Holiness

February 18, 2006 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Introduction:
1.  We’re in week #6 of our study: The Disciple Making Church – subtitled: 10 Habits of Highly Effective Churches!
[tie this into our theme for 2006:  Gearing Up for Greater Effectiveness
2.  We’ve completed chps. 1-3 – review the key points:
#1: Focused // The Right Goal –  1:1-10 – Open to Change – turning to God from idols!
#2: Integrity – 2:1-12 – fulfilling the responsibilities that God has given to us – like a steward and a godly mother and godly father would do it with their children!!
#3: Receptive – 2:13-20 – Receiving the Word – accepting it not as the word of man, but as the Word of God!
#4: Endurance –3:1-10 – Standing Firm in our Faith because we’ve properly received the Word – implying that if you don’t ‘receive it properly, you’re probably not going to ‘stand firm’!
#5: Growing Stronger – 3:10b-13 – in our daily walk with the Lord in 2 specific areas: 
1) Our LOVE for one another, and for ‘all people’
2) Our personal HOLINESS – v. 13
– Paul spoke of ‘holiness’ in v. 13 and tied to the coming of Christ – in our study today, Paul gets more specific with the idea of holiness!
3.  LAST WEEK:  Feb. 12: – Moldova speaker – GREAT OPPORTUNITY
Input:  What did you learn last week about missions, about the body of Christ, about our own situation here in the US?
4. Today, our study takes us to 1 Thess. 4:1-12 – and the characteristic of . . .
-  Before we read our text, consider the following quote
The most important pursuit for all Christians, individually and corporately, is holiness. The first mission of the church is to honor and glorify God, and He can be honored and glorified by His children only as they grow to be like Him in character. Although evangelism is the cutting edge of the church’s ministry, holiness is the only foundation on which effective evangelism or any other ministry can be built. The supreme priority of the church is holiness, purity of inward life. God can accomplish whatever He desires through a believer or a church that is holy, but He can do little through one that is not.
Input: How would you respond to what MacArthur has stated?  Agree? Disagree? Why or why not?
5.  In case you have figured it out yet, our theme today (characteristic of a disciple making church) is:
#6: Holiness – 4:1-12 – Dealing with Moral Purity ; Summary this section in v. 7: ‘for God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification’
[READ 1 Thes. 4:1-12]


I.  A Disciple Making Church Walks in Holiness


- remember in chp. 3, Paul referred to your ‘faith’ 5 times – now he puts the focus on their ‘walk’

Input: What is Paul referring to when he writes about our ‘walk’?
[various answers]
 Walk = the way you conduct yourself, your life, your daily choices, your habits of living
> a person’s walk is the evidence of their faith, the fruit on the tree, the result of your inner beliefs, thoughts, and motivations
> in short, it’s what you DO / the way you ACT / it’s what you ARE (i.e. your manner of life!).
A.  Remember the cultural context
- The city of Thessalonica was a large and prosperous seaport and one of the most important cities in Macedonia.
> It was the hub of political and commercial activity in that region.
- Not only was it a seaport, it served as a convenient rest stop for those who traveled the Via Egnatia (ig-nay-sha), the major east-west interstate connecting Rome with the Eastern provinces.
-  Thessalonica was part of a Greek and Roman world that was a sex-saturated society.
> There was permissive sex, homosexuality, sensual entertainment for rowdy sailors, prostitution, public baths, perversions of every kind – all typical of the 1st century life.
> For many people, immorality was NORMAL, not sinful, . . . and worse, much of it was passed-off in the name of religion and viewed as WORSHIP.
Input:  In what ways is our culture the same or worse when it comes to sexual temptation?
[various answers: the issue of ‘availability’ is key – e.g. internet!]
B.  Remember the reasons for moral purity
1.  To please God – 4:1
- because that is way God designed it to be – He is holy (completely separate from sin), therefore, He has the right to say how things should be
 2 Corinthians 5:9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
 John 8:29 "And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him."
 1 Thessalonians 2:4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.
Input: What is a person going to be thinking if he/she is trying to please God in their life? What is that person going to thinking? Not thinking?
[various answers – thinking about God is here, God knows my thoughts, what are consequences of my choices, what if . . . the truth is discovered, etc. – NOT going to be thinking about what I want, what’s best for me, etc.}
Point: You want God to take great joy in what you are doing – to have Him say, “Well done, you good and faithful servants”
2.  To obey God – 4:2-3
- this is the specifics – actually doing exactly what He asked you to do
- this has implications not only to keeping the 10 commandments – “thou shalt not commit adultery”
> . . . it also has implications to the GREATEST commandments: To love God
Q: What did Jesus say would happen if a person really loved Him?
A: they would keep His commandments!
Note: If this is an issue of obedience, and it is, then there is also personal responsibility (no excuses for why it happened) and culpability (liable for punishment if violated)
Input: What reasons do some people give for not being obedient in this area?
[various answers – “I couldn’t help it” – or “She’s such a bad wife’ , or all the psychological arguments for justifying sinful behavior!]
3.  To glorify God – 4:5 – this is the positive side of command
 know = know, understand, perceive, experience, learn, know how; be acquainted w/
- they Gentiles (unbelievers) have no knowledge of God – they have no idea the right opinion of God – Who He is and what He can do!
- our lives ought to give to other the right opinion of God – which is what it means to bring glory to God
> this is part of what Jesus was speaking of when He said to ‘let your light shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven’ (Mat. 5:16)
Q:  I wonder how many lives have been affected by a believers unwillingness to keep himself/herself morally pure?
4.  To escape the judgment of God – 4:6-8
“While it is true that the Christian is not under condemnation (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1), it is also true that he is not free from the harvest of sorrow that comes when we sow to the flesh (Gal. 6:7-8).”m – Wiersbe, Be Ready, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, p. 75
Cf. Heb. 12 – refers to God discipling us the way an earthly father disciplines his son!
[we’ll consider this more later]
Q:  What exactly does God want to see happening in us? What is involved in our holiness? How can we walk and please God?]


