Holiness Part B

February 26, 2006 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Introduction:
1.  We’re in week #6.5  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.  Last week we only got through the first quarter or so of the study on HOLINESS – specifically moral purity – especially the idea of AVOIDING sexual sins!
>  so this being such an important subject – I decided that we needed to complete the study of this portion of the chapter, rather than skipping it and going to the next section!
4. Before we read out text, I want to consider again the quote that generated a great deal of discussion last week:
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.
- we can clarify the statement a bit by saying God can use sinful people however He chooses and He can get the glory
- however, John is right, and God wants us to be HOLY – to be in a position of blessing like we just heard about in Deut. 6 (the worship service – 2/26)
4.  Our focus this morning is on:  #6: Holiness – 4:1-12 – Dealing with Moral Purity
[READ 1 Thes. 4:1-12]
- last week we only got to . . . .


I.  A Disciple Making Church Walks in Holiness


- by walk we mean . . .
 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
- this city was strategically located on was very popular – the access to any type of sexual sin was EASY and ABUNTANT – perversions of every kind – all typical of the times!
> 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.
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
Point: If you want God to take great joy in what you are doing – to have Him say, “Well done, you good and faithful servants”, moral purity is going to have to characterize your life!
[this is where we left off LAST WEEK – 2/19]
-the 2nd reason we need to walk in holiness is . . .
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.
[see PAGE 6 -- may want to take some time and talk about the article by John Piper that was sent out to the ABF email – have a few extra copies for those who didn’t get one]
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
March 5 #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’


7 Strategies for Fighting Lust, by John Piper
I have in mind men and women. For men it's obvious. The need for warfare against the bombardment of visual temptation to fixate on sexual images is urgent. For women it is less obvious, but just as great if we broaden the scope of temptation to food or figure or relational fantasies. When I say "lust" I mean the realm of thought, imagination, and desire that leads to sexual misconduct. So here is one set of strategies in the war against wrong desires. I put it in the form of an acronym, A N T H E M.
A – AVOID as much as is possible and reasonable the sights and situations that arouse unfitting desire. I say "possible and reasonable" because some exposure to temptation is inevitable. And I say "unfitting desire" because not all desires for sex, food, and family are bad. We know when they are unfitting and unhelpful and on their way to becoming enslaving. We know our weaknesses and what triggers them. "Avoiding" is a Biblical strategy. "Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness" (2 Timothy 2:22). "Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Romans 13:14).
N – Say NO to every lustful thought within five seconds. And say it with the authority of Jesus Christ. "In the name of Jesus, NO!" You don't have much more than five seconds. Give it more unopposed time than that, and it will lodge itself with such force as to be almost immovable. Say it out loud if you dare. Be tough and warlike. As John Owen said, "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." Strike fast and strike hard. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" ( James 4:7).
T – TURN the mind forcefully toward Christ as a superior satisfaction. Saying "no" will not suffice. You must move from defense to offense. Fight fire with fire. Attack the promises of sin with the promises of Christ. The Bible calls lusts "deceitful desires" (Ephesians 4:22). They lie. They promise more than they can deliver. The Bible calls them "passions of your former ignorance" (1 Peter 1:14). Only fools yield. "All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter" (Proverbs 7:22). Deceit is defeated by truth. Ignorance is defeated by knowledge. It must be glorious truth and beautiful knowledge. This is why I wrote Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. We must stock our minds with the superior promises and pleasures of Jesus. Then we must turn to them immediately after saying, "NO!"
H – HOLD the promise and the pleasure of Christ firmly in your mind until it pushes the other images out. "Fix your eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 3:1). Here is where many fail. They give in too soon. They say, "I tried to push it out, and it didn't work." I ask, "How long did you try?" How hard did you exert your mind? The mind is a muscle. You can flex it with vehemence. Take the kingdom violently (Matthew 11:12). Be brutal. Hold the promise of Christ before your eyes. Hold it. Hold it! Don't let it go! Keep holding it! How long? As long as it takes. Fight! For Christ's sake, fight till you win! If an electric garage door were about to crush your child you would hold it up with all our might and holler for help, and hold it and hold it and hold it and hold it.
E – ENJOY a superior satisfaction. Cultivate the capacities for pleasure in Christ. One reason lust reigns in so many is that Christ has so little appeal. We default to deceit because we have little delight in Christ. Don't say, "That's just not me." What steps have you taken to waken affection for Jesus? Have you fought for joy? Don't be fatalistic. You were created to treasure Christ with all your heart – more than you treasure sex or sugar. If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph. Plead with God for the satisfaction you don't have: "Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days" (Psalm 90:14). Then look, look, look at the most magnificent Person in the universe until you see him the way he is.
M – MOVE into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviors. Lust grows fast in the garden of leisure. Find a good work to do, and do it with all your might. "Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord" (Romans 12:11). "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Abound in work. Get up and do something. Sweep a room. Hammer a nail. Write a letter. Fix a faucet. And do it for Jesus' sake. You were made to manage and create. Christ died to make you "zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14). Displace deceitful lusts with a passion for good deeds.

 

ABF Series: The Disciple Making Church
Holiness – 1 Thes 4:1-12 – Part B
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.
I.  A Disciple Making Church Walks in Holiness
 walk = the way you conduct yourself, your life, your daily choices, your habits of living
A.  Remember the cultural context
B.  Remember the reasons for moral purity
1.  To please God – 4:1
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:
March 5 #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?
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’