Summary: Influence, Lifestyle, Accountability, Transformation
FOLLOW THE LEADER – A Life of Influence
1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 (pg. 825) August 30, 2015
There is a huge difference between love and lust that this world will never grasp...Love always flourishes and grows when “the need and desires of the other person are put first.” Lust always has a selfish motive...meet my needs...meet my desires...the other person simply exists for this purpose.
Love takes real effort...self denial and sacrifice...Lust takes no real effort, because its very purpose is to gratify my desires...right now.
[Here’s a good example...suppose you’ve made a commitment to eat healthy...you’re trying to be healthy...and low carb. is the way you’ve chosen to go...and your wife brings home a delicious, sprinkle covered, chocolate glazed donut in a little white bag (One she got free for filling up her car). This is all a pretend circumstance mind you!!! And suppose the health conscious husband sees that bag on the counter for two days. He’s opened it and smelled it at least four times. He lusts for this doughy, delectable pastry...and begins to think...One donut won’t hurt...It’ll go to waste if I don’t eat it soon.
This donut and milk would be awesome...the tipping point for giving in is really close. Thankfully the pretend minister’s grandson ate the only hypothetical donut before “lust” won.]
The Apostle Paul is writing to us as believers in our study this morning to live in a world of donuts, as did the people in Thessalonica.
And followers of Christ have made a more important commitment than to eat healthy. We have made a commitment to live in order to please God. We have made a decision to continually grow up to be like Jesus... “more and more! It’s an intentional decision to seek God’s will and God’s Word as we follow our leaders’ instructions.
What kind of life is that? What kind of life is worth following?
I. A LIFE THAT PLEASES GOD
There are 4 ways we can live our lives:
1. We can live a life of reaction. Something happens to us and we react to it...something makes us angry...we explode...something tempts us...we give into it...It’s the default setting that most people choose to live by. I lose my job...I find another...I lose my relationship...I find another. We go through the same motions over and over again until something forces us to change...and usually we then revert right back to the same life. We live life reacting as we go along...a lot of the time we react the same way over and over again. It’s a dangerous way to live. When you were 17 your reaction to bad things was you got high and ate Cheetos in your basement. And you wonder why at 33 you still react to bad things by getting high and eating Cheetos in your basement.
The second way we can live life is:
2. We live a life of conformity. We allow the crowd to shape our lives. We float along on the current of popular opinion. We choose to make appearance more important than reality....because we want others to “like us.” We thrive on others liking us. It’s a dangerous way to live according to author Leo Buscaglia because “The easiest thing to be is you. The hardest thing to be is the you others think you should be.” It’s a chore to live your life trying to please a fickle crowd.
Or you can choose a third way to live:
3. We live a life of rebellion. We reject authority, every authority...our parents, our teachers, our leaders. No one is going to tell “me” what to do, not even God. We fight...we reject “old foundational” truths...for more current ideas. It’s a dangerous way to live because it’s built on pride, and self determination. It’s a life that seeks independence from all.
Or as the Apostle Paul advises us we choose:
4. We can live an intentional life. A life with purpose and direction...a life that believes in a Creator, who has become our heavenly Father. We choose to surrender to His will and plan. We choose to live in a way that pleases Him....We choose to believe we were created by Him for this very reason.
We stop living for self and choose to serve Him.
Choosing to live this life in a sexually promiscuous society will require intentionality and a power greater than this world offers.
“Learning to control our own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like pagans (unbelievers) who do not know God, requires “being sanctified.”
Sanctified is a biblical way of saying “set apart” for God’s use.
[In the OT the tabernacle was “set apart” for God’s use by Moses and the Israelites in the journey to the Promised Land...when Solomon built the temple...it was sanctified, set apart for God’s dwelling place...The Holy of Holy places...was “Holy” because “God dwelt there.” His presence would fill the mercy seat, between the golden cherubim on top of the Ark of the Covenant. A curtain kept everyone out, even the Holy Priest who could only enter it once a year...on the day of atonement, when blood sacrifices were made for the sins of everyone, including the priests. The writer to the Hebrews talks about this old covenant in Chapter 9