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1 Thessalonians 4:5-The Thessalonians Were Not to Practice Lustful Passions in Contrast to Unregenerate Gentiles Who Don’t Know God Personally

First Thessalonians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  1:05:23
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1 Thessalonians 4:5-The Thessalonians Were Not to Practice Lustful Passions in Contrast to Unregenerate Gentiles Who Don’t Know God Personally

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1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally then, brothers and sisters, we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received instruction from us about how you must live and please God (as you are in fact living) that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what commands we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is God’s will: that you become holy, that you keep away from sexual immorality, 4 that each of you know how to possess his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God. (NET)
1 Thessalonians 4:5 continues the thought from 1 Thessalonians 4:1-4 because it continues to discuss the subject of the Thessalonians experiencing their sanctification but from a negative perspective.
Therefore, in 1 Thessalonians 4:5, Paul continues to discuss the subject of experiential sanctification again from a negative perspective as he did in 1 Thessalonians 4:3.
The former is an emphatic comparative clause which emphatically marks a comparison between the Thessalonian Christian community possessing their own bodies with regards to the practice of lustful passion and unregenerate humanity.
This is indicated by the fact that Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they were not to possess their own bodies with regards to the practice of lustful passion like in fact the Gentiles who do not know the one and only God personally.
The Gentiles” refers to unregenerate Gentiles who rejected the following: (1) The Trinity’s revelation of itself through creation (Rom. 1:18-32) (2) their conscience (Rom. 2:14-16) (3) God the Father’s perfect revelation of His character and nature in the person of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
Why does Paul present an emphatic contrast between the Thessalonian Christian community which was Gentile and unregenerate Gentiles?
The reason is that he is emphasizing with the Thessalonians that they have a new identity, namely they are now in an eternal union and identification with Jesus Christ in His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and session at the right hand of the Father.
If the Thessalonians continue to abstain from practicing the various forms of sexual immorality that they practiced when they were unregenerate by appropriating by faith their union and identification with Jesus Christ, then, they would be manifesting this union and identification as well as distinguishing themselves from the unregenerate Gentile community.
Paul describes these unregenerate Gentiles as not knowing the one and only God personally.
On the other hand, the Thessalonians did know God personally because they were appropriating by faith this union and identification.
This faith resulting in obedience to the commands and prohibitions of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy resulting in godly conduct distinguishing them from the unregenerate Gentile community and also manifested the fact that they were children of God rather than children of the devil.
The articular form of the noun theos means “the one and only God” since the articular construction of this word indicates that God the Father is in a class by Himself.
He was in a class by Himself because unlike the gods of unregenerate humanity, He is the true and living God as manifested by His work of creation, and regeneration of the sinner while the gods of the unregenerate Gentiles are not gods or even living beings.
The noun pathos, “passion” pertains to an uncontrolled sexual passion which is manifested through the practice of various types of sexual immorality.
The noun epithumia, “lustful” refers to the various lust patterns of the sin nature which are manifested through the practice of various types of sexual immorality.
Paul asserts in 1 Thessalonians 4:5 that these unregenerate Gentiles do not know the one and only God personally.
This means that they did not have a firsthand familiarity, acquaintance and experience with the one and only God who is the Father.
Specifically, it means that they did not know the Father personally as a result of being justified by Him through faith in His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
It also means that they were not experiencing fellowship with Him as a result of obedience to the various commands and prohibitions of Scripture.
Lastly, it means that they were not experiencing fellowship with the Father because they were not identified with Jesus Christ in His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and session at the Father’s right hand.
Now, we noted in our study of 1 Thessalonians 4:3 that Paul does not identify for the Thessalonians how they were to make it their habit of abstaining from the practice of sexual immorality.
Also, he does not identify for them in 1 Thessalonians 4:4 how they were to make it their habit of possessing their own bodies with regards to experiencing their sanctification which would result in the Lord Jesus honoring them at the Bema Seat.
Lastly, he does not identify for them in 1 Thessalonians 4:5 how they were to obey the prohibition in this verse, which required that they not practice lustful passions like unregenerate humanity does.
However, as we noted in our study of 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, Romans 6, Colossians 3:1-5 does identify how the Thessalonians were to abstain from sexual immorality and possess their own bodies with regards to experiencing their sanctification and not practice lustful passion like unregenerate humanity.
Therefore, a comparison of Romans 6:11 and Colossians 3:5 with 1 Thessalonians 4:3 indicates that the Thessalonian Christian community were to experience their sanctification and were to abstain from sexual immorality as well as not practice lustful passion like unregenerate humanity by putting to death the members of their sinful nature.
Putting to death the members of that which belongs to the Thessalonians’ earthly nature would demand that they completely cease from practicing sexual immorality, sexual impurity, sexual lust, evil desire and greed based upon the fact that they are identified with Christ in His death and resurrection.
It would constitute appropriating by faith their identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.
Ceasing completely from practicing such sins would result in their living in a manner consistent with this identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.
By obeying the commands in Romans 6:11 and Colossians 3:5, the faithful believers in Colossae and Thessalonica would be appropriating by faith their identification with Christ in His crucifixion, death and burial.
Therefore, Paul is spelling out for the Thessalonians and for all Christians in every generation of the church age what is involved in appropriating by faith one’s identification with Christ in His crucifixion, death and burial.
To appropriate by faith one’s identification with Christ in His crucifixion, death and burial would demand the believer putting to death the members of their human body with regards to any thought, word or action which would manifest their sin nature.
To appropriate by faith one’s identification with Christ in His crucifixion, death and burial would demand the believer considering the members of their human body as dead to the sin nature and alive to God.
To consider oneself as dead to the sin nature and alive to God demands that the believer submit to the Lordship of Christ over their life.
Their union and identification with Christ means that they are under the headship of Christ and thus no longer under the headship of Adam.
Consequently, they must behave in a manner which is consistent with being under the headship of Christ.
To consider oneself as dead to the sin nature and alive to God or to put off the old Adamic nature and to put on the new Christ nature involves the Christian submitting to being under the headship of Christ.
To appropriate by faith one’s union and identification with Christ would involve the Christian adopting God’s viewpoint of them which is that they are in union with Christ and identified with Him in His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and session at the right hand of the Father.
This results in conduct which is consistent with this union and identification with Christ.
Faith is submitting to the Father’s will for one’s life and it is submitting to the sovereign will of God and manifests itself in obedience to the commands and prohibitions in the Word of God.
The Father’s will for the church age believer is that they are crucified, died, buried, raised and seated with His Son at His right hand.
The believer who agrees with this by viewing himself or herself as identified with Christ in these events in our Lord’s life is appropriating by faith their union and identification with Christ.
If a believer does not adopt this view of himself or herself, they will automatically live according to the lusts of their sin nature.
It is only when the Christian is thinking properly about themselves that they can experience victory over sin and it is only when the Christian has adopted God’s viewpoint of them that they can experience victory over sin.
It is thus only through faith that they can experience victory since this victory is contingent upon the Christian appropriating by faith this union and identification with Christ and this is accomplished by considering themselves dead to the sin nature and alive to God.
The Thessalonians’ behavior or conduct was to be governed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and specifically the good news that they have the victory over sin and Satan through their union and identification with Christ in His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and session at the Father’s right hand.
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