The Christian’s Hope – Part 9

Last Sunday in a message titled, OUR SANCTIFICATION (1 Thes. 4:2-8), we continued our look at the Lord’s urging and exhortation for us “to walk” in such a way as “to please” Him with our lives today (1 Thes. 4:1; Rom. 12:1-2, etc.). When a Christian “diligently seek[s] Him,” applying God’s Word to his or her life, it “pleases” God in a present-day sense (1 John 1:9; Heb. 11:6b, etc.). This helps us to “grow” (i.e. “abound more and more”) so we don’t “fall from [our] firm grasp on the truth” today and when the Lord comes for us (1 Thes. 3:13-4:1; 2 Pet. 3:17-18 NET, 1 John 2:28, etc.). The “grace” by which we have been saved by is the key motivating factor for living such a life (Rom. 6:11, 14; Eph. 2:8-9; 2 Tim. 2:20-22; Titus 2:11-13; 1 John 4:19, etc.). We can only “be holy… [as He is] holy” when we let Him live through us (Eph. 5:18; 1 Thes. 4:1; 1 Pet. 1:14-15; Lev. 19:2; Isa. 6:3; Matt. 19:26; Eph. 4:32, etc.).

Letting Christ live through us also means following the “commands… [from] the Lord Jesus” (i.e. “the law of Christ” He has given the church- 1 Thes. 4:2; Gal. 6:2; John 14:21, etc.). This includes abstaining “from sexual immorality” because this is God’s explicit “will” for every one of His children (1 Thes. 4:3). Sexual immorality (porneía in the Greek), does not please God ever! (1 Pet. 1:14-15; Lev. 19:2; 1 Thes. 4:1-3, etc). God created the good gift of sex, and He has the authority to govern its use (James 1:17; Rev. 4:11, etc.) From the beginning, He established sex to be used exclusively and only within the sacred union of the marriage covenant which is between one man and one woman for life (Mark 10:6-9; Gen. 2:21-25; Heb. 13:4a, etc.). Any sexual thought or activity outside of this covenant is “sexual immorality” (i.e. porneía) and is to be kept and stayed away from by all Christians- without exception: i.e. “this is the will of God, [OUR] SANCTIFICATION, that [we] should abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thes. 4:3; Rom. 12:1-2; Matt. 5:27-28, etc.). This includes the whole alphabet soup of our culture (i.e. LGBTQ+) because all such acronyms are sin- outside of the marriage covenant designed by God (note: human beings do not have the authority to redefine marriage in a way that is contrary to how the Creator made it- Matt. 19:4-5; Heb. 13:4; 2 Tim. 4:1-3, etc.). Sexual immorality, however, also includes being unfaithful to one’s marriage covenant (both divorce from your spouse and remarriage to someone who is not your spouse) as well as in the case of a remarried couple it is any thought or relationship outside of their new marriage covenant (Mal. 2:13-17; Matt. 1:18-19; 19:4-10; Mark 10:5-12; Eph. 4:32; 1 John 1:9; Phil. 3:13-14, etc.). And sexual immorality is looking at any inappropriate images on phones, computers, TV’s, magazines or in any other means and/or letting our minds wander to inappropriate thoughts to include the whole romantic and emotional side of our hearts where we desire someone who is not our spouse to provide marital needs (Matt. 5:27-28; Song of Solomon 2:3; 4:8, etc.). The high call by God here for Christians to live a holy life (i.e. to be sanctified- set apart for Him) is so the Lord would be glorified through us but also it is so we would experience true joy as He fills us with Himself (1 Thes. 4:3; 2 Tim. 2:20-22; Eph. 1:6, 12, 14; Ps. 16:11; Matt. 6:22-23; John 15:11; Gal. 5:22-23, etc.).

