The Bible doesn’t just tell us what to do, but it also supplies reasons for doing it. Yesterday we saw how, in this section, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about holiness, or sanctification: living to please God. If you read carefully through the passage you will see that he supplies a number of motives for his exhortations to good and godly behaviour. He not only tells us what; he also explains why. Here are reasons for his teaching on holiness:
- God has called us to such a life (7); it is His will for us (3). He is our Lord and He is to be obeyed (8). We don’t get to write our own scripts; we follow the Lord’s. We are a people under authority; under orders;
- Reinforcement of previous teaching given by the authority of Jesus (1,2. 9);
- We are no longer what we were (5). We’ve been called out of the world of paganism and heathenism. Each believer is a ‘’new creation’’ in Christ: ‘’the old has gone; the new has come’’ (2 Corinthians 5:17);
- We do know God and His ways (5). We are not like others. We have enormous privileges, and a huge responsibility to go with them. There are no excuses for living like unconverted people;
- God will punish sin (6);
- Have regard for the family of God (6a). Sin is primarily vertical in direction in that it is an offence against God. But it has horizontal Sin hurts God, but it also has negative effects on people. This is particularly seen in the teaching about marital fidelity. If you have an affair with a fellow Christian you are damaging her husband; you are doing wrong against your brother, and that should not be;
- To win the respect of outsiders (12);
- For financial independence.
The last two points above particularly relate to a Christian’s every day work life. A disciple, who is a representative of Christ in the world, should not be a layabout or a sponger, but an excellent worker, quietly influencing the world day by day. If we earn our keep, not only can we look after ourselves, but we will also be in a position to share with others who are in real need (Ephesians 4:28). For Paul, those who would not work did not fall into the category of the truly needy. They were not to be assisted.
Be encouraged that God never calls without also equipping. So everything Paul wrote to the Thessalonians was possible for them (and is possible for us) because of the presence of the Holy Spirit within (8b; see also Ephesians 1:13; Romans 8:9b; Galatians 5:16).
Furthermore, Paul had already prayed about these matters (3:12, 13) and, reading between the lines, was a fervent pray-er for this church.
Let’s encourage one another in a life of growing Christ-likeness, and pray for God’s help. We have every reason to live differently, and we are not alone.