II.  A Disciple Making Church Is Concerned About the Various Aspects of Holiness


- those aspects are found in the ‘that’s’ of this passage – vv. 3,4,6)
A.  We should abstain from sexual immorality.
*  Sexual immorality speaks of any kind of sexual intercourse or relationship outside of marriage (English “pornography').
- Paul says we are to make a clean cut from any and all extramarital or unnatural sexual activity, including adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, fornication, and so on.
* Key Phrase:  It's not about moderation, it's about abstinence.
-  But God didn't include this command because He is a cosmic killjoy or likes to throw His weight around.
> He gave us this instruction because He knows some things we don't: He knows that sexual immorality is a path to emptiness and frustration, not pleasure and fulfillment.
> Like seatbelts, this command is not constricting or confining, it's given to provide for us and protect us.
> It's given to us so that we might be holy and God-pleasing.
B.  We should know how to possess our own vessel in sanctification and honor (4:4).
 vessel = could be one’s own body, or one’s spouse (context of writing to the whole church, including single people, it’s probably one’s own body!)
 sanctification = to set apart
- this is different than ‘justification’ = to be legally declared righteous, forgiven, your debt is paid in full (that’s at salvation)
- but sanctification is the idea of being set apart in the image and likeness of God – specifically, His Son, Jesus Christ
- as we receive the Word and walk in the Spirit (as Paul described in Gal 5), each of us is to gain mastery over his own body, the issue being one of self-control.
- This is how we "abstain from sexual immorality."
 1 Cor 9:27  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection.
 honor = refers to our attitude toward others.
-  We are to conduct ourselves respectably toward others – just like Jesus did
[Note: He was tempted in all ways like us, yet without sin – Heb 4:15. ]
-  We should not do anything that would devalue or shame our wives or anyone else
-  Paul underlines his point in verse 4 by contrasting our sexual conduct with that of the Gentiles, who live in passion of lust (desire oriented)
- that describes the world and our culture today!!!
 Non-Christians, who do not know God, simply follow their feelings – they live life without PRINCIPLES (not as bad under “common grace”)
 Without God they have no way of overcoming temptation and so, they simply follow the overwhelming feeling of their sinful desires.
 On the other hand, we who know God, are not to follow our physical desires wherever they take us. We are driven by a desire to please God and respect others
C.  We should not take advantage of and defraud our brother in this matter (4:6a).
 defraud = take advantage of, cheat; get the better of (2 Cor 2.11)
- you could also describe this as ‘stirring passions that cannot be righteously fulfilled’
-  this is about the destructive social and spiritual implications of sexual immorality.
> There are good reasons to see this as statement as a euphemism for a sexual affair.'
> We are not to overreach proper bounds (defraud) and take advantage of somebody else by adulterous behavior.
-  The enormity of this sin is seen in the fact that it is AGAINST a brother, by which Paul probably means a fellow-Christian.
>  When the believer sins, others are hurt // the community of Christ is harmed.
Point:  We cannot sin sexually in a vacuum.
Example: David's adultery had an incredibly destructive effect in his own family and even Israel at large. Make no mistake about it, had David known in advance the devastating results of his sin he would never have given Bathsheba a second thought!
-  We must keep ourselves pure (because of the reasons mentioned above) but also because of the tremendous harm that our sin creates for others.
- Having stated that God's will is our holiness and that holiness demands sexual purity,


