19 Jan. 2003 AM
Miles City Wesleyan Church
Miles City Mt.
A Life of Purity
1 Thess. 4:1-8
Some of the greatest wisdom comes from Dr. Suess, like this little bit:
Did I ever tell you about the young Zoad? / Who came to a sign at the fork of the road / He looked one way and the other way too /
The Zoad had to make up his mind what to do - Well, the Zoad scratched his head, / And his chin, and his pants. - And he said to himself, "I’ll be taking a chance. / If I go to Place One, that place may be hot / So how will I know if I like it or not. / On the other hand, though, I’ll feel such a fool / If I go to Place Two and find it’s too cool / In that case I may catch a chill and turn blue. / So Place One may be best and not Place Two. / Play safe," cried the Zoad, / "I’ll play safe, I’m no dunce. / I’ll simply start off to both places at once. / And that’s how the Zoad who would not take a chance / Went no place at all with a split in his pants.
The Zoad is a lot like some Christians – they can’t really decide which way to go – God’s way or the way of the world. Its called commitment! Which are you committed to? Brenda Goodine shares a story about her friend who decided to talk to her bright four-year-old son, Benji, about receiving Christ. “Benji,” she asked quietly, “would you like to have Jesus in your heart?” Benji thought for a few minutes and then rolling his blue eyes answered, “No. I don’t think I want the responsibility.” Benji realized what many Christians still have not figured out: salvation is a free gift but it comes with some strings attached. Service is not an option for a follower of Jesus – it is a natural outgrowth of our relationship with Christ. Everything we do should be done with Jesus in mind. In other words our walk should be such that it pleases God.
Quite often I find myself like the pastor in this illustration: There was a farmer who had three sons: Ron, Don and Little John. All had their names on the church roll but none ever attended church or had time for God. Then one day Don was bitten by a rattlesnake. The doctor was called and he did all he could to help Don, but the outlook for his recovery was very dim indeed. So the pastor was called and appraised of the situation. The pastor arrived, and began to pray as follows: "O wise and righteous Father, we thank Thee that in Thine wisdom thou didst send this rattlesnake to bite Don. He hasn’t been inside the church in years and has shown little interest in You. We trust that this experience will be a valuable lesson to him and will lead to his genuine repentance. And now, O Father, wilt thou send another rattlesnake to bite Ron, and another to bite Little John, and another really big one to bite the old man. For years we have done everything we know to get them to get serious with Thee. Thank you God for rattlesnakes.”
Our walk through life is an important issue and one of the things that God requires of us is to live a life of purity. In the passage this morning Paul talks about a life of purity. Let’s read 1 Thess. 4:1-8
No body like to talk about immorality and yet this monster has destroyed more lives, families and nations than any other single evil. And what God has to say about it is strong and must be heeded by everyone. But before Paul gets into the meat of what he wants to talk about, he give the Thessalonians some encouragement. He starts out by saying, “Finally, brothers”, he wanted to make it clear that what he was about to discuss deals with the Christian community. These are family concerns. Most of the Thessalonians did not know each other until recently, and now they were to look at each other as part of a family. They now had a whole new set of relationships, which grant privileges and bring responsibilities, and which create concerns for one another they never had felt before. That’s what its like in a family – long gone are the days when we used the terms brother . . . & sister . . .
Paul had taught them the first of these new priorities – “how to live in order to please God.” This portion of text is not strong enough – The New Revised Standard says it this way, “how you ought to live and to please God” and even here the word “ought” represents a word which is frequently translated “Must.” So really what Paul is saying is, “we instructed you how you must live and to please God.” There’s a big difference between “how to live”, “ought to live” and “must live.” This word that is used here for must is often used to express the will of God. – This is what God wants so this is what we must do.
He had taught them what to do and how to do it, and basically they have been following those orders. And “orders’ is the proper term for it, because the word translated “instructions”, in verse 2, frequently occurs in military contexts and is equivalent to “commands.”