Summary: This involves pleasing God, specifically with our sexuality, giving and attitude towards work.
A. Intro & Conclusion
First spoke on 16 Oct 1997 @ B’gate!
George Harrison- ‘My sweet Lord…’ going to see him now?
• What is the point of your life? Jesus- to bring glory to His Father and save sinners
• Are you running slower, as fast or faster than when you began? Jesus -learned obedience, even to death on a Cross
• Is purity or pleasure a higher priority for you? Spirit of Christ in Moses- “chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time” (Heb 11:25)
• Do you love the unlovely as well as the lovely? Jesus- “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)
• What percentage of our time is spent bread-winning? What percentage of our time is spent men-fishing? “ ‘Come follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” Let us follow him now, this day, this week and the rest of our lives until His kingdom come. Amen.
B. Background (see Mark Copeland)
• Author- Paul, Silas, Timothy
• City- capital of Macedonia
• Church- mostly gentile, troubled beginnings
• Time & place- earliest? 52AD? Written from Corinth (south of it) on second journey?
• Purpose- concern prompts Paul to send Timothy back from Athens to encourage and ground the new disciples in the faith, and to learn how they were enduring persecution
o To praise them for their steadfastness under persecution (chapters 1-3, esp. 1:6, 2:14)
o To instruct them concerning holy living (chapters 4-5)
o To correct any misunderstanding, especially about the second coming of Christ (chapters 4-5)
• Theme- Holiness in view of the coming of Christ (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:23)
C. Chapter 4v1-12
"Finally"- we see that, as in Paul’s other letters, the Apostle selects matters of behaviour to be the last things that ring in the Thessalonians minds. But ironically, the most ’final’ thing about these last two chapters is his description of the very end of this world! Four ‘ways of walking’- I will deal with three. Holiness, love, diligence and hope…
1. Walk in holiness (1-8)
a. General: Please God increasingly (1-3)
• Raison d’etre (1). This should be our be-all and end-all. KJV: “For Thou has created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man? Answer: Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever. That is the answer to George’s questions.
• In the Lord Jesus (2). If we ever exhort brothers, it should always be from the motive of, in the authority of, and in the style of Jesus.
• Sanctification (3). Not just to please God, but to “do this more and more”. God is easy to please but difficult to satisfy. We are being "transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18). Although God is happy to take us as we are (we can come no other way)- He isn’t content to leave us as we are. He wants to ’fit us for heaven to live with Thee there’. He wants to ‘sanctify’ us, to set us apart from Himself, and you cannot be justified without being sanctified, though sanctification is in some ways an imperfect work. Christopher Wren, St Paul’s Cathedral; Chris Gee marathon- the importance of perseverance & reminders
b. Specific: Avoid sexuality immorality (4-8)
• Honourable sex or no sex at all (4). Clearly a main aspect of our being set apart for God is that we control ourselves sexually. This does not mean that we should abstain from all sexual behaviour, but that sex should be honourable, that is only within the context of marriage, which “should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure” (Heb 13:4).
• Immorality of the mind (5). “Passionate lust” begins in the mind- “your desires that battle within you” (James 4:1). Job made a covenant with his eyes not to look in lust at a woman (31:1) and Jesus helps us to avoid double-standards by showing us that “anyone who looks at [or thinks about] a woman lustfully has already committed adultery [or fornication] with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Above all else, God is interested in the inclinations of our hearts: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
• Immorality of the body (6)- we can take advantage of our brother by stealing his wife, just as David stole Uriah’s Bathsheba; but we can also rob our brother by fornicating with the woman that he will someday marry. If a man sleeps with an unmarried woman, this may not be technically adultery, but in the future she may well be another man’s wife.