Dave Parks
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God's Clear Call to Holiness & Sexual Purity
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
God's will is our sexual purity, and He also provides the means to that end [Phil 2.13].
Published November 26th, 2021
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Main point summary
1 Thess 4.1-8 Discourse
1 Thess 4.1-8 Takeaways
1 Thess Outline
Main point summary
God is clear in His will and specific in His instructions for our holiness, especially our sexual purity; we must be just as committed to live in obedient love to Him through the gracious means He also provides.
1 Thess 4.1-8 Discourse
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Finally , then , brothers, 1
In conclusion, then, my much-loved brothers and sisters, just as I am praying that the Lord will establish your hearts and make you blameless in holiness,
Λοιπὸν ⸀ οὖν, ἀδελφοί,
we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus,
we are now calling on you to assume the responsibility that is yours and exhort you by the means that are yours by virtue of your being in the Lord Jesus by faith and the new birth,
ἐρωτῶμεν ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλοῦμεν ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ,
that as you d received from us e how you ought to walk and f to please God,
to the end that just like you have received numerous commands from us and have seen numerous examples in us how you, too, should conduct your lives, being motivated by your love for God and your aim to please Him,
⸀ ἵνα καθὼς παρελάβετε παρ’ ἡμῶν τὸ πῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀρέσκειν θεῷ,
just as you are doing,
in the same ways you are already doing this,
⸂ καθὼς καὶ περιπατεῖτε ⸃ ,
that you g do so more and more.
that you will continue doing so increasingly more and more.
ἵνα περισσεύητε μᾶλλον.
For h you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
Because you are well aware of the instructive commands we received and, in turn, gave you by the word and with the authority of the Lord Jesus.
οἴδατε γὰρ τίνας παραγγελίας ἐδώκαμεν ὑμῖν διὰ τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ.
For this is the will of God, i your sanctification: 1
Because in those same instructive commands, God has clearly expressed what His purpose and desire for you is, and that is living your lives lovingly committed and distinctively separated to obey and please Him:
τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν,
j that you abstain from sexual immorality;
and specifically, God wills that you live lifestyles that intentionally choose to reject all the sexual immoralities that are so characteristic of the culture in which you live and are practiced all around you;
ἀπέχεσθαι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τῆς πορνείας,
that each one of you know how to control his own k body 1 in holiness and l honor,
the means by which you do this is that each one of you must assume mastery of the desires and activities you perform in your own body - and do so motivated and energized by God's own holiness and the honor that comes from pleasing Him;
εἰδέναι ἕκαστον ὑμῶν τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος κτᾶσθαι ἐν ἁγιασμῷ καὶ τιμῇ,
not in m the passion of lust n like the Gentiles
rejecting and abstaining from following the 'herd' mentality of the culture around you - being subject to and ruled by your inflamed, normal, sexual desires
μὴ ἐν πάθει ἐπιθυμίας καθάπερ καὶ τὰ ἔθνη
o who do not know God;
as they are practiced by those who do not love, fear, or serve God;
τὰ μὴ εἰδότα τὸν θεόν,
that no one transgress and p wrong his brother in this matter,
and God wills further... that no one violate his brother and sister in these same sexually perverse lifestyles and practices since they not only violate God's holiness expressed in His holy will and commandments, but also the Imago Dei in your fellow human beings whom you also transgress,
τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν καὶ πλεονεκτεῖν ἐν τῷ πράγματι τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, διότι ἔκδικος
because the Lord is q an avenger in all these things,
being motivated by your over-arching and all-encompassing fear of the Lord, since the Lord is the Personal Advocate-Avenger of all who practice these perversions and all who are violated by them,
⸀ κύριος περὶ πάντων τούτων,
as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.
in accordance and keeping with everything we have previously taught and solemnly warned you.
καθὼς καὶ προείπαμεν ὑμῖν καὶ διεμαρτυράμεθα.
For r God has not called us for s impurity,
Because the 'bottom-line' incontrovertible, undeniable, and uncompromising anchor principle is: God has not called us to live in impurity,
οὐ γὰρ ἐκάλεσεν ἡμᾶς ὁ θεὸς ἐπὶ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ
but in holiness.
but rather in the Life and Grace of His own personal Holiness. This rule governs every activity of our lifestyles and the ways we live them.
ἀλλ’ ἐν ἁγιασμῷ.
Therefore t whoever disregards this, disregards not man
So that and in consequence of this rule, whoever chooses to disregard this rule and live by any other rule, chooses to disregard not any mere human teacher or leader
τοιγαροῦν ὁ ἀθετῶν οὐκ ἄνθρωπον ἀθετεῖ
but God, u who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
but chooses to disregard God, who also gives you the means by which you will obey - namely, the Life of His Holy Spirit whom He gives you along with His commands.
