Walking in Holiness
1 Thess. 4:1-8
In last portion of Chapter 3, Paul was in prayer and in his prayers, he wants the Thessalonian Christians to increase and abound in love and to live a holy life. Here is his instruction to walk in holiness
I. Exhortation to Walk (1 Thess. 4:1-2)
A. Paul uses the word beseech and exhort:
1. The word “beseech” speaks of a humble request, to ask, to intreat.
2. The word exhort speaks of encouragement. The use of these words tells us that Paul regarded the subject he is talking with great importance. He could have commanded them, but kind exhortation usually accomplishes more than a command.
3. By the Lord Jesus. In His name and by His authority. Paul uses words of tenderness as he calls upon the Thessalonian believers to walk and please Christ.
4. That as ye have received of us. Paul is reminding his readers of his words to them while in Thessalonica.
5. How ye ought to walk. How ye ought to live. The word walk means how you live.
6. Paul uses the word “ought” when he exhorts us to walk in a manner pleasing to God. The word ought speaks of an obligation and duty. When Paul uses this word, he is not saying, “ye should walk and to please God.” He is saying, “ye must walk and to please God.” It is a word of force and responsibility.
7. So ye would abound more and more: that is, be more and more in the exercise of every grace, and in the discharge of every duty, making advances in holiness of life, and perfecting it in the fear of God
8. Ye know what commandments we gave you (1 Thess. 4:2). This refers to his instructions while he was among them
Illustration 1: An Odd Number
A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feel supreme love for One whom he has never seen. Talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see. He expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another, empties himself in order that he might be full, admits he is wrong to he can be declared right, and goes down in order to get up. He is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and is happiest when he feels worst. He dies to he can live, forsakes in order to have, and gives away so he can keep. He sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passes knowledge. – A.W. Tozer
II. Sanctification (1 Thess. 4: 3a-8)
A. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification. It is the will or command of God that you should be holy.
B. The word sanctification means to be set apart for Divine use. All believers have been set apart from the world to serve the Lord. Sanctification is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). This is Christian growth, putting away sin and putting on godliness (Rom. 6:19, 22; 1 Thess. 4:3, 4; 1 Pet. 1:14-16).
Illustration 2: Developing Holiness
The process of developing holiness. God said to Israel, “Be holy, because I am holy” (Lev. 11:44-45). Because God wants us to become like him, it is necessary that his people be a special kind of people, holy men and women. The basic idea in sanctification is “being set apart for God”; those thus set apart live in a way that is pleasing to God. They have no power of their own to do that, but God enables them (2 Cor. 3:17-18). Sanctification is not an option. God requires it of all his people (1 Thess. 4:3).
The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook
III. Sexual Purity:
A. Fornication is defined as:
1. The incontinence or lewdness of unmarried persons, male or female; also, the criminal conversation of a married man with an unmarried woman; adultery; incest; a forsaking of the true God and worshiping of idols (Webster).
2. The Bible uses this term as a general description for immorality (Mt. 5:32; 15:19; 19:9; Acts 15:20,29; 21:15; Rom. 1:29; 1Cor. 5:1; 6:18; 7:2; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1Thess. 4:3; Rev. 9:21). Fornication includes all forms of immoral and illicit sexual activity. It includes adultery, incest, sodomy, lesbianism, and bestiality. Fornication is absolutely forbidden by God.
3. Like adultery, fornication is also used in a spiritual sense to describe turning from God to serve false gods (Ezek. 16:29-34; Rev. 2:21; 14:8; 17:2,4; 18:3; 19:2).
4. The Greek word translated fornication is porneia, from which the English word “pornographic” is derived.
B. Possess his vessel (1 Thess. 4:4) To possess means “to have control of.” Our vessel is our body. It is simply the house in which the Christian lives while he is in this world. The body, therefore, is to be yielded to God that it may be possessed in sanctification and honor. We are to use our bodies to bring glory and honor to God. Paul warned the Corinthians that, the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. (1 Cor. 6:13) We often hear people. (even Christians) foolishly say, “It is my body and I will do with it as I please.” Nothing could be further from the truth. When God saved us, He not only purchased our souls, but our bodies as well. For ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Cor. 6:20)
C. Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God. (1 Thess. 4:5) The lust of concupiscence is a desire for that which is unlawful and forbidden. It speaks of a mind that lusts after and longs for forbidden things. We are not to be as the Gentiles which know not God. As believers, our life-style must stand in stark contrast to that of the unsaved world.
D. That no man go beyond (1 Thess. 4:6). This word means, to make to go over, as, e.g., a wall or mountain; then, to overpass, to wit, certain limits, to transgress; and then, to go too far, i.e., to go beyond right-hence to cheat or defraud.
E. And defraud – oppress or overreach. This word properly means, to have more than another; then to have an advantage; and then to take advantage of any one, to circumvent, defraud, cheat.
F. In any matter. this would refer to the particular matter under discussion, and the meaning then would be, that no one should be guilty of illicit intercourse with the wife of another.
G. For the Lord is the avenger – (1 Thess. 4:6) Sexual immorality is sin, and God will judge all sin (Rom. 6:23 a). All ” Everyone who fears the wrath of God should abstain from all sins including immorality.
H. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness. (1 Thess. 4:7). When he called us to be his followers, He wants us to live a life of holiness, not a life of sin.
I. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God (1 Thess. 4:8). This means he who does not follow the preaching and instructions of Paul, is not following the instructions of God.
Illustration 1: Bonding
Sometimes when I’m talking to teens, I draw an analogy between the bonding capacity of the body and adhesive tape. Adhesive tape is not made for repetitive use. The strongest bond adhesive tape is capable of making is formed with the first surface to which it is applied. You can remove the tape and reapply it to other surfaces several times, and it will still adhere. However, with every application, some of the adhesiveness has been compromised. Finally, if you continue the practice long enough, there will not be enough adhesiveness left to make the tape stick to any surface. God intended that the bond between mates be the closest and strongest one they are capable of forming. That is why Paul makes it very clear that the body is not for fornication.
Dr. Richard Dobbins in Homemade, Nov., 1987
As Christians we should live a holy life because it is the will of God. We should avoid all kinds of sin. If you want to live a life that will be pleasing to the Lord, then you should live a “sanctified life” a life that is set apart for the Lord and for His service. Will you do it? If you are willing, the Lord will enable you to do it.