Sunday, 25 October 2015

Sanctified Living - 1 Thess 4:3 - 8

God's desire is that people are restored to Him - they are drawn into the embrace of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yet we know in our own lives we have things that go against that, that spoil relationship with God and each other.

Jesus, in His desire to see people restored, not only stamps on our lives 'forgiven', but also sends the Spirit to work in our lives, enabling us to live better, to live up to all that it means to be forgiven.

This is the process called 'Sanctification' in v3 - to be made set apart or holy for God, to day by day be ever closer to Jesus, ever more like Him. This is God's work in us, a process, one that will take a lifetime. It is a process we must learn to cooperate with, hence v4 'learn to control your own bodies'.

Paul's writings here focus on sexual ethics (v3 to 6 is one sentence in the Greek), but the principle applies to all areas of our lives. What practical tips can help us work with the Spirit? Firstly make a deal with yourself - Job 31:1 says 'I will make a covenant with my eyes ...'. Set a mindset that for certain things you know to be wrong you are simple not going to go there. Secondly absent yourself when the situation is unhelpful. Remember in Gen 39 Joseph had to run away (naked!) from Potiphar - that was better than being enticed into wrong.

Do we as Christians live our lives as if God is sitting at a control panel, somehow ready to press 'smite' should we ever mess up or do wrong? That should not be - we do not live under law, but under grace. So we are free from such trip-wires, and instead have that stamp of 'forgiven' on our lives. But does that mean 'We can do anything we like, because nothing matters'? No! Let us live up to our calling, let us live to match the grace already given us.

The truth is there are consequences to our actions, hence v6 talks of discipline, even punishment. That is up to the Lord (not us), and may be at the end of time - where though forgiven we still have to account for our actions.

Our calling, v7, is to be better, to be a positive contrast in society. Remember people who know us might not read Christian books, but they do read our lives! What they see in us informs their understanding of God (i.e. their theology).

The bottom line is that each of us should welcome the work of the Spirit in our lives, showing us the lines to no longer cross. If we persist in ignoring His prompting, then as per v8 we are not simply rejecting a rule in the church or the advice of a leader or friend, but are going against God Himself. And that is a sad state of affairs, and undermines God's desire for us, His longing and yearning to see us forgiven, restored, living as an example to others, eventually to be presented pure and holy.

1 comment:

  1. Great challenging sermon , a lot of food for thought for the week ahead.