Now that you know I am just a big kid, let me segue to my point here. The Bible is our Guidebook with all kinds of instructions on how to live a life that is pleasing to God. Let’s look today at one passage in 1 Thessalonians 5 that Paul uses to give us several quick-fire commands that give us the “how to” when it comes to holy living in this very wicked world.
Paul is one of my favorite authors whom the Holy Spirit used to pen a significant portion of the New Testament. There are so many ways in which I personally relate to how Paul describes his own struggles in such a transparent way.
First Thessalonians is one of the first books written in the New Testament dating around AD 52-53. Paul’s audience is the church at Thessalonica and his letter to them was written probably a few months after he had visited them on his second missionary journey.
Paul then begins 1 Thessalonians 5 with some exhortations to the believers starting with an explanation of the Day of the Lord in verses 1-3. He then goes on the encourage the believers to be prepared for this day in 5:4-11. He takes 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 to focus the believers’ attention on their responsibility within the church in the present day while they wait for the coming day of the Lord! Every believer is admonished concerning their relationships within the church, especially to those in authority (1 Thess. 5:12-13) and to their peers within the church (1 Thess. 5:14-15). After all, that teaching laying the context for this passage, we find ourselves at Paul’s instructions about “how to live a holy life” in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24. Paul’s “how to” is a series of commands that focus on personal living and corporate living and then he finishes with the divine enablement for making this possible!
Paul gives three brief yet powerful commands in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 concerning personal living.
Paul then moves to commands for corporate living in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22. He uses two negative commands to start. “Quench not the Spirit” and “Despise not prophesyings” (1 Thess. 5:19-20). The Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is often compared to a fire. When we choose to ignore His work in our lives, we put that fire out and don’t allow Him to effectively work in us. Then he warns us not to overlook the messages from His Word in our lives.
And he completes this section on corporate living with an admonition to stay as far away from even the appearance of that which is evil. Separation from actual evil is an obvious thing, but Paul takes it a step further here to stay away from even that which might appear evil to others. The principle is essential to see how far away can I get from sin and remain pure even in appearance to others. Too often our attitude toward sin is more like seeing how close we can get without actually sinning. May we take heed to both the positive and negative aspects of Paul’s “how to” in this section?
Paul has given some very difficult commands here. But then he encourages us with a reminder that God is the very Producer of peace. He shares a prayer for these believers that they would be sanctified completely – this is not perfect sanctification since we won’t experience that until Heaven. But He is praying that believers would be set apart for His service and His work! He goes on to pray that the believers would be blameless – with no grounds for accusation – until the Lord comes back for us just as he described in chapter 4.
This whole “how to” section is wrapped up with the beautiful empowerment of 1 Thessalonians 5:24! God is One who called you and me to whatever we are facing! With that being true for those who are following the Lord, no matter what He calls me to do – including all the commands of this “how to” – He will empower you and me to complete that! What a comfort to know God has not left me to my own devices to figure this all out! You and I have a faithful God fighting for us!
Do you ever get to the end of a “how to” video and respond with “Yeah, that’s not even possible!”? I have! But this “how to” is not like that! Don’t leave this passage Scripture with anything but the comfort of knowing that there is nothing God has called you to that He will not empower you to do! Paul put it this way in Philippians 1.
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6
You can do this with the help of the precious Holy Spirit in your life.
May I encourage you today to follow the steps and call on the Lord for help and then give praise to our God with the finished product?
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