we are to pursue sanctification. What does it sanctification mean? To pursue sanctification we must leave behind the world, and purify ourselves. We offer ourselves to God as a sacrifice. No sacrifice is acceptable to Him that is not pure and holy. What does that look like? Paul tells us by his instruction to  the Thessalonians. They were to exercise self-control, avoid sexual immorality, and not take advantage of others. Our culture today takes great pride in each of these in violating to excess.

  • Self-fulfillment – Our culture tells jus to indulge in our desires. “Do not deny who you are.” “You have to be yourself.” “You need to fulfill yourself.” These are all expressions of tolerating encouraging and celebrating a lack of self-control.
  • Sexual Revolution – The whole sexual revolution is a direct violation of God will for us. Many who call themselves Christian, live together outside the bonds of marriage. Many organizations that call themselves churches, not only acceptance but embrace homosexuality. All these show a lack of concern over sexual purity even in the church.
  • Capitalism – The base assumptions of capitalism oppose the the will of God. Capitalism states everyone is to do what is best for their own self-interest. Embracing full bore capitalism allows us to talk advantage of each other. In fact, it demands it. We are only concern ourselves  about ourselves. (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations)

What is even more amazing is how this has infiltrated the churches today. In direct violation of scripture we hear messages from the pulpit about how we can fulfill OUR dreams. So called churches ordain homosexual pastors. Pastors peddle the sensational from pulpits.

Paul brands these with dishonor. Our desire as natural man is for pleasure and sexual delight. Paul tells us to avoid these things. Lusting after these things itself is sin. (Matthew 5:21-37) The only way to maintaining temperance is to bridle all lusts. God called us but he did not call us to impurity rather God called us to live holy lives. God called us to sanctification.

Rejecting this teaching, Paul says, is rejecting the teaching of God. He reminds the Thessalonians that it is God who has given them and us a great gift, His own Spirit. How could we show such ingratitude to God who has given such a great gift?

Paul tells the Thessalonians to strive to lead a quiet life and mind their own business. It is not the Christian’s job to change the culture or be a “change agents.” The Christian is to live a quiet life and bring glory to God. By quiet life Paul does not mean we are to live apart from each other not caring what happens to each other.

Why live a quiet life, work hard and mind our own business? It is so when others see how we live on a day to day basis we will win the respect of those who are not Christians. This is to bring glory to God.

 

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