Faithlife Sermons

1 Thessalonians 4.1-8 (2008)

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 1 view
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Mature Christians are Pure Christians

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

“Life at Church” slideshow. 

·  Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)

God has not called us to uncleanness but in holiness. The word “holiness” in verse 7 is the same word translated “sanctification” in verses 3 and 4. When the Bible speaks of being sanctified it is speaking of the process of being made holy. Sanctification speaks of the consecration of our life to God and spiritual things and the separation of our life from that which displeases God. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification,” your holiness, or your purity. 

A Sunday school teacher was describing how Lot’s wife looked back and turned to a pillar of salt. One little fellow spoke up and said, “My mother looked back once while she was driving and she turned into a telephone pole.”

The simplest way I know how to define sanctification is that we turn our backs on the world, the flesh, and the devil and keep our eyes on the Lord, serving him, loving Him, honoring Him, and each day of our life we draw more closer to Him and become more like Him.

As we look at our text, we see that we are called to be pure.  As Christians, we are to be completely and wholly consecrated to God. We are to be everything God wants us to be. We are to do everything God wants us to do. There is to be no hesitation, no reservation.

1. The Word of God that Directs our Purity

When it comes to how we are live as Christians, the Bible is our source of information and instruction.  I like to think of the Bible as the laws of heaven for life on earth.

When Henry Morgan Stanley started across the continent of Africa in search for the missionary David Livingstone, he had seventy-three books in three packs, weighing 180 pounds.  After he had gone three hundred miles, he started throwing away some books.  As he continued on his journey, his library grew less and less, until he had but one book left and that was the Bible.  That one book is the one book that the Christian cannot do without.

When it comes to the matter of sanctification, living the Christian life as God desires and demands, the Bible is our instruction book.

a. Our reverence for the Word of God

·  For you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:2)

Paul declares that the commandments he gave them were more than his opinions or convictions. He tells them they came from and by the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was declaring that what he shared with them had a Divine source. They were more than the words of man. They were the words of God. The Bible we hold in our hand came from and “by the Lord Jesus.”

There is not one word in the Bible that should not be there and not word missing that should be there. There is not one error, flaw, mistake or contradiction in the Bible. It is the Word of God!

There may be some things in the Bible some find hard to believe, but you can believe them for the Bible is the Word of God. Because the Bible is the Word of God it deserves our reverence.

b. Our obedience to the Word of God

In verse 2 Paul spoke of the “commandments” he had given them “by the Lord Jesus.” Notice the word “commandments.” The word is a military term that spoke of a commanding officer giving orders to his troops in the field.

I want you to understand that the Bible is more than a book to admire. It is a book to apply. It is more than a book to possess. It is a book to practice. It is more than a book to have. It is a book to heed. It is more than a book to own. It is a book to obey.

In the Bible God, tells us what is right and what is wrong. In the Bible God tells us what we are to do and not do. In the Bible God tells us how to live and how not to live. It is important to understand that what God tells us is more than suggestions or recommendations. They are commands. They are our marching orders from headquarters.

If we are to live a mature Christian life, we must be obedient to the commands God gives us in His Word. As James said, we are to be “Doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). God’s commands are to be obeyed without hesitation or reservation.

2. The Walk with God that Displays our Purity

·  Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God. (1 Thessalonians 4:1)

In the verses that follow he speaks of this walk as one that is distinct and set in contrast to those who are not saved.

·  That each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God. (1 Thessalonians 4:4-5)

He speaks of the Christian lifestyle as opposite of the lifestyle of those who do not know God. How a Christian walks is different from how a non-Christian walks. In other words, when one looks at how a Christian lives, they are to see a different kind of life than the one lived by those who are not saved. As is indicated in verse 4, a lost person lives after the flesh. A Christian learns how to possess his vessel (body) in a consecrated way.