III.  A Disciple Making Church Considers the Reasons for Obeying These Commands.


- At this point, we’re moving from the outward command to inner motivation.
A.  We are to maintain sexual purity because God works out proper punishment for all sexual sins [because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified (4:6b)].
-  We cannot sin sexually and get away with it; God's holiness reacts against immorality.
 "Fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Heb 13:4).
 "Therefore put to death . . . fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire . . . because of these things the wrath of God is coming . . ." (Col 3:5-6).
- God will repay the immoral with punishment. He is the avenger of all who would ignore His will.
B.  We must maintain sexual purity because our salvation introduced us into a life of sanctification [God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness (4:7)].
- The realization that God is so working in us should serve as a motivation to purity (to be in keeping with His program).
>  We ought to "work out our salvation," striving toward holiness, because God is working in us "both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil 2:12-13).
>  A lack of desire to be holy may very well indicate an unchanged, unregenerate heart.
C.  We must avoid sexual immorality, otherwise we have rejected God
 1 Thes 4:8  Therefore, he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
If we disregard God's standards of morality, we treat Him as null and void, as if He were of no account in our lives.
And yet, this is the One who gave us His Holy Spirit to empower us and energize us for purity and victory.
How then can we sin against the God who is for us?
Martin Luther: "You can't keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them
  from making a nest in your hair."
D.  Loving Others should be obvious – 4:9-10
- God taught us?  How? – by John 3:16 – the greatest gift of love – that’s our motivation!
E.  Minding Your Own Business – 4:10-12
- this has the idea of working hard supplying for your own family --- not dependant upon others
- the point is, if you’re working hard to maintain/grow your family, you won’t have time to be messing with somebody else’s spouse!
“As we review this section, we see how practical the Christian walk really is.  The obedient Christian will have a holy life by abstaining from sexual sin; a harmonious life, by loving the brethren; and an honest life, by working with his hands and not meddling in the affairs of others.  When unsaved people see Christ magnified in this kind of a life, they will either oppose it with envy or desire to have it for themselves.  Either way, God is glorified.” – Ibid, p. 81
Input: What are some ways (thinking and actions) that will either help us to grow in holiness and/or avoid committing sexual sin?
[various answer – but one is Rom. 13;14 – READ – know the process of James 1:13-18 – every man is tempted when 1) he is drawn away of his own desires (lust) and 2) enticed – many times, if we can avoid the enticement (which means to ‘bait a hook’) then we will handle the temptation better!@}

Conclusion: NEXT WEEK
Feb. 26 #7: Hope – 4:13-18 – Hopeful of the Return of Christ
Summary: ‘so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope’


ABF Series: The Disciple Making Church
Holiness – 1 Thes 4:1-12
Introduction:
The most important pursuit for all Christians, individually and corporately, is holiness. The first mission of the church is to honor and glorify God, and He can be honored and glorified by His children only as they grow to be like Him in character. Although evangelism is the cutting edge of the church’s ministry, holiness is the only foundation on which effective evangelism or any other ministry can be built. The supreme priority of the church is holiness, purity of inward life. God can accomplish whatever He desires through a believer or a church that is holy, but He can do little through one that is not.
Input: How would you respond to what MacArthur has stated?  Agree? Disagree? Why or why not?

 

I.  A Disciple Making Church Walks in Holiness
Input: What is Paul referring to when he writes about our ‘walk’?


 walk = the way you conduct yourself, your life, your daily choices, your habits of living
A.  Remember the _____________ _______________
Input:  In what ways is our culture the same or worse when it comes to sexual temptation?


B.  Remember the reasons for moral purity
1.  To _____________ God – 4:1

Input: What is a person going to be thinking if he/she is trying to please God in their life? What is that person going to thinking? Not thinking?


2.  To ___________ God – 4:2-3
Input: What reasons do some people give for not being obedient in this area?

 

3.  To ______________ God – 4:5 – this is the positive side of command
 know = know, understand, perceive, experience, learn, know how; be acquainted w/

4.  To escape the ________________- of God – 4:6-8
“While it is true that the Christian is not under condemnation (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1), it is also true that he is not free from the harvest of sorrow that comes when we sow to the flesh (Gal. 6:7-8).”m – Wiersbe, Be Ready, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, p. 75
II.  A Disciple Making Church Is Concerned About the Various Aspects of Holiness
A.  We should abstain from _______________ _____________.