ἀλλὰ τὸν θεὸν τὸν ⸀ καὶ ⸀ διδόντα τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἅγιον εἰς ὑμᾶς.
All of these commands and lifestyle/conduct instructions are anchored in Paul's preceding prayer for them in chapter 3.11-13 - inspiring them to love God and one another and for their hearts of desire and will to be established in blameless holiness before our God and Father - which comes from God!
His asking and urging is given to them as commands from God ... consistent with His will [3a]
ALL our motivation and the means to fulfill ALL that God will, commands, and that please Him is supplied to us in Jesus Christ and the life-power of His Gospel - which we have received in Him! This is the Christ-Key especially as the Ignition Key and the Keystone Key [from one of the lessons in Interpretation]
Our new walk is the consequence of the life-transforming power of the Gospel through our new birth...
Pleasing God is the over-arching and all-encompassing motivation that we live out in obedience to His first and greatest commandment: to love God with all our hearts [see ch 3.13] and being ... everything we are, have, and do!
Doing so more and more is the dynamic activity of Gospel-Grace working its life-transforming power in us ... progressively and increasingly ... into the image of Christ.
ALL of our life-transforming practical instructions are anchored in the objective words and truth spoken to us from God by our LORD Jesus.
Here again is a clear mandate on our motivations in obedience to Christ and His Gospel and the means by which we obey and please Him through the life-transforming power of the Gospel. All of our obedience and conformity to His commands and will is our personal, loving response to His sovereign Lordship and loving Grace.
Do you want to know 'the will of God' for your life? Here it is! Separate, designate, and commit your life and all your conducts to love and serve Him for His Glory! Do THIS will of God and all the other wills of God for your life will fulfill themselves in this one!
Holiness and purity before God is both negative [abstaining from] and positive - see next note...
Holiness is both negative [see previous note on 'abstain'] and a positive, intentional, volitional surrendering every member and movement of your physical body as a living sacrifice of loving service to His will. Again, this is the motivation of holiness, and not a reluctant, legalistic, coercive compliance with external rules.
The honor of our holiness is motivated by and supplied from our loving commitment to Christ-likeness and the aim to give Glory to Him with our lives.
Every act and activity of our lives is an expression of what we love most. Those who do not know and love God, and who do not have His life-transforming Grace working in their lives will love only themselves and their own self-willed desires. Those who know God and the power of His resurrection will surrender all their passions, loves, and desires to His!
The motivation and the means of obeying all of Christ's will and commands will be expressed both toward God and others - those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ and all others who bear the Imago Dei.
"Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the LORD" is a resounding warning to us all. It is always a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. He is always s consuming fire. If not in His wrath of condemnation, then in His displeasure of loving discipline. We are always motivated by the fear of the LORD.
Here again, the motivation and means by which we obey is our loving response to His call to holiness in Christ. And He will supply the life-transforming power to answer His call in every activity of our lives - to His Glory!
God's giving His Holy Spirit to us is the anchoring truth that motivates us and supplies us with all the means by which we love Him, obey Him, and fulfill all His gracious will!
1 Thess 4.1-8 Takeaways
1 Thessalonians 4.1-8 God's Clear Call to Holiness & Sexual Purity Main Point Summary : God is clear in His will and specific in His instructions for our holiness, especially our sexual purity; we must be just as committed to live in obedient love love to Him through the gracious means He also provides. TAKEAWAYS : [some other observations are included in Dot Notes] Since these very personal and specific instructions Paul gives them [and us] are the applications of the prayers he is praying for them in chapter 3.11-13, we must learn that our praying for the spiritual growth and holiness of our hearers is just as essential and effective as our teaching them: " that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father..." Both the authority by which we teach and the actions by which they are lived out come from our being in the Lord Jesus [verse 1] . HIS life and power are the source of all our obedience and holiness. Our obedience to God's explicit instructions are not only the rules by which we ought to walk [ δεῖ ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν ] but also the means by which we please God [ καὶ ἀρέσκειν θεῷ ] . All of our obedience to God's will is grounded in His first love for us and our response of love to Him and one another [see again Paul's prayer in chapter 3.12 and his follow-up in chapter 4.6; chapter 4.9]. The 'will of God' [ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ] is not just His suggestion or wishful desire, but rather His determined purpose for us 'from the beginning of creation' [Mark 10.6-8]. Therefore, they are neither flexible nor negotiable, but absolute and unchanging with the changing mores of our times. The ultimate 'will of God' [Romans 8.27] is to conform us to the image, likeness, and character of His pure, Holy Son, Jesus Christ [Romans 8.29]. Our fixed, firm, and steadfast commitment to practice and fulfill God's will in our lives should be as fixed, firm, and steadfast as His will for us is [see Paul's prayer again in chapter 