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Living to Please God

Thursday, February 2, 2017, 5:34 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Follow Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Thessalonians 4 (NASB).

How to Walk (vv. 1-2)

Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

The Bible has much to say about our spiritual walks. First of all, to walk is to live, i.e. it has to do with our lifestyles; with how we conduct our lives day in and day out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In Romans 6 we read that, as believers in Jesus Christ, we have died to sin, so how can we possibly live in it any longer? We read that our old self was crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. And, we read that we should, thus, count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus, and that we are to no longer let sin reign in our mortal bodies so that we obey its evil desires, such as we did before we met Christ.

We also read in scripture that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15). We read in Romans 8 where Paul said that Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. In fact, he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, without Christ, and without the hope of heaven. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25; Gal. 2:20). And, then we read that God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See: Tit. 2:11-14).

In other words, regardless of what many are teaching today about our salvation, we are not saved from our sins just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. Jesus died to eradicate our old lives of sin and to give us new lives in himself, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24).

We are called to be holy, and to be holy means to be set apart (unlike, different) from this sinful world because we are daily being conformed (made) into Christ’s likeness. And, we are called to righteous living, and to purity, and to love – love for God, and love for our fellow humans. And, to love God means to obey Christ’s commands. As well, we are to present ourselves (our bodies) to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of him; no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds (See: Ro. 12:1-2). So, if Jesus is truly our LORD, then he is our OWNER-MASTER, i.e. he is the boss, and we are his servants.

Not for Impurity (vv. 3-8)

For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.

When God/Jesus called Saul (later called Paul) to the ministry, he gave him the charge to open spiritually blinded eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Acts 26:16-18). This is the essence of the gospel of our salvation. And, to be sanctified means to be made holy and to be purified, i.e. cleansed of our sins. Yet, the cleansing is not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. In other words, Jesus cleansing us is not him just forgiving us so that our sins are no longer charged to our account. His cleansing has to do with eradicating (putting to death) sin in our lives so that we might be free to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness.

What this means, in all practicality, is that we should live lives now, in the power of the Spirit of God within us, free from slavery to sin. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to abstain (refrain) from sexual sin, such as viewing pornography, or watching or listening to TV shows, movies or music which contain sexual or sensual content, or which promote or glorify sexual immorality. We should not allow ourselves to think lustful thoughts about those with whom we are not married, and we should not participate in satisfying our sexual urges via masturbation (self-gratification).

As well, we should not flirt with others, or make suggestive remarks to anyone, or listen to or repeat crude or suggestive jokes, nor should we be involved in sexual activity with those with whom we are not married or with those of the same sex. And, I would also caution against watching romantic movies or TV shows or reading Romance novels, for they also may lead our minds astray. Also, I would caution against what we might consider casual relationships with people of the opposite sex or of same sex attraction, because these can often lead to romantic or sexual affairs, especially if we are involved in private and personal conversations with them to which our spouses do not have access.

This list of possible sin opportunities I have written here may seem petty or excessive to some people, but I know of what I speak. We now live in a sex-craved society, especially here in America, where pornography addiction is exceedingly high, and where adulteries and extra-marital affairs are rampant, as well as where children are being handed internet devices and being left on their own to discover whatever they can discover without parental supervision and guidance, and that is very scary to me! I pray that somehow our children would be delivered from all that, i.e. that God would rescue them so that they don’t get trapped by the devil and see things they should not see and go places they should not go.

Love One Another (vv. 9-12)

Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.

If we are involved in sexual sin, that is the opposite of love. If we are involved in gossip, betrayal, lies, adultery, slander, hatred, unforgiveness, and the like, that, as well, is the opposite of love. If we tell people we love them, but we cheat, lie, gossip, betray, and the like, our words mean nothing! So, if we want to love others with god-like love, we must be free of the control sin has over our lives, which is why Jesus died – to set us free! So, why is it that so many professing Christians don’t live like they are free? Why is it so many pastors are addicted to pornography, as well, or are involved in extra-marital affairs? Where is holiness in all this? Where is godliness? Have they been forgotten? Why is it that Christians, for the most part, don’t seem much different from non-Christians? Aren’t we called to be set apart from the world, and to come out from her and be separate?

Do we truly know what it means to love like God loves? Jesus gave his life up for us so we could go free. That is love! In fact, he who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). Now, that is love! Jesus put his life on the line day in and day out for our salvation, our sanctification, our healing, and our spiritual wellness when he walked this earth, often risking his own life and reputation in order to tell us the truth that would set us free. Yes, He is love, and He is kind, and He is gracious, compassionate and forgiving, but they didn’t kill him because he was “Mr. Nice Guy.” They killed him because he told them the truth, and they didn’t like the truth. And, they will kill many of us for the same reason.

Love is not a feeling or an emotion or words we say to one another, nor is it feel-good messages meant to make one another feel good about ourselves, even in our sins. True love meets legitimate needs, not wants, and it does not give way to the flesh. True love also does not lie to people to make them feel good so they will like us. Lies are never kind. And, they are not loving, no matter what anyone tells you. If we want to love others with god-like love, we need to follow the example of Jesus Christ. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and comforted the sorrowful, but he also spoke the truth in love, ministered to real needs, knew what was in the best interest of the people, acted accordingly, and confronted sin in sinful humans, called for repentance and faith in himself, warned of unbelief and the coming judgment, but also promised much hope and healing for the repentant. May we, who are his followers, do likewise.

Follow Him / An Original Work / February 21, 2013

Based off Luke 9:22-25

Jesus, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross.

Anyone who would come to Him
Must deny himself and follow.
He must take up his cross daily;
Die to sin and self each day.

Father, God above,
Loved us so: gave His Son.

If you want to save your old life;
Keep on sinning, follow your ways,
You will lose your life forever;
Hope of heaven gone away.

Spirit of our God
Gives us life in God’s Son.

Nonetheless, if you die to self;
Forsake your sin; follow Jesus,
You will live with God in heaven,
And forever praise His name!