Friday, June 25, 2010

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 27, 2010

(Living a holy life that wins the respect of others)
(1 Thessalonians 4:1-12)
It is all well and good to be able to talk the “Christian talk”, but it is how we walk the “Christian walk” that really determines how we influence others. Anyone can grow up in a Christian church, or, hang around church people long enough to learn to use “Church Talk” such as “I’m too blessed to be stressed”, I’m blessed and highly favored”, “I’m saved, sanctified, and filled with the HOLY SPIRIT”, etc.
There is a very good reason why GOD does not read the lips of man, but rather, HE reads our hearts. It is the heart of a person that really determines how they are, what they believe, and what they are capable of doing. A person, always, one hundred percent of the time, does that thing which is in their heart.
When we choose the Christian Walk, it is an excellent intellectual decision, but even more than that, it is, and must become more and more, a behavioral decision. In other words, our decision to follow the doctrine of CHRIST must eventually and inevitably manifest itself through our words, actions, and overall behavior.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, verses 1-12, the Apostle Paul addresses just how we can live to please GOD through our behavior. In this passage he gives us three aspects of proper Christian living, and four reasons why we should aspire to live holy lives. Whereas chapters 1-3 of 1 Thessalonians contains Paul’s explanations regarding missionary work and motives, chapters 4-5 focuses on his personal commendations for the church, regarding its deficiencies and how they could improve their behavior even more than they had.
The first aspect of proper Christian living that Paul talks about is “conduct” (verses 1-2). We, as Christians, should never be satisfied even when we’ve achieved significant spiritual change, or growth. The Christian life is a life of open-ended growth, and should never be stumbled by the pride of success. There is always more that can be achieved through hard work and studious attention to GOD’s holy guidance. Many challenges continue to lie ahead of us, just as they awaited JESUS all along the way, during HIS earthly mission. We are to strive to live lives that are pleasing to GOD at all times.
In verses 3-8, Paul talks about the second aspect of proper Christian living, “sexual purity”, keeping holiness and honor by avoiding sexual sin, (in the Greek “porneias”), which encompasses all sexual sin including fornication (unmarried sex), adultery (sex with someone other than your spouse), homosexual sexual activities (sex between two people of the same gender), incest (sex with close relatives), rape, and beastiality (sex with animals). To commit any of these sexual sins is to reject GOD, and insert self-worship. All sexual sin is self-worship. When we indulge in sexual sin we are telling GOD quite plainly, that, we are not what HE made us to be, and that our goal is to satisfy ourselves all we can, while we can, because we are captives of our own passionate lust.
The third aspect is “brotherly love” (verses 9-12), loving one another as GOD loves us. However, here Paul expands on the topic by showing us some of the fruit that applying brotherly love to a community can produce. He talks about how it is beneficial to live a quiet life, working hard and not being bothersome to others, but rather being independent, taking personal responsibility, caring for ourselves, and being able to offer help to those in need when the time arises. And so we see here that the value of hard work is not in the wealth that it produces, but rather, the value is in the opportunities that success gives us to help someone else. In Matthew 25, verses 31-46, concerning the final judgment, JESUS tells us in a nutshell, that, HE will judge us all according to our reaction to human need. And so, GOD cares very much about how we treat each other.
Earlier I also mentioned to you that Paul also gives us four reasons why we should live holy lives. I’ll leave you with those four reasons without expounding on them in depth, because of their simplicity. Those reasons are as follows; (1) To please GOD (v. 1), (2) To obey GOD (vs. 2-3) (3) To glorify GOD (vs. 4-5), and (4) To escape the judgment of GOD (vs. 6-8). Amen.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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