1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 ESV
“Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
For the world, and for the worldly professer (only) of faith in Jesus Christ, who are NOT spiritually waiting and watching for our Lord’s return, living lives surrendered to him, with a longing to be with him for eternity, the Lord’s return will be a surprise to them, but not a good surprise.
For, the Lord will appear like a thief in the night to them, and they will be unprepared. They will not be ready, and they will face the wrath of God.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Rom 1:18-19).
And this includes many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ. For, they are being taught that all they have to do is say they believe in Jesus Christ and they are promised their sins are forgiven and now heaven is their eternal destiny regardless of how they live their lives on this earth.
Thus, many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ are not living holy lives, pleasing to God, because they believe they don’t have to. Jesus Christ is not their Lord (master), for they do not submit to his Lordship over their lives, but they are still ruling their own lives, living for sin and self.
They are hearing many “peace and security” messages which teach them that if they “prayed the prayer” that they are good to go, no matter how they live on this earth, and that God is pleased with them, no matter what they do, and that they don’t have to do anything to please God.
So, they are living their lives on this earth as they choose, not as God chooses, doing whatever it is that they want to do. And many are being taught, too, that they will never face God’s wrath, and that before things get bad on the earth that Jesus is going to rapture them so that they don’t have to suffer with the rest of the world during the time of tribulation.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-8 ESV
“But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”
If we have died with Christ to sin, and if we have been raised with Christ to newness of life in him, and we are now daily dying to sin and self, and daily living for Christ and his righteousness, walking in obedience to our Lord, then we are not in darkness, but we are the children of light (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6).
So, our Lord’s return should not surprise us like a thief in the night, but we should be waiting and watching for his return by daily saying “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and by living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the power of God’s Spirit within us (Titus 2:11-14).
But there is a warning here, just like there are many warnings to Christians throughout the New Testament. For, we must remain in Christ and in his word, steadfast in faith, living for the Lord, listening to him, obeying him as a matter of practice, if we are to remain in the light (John 15:1-12).
Yet, because we still live in flesh bodies, we still have a propensity to sin against God, and Satan is still after us to try to get us to disobey our Lord, too. So, we have to be diligent in our faith so that we do not falter, and so that we don’t drift away and end up not being spiritually alert.
So, this is a strong encouragement (an exhortation) to remain spiritually alert and serious-minded about our walks of faith. And we do this by staying in tune with the Lord, listening, obeying, repenting, and submitting to his will and purpose for our lives. We should never resist him.
Thus, we need to protect our hearts from straying by loving our Lord, which is expressed in our obedience to him, and by loving others with a love which prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, pure, and honest. So, we will not deliberately and habitually sin against God and others.
And we protect our hearts from straying and from falling asleep spiritually by putting our faith into practice daily, which involves listening to and obeying our Lord, and which involves saying “No!” to sin and “Yes!” to God daily.
And we protect our minds by dying with Christ daily to sin, and by daily living to Christ and to his righteousness in the power of God’s Spirit within us. And we do so by being diligent with regard to the things we are taking into our minds on a daily basis, too. For, remember: “Garbage in, garbage out!”
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 ESV
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
So, what does that mean that God has not destined us for wrath, and especially in light of the previous instructions to us telling us that we must not sleep (spiritually) like those who are in the darkness?
It is not saying that it is impossible for God to pour out his wrath on us or that he never will, or that we are somehow immune to his wrath because we “prayed the prayer.” It is saying that it is not in God’s design and purpose for us who believe in him that he should have to pour out his wrath on us.
And that is why we have the warning. And there are many such warnings to Christians (or to professing Christians) throughout the New Testament. For, the wrath of God will most certainly be poured out on those who walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit.
For, we are all going to be judged by what we do. If we live to please the flesh, and sin is what we practice, i.e., we habitually and deliberately sin against the Lord, and we stop up our ears, and we don’t listen to his warnings or his calls for repentance, we will die in our sins.
But if we walk in the light as God is in the light, and if we walk according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, and if we walk in obedience to our Lord, not necessarily in perfection, but in practice, and we love God and we love our neighbors as ourselves, then it will end in eternal life with God.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Jn 2:3-6]
So, take this to heart. Our salvation from sin is conditional upon us walking (in conduct) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.
A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.