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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.”

Doing God’s Will Through God’s Empowering

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

This is the will of God

Usually when I consider God’s will for my life, I am more apt to think in terms of the course I should take. Where should I go? What should I do? However, the more I read the scriptures I am becoming persuaded that, though God does provide guidance and direction for our life’s path, He is much more concerned with our conduct. Instead of asking where I should go, I should be asking how should I conduct myself wherever I am.

I cannot open my bible and defend my course of life. I can not say for sure that God wants me to be working where I work or living where I live. I can, however, open my bible and tell you exactly what God’s will is for me as concerns my conduct. According to the passage before us, I know without a doubt: “this is he will of God, your sanctification.”

  • 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
  • Romans 6:12-14; “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
  • 1 Peter 2:11-12; “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

Who gives his Holy Spirit to you

You’ve probably heard the adage: “When the Lord guides, He provides.” Another saying that’s similar is: “The Lord’s commandments are His enablements.” This is never so true as when said in context of our sanctification. He reveals His will to us: I want you to live a holy life. He provides the means: the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit we are both born-again and sustained through life.

  • 2 Peter 1:3; “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”
  • Philippians 2:13; “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
  • Hebrews 13:20-21; “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.”
  • Galatians 5:22-25; “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

The Word of God is at Work

1 Thessalonians 2:13

“We also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”

You received the Word of God

If we have received the written word of God, or the spoken word of God, what we have received is the Living Word: Jesus Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Jesus Christ is the Word of God. Receiving Him has caused us to pass from death to life and has given us a new birth into His family.

  • John 1:11-13 “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
  • 1 Peter 1:23 “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.”
  • 1 John 5:1 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God….”

Which is at work in you believers

We have been born, not of a perishable seed, an inanimate seed, or a lifeless seed, but of the imperishable, living word of God. He is at work in us.

  • Philippians 2:13 “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
  • Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
  • Hebrews 13:21 “[May the God of peace] equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.”
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