1 Thessalonians 4 (NIV)
Living to Please God
4 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now
we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
Paul starts off this chapter in the NIV translation with… “as for other matters”, or even in some translations as “Furthermore” or “Finally”, he is introducing the closing or the most practical part of this Letter : In order to establish the holiness and be found blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We must do our part, we must urgently and earnestly strive after a lifestyle of holiness, by following the instructions and commandments given by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul acknowledges the Thessalonians; Christian walk, yet he encourages them to continue to do so more and more.
read John 6:45
3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Sanctification or sanctify in the bible simply means; to make holy; sanctification is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers.
Sanctification, in the renewal of their souls(mind) under the influences of the Holy Spirit, and with attention as to how to conduct oneself, constituted the will of God respecting them. To do the opposite would result in God rejecting them.
In aspiring after this renewal of the soul(mind) unto holiness, strict restraint must be put upon the natural cravings and senses of the body(flesh), and on the thoughts and inclinations of the will, which lead to wrong uses of them.
The Lord calls none into his family to live unholy lives, but that they may be taught and enabled to walk before him in holiness. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, to teach and train us to live a life worthy of our calling. Some people naturally make light of the precepts of holiness, because they hear them taught from men; but they are God’s commands, and to break them is to despise God.
9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Paul now proceeds to a new exhortation. “Love for one another” or “brotherly love”, in some translations; Brotherly love is the love of Christians to Christians, that special affection which believers bear to each other. Paul is urging them and us the reader, to not only do this, but to continue to show this “Love” to God’s family, more and more!
Paul goes on to say “make it your ambition (v11)” to have a calm and quiet life, and to be of a peaceable and quiet behavior.
Our adversary satan, is busy troubling us as it is; and we have in our hearts what disposes us to be unquiet; therefore let us strive to mind our own business, to be diligent in our own calling or work.
Those who are busy-bodies, meddling in other men’s affairs, have little quiet in their own minds, and cause great disturbances among their neighbors. They often neglect the other exhortation, to be diligent in their own calling, to work with their own hands.
Christianity does not take us from our own work and duties, we still need to work, but teaches us to be more diligent about it. People often by slothfulness or laziness, reduce themselves to great troubles or needs and are liable to many wants; yet those who are diligent with their own work, finds joy and respect, and
do not become dependent on anybody.
Believers Who Have Died
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
With these verses Paul proceeds to another subject, namely, to comfort those who were mourning the death of their friends and loved ones.
Paul says there is comfort for the relations and friends of those who die in the Lord. Grief for the death of friends is lawful; we may weep for our own loss, though it may be their gain.
Christianity does not forbid, and grace does not do away with our natural affections. Yet we must not be excessive in our sorrows; this is too much like those who have no hope of a better life.
But the sorrow here prohibited is a despairing and an unbelieving sorrow; we are forbidden to sorrow as those who have no hope, no belief in a blessed resurrection. The tears of Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus have authorized and sanctified Christian sorrow.
Death is an unknown thing, and we know little about the state after death; yet the doctrines of the resurrection and the second coming of Christ, are a remedy against the fear of death, and undue sorrow for the death of our Christian friends and loved ones; and of these doctrines we have full assurance.
It will be some happiness that all the saints shall meet, and remain together for ever; but the principal happiness of heaven is to be with the Lord, to see him, live with him, and enjoy him for ever.
We should support one another in times of sorrow; not deaden one another’s spirits, or weaken one another’s hands. And this may be done by the many lessons to be learned from the resurrection of the dead, and the second coming of Christ.
read 1 Corin 15:12-23