1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 ESV
“Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.”
Yes, there are many instructions in the New Testament, and in the Old Testament, too, which detail for us how to walk and to please God. The ones in the Old Testament that we would adhere to now would be the ones in agreement with those in the New Testament, for we aren’t under the Old Covenant ceremonial and purification laws, just God’s moral laws.
I hear so many people today say that we don’t have to do anything to please God, for we already please him just by believing in Jesus. It is true that we please our Lord by true unadulterated faith in Jesus Christ. But it isn’t true that we don’t have to live to please him. We must continue living to please God. He is not pleased with us, for example, if we are living in sin.
[Rom. 8:8; 2 Co. 5:9; Gal. 6:8; Eph. 5:10; Col. 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Tim. 2:4; Heb. 11:6; Heb. 13:6; & 1 Jn. 3:22]
I also hear many people say that how we live doesn’t matter to God if we “believe” in Jesus. They say that we don’t have to walk to please God, that we don’t have to DO anything. But the New Testament is loaded with instructions to Christians on how they should walk – according to the Spirit, in the light as God is in the light, and in purity and holiness, etc.
[Rom. 6:4; Rom. 8:4; Rom. 13:13; 2 Co. 5:7; Gal. 5:16; Eph. 2:10; Eph. 4:1, 17; Eph. 5:1-2, 8, 15; Col. 1:10; Col. 2:6; Col. 4:5; 1 Thess. 2:12; 1 Thess. 4:1, 12; 1 Jn. 1:5-7; 1 Jn. 2:6; 2 Jn. 1:6; 3 Jn. 1:4; Rev. 3:4]
And, these Scriptures also teach us that if we walk in darkness, according to the flesh, in sinful addictions, that we don’t have salvation from sin or eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:16-21).
So, if anyone is telling you that you don’t have to do anything to please God, they are lying to you. If they tell you that how you live doesn’t matter to God now that you are “under grace,” they are lying to you. If they convince you heaven is guaranteed you no matter what you do, they are lying to you.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 ESV
“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.”
Many people are teaching a gospel of salvation absent of the cross of Christ in the lives of those who say they believe in Jesus. They have removed the offense of the cross of Christ from the gospel to not offend the flesh of man and the people of the world.
So, they teach that if we “believe” in Jesus, by saying a prayer, or by acknowledging him, or by confessing we are sinners (though not many are doing that), that we are “saved” and good to go, and how we live from this point forward doesn’t matter for it is all “under grace.”
But that is not the message of the cross in Scripture. The message of the cross is that Jesus died and put sin to death on that cross that we must die with him to sin, and daily, too, not just once. And, he lives so we must live to him and to his righteousness (1 Pet 2:24; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
Jesus died to eradicate sin from our lives, not just to forgive us our sin. He died, too, that we might be delivered from our addiction to sin, not so we can continue in sinful addictions while claiming God’s grace covers it all. And, he died that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14).
So, why is it that Jesus doesn’t want us to sin? It is because sin destroys us, and it hurts those we sin against. If we sin sexually, we hurt our spouses, we are unfaithful to our marriages, and we injure our children. And, we commit adultery, which is usually followed by lying and deceiving and hiding truth. Sin gives birth to more sin, and so the cycle continues.
And, sin keeps us from being united with God in his holiness and righteousness and from us living holy lives pleasing to God. There is no love, no freedom, and no salvation if we remain bound to our sin. There is only freedom, love, joy, peace, and salvation via submission to Christ as Lord, via repentance, and via obedient walks of faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:6-8 ESV
“…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.”
Do we hear what this is saying? It is letting us know that, as believers in Jesus, we are to live holy lives, pleasing to God, not immoral lives, and self-indulgent lives, which willfully and habitually do what is harmful to others.
Why? Because God is the avenger in all these things, as we were told in the Scriptures, and as we have been warned about in the Scriptures. And, who is this being addressed to? The church! Yes! To those professing faith in Jesus Christ. We are being warned that God is the avenger of sexual immorality and passionate lust and the like. He will punish such sins.
For, God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. He didn’t save us just so we could go on living in sin without guilt, claiming his grace covers it all. We will all reap what we sow.
If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (death, decay). If we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. He will render to each one according to his works (Rom. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-26; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; 2 Co. 5:10).
So, please take this to heart, for your eternity depends on you knowing, believing, and living the truth, and you not still walking in the darkness.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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