While others may cheat, steal, and lie in the workplace the Christian is to be different. While others may live like the devil, the Christian is to live like Christ. Our practice is to correspond with our profession. Our walk is to match our talk. A sanctified or consecrated life is one that is displayed in how we walk.

a. The goal of our walk

·  Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God. (1 Thessalonians 4:1)

Too often we do things to please men. The objective and goal of our walk ought to be that of pleasing God. Our testimony ought to be that of the Lord Jesus: “for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29).

In short Paul said, “I have made it my goal to please Christ.” Pleasing God ought to be our goal and a goal that is taken seriously by every Christian.

b. The growth of our walk

We not only see that our walk involves pleasing God, but also one in which we, “would abound more and more.” Instead of a Christian life that is like a telephone pole, it is like a tree. Both are made of wood, but in one there is growth and change. As a Christian we should not only get in but also go on. There is to be spiritual growth. We are to abound more and more.

I think of how it must thrill the heart of God as He sees His children growing and abounding more and more. Living a life of sanctification is one of abounding more and more. It is the kind of life in which this spiritual growth is manifested and displayed in our life.

The agnostic Robert Ingersoll spent much of his life attacking the Bible and God. I read the story of a former schoolmate of Ingersoll that entered promisingly upon the legal profession. He married a lovely woman and was the father of two children. Then he began to drink. He sank to the lowest depths and lost everything. One night a Christian worker found him lying drunk in an alley. He brought him to a mission and there he was saved. He was utterly transformed and rebuilt his home and life.

One day he learned that Ingersoll was to give a lecture against God and the Bible. The converted alcoholic wrote to him, saying, “Old friend, would you tell the people that you are against the religion that came down to the lowest depths of hell and found me? Would you speak against the Savior who stooped and lifted me, rebuilt my home and brought joy to my wife and children?” The effect of the letter on Ingersoll was obvious. He read the letter that night before a large audience and then said, “I have nothing to say against a religion that will do this for a man. I am here to talk about a religion that is being preached, but not practiced by so many.”

Christians that do not live as they should not only gave fuel to Ingersoll’s blasphemy, continue to hurt the name and cause of Christ in our day. The Christian is to display a consecrated life.

3. The Will of God that Demands our Purity

·  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

We are talking about the will of God for our lives. What is God’s will for our life as Christians? When we talk about a sanctified life we are speaking of that which is demanded by God. It is His will for our life.

Understanding this let me suggest two things in closing that should be important to us as believers.

a. Keeping our life consecrated to God

Let me once again remind you what it means to be sanctified. Sanctification is the process of being separated from sin and set apart to God’s holiness. It is simply living a consecrated life to God. It is doing what He wants us to do and being what He wants us to be. It is no longer doing what we want, but doing what He wants. Our life is His!

Someone has said, “Kneel at the cross at the beginning of the day and you will never get more than twenty-fours hours away from Calvary.” Daily, give your life to God. Keep your life consecrated to God.

Of course, Paul gives us specifically command to abstain from sexual immorality. 

Sex is not a dirty word. Sex is God’s gift. It is God’s gift within a prescribed boundary. Fire can be good or it can be bad. If put fire in the attic of your house, that’s bad. You can burn up your house. Or you can take fire and put it in an oven and you can cook a good meal. In the proper place, fire can be a good thing. The same thing is true in the matter of sexuality. It can be a good thing or it can be a bad thing.

Within the bonds of marriage, where God has placed it, it is something beautiful and it is something good. Nothing wrong with it. But when you take it outside the boundaries of marriage where God has intended it, then it becomes something dirty and devastating.

The word, abstain, means to hold yourself back from. The word, fornication, refers to all sexual activity outside the bonds of holy matrimony, anything that violates the principles of God’s Word.  He gives us in these verses of Scripture why God says to abstain from sexual immorality. There are two great compelling reasons why God says hold yourself back from sexual immorality.

