1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
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.
6 In this matter no one should violate the rights of his brother or take advantage of him, because the Lord is the avenger in all these cases, as we also told you earlier and warned you solemnly.
7 For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness.
8 Consequently the one who rejects this is not rejecting human authority but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
In the previous passage, Paul’s prayer and desire was that God will cause the Thessalonians to abound in love toward those inside and outside of the church. By loving others, this will establish their holiness so they will be blameless at the second coming of Christ. In this passage, Paul continues to talk about holiness by resisting sexual immorality and lustful passions that may hurt their brothers. He warns that God will avenge such actions.
Finally then, brothers and sisters, we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus –
A) ask and urge
• Meaning Paul asks, begs, and beseeches them, and additionally he also warns, exhorts, and advises them.
B) in Jesus Christ
• In Jesus Christ means Paul is speaking on behalf of Jesus Christ and in alignment with his teaching.
• What approach do you use when warning a brother or sister of sin?
• How should we respond if our warning is rejected?
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-
• Meaning Paul reminds them of the instructions he gave them when he was present with them on how they should walk.
• He reminds them to please God, meaning, to live in a way that is in agreement with God’s ways.
• He then commends them for already living properly.
• Last he encourages them to excel even more.
• Why do we lack giving commendation when people are doing well?
For you know what commands we gave you through the Lord Jesus-
• Again he reminds them of the instruction he gave when he was present with them.
• Again the phrase ‘through the Lord Jesus’ means that Paul gave them commands that were on Christ’s behalf and were in accordance with Christ’s teaching.
For this is God’s will-
• Paul begins to specifically remind them of God’s will for them.
that you become holy-
• Meaning that they be set apart from the world’s ways and many kinds of sins.
• holy – Thayer’s Greek Lexicon; ἁγιασμός hagiasmós, hag-ee-as-mos’ – sanctification of heart and life.
• Sanctify – Webster: to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use.
• Why do so many lives in the modern church look no different than those who are not Christians?
that you keep away from sexual immorality-
• God desires their holiness from all sorts of sins, but here he specifically mentions holiness with regard to sexual immoralities, such as, fornication, adultery, and homosexuality.
• Strong’s Definitions: πορνεία porneía, por-ni’-ah; harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry.
• What are some practical ways to keep away from sexual immorality in dating and marriage?
that each of you know how to possess his own body in holiness and honor-
• There are two interpretations:
• One, Meaning they should be careful to control the behaviors of their own person, and they should respect their body (purchased by the Lord with his life) to not use it for sin.
• Two, the Greek word for possess implies possessing their own body, meaning their own wife. Therefore, they should know how to be holy in this relationship with their spouse, and they should know how to honor/value the relationship with their spouse. They surely should deny themselves from having sex outside of their marriage.
• Thayer’s Greek Lexicon to acquire, get, or procure a thing for one’s self, to posses; to marry a wife
not in lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God-
• Meaning they should have the self control, holiness, and honor shown above, and they should not follow their extreme desires like the godless Gentiles.
In this matter no one should violate the rights of his brother or take advantage of him-
• The passage means he should not ‘go beyond, transgress’ nor ‘defraud, overreach, wrong’ his brother by having adultery with his brother’s wife.
because the Lord is the avenger in all these cases, as we also told you earlier and warned you solemnly-
• Meaning that God is aware of harmful acts toward others and he will hold them accountable, and He will discipline them accordingly.
• He again reminds them that he has already warned them with great gravity.
• Below are verses regarding God’s discipline.
• Romans 12:19 (NET) Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
• Romans 13:2-4 (NET) 2 So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment 3 (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation, 4 for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer.
• 1 Corinthians 11:29-32 (NET) 29 For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead. 31 But if we examined ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the world.
• Hebrews 12:6 (NET) “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.”
• In the case of adultery, it may be that the brother is not a true brother and will not inherit the kingdom of God.
• 1 Corinthians 6:8-11 (NET) 8 But you yourselves wrong and cheat, and you do this to your brothers and sisters! 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness-
• Meaning, God’s purpose in calling them was not to live in sexual sin, but to live in a life that is set apart from sin.
Consequently the one who rejects this is not rejecting human authority but God-
• Meaning those Christians who walk in this this way are not rejecting Paul, Timothy, and Silas, but they rejecting the authority of God himself.
• What role should the church have with those who profess Christ yet reject His authority by living comfortably in their publicly known sexual sins?
who gives his Holy Spirit to you-
• Notice the word ‘gives’ is in present tense. He continually gives them the Holy Spirit who will help them live holy.
• Jamieson- Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary – “Giveth” implies that sanctification is not merely a work once for all accomplished in the past, but a present progressive work. So the Church of England Catechism, “sanctifieth (present) all the elect people of God.”
Listening Prayer method – a method where you write what you think God would say to you after meditating and studying a Bible passage.
Are you possessing your own body?
Confront those brothers directly that are comfortable living in sin. Warn them humbly because all have sinned.
Commend those brothers who are resisting sin and honoring the sacrifice of My Son.
Speak up at your church. Let my truth be heard. Don’t neglect talking about sin just because it is common in your culture. Challenge the brothers and sisters to live holy lives. Don’t shy away from my scriptures which often speak on this subject.
Be an example for others. Resist sexual sin. Honor your wife and the marriages of others. Be on-guard against relationships that can go too far.
For those who profess Christ yet live comfortably in the church while publicly sinning, confront humbly. Push the church to counsel them and lovingly discipline them. Disciplining them with the motive to free them from sin is uncomfortable, but this is loving toward their soul.