Summary: How can I live a Holy Lifestyle in a pagan world?
TITLE: Walking Confidently
TEXT: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
P.S. How can I be a Holy Christian if I am in the world? The Apostle Paul writes here reminding us that the answer is not in hiding form the worldly pressures. The answer is found in verse 3,For this is the will of God, your sanctification.
The Thessalonians believers lived in a corrupt society. Immorality was a way of life and pleasure at any cost was the philosophy of the day. In fact reading about eh culture of Pauls day is like reading the Ottawa citizen or watching a TV afternoon soap opera. For example, before Paul wrote his letters, the Greek philosopher Demosthenes wrote about marriage and relationships:
We keep prostitutes for pleasure; mistresses for the day to day needs; and wives for begetting children and faithful guardianship of our homes. (Fickett Jr.)
They further believed that if a man supported his wife and family financially, it was perfectly all right to have extra marital affairs. This mind set has not changed in over 2000 years.
We live in a day when the majority scoff at the very thought of living by traditional moral standards. People shamelessly and sometimes literally bare their ‘moral freedom; publically on stage or on T.V. What is the Christian to do? The pressure to conform grows stronger each day you go to school, the office the store. How do we respond when even our elected government leaders are willing to throw away biblical moral absolutes regarding marriage, for the sake of being re-elected?
The Christians in Thessalonika faced the same kind of questions and pressures. Some responded to the pressure by literally quitting their jobs, and living off the avails of other Christians, arguing, “Jesus is coming again so it doesn’t matter if I work. After all, He is coming for a perfect church. How can I be a Holy Christian if I am in the world? Others would respond by being quiet about their faith all together, being fearful of how they might be treated.
The Apostle Paul writes here reminding us that the answer is not in hiding form the worldly pressures. The answer is found in verse 3,For this is the will of God, your sanctification.
This is not an option for the Christian. It is not a multiple choice question. It is Gods plan, will, destiny that you live a life of holiness, separated to Him. But what is Holiness? Why is holiness so imperative for the Christian? How do I grow in Holiness? What difference does living a Holy life make to my world?
One of the Bibles favourite picture of the Christian life is it compared to a walk. The Christian walk demands strength and patience. In this passage Paul describes a three fold walk for the Christian to follow as he lives in the world, awaiting Jesus return.
1. WALK IN HOLINESS: (4:1-8)
ILLUSTRATION: Rob Thomas has always been motivated more by recess, than by any other of his classes. For an hour one day when he was in the second grade, Rob had avoided working on his math sheet. Then the teacher told him that every problem would have to be done before he could go out for recess. Within two minutes, his teacher reported, he had written an answer for every problem. Unfortunately every answer was wrong, and the teacher sent the work sheet home for him to do over.
““You’’ll have to do all these problems again,”” his dad told him. ““Why?”” he asked. ““They’’re all wrong,”” his dad replied. ““So?”” he shrugged. ““Nobody’’s perfect.””
Rob’’s final phrase pretty much sums up why some people reject holiness. Even bumper stickers proclaim, ““Christians aren’’t perfect, just forgiven.”” What is holiness?
Paul uses the Greek word that is translated sanctified. It signifies a separation to God that results in a lifestyle that is befitting someone who is separated.”(VINES) In other words, when a person becomes a Christians, he is a new person and conducts himself in a lifestyle that reflects his allegiance.
Why does God demand that we live a holy lifestyle? Paul gives three reasons;
First, In order to please God (1). It is fascinating to watch a little child following his/dad. At a certain age, the child begins to mimic certain things the parent does? Why because he wants to please his parent. Similarly we want to live our lives in such a way that pleases God. We do this by listening to Him, spending time with Him in prayer and study. But mostly as we live to obey God (2-3).
People mistake Gods commandments as if HE is punishing them. But Gods commandments are not meant to steal your joy, they are meant to protect you so that you don’t lose your joy. This is so that as we live Holy lives, we will bring glory to God(4,5). This is the positive side of Holiness. There is nothing that brings more joy to a fathers heart to hear people say of his son, “He is just like his dad” There is nothing that brings more joy to the Fathers heart when people can say of us,” so and so doesn’t just preach to us about religion, he is a real Christian.” How you live will be a reflection of who your father is. This is why another reason we are to live a holy life is in order to escape the judgement of God.” We do not like to think of Gods judgements. But, if we choose to disobey Gods commands, and live our own life, then we must be prepared to reap the consequences of our actions. God is not looking to heap judgement on anyone. But you might say, I have tried, but can’t it. Holiness is just too hard”“ It is his will that we walk in relationship with Him that is growing and developing each day. “