05 May 4, 2014, 1 Thessalonians 4;1-8, Holiness, Moral Purity
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
MAY 4, 2014
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
FBCJ MAY MEMORY VERSE:
8 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you,
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
What’s the number one thing?
CLASS 2014 MEMORY VERSE:
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
John MacArthur, Jr.
Grace to You
(Born June 19, 1939)
Hebrew for Christians
Copyright @ John J. Parsons
God’s glory is the: manifestation of the combination of all of His attributes!
Though all of the attributes of God are important and dependent on one
another, God’s holiness seems to be the one He wishes us to put emphasis on
God’s holiness pervades His entire being and shapes all His attributes.
His love is a holy love, His mercy is holy mercy, and even His anger and wrath
are holy anger and holy wrath.
This is the only attribute of God that is repeated three times in Scripture.
Revelation 4:8 NKJV
8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and
within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
Why the three-fold repetition: “Holy, Holy, Holy”? (Called the trihagion)
The repetition of a name or an expression three times was quite common among
the Jews in order to convey intensity, intensity, intensity!
Jeremiah 22:29 NKJV
29 O earth, earth, earth,
Hear the word of the Lord!
Ezekiel 21:27 NKJV
27 Overthrown, overthrown,
I will make it overthrown!
Therefore, when the angels around the throne call or cry to one another, “Holy,
holy, holy,” they are expressing with force and passion the truth of the supreme
holiness of God, that essential characteristic which expresses His awesome and
In addition, the trihagion expresses the triune nature of God, the three Persons of
the Godhead, each equal in holiness and majesty.
Leviticus 19:2 NKJV
2 “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You
shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
Jesus is the “Holy and Just One” (Acts 3:14)
Acts 3:14 NKJV
14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be
granted to you,
The third Person of the trinity—the Holy Spirit—by His very name denotes the
importance of holiness in the essence of the Godhead.
God’s love won’t trump His holiness and God will not set aside His holiness even
for His mercy.
Holy (Old English) “hal” hallowed = whole or undivided, (wholly) “that must be
preserved whole or intact, that cannot be transgressed or violated”.
Holy is from the Hebrew word Qadash - (pronounced kaDOSH) and it means to
be wholly set apart from the common, to be hallowed.
As the Holy One (hakadosh), the LORD of Hosts is utterly unique, distinct, sacred,
and set apart as the only One of His kind.
He alone is worthy of true worship and adoration, since He alone is utterly
peerless, without rival, and stands in relation to the world as Creator and LORD.
Only the LORD is infinitely and eternally Other – known to Himself as
“I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:15).
Isaiah 6:3 says “the whole earth is full of His glory” (kavod).
The handiwork of the Lord reveals His Presence and bears His signature.
In the case of man, the image of God (Genesis 1:27) communicates this sense of
God’s holiness and denotes that the essence of man - his spirit – is also to be set
apart as sacred and uncommon.
No human being is considered “common” or ordinary in God’s world.
Man was created to reflect the truth about Who God is.
But the Fall distorted the image of God and corrupted the ability of man to
reflect this truth – the holiness of God and the holiness of man.
When we confess Jesus as our Lord and are born again, the power of the Holy
Spirit begins to conform us again to the image of the Messiah (Rom 8:29 &
2 Cor 3:18).
Romans 8:29 NKJV
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of
His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the
Spirit of the Lord.
Like the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision, this confession of the holiness and glory of
God is worship – ascribing to God the truth of His infinite worth and glory.
Psalm 29:1-2 NIV
1 Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.
(ISV - worship the LORD wearing His holy attire)
God’s holiness is what separates Him from all other beings, what makes Him
separate and distinct from everything else.
God’s holiness embodies the mystery of His awesomeness and causes us to
gaze in wonder at Him as we begin to comprehend just a little of His majesty.
Isaiah was a firsthand witness of God’s holiness in his vision described in Isaiah 6.
Even though Isaiah was a prophet of God and a righteous man, his reaction to
the vision of God’s holiness was to be aware of his own sinfulness. Isaiah 6:5
Isaiah 6:5 NKJV
5 So I said:
“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.”
John’s vision of the throne of God in Revelation 4 was similar to that of Isaiah.
Again, there were living creatures around the throne crying, “Holy, holy, holy is
the Lord God Almighty” (Revelation 4:8) in reverence and awe of the Holy One.
However, John’s reaction to the vision of God in His throne is different from
There is no record of John falling down in terror and awareness of his own sinful
state, perhaps because John had already encountered the risen Christ at the
beginning of his vision (Revelation 1:17).
Christ had placed His hand upon John and told him not to be afraid.
In the same way, we can approach the throne of grace if we have the hand of
Christ upon us in the form of His righteousness, exchanged for our sin at the cross
(2 Cor 5:21).
Hebrews 4:16 NKJV
16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy
and find grace to help in time of need.
1 Peter 1:14-16 NKJV
14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your
ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your
conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Peter is quoting from Leviticus 11:44 and Leviticus 19:2 that God is holy (perfect)
and He is calling for us to be holy (perfect)!
What does it mean for us to be holy (perfect)?
When God told Israel to be holy in Leviticus 11 and 19, He was instructing them
to be distinct from the other nations.
As His chosen nation, God had set them apart from all other people groups so
that the world would know that they belonged to Him.
When Peter repeats the Lord's words in 1 Peter 1:16, he is talking specifically to
As believers, we need to be "set apart" from the world unto the Lord.
We need to be living by God's standards, not the world's.
God is calling us to be distinct from the world.
First Peter 2:9 describes believers as "a holy nation."
1 Peter 2:9-12 NKJV
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own
special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him Who called you out of
darkness into His marvelous light;
10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not
obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Living Before the World
11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which
war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that
when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which
they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
1 Peter 2:9-12 NKJV
Since we are separated from the world by justification; we need to live out that
reality in our day-to-day lives through sanctification.
