"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS"
An Exhortation To Walk In Holiness (1 Th 4:1-8)
1. As we saw in our previous study, Paul concluded his "apostolic
reflections" with a prayer…
a. In which he expressed his desire for his brethren – 1 Th 3:11-12
b. In particular, that their hearts be established blameless in
holiness – 1 Th 3:13
2. In the second half of this epistle, Paul gives "apostolic
a. In other words, exhortations, commands, urgings, etc.
b. All designed to help answer his own prayer!
1) That they increase and abound in love
2) That they be blameless in holiness at the coming of the Lord
[His first "apostolic instruction" could be called "An Exhortation To
Walk In Holiness". It begins with a general exhortation on how we
ought to walk and please God…]
I. ABOUNDING MORE AND MORE (Vs 1-2)
A. NOTE THE FORCEFULNESS OF THIS EXHORTATION…
1. Paul "urges" and "exhorts" them
2. He reminds them this is:
a. What they received from him on how they "ought to walk" and
"to please God"
b. In keeping with "commandments" given to them
3. Twice he appeals to the name of Jesus (which adds to the force
of his appeal)
a. Urging and exhorting "in the Lord Jesus"
b. Commandments given "through the Lord Jesus"
4. These "instructions" are not suggestions; they carry the force
of commands necessary to keep in order to please God!
a. Which Jesus expected His apostles to teach – Mt 28:20
b. Which Paul certainly stressed – 1 Cor 7:19
B. A COMMAND FOR INCREASING SERVICE…
1. They should "abound more and more"
a. As he prayed earlier – 1 Th 3:12
b. As he will urge them again later – 1 Th 4:10
2. This aspect of Christian living is taught throughout the
a. By Jesus in His parables
1) The Talents – cf. Mt 25:14-30
2) The Vine and The Branches – cf. Jn 15:1-2
b. By Peter in defining what it means to grow in the knowledge
of Christ – cf. 2 Peter 1:5-8
c. By Paul in his writing to other Christians
1) The Corinthians – 1 Cor 15:58
2) The Philippians – Phil 1:9; Phil 3:13-14
[The Christian "walk" or life is to be one where we abound more and
more, never resting on our laurels, always pressing on to increasing
levels of service. This is especially true when it comes to living
morally pure lives…]
II. SANCTIFICATION THROUGH ABSTINENCE (Vs 3-8)
A. GOD’S WILL IS OUR SANCTIFICATION…
1. The words "sanctification" and "holiness" come from the same
Greek word meaning to be "set apart"
a. Through the Word of God, we are to be "sanctified" – Jn 17:17
b. With the aid of the Spirit, we can be "sanctified" – 1 Cor 6:11
2. Sanctification is an on-going process…
a. It began at our conversion – 1 Cor 6:11; Eph 5:26
b. It continues throughout our Christian life – Heb 2:11; Heb 10:14
c. It will be completed at the coming of Christ – 1 Th 5:23
B. SANCTIFICATION INVOLVES ABSTINENCE…
1. Abstaining from "sexual immorality"
a. The Greek word (porneia) is commonly translated
b. It is a "general word for unlawful and immoral sexual
intercourse and relationships" (Barclay)
1) Thus it includes pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex
2) I.e., any sexual activity outside a lawful, marital
relationship between husband and wife
2. Possessing one’s own vessel (body, or wife) in sanctification
a. Not in passion of lust, like those who do not know God
– cf. Eph 4:17-19
b. Something we should know how to do – in case one doesn’t,
1) Being transformed by the renewing of the mind – Rom 12:1-2
2) Not making provision for fulfilling the lusts of the
flesh – Rom 13:13-14
3. So we will not be take advantage of and defraud our brother
a. I.e., commit adultery (perhaps the highest form of fraud
– cf. Prov 6:30-35)
b. Which is what happens when we do not possess our bodies in
sanctification and honor
C. WHY SANCTIFICATION (ESP. ABSTINENCE) IS NECESSARY…
1. It is God’s will – 1 Th 4:3
2. God will avenge those who defraud their brethren – 1 Th 4:6
cf. Heb 13:4
3. God has called us to holiness, not (moral) uncleanness – 1 Th 4:7
4. Otherwise we reject God, who has given us His Holy Spirit
– 1 Th 4:8
a. Given to us when we became His sons – Ga 4:6
b. Our bodies are to be temples for the Holy Spirit – 1 Cor 6:18-20
— Dare we grieve the Spirit by defiling His temple?
1. To be blameless in holiness at the Lord’s coming requires we walk in
a. Abounding more and more in our service to God
b. Abstaining from sexual immorality by possessing our bodies in
sanctification and honor
2. Through the grace of God, such holy living is possible…
a. We have the blood of Christ to forgive us of the guilt of sin
b. We have the help of the Spirit to free us from the power of sin
— But we must do our part, thus the need for "An Exhortation To
Walk In Holiness"
In view of our morally lax society, this is a much needed exhortation!
God has not called us to (sexual) uncleanness, but in holiness (1 Th 4:7).
Are we living in a way becoming of our calling?