Urgings, Instructions, and Warnings

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.”

We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are to live to please God. Our conduct (behaviors), our speech, our willful thinking, i.e. what we choose to dwell on, and our attitudes are all to be what are pleasing to the Lord Jesus. Our whole manner of living is to be what will be pleasing to the Lord. And the Scriptures teach us what is pleasing and displeasing to the Lord.

For, we are given many instructions (commands, teachings, urgings) in the New Testament which are for us to follow. All throughout the New Testament we are given instructions on what we are to put away from our lives and on what we are to put on in place of the things that we got rid of, that we forsook. And we are instructed to walk in righteousness and not in sin.

But today in the modern church of America (not the body of Christ, but the institutional church) this is not what is being taught. They are teaching that we already please God just by believing in him. But belief is rarely defined, and so it is often rather ambiguous, or else the impression is one of just acknowledging or accepting what Jesus did for us on that cross.

Many of them have also diluted the gospel message to where they are no longer teaching that we must repent of (turn away from) our sins, that we must walk in obedience to our Lord, and that we are to submit to Christ as Lord (owner-master) of our lives. For they call this works-based salvation, and so they are teaching that it is not required and it is wrong.

But all one has to do is actually read the New Testament (all of it) one book and one chapter and one verse at a time, prayerfully, taking notes on what it teaches, comparing Scripture with Scripture, to learn what the Scriptures actually teach with regard to the true gospel and our salvation from sin and what all God requires of us in the way of word and thought and deed.

But it appears that not many who call themselves Christians are actually reading the Bible for themselves, but they are depending on preachers and Tweets and Facebook memes and devotionals and books written by Christian authors to tell them what the Scriptures teach. But so many are twisting the Scriptures and are teaching them out of context.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 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, 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.”

This truth here is repeated for us over and over again in the New Testament. And it is written to those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because we are still flesh and blood. We still have the propensity to sin against our Lord. And we are still being tempted to sin against our Lord, too. For the flesh is at war with the Spirit and the Spirit is at war with the flesh.

And so we need reminders to stir us to right thinking and to right behaving, and we need spiritual encouragement (urgings, exhortations) to keep us on the right path so that we don’t stray from the truth. For although some of us may not be partaking in worldly living presently, we still live in the world among the ungodly, and we can still be influenced to do what is evil.

And we are also being urged in this way because our sins still matter to God. It is not true that when we believe in Jesus that God can no longer see when we sin or that none of those sins will ever count against us. When God sees us he sees everything about us. Nothing is hidden from God. And he does keep records, for we are all going to be judged one day by our deeds.

Therefore, if you don’t abstain from sexual immorality, but you still dabble in it on a somewhat regular or cyclical basis, habitually, and deliberately, willfully ignoring the Lord’s commands, willfully defying Jesus as Lord, God is not going to look the other way. He is not going to be pleased with you. And if you continue on this path and you don’t repent you will die in your sins.

There is a reason why Christians are being given these solemn warnings all throughout the New Testament. And that is because it is not true that a profession of faith in Jesus Christ or a “sinner’s prayer” is enough to secure us heaven when we die regardless of how we lived our lives on this earth. How we live matters for eternity.

For, we are called to holiness. And to be holy is to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are now being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Holiness is to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return. And it is to walk (in conduct) no longer according to the flesh but now according to the Spirit, empowered by our Lord.

1 Thessalonians 4:8 ESV

“Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”

So, please understand here that we cannot walk (in conduct, in practice) in sin and inherit eternal life with God, no matter what prayer we prayed or what we confessed or said we believed. Faith in Jesus Christ is not just words we say or professions we make, but faith is walking in obedience to our Lord and to his commands. Faith is action not stagnation.

So, if we walk (in conduct) according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit, and if we make sin our practice and righteousness is not what we practice, and if we deliberately and habitually sin against our Lord and we don’t walk in obedience to his commands, and if we sow to please the flesh and not the Spirit, we will not inherit eternal life with God.

So, don’t take God’s grace for granted. Don’t insult the Spirit of Grace by continuing to live in sin after you have professed faith in Jesus Christ. God’s grace to us is not free license to continue living in sin only now without guilt. His grace frees us from our addiction to sin so we can now lives as slaves of God and of his righteousness. So, walk in that freedom!

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]

I Am Not Worthy the Least of His Favors

By Beatrice Bush Bixler

I am not worthy the least of His favor,
But Jesus left heaven for me;
The Word became flesh and He died as my Savior,
Forsaken on dark Calvary.

I am not worthy the least of His favor,
But “In the beloved” I stand;
Now I’m an heir with my wonderful Savior,
And all things are mine at His hand.

I am not worthy the least of His favor,
But He is preparing a place
Where I shall dwell with my glorified Savior,
Forever to look on His face.

I am not worthy this dull tongue repeats it
I am not worthy this heart gladly beats it
Jesus left heaven to die in my place
What mercy, what love and what grace!

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