Monday: God’s Will: Holiness (1 Thess. 4:3)
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First Thessalonians 4:3-8 forms a complete unit of thought. The will of God for each Thessalonian believer is “holiness” or “sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:347, ESV). What Paul means by holiness here is explained by two following clauses. Each believer is expected to “avoid sexual immorality” and to “control his own body” (1 Thess. 4:34, NIV). Paul concludes the unit of thought with three motivations to holy living (1 Thess. 4:6-8): (1) God is an avenger in these matters, (2) He has called us to holiness, and (3) He gives us the Spirit to help us. In today’s lesson and the next two, we will be looking at this passage in more detail.

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and 7. How are the two verses linked? What is the basic message of both, and how is that message relevant to us today?


Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Verse 3 builds on verse 1, where Paul reminded the Thessalonians of how they were to “walk” (NKJV)-“live” in many translations-a Hebrew concept used to describe daily moral and ethical behavior. In verse 3 he uses another Hebrew concept to describe spiritual life and growth, “holiness” or “sanctification.”

A typical definition of holiness is “set apart for sacred use.” But Paul gives the term more specific meaning in this letter. Holiness is the condition the Thessalonians will be in at the return of Jesus (1 Thess. 3:13). But in chapter 4 Paul chooses a form of the concept that emphasizes process rather than outcome. It is a noun of action: “sanctifying” more than “sanctification.” It is the will of God that we be engaged in this process (1 Thess. 4:3).

Paul clearly does not endorse a law-free gospel. There are behavioral requirements for those who are in Christ. In verse 7, the opposite of “holiness” is “uncleanness” (NKJV) or “impurity” (ESV). As Paul goes on to explain in verse 3: “you should avoid sexual immorality” (1 Thess. 4:3, NIV). The word for “sexual immorality” is porneia in the Greek, which would today cover everything from pornography to prostitution, to any sexual activity outside of marriage.

While salvation is by God’s grace through faith, the Christian life is to be a growing life, constantly striving for the perfection that has been promised us in Christ.

The gift of sexuality is powerful evidence of God’s love for us. Yet, this gift has been so abused that, for many, it has become a curse, a cause of great suffering and sorrow. What choices can we make that will help protect us from the potential damage that abuse of this gift can bring?

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Monday: God’s Will: Holiness (1 Thess. 4:3) — 4 Comments

  1. We should all bear in mind that our body is the
    temple of God so we shouldn't do anything that is
    gona deter God from dwelling in it.

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  2. This week's lesson is actually a challenge to many Christians. The aspect of life Paul brings out- sexaulity, brings down many. We need to stay focused and strong in the Lord to be overcomers. This vice is one of the powerful tools the devil snares many, it brings self_conceitedness, weapon used to lure many in varied ambitions. But as the apostle says, if used in the correct context, thre are many blessings it brings along with it than misery associted with it if used for selfish motives. Holiness permeates all bounderies of life. Sexuality is, just but one of the componets. We need indeed to be holy before our God, Live lives that are acceptable and pleasing in His sight. When we accept Christ as our personal saviour, we renounce our old ways of life and accept a new found life in Christ, thus our conduct, behavour, tastes, characters, theories, etc about our past life are forgotten. We assume a new phase of life. We must remember that when Christ shall come to get His own, only those who will be found putting on His Righteousness (Holiness) will be saved. Let's strive with all power given us to live a life worthy of our calling---Chritians--Christ-lLike. May the Lord give us power that we may continue to grow more and more until we raech His Character. Caution! Mind you the devil won't calmly standby, watch you do that without interruptions. At that point we must remember that we draw nourishment from the Main Vain (Phil 4:3).

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  3. This lesson is one that I believe we should be teaching from the pulpit on a regular basis.

    Paul is saying in this lesson that the life of a Chritian is not law-free. He reminds us that Jesus intends for us to live a life of obedience to the Moral Laws. Jesus himself speaks to adultery with great care to emphasize how much he hates that particular sin.

    Paul is very specific about the meaning of holiness in this lesson and it is abstinence from all forms of sexual immorality from pornography to prostitution. He does not exclude sex before marraige or sex outside of the martial relationship.

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  4. I believe that the time has come for us as Christians to lead by example in terms of chastity and purity. Let us be ambassadors of the light encouraging those we meet not to abuse this gift of sexuality but use it in marriage as the Lord intended.

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