3.13, εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμῶν τὰς καρδίας ἀμέμπτους ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ] God's will and standards for our holiness in sexual purity are not - nor are they designed to be - either oppressive nor suppressive , but rather they are expressive of His own pure and holy love and pleasure in us, His people [Ephesians 5.32]. God's will for our sanctification is comprehensive and inclusive of our sexual purity [verse 3]. We can't claim to be followers of God's 'love' while practicing or condoning any form of sexual immorality [ πορνείας ] under the guise of expressing 'love' as is the perverted standard of our culture. The culture around us is constantly changing, adjusting, and willfully conforming to its own self-prescribed mold [see Romans 12.1-2]. They also insistently pressure everyone else to accept and normalize their perversions. Their rule is: 'conform or be canceled.' Every generation and its culture has done the same [Romans 1.18-32]. Ours is no different than any other generation. It's just that this is the generation and culture we live in and are being pressured to conform to. But God's holy will and standards do not change and neither must ours. This is our personal responsibility to God and others and our public witness to God's own holiness and ours. Our practices of sexual purity are both negative and positive: we must both 'abstain from sexual immorality' and 'know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.' [verses 3, 4] Indeed, we cannot practice 'holiness to completion' [2 Corinthians 7.1], especially in sexual purity, merely by trying to say 'No!' to its temptations and perversions by our self-imposed resolutions and will-power [Colossians 2.20-23]. True holiness and purity cannot be attained and practiced by adhering to legalistic rules and regulations. Rather, we must learn to live by the Law of Spiritual Displacement [adapted from the so-called Archimedes Law]. The only way to abstain from the sexual immorality of whatever expression is by displacing it with the exercise of its holy counter virtue. [see, for example, Romans 13.8-14; Colossians 3.1-14; et. al] The only way we can sin less and less is loving and pleasing God 'more and more' [verse 1]. All sin springs from the root desire and love of what we want. But the 'higher love' for God supersedes and trumps all other loves [Deuteronomy 6.4-5; 1 John 2.15-17] We must learn to control our own bodies in holiness and honor because we are members of Christ [Ephesians 5.30; 1 Corinthians 6.12-20]], and the members of our bodies are the vessels, tools, and instruments by which God visibly expresses His holy character and His life-transforming power in our lives [see especially Romans 6]. We are bearing witness to the world who God is and what His Divine and holy will is for His creation by the ways we live and conduct our lives. We are always on display as models of God's own holiness manifested in our changed lives [1 Peter 2.9]. Sins of sexual deviation and perversion in any expression are not only violations of God's standards of personal holiness [verse 8], but they also transgress and wrong those who are the objects of our sins [verse 6]. All of these expressions of πορνείας are selfish acts to gratify our own desires by objectifying someone else. We sin against both God and the other object of our sin in so doing. God has not mitigated or mollified His wrath against these and all sins [verse 6; Colossians 3.6; Romans 1.18; 2 Peter 2.6; Jude 7; et. al.]. We do not live by, follow, or respond to our natural human impulses any longer like 'the Gentiles/ τὰ ἔθνη ' or culture around us do [verse 5]. They 'do not know God,' nor do they love Him, fear Him, or serve Him. They love, favor, and serve only their own passions, lusts, and desires. They are governed by their physical desires and follow their own natural and perverted impulses. [see also 2 Peter 2.18-19]. They are debased to being enslaved and governed only by their natural and physical 'animal instincts' [2 Peter 2.12; Jude 10] We, on the other hand, are ruled from our renewed hearts by the love of God for us and our love for Him. We live to love and please Him. Our commitment to and practice of purity is the work of God's gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit [verse 8]. God's call to holiness and purity [verse 7; 1 Peter 1.14-16] is His call in holiness and purity. God calls us with His own Holy Voice, in the Lord Jesus, and in His call is the life and power of His Holy Spirit with which we respond, obey, and fulfill His holy will. NOTE OF DISCLAIMER : This is my first foray and submission into Published Pages. Also, this is only my 2nd Path Course I've completed. I've looked over several other Published Pages some of you have posted, and I know I am way behind in the polish, finesse, and technical expertise some of you have honed by your deeper experience with Biblearc. Actually, I'm submitting this because it is a part of my fulfillment of the Course assignments and not because I think it is necessarily worthy of publishing or reading. However, my brief [and often interrupted] interaction with Biblearc and my personal mentors has been a thrilling and rewarding adventure. Brent and Nate especially have served as my trusted instructors, and I consider them God-given friends. I have been preaching, teaching, and pastoring for decades, but I have never benefitted from the kind of systematic instruction and study tools I have received over the past year. I do plan to apply much of what I have learned in a continuing study of Colossians which I am sharing with my SS class where I am now serving. As I have told Brent and Nate, I want to learn to read, see, and think about the Scriptures the Biblearc way as I continue to seek, savor, and serve Christ in His Word. I am submitting this on Thanksgiving Day 2021 [U.S.], and I am thanking God for Biblearc!
