1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
#712 Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon, many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound. All of the dead shall rise; righteous meet in the skies, going where no one dies, heavenward bound.
If you will glance down toward the end of chapter 4 here, more specifically verses 16-17, you will recognize that the words for this song find their basis in those verses.
The question then is: Which are you and I? Do we number among the doomed? Or do we number among the heavenward bound?
Now most people will say, “I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus. So, I am heavenward bound” and I hope for their sake that is true.
So, what more is there that we must do if we want to be “heavenward bound” when Jesus does come back?
Now keep in mind that Paul is writing to a group of new Christians.
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more.
Apparently this was part of the first principle teachings of Paul and Silas.
But Paul says that these people also received “instructions as to how they ought to walk and please God.”
Now, this is counter to what so many have in mind when it comes to being a Christian.
And yet, we practice it.
That is not what Paul says here.
Being a Christian not only requires hearing, believing, confessing, repenting and being baptized…it also requires a “continuous walk that is pleasing to God.”
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
And now Romans 6:4:
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin;
We can go out here and baptize hundreds of people…and some have.
Satan doesn’t care if you call yourself a Christian. All he wants is for your walk to be dirty.
In fact, look at verse 3: For this is the will of God, your sanctification…
Now, Paul is going to get specific here. Notice verse 3 again:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; (Your version may say, “fornication.”)
Christians, young and old, are a “set apart” people and one of the things that sets us apart from the world is saying “NO” to what the world so openly and frequently endorses…and that is sexual immorality.
In the world of the Thessalonians illicit, immoral sexual practices were common…much like our world is today.
The world tells our young people, “When it comes to sex outside of marriage…don’t say no, instead just be safe!”
And it is not just our young people who are vulnerable to what the world teaches and says.
Paul says, “As a follower of Christ you are to abstain from sexual immorality.”
Now, the command is not to stay clear of sex. Sex in marriage is ordained by God.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.
Now, scholars have some differing ideas on what Paul has in mind here when he says they are to “possess their own vessel” but in the context of what Paul is saying “vessel” evidently is speaking of a man having his own wife (1 Cor. 7).
And look what he says next: A man is to possess is own wife in sanctification and honor…not motivated by lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.”
And look at verse 6. Here he warns against being involved with another man’s wife or being involved in an adulterous relationship.
Paul tells these new Christians and he tells us, “You may be involved in these kinds of activities; but now that you are in Christ that kind of conduct is not only unacceptable but will cause you to be condemned.”
Sexual immorality…sex outside of marriage is not part of the sanctified life that Christians are to live…and it is not part of the walk that will be pleasing to the Lord when it comes back.
Look at this verse found in Eph 5:3-6
3 But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Paul says, “Do not let any one deceive you with “empty words.”
Believe the “empty words” if you want…but “do not be deceived…because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
Look at verse 6 again. Paul says: Let “no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.”
Sexual immorality always does damage to someone.
I have sat and listened to men and women sob and try to figure out why their mate cheated on them.
Look at verse 8. Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
You know, the NT never does what we sometimes do with teenagers when we talk about sex.
The NT never says, “Be pure so you do not get pregnant.”
The NT says, “Be pure because your body houses the Spirit of God (I Cor. 6:18)…and immoral conduct insults the giver of the greatest gift He has ever given you.”
Now, one last point; Paul is writing this for two reasons.
But what about the NON-CHRISTIAN? Look at 1 Cor. 6: 9-11.
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
But now, look at verse 11.
11 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 Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
God can and will forgive you if you will believe, confess, repent, be baptized…and walk and please God.
Jesus is coming soon…no one knows when…Are your ready?