Why should be abstain from sexual immorality.  First, because of the sinfulness of it.  Paul says in Galatians 5:19. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication...” After he lists a number of things, he says in verse 21, “and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The advertisements are saturated with sex, the wrong kind of sex. Television shows and magazines are saturated with sex, the wrong kind of sex.  All kinds of sexual perversions are put on television. We’ve lost the battle in terms of premarital sex, now they are moving into the area of sexual perversions. They are pushing homosexuality. They are trying to break down the resistance of the American people to get the American people to believe that this is acceptable.

But it doesn’t matter what the culture says and it doesn’t matter what the TV says and it doesn’t matter what the magazines say. It doesn’t matter what the dirty, filthy songs have to say about it. God says in His Word, “abstain from sexual immorality.” That’s the Word of God.

·  That each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God. (1 Thessalonians 4:4-5)

What does it mean to possess our own vessel. Vessel speaks of our body. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Here the word vessel refers to the body. He is talking about the fact that as a saved person we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We have Christ in our heart and in our life. We have this wonderful treasure of salvation. He is taking about the body being an earthen vessel.

We must maintain self-control of bodies, over the desires of their flesh. Paul exhorted the Thessalonians that each of them had to know how to control their body’s appetites. Each believer had the same personal responsibility to control his body.

You should control your own body in a set apart way, in an honoring. That means in a very special and sacred and holy way. Young people, make a commitment that your dating life is going to be a clean and pure and honorable and a special time in your life. Don’t ruin something that can be beautiful and wonderful in your life.  Don’t leave yourself defiled and dirty.

Don’t play with pornography. You are playing with fire when you play with pornography. Pornography is one of the most highly addictive sins ever known to man. It gets its hold on people and they can’t get loose from it. It takes the supernatural power of God to break the chains of pornography. Don’t get involved in pornography.

Don’t be going to dirty movies where there is profanity, nudity, and simulated sex acts. Don’t be going to movies like that. Don’t be listening to music that is filled with that kind of thing. Don’t preprogram your mind so that when you are placed within a situation you will be open to temptation. God says, “No sexual immorality! No premarital sex!” Make up your mind that you are going to keep yourself pure.

The second reason to abstain from sexual immorality is because of the serious of it.

·  Because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. (1 Thessalonians 4:6b)

That is, the Lord is the one who brings about punishment. God is saying, you commit premarital sex and you’ll be punished for it. God says, you commit adultery with some beside your married mate, you will be punished. That’s just what God says. You’ll pay the price. Your actions have consequences.

b. Keeping our life clean before God

·  For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8)

God wants us to be clean.  Well, you may be saying, “Hey, it’s too late for me. I’ve already blown it. I should have heard this message a long time ago. I’ve already committed this sin. I’ve already stepped over the line. It’s all over for men, isn’t it?” No.

·  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

I have some good news for you. You may have already broken God’s law. The good news is you may have already been guilty of this, but you can be washed. The Lord can cleanse you and forgive you of your sin. He can sanctify you, set you apart. He can justify you. He can make brand new person out of you.

First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It’s not too late for you. It’s not all over. You can walk out of this building as clean as a newborn baby. You can leave this service just as if you had never sinned.  You can be cleansed. 

Remember, we are to keep our life clean from that which displeases God and would hurt our testimony and witness for Christ.

If we began the day at the foot of the cross, we ought to end the day confessing our sins that we might keep our heart clean.

David Livingstone once told of how he was chased up a tree by lions. He said the tree was so small that he was barely out of reach of the lions. He told of how they would stand on their back feet, roar and shake the tree. They were so close he could feel their hot breath. They kept him in that tree all through the night. He wrote, “I had a good night and felt happier and safer in that little tree besieged by lions, in the jungles of Africa, in the will of God, than I would have been out of the will of God in England.”

May I say that there is no better place to be than in God’s will. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.”  That is a great place to be and a great way to live.

Related Media
Related Sermons