Part 3, The Return of Christ, How Should We Then Live
In 49-51 A.D., Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica. Paul, Silas, and Timothy had evangelized that region, and so Paul wrote to encourage the believers there, sharing more detailed information about how to live a life pleasing to God. He then discussed Christ’s return. These were the instructions given, and these words apply to us as fellow believers until Christ returns:
Pursue sanctification. Control your body in holiness and honor.
Finally, then, brothers,[and sisters]1. 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. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification:[holiness]2. that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 NOT in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 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. 7 For God has NOT called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 ESV).For this is the will of God, the holiness of believers: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one know how to control his/her own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust. #bgbg2 #LivingForJesus Click To Tweet
The ancient pagan western world was peopled mostly by Greeks and Romans who worshiped idols and celebrated with wanton sex, immorality, drunkenness, and the”passion of lust.” The Holy Spirit directed Paul to address these specific matters.
In our mostly pagan world, these actions still occur. Maybe we ourselves have become entrapped in them. These have become cultural norms. Our culture is not much different than the culture of that period regarding the abundance of immorality.
How can we as followers of Christ live out a life of purity and holiness, rather than impurity? What do purity and holiness look like?
We are not to defraud, victimize, exploit, cheat, nor otherwise wrong others.How can we as followers of Christ live out a life of purity and holiness, rather than impurity? What do purity and holiness look like? We are not to defraud, victimize, exploit, cheat, nor wrong others. #bgbg2 #LivingForJesus Click To Tweet
The Lord is an avenger. He sees when we wrong others. The Greek word here is ekdikos, Strong’s #1558. It means “he who brings to pass what he believes to be his right, an avenger. . .referring to the magistracy, it is the one who carries out the right to its issue.”3. The Lord is the one.
Based on that definition, in what ways does the Lord avenge?
In treating others in the manner in which we would like to be treated, if we veer off course, what means of discipline and instruction might the Holy Spirit use?
He gives instruction: Live a quiet and productive life of brotherly love, minding your own business.
He prescribes a life of kindness, concern, and affection for others, of quiet pursuit of Christ, of avoiding gossip and entanglement in conflicts.
He urges us to peacefully mind our own business, keeping our hearts and minds on loving one another, fulfilling our responsibilities, and reaching out with the Gospel to those the Lord brings into our lives.
“Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 ESV).Believers, live quietly, mind your own affairs, work with your hands and minds in the ways in which the Lord has gifted you, so that you may live the Christian life lovingly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. #bgbg2 Click To Tweet
Why the admonition to live a life of love?
Because Jesus could return at any moment!
We will see again those dearly departed believers who have gone ahead of us!
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are *asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have *fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[by the word of the Lord]4. that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have *fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV).For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have previously died. This we declare to you by a word from the Lord, Paul wrote. 1 Thessalonians 4 #bgbg2 Click To Tweet The Lord will descend with a cry of command, the voice of an archangel, the trumpet of God. The dead in Christ will rise. Then those alive will be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air, so we will always be with the Lord. Click To Tweet
These are exceedingly great and precious promises!
The Lord Jesus will come for us, descending from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, with the sound of the trumpet of God!
In light of these passages, how can we obediently live in a way that prepares us for Messiah’s second coming?
Are we currently living lives that demonstrate our love for Christ and our anticipation of his return?
- Footnote in translation, ESV Study Bible, Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, IL, 2008.
- Footnote in translation, ESV Study Bible, etc.
- Key Word Standard Bible, New American Standard Bible, Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. Executive Editor, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 37422, USA.
- Footnote in translation, ESV Study Bible, Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, IL, 2008.
We are called to live a life for Him, yet we fail. There are so many opportunities to live for Him and not put our own desires first. I pray I will stay in His Word and seek Him in every moment.
I’m with you, Melissa! The more I review these words from the Lord, the more I recognize the areas where growth is needed and the importance of obedience in this growth of lifelong pursuit of Christ
YES! Sometimes we think of the actions of “those wild, lusty pagans” as confined to a place and time far off and long ago, but truly our world is still doing this today. We might not be doing it in honor of some Viking or Greek “god,” but it’s clear that wild, drunken partying continues as our world pays homage to the “god” of fun or escape or pleasure. As Christians, then, how can we live differently? How can we live true, right and pure in honor of our Lord? This is a serious question and very important today.
It’s exactly like those first century party days once more. The Greeks and the Romans were decadent, and now the world had spiraled downhill and back again to that type of norm again. How can we love and respond in kindness to one’s around us who pursue that lifestyle? With gentleness and the recollection that but for the grace of God, we could be living the same lifestyle as they. They are us. We are them. Jesus makes all the difference.
Whenever I see the question of “How then shall we live” addressed, it almost always is answered with a call to holiness OR a call to live lovingly. Thank you for connecting the two as two sides of the same coin!
Unless we live lovingly, we’re not living in holiness. Christ modeled this in that His holiness was the motivator for His loving response of being born a man, so that He could sacrifice Himself to pay for our sins, the ultimate act of love for all time. Thank you for noting that, Ava.
Powerful teaching again, Melinda! We are a called out people, set apart for the Lord, to be conformed into the image of Christ. In holiness and love. I pray for wisdom, discernment, humility and correction from the Holy Spirit, as these are days of celebrating sin that Jesus died for. Lord, keep from from temptation and help me live in the beauty of your holiness and love.
Oh, Melissa, that is always my own prayer! Keep me from temptation, and allow me to live in the beauty of Your holiness and love. Oh to be as loving and as kind and accepting as our Savior! ??
Great teaching Melinda. It is so important to fully understand what it means to live for Christ. I pray for the Lord to continue to guide me in this walk. Thanks and God bless
Thank you, Yvonne, for your comment! That is my own wish and desire, to be led and guided by the Lord.
It’s so easy for us to find ourselves in a fog of idolatry. This earth is not our home. Great post!
It really is, Nancy! So incredibly easy, for we are sinners! Thank you for this reminder.
I’m so thankful God and His Holy Word “prescribe” how to live a life of kindness, brotherly love, and a holy and pure life. For me, it’s key to live the crucified life of Galatians 2:20, letting Christ live in me and through me by the power of the Holy Spirit. Great piece, Melinda!
Great points to emphasize, Karen! Thank you for stopping by to add your thoughts. You always draw attention to key points in the Scriptures.