*  Sexual immorality speaks of any kind of sexual intercourse or relationship outside of marriage (English “pornography').

* Key Phrase:  It's not about _______________, it's about _____________.

B.  We should know how to possess our own vessel in ____________ and _________ (4:4).
 vessel = could be one’s own body, or one’s spouse
 sanctification = to set apart
 honor = refers to our attitude toward others.

C.  We should not take advantage of and _____________ our brother in this matter (4:6a).
 defraud = take advantage of, cheat; get the better of (2 Cor 2.11)

III.  A Disciple Making Church Considers the Reasons for Obeying These Commands.
A.  We are to maintain sexual purity because God works out proper ________________ for all sexual sins

B.  We must maintain sexual purity because our salvation introduced us into a life of ___________________ [God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness (4:7)].

C.  We must avoid sexual immorality, otherwise we have ____________ _________
D.  __________ _____________ should be obvious – 4:9-10
E.  Minding Your ________ _________________ – 4:10-12

“As we review this section, we see how practical the Christian walk really is.  The obedient Christian will have a holy life by abstaining from sexual sin; a harmonious life, by loving the brethren; and an honest life, by working with his hands and not meddling in the affairs of others.  When unsaved people see Christ magnified in this kind of a life, they will either oppose it with envy or desire to have it for themselves.  Either way, God is glorified.” – Ibid, p.
Input: What are some ways (thinking and actions) that will either help us to grow in holiness and/or avoid committing sexual sin?

 

Conclusion:
Feb. 26 #7: Hope – 4:13-18 – Hopeful of the Return of Christ
Summary: ‘so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope’

ABF Series: The Disciple Making Church
Standing Firm – 1 Thes 3:1-10
Introduction:
Input:  What did you learn last week about missions, about the body of Christ, about our own situation here in the US?
Quote!
Input: How would you respond to what MacArthur has stated?  Agree? Disagree? Why or why not?
I.  A Disciple Making Church Walks in Holiness
Input: What is Paul referring to when he writes about our ‘walk’?
 Walk = the way you conduct yourself, your life, your daily choices, your habits of living
A.  Remember the cultural context
Input:  In what ways is our culture the same or worse when it comes to sexual temptation?
B.  Remember the reasons for moral purity
1.  To please God – 4:1
 2 Corinthians 5:9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
 John 8:29 "And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him."
 1 Thessalonians 2:4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.
Input: What is a person going to be thinking if he/she is trying to please God in their life? What is that person going to thinking? Not thinking?
2.  To obey God – 4:2-3
Input: What reasons do some people give for not being obedient in this area?
3.  To glorify God – 4:5 – this is the positive side of command
 know = know, understand, perceive, experience, learn, know how; be acquainted w/
4.  To escape the judgment of God – 4:6-8
“While it is true that the Christian is not under condemnation (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1), it is also true that he is not free from the harvest of sorrow that comes when we sow to the flesh (Gal. 6:7-8).”m – Wiersbe
II.  A Disciple Making Church Is Concerned About the Various Aspects of Holiness
A.  We should abstain from sexual immorality.
*  Sexual immorality speaks of any kind of sexual intercourse or relationship outside of marriage (English “pornography').
* Key Phrase:  It's not about moderation, it's about abstinence.
B.  We should know how to possess our own vessel in sanctification and honor (4:4).
 vessel = could be one’s own body, or one’s spouse
 sanctification = to set apart
 1 Cor 9:27  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection.
 honor = refers to our attitude toward others
C.  We should not take advantage of and defraud our brother in this matter (4:6a).
 defraud = take advantage of, cheat; get the better of (2 Cor 2.11)
III.  A Disciple Making Church Considers the Reasons for Obeying These Commands.
A.  We are to maintain sexual purity because God works out proper punishment for all sexual sins
B.  We must maintain sexual purity because our salvation introduced us into a life of sanctification [God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness (4:7)].
C.  We must avoid sexual immorality, otherwise we have rejected God
 1 Thes 4:8  Therefore, he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
Quote!
Input: What are some ways (thinking and actions) that will either help us to grow in holiness and/or avoid committing sexual sin?

Conclusion:

Feb. 26 #7: Hope – 4:13-18 – Hopeful of the Return of Christ
Summary: ‘so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope’