…conduct becoming of a true, maturing Christian.
A somewhat lengthy study of 1 Thessalonians 5
What Love Does. This passage by Paul the apostle exhorts the believer in Christ, “all believers, those set apart for God” — to live in a manner pleasing to Christ.
We of course are not saved by how pleasing we are to Christ, but the true believer will strive to be more and more like Christ in how he lives — because that is what love does:
love wants to please.
Some who are born again will strive to be more righteous. They will be more rewarded for it, (Revelation 22: verse 12) but even the most miserably failing follower will still enter the gates of heaven, “yet so as by fire”. It’s as if his clothes were still a’smokin’ when he went through the gates – ’cause all his works were burned up. That’s because God is the one that saves us, not us. We can do nothing to merit God’s salvation.
It is not as if God’s grace was almost too weak to save him, and thus his clothes were a’smokin’ from being close to the flames of hell! Not at all. God’s saving grace is strong. A done deal. Not in question. But rather, his works were worthless, so poor, so totally unacceptable to a Holy God. Almost all were burned up — because he was at the low end of conquering in Christ on earth (1 Corinthians 3:5-15. Note verses 12-15). The miserably failing followers arrive a’smokin’ instead of shinin’! (Crown of Life: James 1:12; Revelation 2:10.)
“I have everything I need pertaining to this life and living in a manner pleasing to God (godliness). If I am living for God, I must strive for god-li-ness, right? Only natural.” – Source: Livin’ it to the max!
1 Peter 1:15-16 Amplified Bible (AMP)
15 But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your conduct [be set apart from the world by your godly character and moral courage]; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy (set apart), for I am holy.”
Living a worthless life? Or are you striving for conduct becoming? Are you Livin’ it to the max!? Are you a maturing, true Christian? It’s a lifelong process – maturing. It takes perseverance to “fight the good fight“. (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7; 1 Timothy 1:18)
The only humans entering heaven’s gate will be those sinners who confessed their sinfulness – and yielded their will completely (100%) to Christ in that moment of salvation. In that moment of time they were made brand new. They were freed from condemnation! Only sinners arrive in heaven… the redeemed sinners.
But they were not made sinless. Only Christ has been sinless, ever. But from that moment on… some go on to shine and, in Christ, conquer more sin, while others go on to fail and fail and fail, yet cling to Christ in the midst of it all, to the end. We’ll have to wait till we arrive in heaven — to then begin living sinlessly.
Yielding 100% to Christ means I sincerely give Him my all, truthfully. No sham. No holding back. It does not involve cleaning-up my act. It involves turning from all that is contrary to Him — and committing to Him, in spite of my sins. He then begins cleaning up my act, little by little (the “sanctification” work of the Holy Spirit). But I come to Him with all that’s wrong with me, “just as I am….” And I continue that same way – sincere, in truth committed to Him.
2 Timothy 3:17
so that the man of God
may be complete and proficient,
outfitted and thoroughly equipped
for every good work.
The normal Christian life is not just …whatever. In 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul shows us what the normal Christian life is meant to be. The normal Christian life is a life of fighting the good fight.
Stand strong! He says we are not to be content with just getting by… and casually sinning.
“Followers of Christ do not practice sin as their way of life. It is a sham, a real sham, sham sham sham, to pray to Jesus for salvation – and at the same time go on living a life that is clearly against what God has called us to. You might fool all of us, but not God. God sees the thoughts and intents of your heart. (Hebrews 4:12) He only saves us if we give Him all. No parts. No pieces. All of you.”
– Source: Opting Out
True salvation comes with love and gratefulness, which in turn leads us to strive to please Christ — with a conquering life. Is this you?
The passage we are examining here is 1 Thessalonians 5:1-24. If you’re ready — read the whole passage as-is, then we’ll start looking at it verse by verse, in detail. (Mark your spot if you have to leave – so you can return to this study. It is kind of long!)
“Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.
4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and [f Or self-controlled] sober. 7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night.
8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
12 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work.
Live in peace with one another. 14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”
Let’s break down this entire chapter into its parts and see it more in detail: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-24
The Introduction: 1 Thessalonians 5: verses 1-4
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord [a Lit is coming] will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then [b Or sudden destruction] destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;
…Special “times and epochs” are coming, but we don’t know any specific dates, just as we don’t know specifically when a thief might strike our home. Unpredictable – both! So don’t listen to those who set specific dates! We can discern “times and epochs” — but not the date.
Back in the day… prophets who “missed the mark” were stoned to death. And today? Well, most often their constituents put them right back in the pulpit! And they are fooled again, and again.
This passage does not refer to a very joyful type of day — Jesus’ Second Coming.
“The Day of the Lord” seems to refer to the big one – Judgement Day. We can’t know the date, but we are told it is a fierce day of God’s wrath. It’s actually kind of difficult to say what day it is. Read all these references (*The Day of the Lord) and you start to get a feel for what that day is all about. These passages list what that Day is like:
“The Day of the Lord” is near, great and very awesome. Nobody will endure it. It will come as destruction from the Almighty. It will be darkness and not light, gloom with no brightness in it, cruel, with fury and burning anger on all the nations. It has not come yet – no matter what false teachers say [2 Thess 2:2]. In which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up [2 Peter 3:10].
Now lets get a verse by verse look into the main passage: 1 Thessalonians 5:5-24
5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;
…Note the “you are”. It does not say ‘you will be….’ It says “you are.” The born again believer has been, past tense, delivered out of darkness already — and placed into the light already, in that very moment he yielded to Christ. From that moment on we are no longer “in darkness” as are those without the Spirit of God. We have already been made brand new (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Paul is speaking to us who have already been born again. (See: 1 Corinthians 6:11, Colossians 2:20)
6 so then let us not sleep as others do,
…”Sleep” is contrasted with being alert and sober. Some believers continue to sleep – as if they were still of the night! That is an option. A bad one, but, still an option. Those who choose to be asleep are oblivious to what is going on in God’s plan for the ages. But the “alert” believer will be ready because he is paying attention to what God has told us in the Bible.
but let us be alert and [f Or self-controlled]sober.
…You must actually make a decision – if you are to be alert. Decide to be alert and sober. Make that choice. Both, “self-control” and alertness, come from a conscious act of your will. The believer makes a conscious decision: “I will pay attention to the Word of God, not just live life willy-nilly.” Good choice.
Do you know the Bible well? If not: Well why not? Are you reading it? You have to know it… in order to pay attention to it! You cannot be alert to something that you know little about!
It’s easy to start knowing more. You can choose to start being alert to what God has had written down for us over the ages. Start with reading in the New Testament – maybe with the book of John. Determine to read a portion every day. Start easy: A paragraph, or one section, or one chapter …every day. Don’t make it more than you can actually keep doing. And soon – you’ve developed a habit. Work at it!
Then get ambitious: add the reading of a chapter from Proverbs every day. In a year you will have read it 12 times! Then, add more: also read a chapter in the Book of Psalms every day along with a chapter from Proverbs, and your portion of whatever book you are in – in the New Testament. Then, maybe, start a Christian book, also: read a chapter of that every week. Mix it up. Keep at it.
Soon your mind will be swirling with God’s Truths. You will be more alert spiritually (as in verse 6), and self-controlled as a Christian.
7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night,
and those who get drunk get drunk at night.
…Sleep and getting “drunk” are on the opposite scale from “alert” and “self-controlled”. Still getting drunk? Still living a life vile to Jesus? Exercise your ability to choose. Make it a point every day… to get alert and self-controlled.
8 But since we are of the day,
…Paul is addressing believers. Therefore he says “since we are of the day”. We have been delivered out of darkness. Those without Christ are in darkness, “of the night”. Don’t wallow in the darkness, as if you were not born again!
…And since we are “of the day”, Paul exhorts us to use self-control” in all we do. (This word “sober” is not referring to a “no alcohol” sober, but to “self-control”.) Self-control is not automatic. It is an act of volition which must be chosen. It’s a choice: we can let our self get out of control, or we can discipline what we do, and act as one who has truly been delivered.
That is why it’s a good practice to have specific time where we go to God in prayer every day: and get our perspective straightened, our heart washed clean by confession, our commitment renewed by an expressed submission anew to Creator God, our spirit realigned and filled anew by His Spirit, our hope in Christ restored, our cares and concerns laid-out for Him to carry…. A time we make happen, whenever and however in our busy life – to keep strong in the Lord “and in the power of His might.” (Ephesians 1: verses 3-23). Along with ceaseless “prayer talk” to God (instead of “self talk” to ourselves!).
FOR MORE: See the series – About praying. Some of the articles in the series:
Do you pray like this, not heeding Scripture?
having put on the breastplate of faith and love, (8 )
…What keeps you “safe” from attacks of the Enemy is the breastplate of a warrior, and that protection is your faith in God and your love for others. If we put our faith in God at all times, then fear is conquered and we do not wither under fire, no matter what happens to us. And if we submit our will to Him and walk in the power of His Spirit, the love of God fills us — to be able to love the unlovely.
1 Peter 5:8 “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. (8 )
…The helmet is the chief piece of armor for a warrior. What helps us keep our head… is our hope in Christ. No matter what comes at us in life, our hope is that Christ wins in the end, and He has saved us and promised us eternal life in His Kingdom. That is our hope. You won’t lose your head in battle if you keep your hope strong in the Lord. Know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that you are saved:
1 John 5:13 Amplified Bible (AMP)
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does], so that you will know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have eternal life.
I like the way this verse is said in the NASB version:
1 John 5:13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Because these things are written down for us by the inspiration of God, we can know beyond the shadow of a doubt, “with settled and absolute knowledge“, “that you [already] have eternal life.” That is what the Scripture says, so don’t believe the false teachers that say you must work hard in order to “maybe” be approved by God. We do not have to do anything further to be saved. But we want to do everything possible – because we love Him.
9 For God has not destined us for wrath,
…Once saved, we are no longer “destined for wrath”. [NOTE: This truth is why some believe we will not go through the wrath of the Tribulation, but rather, we will be “raptured” out: Pre-Tribulation or Mid-Tribulation. That is my hope!]
The moment we get born-again, we are freed from any condemnation by God, and will never experience His wrath – because now we are His. We will feel His discipline, but not His wrath.
About the Discipline of God: Hebrews 12:11; 1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12: verses 4-11.
but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (9 )
…Those who respond to the convicting power of conviction by the Holy Spirit and come to Christ, have been “destined”, not for the wrath of God — but destined for salvation. Christ is our hope.
We believe by faith, and we live by faith. We believe what God caused to be written in the Bible. Because it is written of God (through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit at work in them), we know (1 John 5:13) with confidence that we are now destined for salvation in Christ. Because it is written, we see we have been “made brand new” inside (verse 17 – 2 Corinthians 5:13-21). Because it is written, we see we have been given the right to be called the children of God (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1;). Because it is written, we see we have passed from spiritual death to spiritual life (John 5:24 — past tense – already done!).
Those without Christ are spiritually dead. But our spirit was made alive through Christ when we were born again. The whole game changed!
10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.
He “died for us, so that….” So what? So that we might be saved. The reason Christ died on the cross – was to make it possible in God’s system of justice for believers to be forgiven and thereby be able to live with Him forever. And that “forever” starts the moment we believe. “We will live together with Him.”
God loved us to such an extend that He was willing to die on a cross to win our redemption. Nothing else could have saved us. That’s because only Christ would have been sufficient. God’s Justice required a perfect solution. Christ is the only perfect solution sufficient enough to meet God’s holiness requirements. No other god, no other religion, no other anything. Only Christ can satisfy a Holy Judge – for a Holy God to forgive us. That is why our only hope of salvation is Christ, and Christ alone – nothing more, nothing less.
Hopefully, when we see the hopelessness of our situation in sin, we realize nothing from us will ever gain any recognition from God. Holy God hates sin. That is why we have to place all our hope in Christ. Nothing else is acceptable in God’s Courts. We are God damned on earth until we get saved by God in Christ. Any court on earth can save you from earthly penalties, if you get lucky. But only Christ can save the God damned. And that’s His promise!
You do not want to be God damned in hell. Coming to God’s Courts on That Day with any lawyer’s gambit, or anything else — will not save you. The Judge will say, essentially: “Go to hell.” We must come to Him now, to be saved. Sure as hell.
In this modern day culture of “whatever” and “all roads lead to God”, it is so important to understand God’s system of justice. We won’t be judged by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals! Nor some public opinion survey! The only Holy God is the Judge in heaven. He is what matters.
11 Therefore [h]encourage one another
…This great hope in Christ is a great motivator every day – throughout our life here on earth, however long or short it may be. We should remind each other of this hope, especially when someone is having doubts, feeling down or depressed. It is this hope that encourages us.
and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
…When the going gets rough, the tough are the ones who have been building up each other in the faith. Keep strong in the Lord and in the power of His might: Ephesians 1:19, Colossians 1:11.
12 But we request of you, brethren,
…Paul is requesting this of us “brethren”, because “appreciation” is often neglected.
that you [i]appreciate those who diligently labor among you, (12 )
…Those that have been placed into leadership by the church deserve our appreciation [value, treasure, admire, respect, hold in high regard, think highly of, think much of; recognize, acknowledge, realize, know – Google: appreciate]. Many leaders just commonly hear our “murmuring and complaining” – like the children of Israel in the desert!
Do all things
– Philippians 2:14
Well, it certainly is NOT to be as the world does it’s leading! Those who have “charge over” the church are not to govern as the world does, “lording it over” them! [1 Peter 5:3] Not punching the clock; doing it for the money. Church leaders are to be examples of righteous living — to us all.
1 Peter 5: verses 1-3: Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over [a]those allotted to your charge, but [b]proving to be examples to the flock.
As to their “authority”: Church leadership is to lead in the same way as Christ’s example of servant leadership, not authoritatively, not with the dictatorial leadership so common in the world.
Biblical church leadership does not supersede the authority of any individual or the husband and wife in their family leadership. Biblical leadership does not tell individuals what to do, commanding them (an example of “lording it over” members). Church members live their life with Christ as their head. They are in charge over their own life (before the Lord). No church leader should ever be the “head” of any individual in any church! [Matthew 13:52; Luke 13:25]
But I want you to understand that
Christ is the head of every man,
and the man is the head of a woman,
and God is the head of Christ.
– 1 Corinthians 11:3
The shepherd’s rod, his wooden “staff”, as it is called, has many purposes. But the staff was not to beat the sheep into submission! The shepherd leads, guides, takes them to greener pastures and water, gets the sheep out of problems and danger, protects them from wolves.
and give you [j Or admonition]instruction, (12 )
…The chief responsibility of church leadership is to “give you instruction” from the Word. This instruction is to help you understand what Scripture says, to help us be more and more like Christ.
The authoritative counsel or warning does not emanate from the leader and his thoughts and philosophies or from that church. The authority of their authoritative counsel or warning comes directly from the authority of the Word of God — not from any “so called” authority of being their church leader. Be careful that what they teach is actually in the Bible! Their teaching is only authoritative because it is a teaching from God Himself – His Truths, as stated in the Bible. If it’s not in the Bible, then where does the teaching emanate from?
I want to know what God thinks, not what a mere man thinks!
Pastors and teachers should always include “chapter and verse” to support what they say — in order to always base their teachings on Scripture. The person in the pew should be very careful to closely examine the source of any teaching. If it is not clear, if it is iffy, not clearly in the Bible, then it is clearly not of the Bible. And if it is not, then it is unbiblical. Reject it!
Especially in these Last Days, where false teaching will be rampant — we should search the Scriptures ourselves, to not be lead astray into any movement that is not plainly supported specifically in the Bible. Don’t continue in any church that can’t clearly show the biblical basis for their practices. It won’t be a wolf, but a wolf in sheep’s skin. Don’t look for a wolf. Look for the fake skin!
Church leaders should be respected and held in high regard for their example of godliness and servant mindedness. No church leader has any right, biblically, to demand anything of any church member. Being demanding and “authoritative over someone” — is not biblical leadership. It stems from arrogance and pride, and is belligerent.
Belligerent: hostile, aggressive, threatening, antagonistic, warlike, pugnacious, bellicose, truculent, confrontational, contentious, militant, combative; spoiling for a fight. – Google: belligerent
This is a serious problem nowadays. Church members should not allow any church leader to “lord it over” them. Members should not concede their individual rights before the Lord and give them to any form of church leadership. We are all responsible before God to follow Jesus.
We are all to submit ourselves “to one another”, not demand submission. We are not responsible before God to concede our life to any church or the demands of any church leader. Such authoritative leadership is an aberration, not legitimate leadership in the eyes of God.
We should walk away from any church or “movement” that follows or approves such a leader or leadership style. Such leaders are not walking according to biblical standards of leadership, and should be denounced and removed from leadership or voted out. Or better yet, save yourself and your family and friends a lot of grieve: just walk away.
There are “movements” that wander away from what God has ordained in His Word (the Bible). These should be avoided. Just walk away. Do not be captivated by their alluring style and personality, or by what they say is a “new revelation from God”, “fresh winds”, a “new filling”, a “word from the Lord” that does not jive with what God has already given to us in the Bible.
Seeking “more from God” – many have wandered from the true knowledge of God: Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, etc. The warning in the book of Revelation is applicable to the entire revelation of God in the Bible:
Revelation 22:18-19 Amplified Bible (AMP)
18 I testify and warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book [its predictions, consolations, and admonitions]: if anyone adds [anything] to them, God will add to him the plagues (afflictions, calamities) which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from or distorts the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away [from that one] his share from the tree of life and from the holy city (new Jerusalem), which are written in this book.
Don’t follow those who claim to have a new revelation today. Why would anyone think they need more than what God has given us!? We have everything necessary for the Christian walk, as-is. I, for one, want to follow Christ faithfully to the end – not get involved in supposed new revelations.
A “more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12: verse 31) than all the gifts “God has appointed in the church” is love ( See 1 Corinthians 13: verses 1-3) . Love does not “lord it over” anyone.
Christian obedience and submission is a principle throughout most of our relationships. They must be understood within their context:
To God: James 4:7
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
To each other: Ephesians 5:21
Amplified Bible version: “being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
To your elder: 1 Peter 5:5 Amplified Bible (AMP)
5 Likewise, you younger men [of lesser rank and experience], be subject to your elders [seek their counsel]; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another [tie on the servant’s apron], for God is opposed to the proud [the disdainful, the presumptuous, and He defeats them], but He gives grace to the humble.
To your husband: Ephesians 5:22-33
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord... 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her….
To your leaders: Hebrews 13:verse 17
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (Also: 1 Corinthians 16:16)
13 and that you esteem them very highly in love
…As stated above, Church leaders should be respected and held in high regard for their example of godliness, “because of their work”. Church leaders should feel an overwhelming love from the members — not the weight of murmuring and complaining.
because of their work. (13 )
…The work of the church done well — is what leaders are to be known for. When a church emphasizes the name of a leader and what they want you to do… that is a warning sign that their “authority” has morphed into “lording it over” you, instead of leading with the servant leadership of Jesus. When you are doing what you do because the church demands it… then your leadership is “lording it over you”. Get out! Don’t stay in that church. Walk away. There are plenty of biblical churches that have not strayed into false doctrines.
Live in peace with one another. (13 )
…Living in harmony is very difficult once you have more than one person in the room! So Paul exhorts us all to be careful to “live in peace”. It is so true that “love covers a multitude of sins.”
Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
14 We urge you, brethren,
…In order to be at peace with “one another”, especially with those who are unruly, fainthearted, or weak — Paul urges the following: admonish, encourage, help, be patient with, don’t get revenge, seek their good, always rejoice, pray at all times, and be thankful to God at all times.
…ADMONISH: “warn or reprimand someone firmly; advise or urge (someone) earnestly; warn (someone) of something to be avoided” – Google: admonish
encourage the fainthearted, (14 )
…ENCOURAGE: help or stimulate (an activity, state, or view) to develop; give support, confidence, or hope to (someone); give support and advice to (someone) so that they will do or continue to do something. – Google: encourage
help the weak, (14 )
…HELP: make it easier for (someone) to do something by offering one’s services or resources; serve someone with (food or drink); the action of helping someone to do something; assistance. – Google: help
be patient with everyone. (14 )
… BE PATIENT: able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. Synonyms: forbearing, uncomplaining, tolerant, resigned, stoical; calm, composed, even-tempered, imperturbable, unexcitable, accommodating, understanding, indulgent; unflappable, cool; persevering, persistent, tenacious, indefatigable, dogged, determined, resolved, resolute, single-minded; pertinacious. – Google: patient
Do you see yourself “becoming annoyed or anxious” at all by anyone? Is there that one person, or several types, or group… that is difficult for you? The standard is: be patient with everyone. The Bible gives us tough standards! With the power of the Holy Spirit working within us — nothing is impossible.
15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil,
…I wonder if there may be someone in my life, or in your life… that is right this minute planning evil. Do we have enough of a relationship with that person… to “see that” he/she is dissuaded? How much do I truly love the odd fellow or maybe that gal down the street who is “a bit different”? How many suicides or mass murders could be avoided if Christians like you and me would purpose to just go out of our way a bit to have contact with them?
It takes patience to love difficult people. It takes love to proactively “see that no one repays another with evil for evil”. Who could I befriend today? How could I change my routines — to proactively be loving to difficult people around me?
but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. (15 )
…SEEK: attempt to find (something): search for, try to find, look for, be on the lookout for, be after, hunt for, be in quest of; attempt or desire to obtain or achieve (something): try to obtain, work toward, be intent on, aim at/for, try, attempt, endeavor, strive, work, do one’s best; ask for (something) from someone: ask for, request, solicit, call for, entreat, beg for, petition for, appeal for, apply for, put in for. – Google: seek
16 Rejoice always;
…When you’re feeling down, when you’ve had a bad day, feeling yucky, sad, or depressed: start praising God! Thank God for who He is, what He is, what He’s done to save you from His condemnation. That is rejoicing!
17 pray without ceasing;
…Praying continually is a great habit to develop. All of us continually have thoughts running around in our head anyway, so why not be purposeful about it!? Direct your thoughts to God. Pray with purpose instead of following meandering thoughts. Think your prayers to God. Don’t keep your thoughts to yourself! Share them with God. And He tells us to do that especially with what is bothering us:
1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
See: Conversations With God, Jesus Knows Your Thoughts, Habits of Love
18 in everything give thanks;
…Scripture is full of giving thanks. This is saying basically “in the midst of everything happening right now, be thankful to God.”
It’s like, when you step in dog poop on your way to an event, don’t curse and cuss and paint the air blue. Be thankful to God for giving you the ability to be humble and laugh at yourself. Be thankful you are not so vain and arrogant and hateful of dog owners that this small disaster ruins your day.
It’s not saying “give thanks for it”, but “give thanks in it”.
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
…I have to believe that God is in control of the events of my life. So I am to “rejoice”, “pray”, and “give thanks” all the time, knowing that, since I am “in Christ Jesus” — God’s will is happening all around me. He allows some real doozies. Whether joyful or painful, God is on our side. If we trust Him in all things, we by faith look to God in the midst of whatever comes our way.
There are no guarantees here on earth except that He loves us and will sustain us — and take us some day to be with Him in Paradise. If our faith is in Father God, then no matter what happens to us or to our loved ones, we take comfort in Him. Our faith is not in the circumstances, not in our wealth or wisdom or great …whatever. He is our peacefulness in the midst of any storm.
19 Do not quench the Spirit;
…I like this version of verse 19: “Do not quench [subdue, or be unresponsive to the working and guidance of] the [Holy] Spirit.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:19
God Himself indwells me, all believers, with His Holy Spirit in me at all times. He will never leave me nor forsake me. He is the One who made my spirit alive in Christ. Without Holy Spirit inside me – I would not be His. I would be lost.
He is in me with power. His transforming power is changing me. Holy Spirit is in me to guide me, empower me and teach me.
See: (1) God – The Holy Spirit, and (2) The Holy Spirit in You?
I quench the Spirit by keeping sin in my life. I quench the Spirit when I exclude Him and block Him out. The context of verse 19 is the verses around verse 19.
These are not rules, or an attempt to live by the law (required in the Old Testament – but not now, after Christ). It helps to list the ways we live our life, examine ways that may be out of kilter, to help us examine all the many facets that make up our life. I want God’s normal, not the earthly wisdom of man.
To not quench the Spirit, I must…
- not “keep” my sin – but rather repent and confess it and remove it immediately; don’t wallow….
- regularly examine my life by the standards of the Bible, not the standards of other believers or the world’s standards
- not be conformed to the world or the flesh or non-biblical practices
- be careful to always keep biblical in all my practices
- be open to His working in me, not cutting Him out of what I do
- keep my mind focused on Him
- include Him in my plans and daily routines
- not minimize or reduce His effect on my life
- not stray away from the practice of praying at all times, “without ceasing”
- develop regular habits that maximize my spiritual interaction with God: go to church, listen to Christian music, listen to audio/radio sermons, read the Bible, make it a point to be consistently renewed by submitting myself to Him in my first prayers of every day, confess my sins daily to Him in private prayer
And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]. – Romans 12:2
[Live] as obedient children [of God]; do not be conformed to the evil desires which governed you in your ignorance [before you knew the requirements and transforming power of the good news regarding salvation]. – 1 Peter 1:14
20 do not despise prophetic [l]utterances.
…These, “prophetic utterances” come from someone who has the gift of “prophecy”. The New Testament “prophets” speak “for edification and exhortation and consolation“. This gift is not foretelling the future, predicting the future. It is speaking forth the Word of God – to edify, exhort, and give consolation.
1 Corinthians 14:3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.
21 But examine everything carefully;
…When anyone purports to be (“claims to be…”) speaking for God, everyone listening or reading is to be carefully examining those words and claims – to discern whether they really are of God or not.
hold fast to that which is good;
…We are to grab onto those words (of “edification and exhortation and consolation”) that are good and biblical.
22 abstain from every [m]form of evil.
…We are to have nothing to do with those words that are a “form of evil”, that which is not of God, that which is not biblical. We are not to be a sponge! We don’t just soak-in everything the leader or teacher or pastor says. Be careful that no one misleads you.
23 Now may the God of peace
…God is not some god of confusion and violence and grief. The One and Only God is peaceful.
Himself sanctify you entirely;
…When we are born again, everything inside us is made brand new (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). But, we are who we were, also! All that we were bad in before Christ, what was not right in us – needs to be set apart and conformed to God’s ways. Little by little the Holy Spirit is changing us.
and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame
…Even if we do end up having “blame” on that day, we will be covered by the forgiveness of Christ. But the maturing believer strives to have a life living in a manner pleasing to God. I want to be found on that day to be “without blame”. I am no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1), but I can be found on that day incomplete and at blame for sins I am found to still have (however forgiven I am in His Courts).
I am striving to be blameless – aiming at holiness. How about you? That’s not odd! It is what my Savior wants from me – what He expects from me. That is God’s normal.
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
…Jesus is returning to earth some day. To actually be physically in His 3rd dimension (or whatever numbered realm He’s at in heaven!) will be totally awesome. I want to shout and dance on that day, not hang my head in shame. How about you? Gettin’ ready for that day, now? I sure as heaven am!
24 Faithful is He who calls you,
…In His grace God called me out, chose me. And I responded, yielding to Him.
and He also will bring it to pass.
…He is faithfully at work in me now. God is at work in all believers to “sanctify you entirely” (verse 23). I’m working with Him on that, maturing in Christ.
I’m not there yet. But I’m workin’ at it. How about you?
obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm],
not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence,
continue to work out your salvation
[that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect,
actively pursue spiritual maturity]
with awe-inspired fear and trembling
[using serious caution and critical self-evaluation
to avoid anything that might offend God
or discredit the name of Christ].
Livin’ it to the max!
What if God appeared right in front of you, right there where you are, right now, and asked, “I’d like you to come to heaven and enjoy my Kingdom with me.” Would you say, “No”? What kind of fool would you be!…? You might be thinking, “What kind of fool do you think I am?” […]
Hell in the Bible
Why hell… it comes from a judicial sentence of condemnation by God for those who reject Him (Satan, demons, unsaved humans) References to… the second death, eternal punishment, outer darkness, pits of darkness, chains of darkness, my bed in the darkness, lake of fire, unquenchable fire, fiery hell, the nether world, Sheol, Gehenna, Hades What […]
Not Afraid of Hell
I am amazed by people unafraid of hell! How? The fear of God should draw us all to Him. Not afraid of hell… but I’m afraid of snakes but I’m afraid of dying but I’m afraid of getting hurt but I’m afraid of being stupid but I’m afraid of getting into a car accident but […]
Windows Into Heaven
Windows give views. You stand there, lookin’ in or lookin’ out. Grand views, little views, endless vistas. Little snippets of what is there, beyond. We stand here on earth, and the Bible gives us little windows to see beyond – into heaven. Jesus taught that there is a physical place called “heaven”, or “paradise”. It […]
…their way of life. It is a sham, a real sham, sham sham sham, to pray to Jesus for salvation – and at the same time go on living a life that is clearly against what God has called us…
…There are several lists in Scripture showing us what IS part of the normal Christian life. We each must search “our inner self”. Do you know that God indeed sees you in this way? Do you truly “walk in…
Maturing in the Faith
Want to be better, do better, and please Creator God more as a born again believer? Apply 2 Peter 1:1-11 to your daily living: “To those who have received a faith of the same [b]kind as ours, [c]by…
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