How then can we become holy?
Holiness only results from a right relationship with God by believing in Jesus
Christ as Savior (accepting His gift of eternal life - justification).
If someone has not placed their faith in God's Son alone to save them from their
sins, then their pursuit of holiness is in vain.
When we truly are believers, then we recognize that our position in Christ
automatically sets us apart from the world (1 Peter 2:9).
Then in obedience, we daily live a set-apart life (sanctification) of gratitude to
God, not trying to "blend in" with the world, but instead living according to His
We only become holy in relationship to Christ.
It is an imputed holiness.
Only in Christ do we “become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV
21 For He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the
righteousness of God in Him.
In Your Walk, Excel!
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 NKJV
A Plea for Purity
1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you that you
should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to
walk and to please God; 2 for you know what commandments we gave you
through the Lord Jesus.
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from
sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel
in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not
know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in
this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned
you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, Who has also given
us His Holy Spirit.
We are being sanctified and for that reason we are to avoid sexual
The Greek word for “sanctified” means “purified, made holy”.
As Christians, we are to live a purified life because we have been made holy by
the exchange of our sin for the righteousness of Christ on the cross and have
been made completely new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
Our old natures, with all their impurities, sexual and otherwise, have died and
now the life we live, we live by faith in the One Who died for us (Galatians 2:20).
Galatians 2:20a NKJV
20a I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in
me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
Romans 6:6-7 NKJV
6 our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away
with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been
freed from sin.
Romans 6:12-14 NKJV
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its
lusts. 13 And do not present your members (bodies) as instruments of
unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the
dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God 14 For sin shall
not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:18-19 NKJV
18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
19b For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of
lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members
as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
Romans 6:22 NKJV
22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you
have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
Sanctification, the process by which we become more and more Christlike, is an
essential evidence of the reality of our salvation.
We also see in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 the necessity of controlling our bodies.
When we give in to sexual immorality, we give evidence that the Holy Spirit is not
indwelling us because we do not possess that fruit of the Spirit—self-control.
All believers display the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) to a greater or lesser
degree depending on the length of time they have walked with God.
Uncontrolled “passionate lust” is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19), not of the
So controlling our lusts and living sexually pure lives is essential to anyone who
professes to know Christ.
In doing so, we honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
1 Corinthians 6:13b-20 NKJV
13b Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the
body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the
members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do
you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the
two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one
spirit with Him.
18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he
who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know
that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have
from God and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore
glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:13b-20 NKJV
By keeping the marriage bed pure (Hebrews 13:4), we can experience
unreserved love for our mates, which is surpassed only by God’s enormous love
1 Timothy 4:7b-8 NKJV
7b exercise yourself toward godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but
godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of
that which is to come.
1 Timothy 4:12b NKJV
12b be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in
1 Thessalonians 4:1
Paul urged the Thessalonian Christians and all believers to excel in Christian
living more and more, but only when believers nurture the new nature with its
resolute longing for God do they attain the kind of spiritual progress
(sanctification) the apostle had in mind.
There is always a danger of Christians thinking they have no further need to
progress in sanctification; but this side of eternity, no believer has even come
close to what God desires for him spiritually (Philippians 3:12-16).
Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I
may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I
do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those
things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV
Because it knew so much truth, even a church as strong as the one in
Thessalonica might have been tempted to settle for the spiritual status quo.
Thanks to Paul's solid instruction when he was with them, the saints were living
exemplary lives and he had commended them for that (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, 7;
As a result, they might have thought their condition was ideal and in no need of
But Paul knew they could do better and encouraged them accordingly.
From Thessalonians 4:1 to the end of the body of the letter (5:22), Paul's primary
purpose was to exhort the church to strive for spiritual excellence.
Paul was not browbeating the Thessalonians but lovingly, gently, and kindly
requesting that they as his brethren persevere in sanctification.
Similarly, exhort (parakaloumen) means "to come alongside and encourage."
The believers at Thessalonica were already living in a way that pleased God so
Paul’s attitude was gracious and considerate, with just enough urgency that they
accept his exhortation not to be content with their spiritual growth but to excel
The word translated excel (perisseuete) means "to abound, to be abundantly
supplied, to overflow, to exist in full quantity, to be over and above and around,
to be advanced."
A closely related form of the word can mean "extraordinary," or "surpassing."
Paul used perisseuete here in a comparative way (1 Cor 8:8) to tell the
Thessalonians he was intent that they become spiritually extraordinary, that they
excel to a higher degree (1 Cor 14:12; Phil 1:9; 1 Thess 3:12; 4:10).
Paul's priority for believers was spiritual progress motivated by a desire to know
God — the kind of strong desire the psalmist described:
"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God"
(Ps 42:1; cf. 34:8; 63:1-2).
For all believers, the pursuit of knowing God is the basic component of spiritual
The objective of knowing God should supersede even the desire to know His
Word; that desire is simply the means to knowing the God of the Word.
If gaining more information about the Bible and participating in additional
spiritual activities — praying, witnessing, and serving — are not linked to the
desire to know God better, they will not bring spiritual growth to those who
profess faith in Christ.
This is the sense of 1 John 2:12-14.
1 John 2:12-14
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you
for His name's sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who
has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you
have overcome the evil one. 14 I have written to you, children, because you
know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has
been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are
strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil
1 John 2:12-14
In that text, John identifies three steps in a believer's growth:
(1) "little children" who know their sins are forgiven,
(2) "young men" who know doctrine and are strong against Satan's lies
(unlike children, Ephesians 4:14), and
(3) "fathers" who know not just doctrine but the eternal God.
That is the final goal of every believer – to know God.