1 Thess Outline
OUTLINE OF 1 THESSALONIANS I. THE WORD'S OUT! God sends His Word and makes it work 1:1-5:28 A. GREETING AND SALUTATION 1:1 B. WE GIVE THANKS TO GOD ALWAYS FOR YOU... 1:2-10 1. We give thanks always to God for your faith, love, and hope in Jesus Christ 1:2-3 2. We give thanks to God for choosing you 1:4-5a 3. We give thanks to God because you became imitators of us and the Lord 1:5b-7 4. We give thanks to God for your witness to the Gospel: The Word's out! 1:8-10 i. The Word's out from you in Macedonia and Achaia 1:8a ii. The Word's out from you everywhere 1:8b iii. The Gospel Word you have received and are sounding out 1:9-10 a. you have turned to God from idols 1:9 b. you are witnessing to the enthroned Lordship of Jesus Christ 1:10a c. you are witnessing to Jesus's resurrection 1:10b d. you are witnessing to the deliverance from the wrath to come 1:10c C. PAUL'S COMING TO THEM... 2:1-16 1. God was working in power in Paul's coming to them 2:1-12 i. Boldness in the midst of much conflict 2:2 ii. Our motivation and aim is not to manipulate or please men - but to please God 2:3-6 iii. The gentleness of a nursing mother 2:7-10 iv. The loving admonition of a father 2:11-12 2. The Word was received as the Word of God 2:13-16 i. The Word was received with the accompanying sufferings of Christ and His churches 2:14-16 D. LONGING TO SEE YOU AGAIN... 2:17-3:13 1. We wanted to come to you, but Satan hindered us 2:17-20 2. We sent Timothy to establish and exhort you in your faith 3:1-13 i. ...not to be moved from your faith by your afflictions 3:3-5a ii. ...not to be tempted by the Tempter 3:5b iii. we have been comforted by Timothy's report 3:6-10 iv. May God Himself direct our way to you and establish your faith 3:11-13 E. EXHORTATIONS AND ENCOURAGEMENTS... 4:1-5:22 1. Live to please God more and more... 4:1 2. controlling your body in holiness and honor 4:2-8 3. loving one another more and more 4:9-12 4. encouraging one another concerning those who have fallen asleep in Christ 4:13-18 5. a watchful life of faith, love, and hope 5:1-10 6. encouraging and building one another up in every way 5:11-22 F. PRAYER OF BENEDICTION AND BLESSING 5:23-28 1. I pray that God Himself will sanctify and keep you - and He will! 5:23-24 2. Your part - Keep on... 5:25-28
Brent Karding
I have been preaching, teaching, and pastoring for decades, but I have never benefitted from the kind of systematic instruction and study tools I have received over the past year. I do plan to apply m...
Thank you for your encouragement! It is a blessing and privilege to walk with you through our courses. I'm encouraged also to hear how you plan to use what you've learned as you study Colossians for a SS class. I pray that God uses your study and meditation as a means to build up his church!
Brent Karding
I could make so many comments praising your paraphrase, that I don't know where to start. :) You are faithful to the logic, and express that logic very well ("being motivated by" in 6b, "because the 'bottom-line'..." in 7a). And you creatively unpack the meaning of the text ("the 'herd' mentality" in 5a, "lovingly committed and distinctively separated" in 3a, "the 'bottom-line' incontrovertible..." in 7a). Really well done.
Brent Karding
Our practices of sexual purity are both negative and positive: we must both 'abstain from sexual immorality' and 'know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.' [verses 3, 4]
An excellent list of 21 takeaways! #11 especially struck me, emphasizing both elements of sexual purity. #16 talks about the impact on others such sin has, which is a helpful second-level motivation (the first level being that it is a sin against God, of course).
Brent Karding
You made a large number of dot notes, showing how much you've thought about the text and sought to interpret it rightly. Wonderful work.
Brent Karding
who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
Very good dividing of the text throughout. I think it would be better to keep "who gives his Holy Spirit to you" alone in 8b, and put "but God" back up with 8a.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.