1 Thessalonians 4:1-3a

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3a Paul changes topics to the area of sexual purity. He is going to share the way to walk with and please God. “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.” The word ‘finally’ does not mean Paul is finished but that he is moving to a different topic – transitioning to very specific and practical instructions for how we need to live for an audience of One. He is happy for the growth he has seen, but wants to lead them further in their walk with God.

This is nothing new, but rather a reminder. He had given them instruction during his early visit around the basics of living a godly life. But he knows it is important to continue teaching, particularly for new believers that were coming into the church. “For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.” As believers we need to focus on living for God. Morris explains “When a man is saved by the work of Christ for him it does not lie open before him as a matter for his completely free decision whether he will serve God or not. He has been bought with a price. He has become the slave of Christ.”

What Paul is going to share here are not mere suggestions but rather commandments from God and His Word. And it carries with it the authority of God Himself who has given specific instruction as to what His will is in this area. The purpose is clear of what Paul is helping us understand – it is to sanctify us. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification….”  Paul gave these commands to a first-century Roman culture that was marked by sexual immorality. Sound familiar, doesn’t it. At this time in the Roman Empire, abstinence and sexual purity were almost unknown virtues. Nevertheless, Christians were to take their standards of sexual morality from God and not from the culture.

Remember that what Paul is going to share is a commandment and the order is coming directly from Jesus. Sanctification is the process of being ‘set apart’ from the culture and the evil in it. The focus in this chapter is on sexual immorality, but there are many aspects to the sanctification process that God desires for us as Christ Followers. If our sexual behavior is no different than the rest of the world who does not know God, then we are not sanctified – set apart – in the way God wants us to be. We need to live based on the spiritual understand of God’s Word – the roadmap to our success as a Christ Follower – and walk in purity before the Lord. We should live differently than those who do not know God and His Word.

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