The hope of Christ’s return should inspire us to holy living.
This lesson is focused on two related themes. First, we are called by God and Christ to holy living, to please God and have a good influence on others. Second, we live in hope that Christ will come again, and in all of his teachings about his coming again, Jesus emphasized the importance of remaining spiritually alert and prepared for his coming. Simply stated in practical terms, if the coming again of Christ is our hope, we should conduct our lives as though Christ may come at any time, considering how we would like to be found of him at his coming. This lesson informs us that we can live pleasing to God, while waiting for Christ to come.
This lesson and chapter is a great and basic standard to live after in order to present ourselves ready for the return of Christ.
1. LIVE TO PLEASE GOD
A. Live in Moral Purity
1Th 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound (excel and exceed) more and more.
1Th 4:2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
1Th 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
…….Fornication in this text also means idol worship. Anything in our lives that we week after more than God can be considered an idol.
1Th 4:4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
…….we know ourselves what it is that cause us to fail. As we abide in the spirit of salvation, it is still our duty to take care of ourselves and safeguard from failures. If there is anything in view that will cause us to stumble, the Lord allowed us to see it so we could steer the other way.
1Th 4:5 Not in the lust of concupiscence (a longing or strong desire, especially for what is forbidden), even as the Gentiles which know not God:
…….There are at least two specific meanings of lust. When our eyes see something that we want when we know we don’t need it, even if it isn’t something forbidden, that is lust. Listen to what James said about lust. James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. When we desire something as if we need it, especially those things that are forbidden, and continue to desire those things, that is concupiscence. This is a stronger more controlling type is sin that will lead a person to lose all that he/she has for the sake of that passionate desire! Both lust and concupiscence are dangerous but the later is certain spiritual death!
1Th 4:6 That no man go beyond and defraud (take advantage of) his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
…….It is absolutely forbidden to defraud anyone, especially those we call brother and sisters in Christ. An example of defrauding is to sell something to someone for a price that is not worthy of that price. It is also to owe a debt and give the intention that you will pay it and either not meet the payment date or not pay it at all. Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.
B. Obey the Call to Holiness
1Th 4:7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
…….Answering the call to holiness goes way beyond simply not doing the wrong things. It is taking action in all the right things.
1Th 4:8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
…….Some people find themselves despising hard preaching and hard lessons. It is not the man behind the pulpit that we are despising nor the lesson delivered, it is the calling by God to holiness. When we despise the calling of God we are not despising the call but despising the same Spirit that was sent to help us. That Spirit is God! May we never find ourselves fighting against something the Lord has placed in our hearts for help.
2. LIVE TO INFLUENCE OTHERS
A. Increase in Christian Love
1Th 4:9 But as touching brotherly love (Christian love) ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
1Th 4:10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
……Christian love is God-given, Christlike love. This “love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost” (Romans 5:5). By the new birth (regeneration), we receive love for God, and from these we receive love for others, and especially for our fellow Christians. It is amazing to see someone saved, a person so full of hate and bitterness, who’s character is the so called “street life”, but after salvation there is that supernatural change that produces a love that cant be taught or gained by any man! That is Christian love! I would say that some of us need to be saved all over again because we have forgotten what Christian love is all about!
B. Practice a Good Work Ethic
1Th 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
…….What an encouragement here to simply, mind our own business. Study to be quiet means to learn to not be a trouble maker. Being quiet about others business isn’t easy for everyone, that’s why it says to study it. I don’t think it could be plainer said to keep our minds out of others work, or lack of work, and focus on what God has called us to do. One of the most dangerous positions for a new Christian to be in is having company with a seasoned church attender who can’t help but point out all the “problems in the church”. We will never produce good work until we keep our focus on our work alone.
1Th 4:12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
…….A Christian life is an honest life. When we strive in doing everything right in our Christian walk, we will lack of nothing in the presence of them who are without.
3. LIVE IN HOPE OF CHRIST’S RETURN
A. Hope Regarding Deceased Believers
1Th 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
1Th 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
…….The Thessalonians, just as any unlearned Christian would be, wondered the outcome of those who had died prior to the returning of the Lord. Paul referred them as asleep, pointing out that this was not the end for them and will also be taken up when Christ comes. We are not to think of death as a hopeless end for those who serve the Lord, but believe that we will be raised by God and a company Jesus when he comes again.
B. The Catching Away
1Th 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1Th 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
…….What a hope of promise we have in serving the Lord! For the sinner, this life is as good as it gets. For the saved, this is the worse it will ever be!