Awake and sober in the light of God’s love

1 Thessalonians 5:4-11

You are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Let us keep awake and be sober

Paul is talking about a future day of “sudden destruction” (v.3). In that context he exhorts us to be sober and awake—calm, temperate, restrained, clear-headed, aware. This is appropriate given our calling because we do not belong to the night, but to the day. We belong to God. We are children of light, and we ought to walk as such.

For God has not destined us for wrath

Note the emphasis—the reason we ought to live circumspectly: because God has not destined us for wrath but to obtain salvation. Our calling to live an upright life is in light of a coming judgment but not a judgment that we, as Christians, are to be afraid of. We are not called to live uprightly so that we won’t receive wrath but because we know we will not receive wrath. The love of God in Christ is to be our motivation.

  • 1 John 4:10, 17-19; In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. …By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

God’s love displayed: He became the propitiation for our sins. He took God’s wrath on our behalf. God’s love perfected among us: confidence to stand before Him in the Day of Judgment. We stand, not because we are confident in our own righteousness, but because we are confident in His! We are confident that He has made us complete, He has justified us, He has removed our sin, He has promised to present us before Himself blameless.

Christian, this is your motivation to walk uprightly: “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”

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