1 Thessalonians 5:7-10

In 1 Thessalonians 5:7-10 Paul is still reminding the church of what will happen when Christ returns. “For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.” Paul tells us that the opposite of spiritual watchfulness is spiritual sleep. The opposite of spiritual sobriety is to be spiritually drunk. As Christians we are of the day, and so we must watch and be sober. “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.” Paul used the image of a soldier’s armor to illustrate the idea of watchfulness. A soldier is a good example of someone who must watch and be sober, and he is equipped to do that with his armor.

If we compare this description of spiritual armor with that found of the very descriptive list in Ephesians 6, it is not identical. This indicates that Paul saw the idea of spiritual armor as a helpful picture, not something rigid in its details. Faith and love are represented by the breastplate because the breastplate covers the vital organs. No soldier would ever go to battle without his breastplate, and no Christian is equipped to live the Christian life without faith and love. In Ephesians 6, it is referred to as the breastplate of truth or righteousness. The hope of salvation is represented as a helmet (same), because the helmet protects the head, which is just as essential as the breastplate. Hope isn’t used in the sense of wishful thinking, but in the sense of a confident expectation of God’s hand in the future.

God’s desire is for all of us to come to know Jesus, and receive the gift of salvation through that relationship with the Savior. Before we enter into that saving relationship, we are doomed for wrath. That is not God’s desire for us, yet it is the outcome we face without Jesus. “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.” It is important to understand that Paul means the wrath of God. We are saved from the world, the flesh, and the devil. But first and foremost, we are rescued from the wrath of God, the wrath that we deserve. Paul’s whole context here is the believer’s rescue from the wrath of God.

When Jesus died on the cross, He stood in our place in our appointment to wrath, and reschedules us with an appointment to obtain salvation. As believers, when we think we are appointed to wrath, we show up for an appointment that was cancelled by Jesus. The reality is that Jesus died in our place. Not simply that Jesus died for us in the sense as a favor for us; but that He died as a substitute for us. And that death means that He paid the price for our sins. He purchased us with the blood He shed on the Cross. The Cross is the power of the Gospel and is the price needed to cover our sin and provide us with eternal life in heaven.

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