“That each of you should know how to possess his vessel” helps explain what God means by this command to His children (1 Thes. 4:4a). Our bodies as Christians are the living “temple” of God Himself both individually and corporately because He (i.e. the Holy Spirit) permanently indwells us “forever” (John 7:37-39; 14:16-18; Eph. 1:13-14; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19-20, etc.). Just like the temple in Jerusalem, where God dwelt in Old Testament times, was under constant attack, so it is true of us today (2 Chron. 7:1-3; 36:14; Jer. 7:30, etc.). There is a great battle set before us where the enemy tries to “war against [our] souls” through “fleshly lusts,” but we are also promised, unlike the Old Testament temple, all Christians “are sealed for the day of redemption” and will not perish (Gal. 5:16-17; Rom. 7:18, 23-25; 1 Pet. 2:11; Eph. 4:30; John 3:16, etc.). Still, willfully yielding to sin in this area, when it remains unconfessed, hurts our marriages, families, friends and the church as a whole and can result in a Christian wasting and shriveling away spiritually and even in a negative outcome at the “judgment seat of Christ” “at the coming of our Lord Jesus” (1 Thes. 3:13; 4:6; John 10:10; 1 Cor. 3:15, 17; 5:6-7; 2 Cor. 5:9-10, etc.).

The word “defraud” in 1 Thessalonians 4:6 means ‘to overreach, trespass or take advantage of,’ and involves covetousness which is idolatry (i.e. seeking one’s satisfaction and fulfillment apart from God- Eph. 5:3; Heb. 13:4-5, etc.). But the Lord has “not called[ed] us to uncleanness, but in holiness” (1 Thes. 4:7; Rom. 1:24; Matt. 10:1; Mark 3:11; Luke 4:33; Eph. 6:10-12; Rom. 8:30, etc.). Sadly, the Bible shows us here Christians (verse 1 is written to “brethren”) who do not heed this command, “reject… [not people] but God, who has given us His Holy Spirit” (1 Thes. 4:1, 8). The words “given us” in the NKJV best reads “given you” (like it is in the NET, NLT, etc.) and is similar to the “each of you” statement of verse 4. “God is no respecter of persons; He must deal with His children [also] when they sin (Col. 3:23-25)” -Dr. Wiersbe.

Applying God’s wisdom today means obeying this command through the “self-control” of God inside of us because His “wisdom… is FIRST pure” and “without hypocrisy” (James 3:17; Rom. 12:9; Gal. 5:23, etc.). That is, Christians are called to “possess [our] own bod[ies] in holiness and honor” (1 Thes. 4:4 NET; Prov. 25:28; 1 Cor. 7:5, etc.). God delivered us with a strong hand when we were first saved, and He still delivers us (Ex. 7:5; Eph. 1:19, etc.). WHERE WE FALL SHORT, WE ARE TO CONFESS IT AND GO ON WITH THE LORD IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT (1 John 1:9; 1 Cor. 11:31-32, etc.). This is the process of SANCTIFICATION (Heb. 10:14; 1 Thes. 2:11-12; Eph. 4:1-2; John 17:17, etc.). Indeed, “His divine power has given to us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness,” and we are “complete in Him” (2 Pet. 1:3-4; Col. 2:9-10; 1 John 4:4, etc.); we “do not [have to] be conformed to this world” walking like those “who do not know God” (1 Thes. 4:5; Eph. 2:3; 4:17-19; Gen. 3:1; Rom. 12:1-2, etc.).

God’s temple is holy, and it is a battle we should fight for (1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12; Eph. 6:10-12; 1 Cor. 3:16-18; James 3:17; Rom. 12:9, etc.). Jesus will come for His “bride” suddenly, the Word says, and “we who are alive… shall be caught up… in the clouds to meet [Him] in the air” (1 Thes. 4:17; Song of Solomon 8:6-7; Prov. 6:30-35; Ex. 34:14; 2 Cor. 11:2, etc.). How will we finish the race? (Heb. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 1 Thes. 3:13, etc.). Is our faith being strengthened today? (1 John 1:9; 1 Cor. 10:12; 11:31-32; 2 Pet. 3:17-18 NET; 1 Cor. 3:18; 1 Thes. 3:12-4:1; Eph. 5:1-18, etc.).