Feb. 15, 2004
Tree Of Life Wesleyan Church
How to live in a world full of Sin
1 Thessalonians 5:4-11
Please rise for the reading of God's word
Janell Adams reports: Our son Jonathan asked Jesus to come into his heart when he was four. A few months later as I was getting him ready for bed, he asked in all seriousness, "Mom, what did I used to do when I was wicked?
This is a question that more people need to ask, because that would mean that they had excepted Christ -- but that does not seem to be the way the world is heading. Many are just out to satisfy themselves and even encourage others to do the same thing -- So what’s a Christian suppose to do? How are we to live in a world that is so corrupt? Well, let’s read 1 Thess. 5:4-11
First of all we have to remember that Jesus is coming back, no matter what the rest of the world is telling us. His return is to be the most phenomenal event in all of human history. It will be the most amazing and spectacular event ever to be witnessed by they eyes of man. We cannot stress this enough, for when Jesus returns, both the blessing and the judgment of God will fall upon the earth. True believers will be blessed and unbelievers will suffer the wrath of God. This passage deals with the all important subject of the Lord’s return and the believer’s behavior.
Have you ever felt as if you were being kept in the dark? It might be something at work or a family member that is not telling you everything? How does that make you feel? As Christians we are never in the dark when it comes to God. We talked last Sunday night about how God loves us so much that He did not want us to be left in the dark -- that’s why we have the book of Revelation -- a book that was given to us by Jesus to uncover and make known those things which are going to happen in the last days. Paul tells us here that since we are children of God we are not in the dark -- we have been given knowledge by God, of that day -- That day refers to the Day of the Lord - that great and terrible day of God’s wrath, the awful judgment of God which is to fall upon the earth and unbelievers.
Paul says that we are not in darkness – everything about that day is in the light of God’s Word, so he says, “you are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.” The word surprise, katalambano, means to come upon or take hold of by surprise -- like a surprise party -- at first a surprise party stuns and even causes the person being surprised to jump -- because it was something unexpected. Paul tells us that we, those who believe in Jesus and keep God’s commandments, will not be caught off guard -- we should be expecting this day so that it does not come like a thief in the night. We should be studying God’s Word, we should be hearing it in our Sunday School classes, and from the pulpits. I’m sorry to say, many churches have gotten away from preaching about Jesus’ return and so it will come unexpectedly to many. They are in the darkness of ignorance.
Why are we not in the darkness, because we are sons of the light, children of God. We are also sons of the day. Paul tells us, “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” This is a wonderful truth. It means that the believer will escape the judgment of God. He is a child who is accepted by God; therefore , he will be accepted in that day of the Lord’s return. We are or can be that child. We don’t have to face the terrible day of the Lord and suffer the judgment of God’s wrath. We are a child of the day, of God’s glorious salvation and deliverance. Therefore, we should be looking for the Lord’s return and the day of the Lord’s wrath. We should not be focusing our thoughts on the world, but be walking about, always praying and thinking about the things of God and the necessity to reach people for Christ. We “are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matt. 5:14) In Eph we are told “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” (Eph. 5:8)
Paul tells us in verses 6-7, that believers have a duty. We are not to sleep, but be alert and self-controlled. Sleep refers to spiritual sleep. When a person is asleep, they are not alert nor involved in what is going on around them. When a believer is spiritually asleep, they are not alert nor involved in the things of God. The mind and behavior are not concerned with the things of God. They slumber, doze, and sleep unaware of what God is doing. This type of person will be caught off guard when the Lord returns. They will be surprised when Christ opens the sky and returns to earth because they are not spiritually awake.
Look again at verse 6, “let us not be like others, who are asleep”. The others Paul was talking about are the unbelievers, but who was the letter written to -- believers. He was saying that some believers have a desperate need to heed this warning. They have fallen asleep spiritually. They are no longer alert to the things of God -- no longer alive to God, thinking and keeping their thoughts on Him -- no longer worshiping God, praying and fellowshipping with Him and His people ----- that’s a big one. A once a month trip to church is not worshiping God or fellowshipping with His people. Many don’t anticipate the return of Jesus and they are no longer active for God, serving and working for Him.
Back during the late 60' early 70's there was a movie called ‘Love Story’ and there was a catch phrase that came out of that movie, and it was, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” I’m here to tell you that love of God means never having to say, ‘I’d like to help but no one has asked me personally.’ Serving God is seeing something that needs to be done and not waiting till someone asks you to do, its saying this is an area that I would like to be involved in, how can I help. We have stopped serving and are waiting to be begged -- that’s not God’s way -- He served us first, without our asking! And I praise God that He did!!
Another thing, believers who run around with the sleepers of the world, those who are asleep to the things of God -- those believers will be identified with the sleeping unbelievers. If you run around with the drunken of the world, those are the ones you will be identified with, not with Christians. There is no other way to tell what a person is like. If they run around in the darkness of the night, then they show themselves to be of the night. If they walk around in the day, then they show themselves to be of the day and of God. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) And Jesus says, “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” (Rev. 16:15)
We have the duty to be sober and to protect ourselves. We must be mentally awake, alert, and watchful, and we have to be prepared for battle. How do we do that? By putting on the armor of God. We are to put on the breastplate of faith and love. This protects our heart. Our heart must be committed and focused upon Jesus and His cause for world conquest.
Faith protects our heart: when we really believe that Jesus saves us from sin and death and delivers us from the judgment of God -- when we really believe in Jesus - then we focus our lives upon Him. We stay sober: we live righteously and godly in this present world and look for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our faith in Jesus keeps us sober. In the book of Hebrews we are told, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (11:6)
Love protects our hearts: when we really see the love of Christ for us -- that He actually bore our sins and punishment on the cross -- then we break before Him and bow in humble adoration and love. Love floods us, for He did so much for us. We never have to die; we never have to bear the punishment of sin -- all because He loved us. Therefore, our hearts reach out to Him broken and pouring love back to Him. We stay sober: we live righteously and godly and look for His return because we love Him. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
We also are to wear a helmet, a helmet called the hope of salvation. There is only one way we can be prepared for the return of Jesus and escape the judgment of God: we must keep our minds and lives focused upon Jesus. How? By protecting our minds with the helmet of God’s armor, the hope of salvation. We are to eat, drink and sleep salvation -- the great hope God has given. If we focus our lives upon salvation -- if we live and move and have our being in the great hope God has given of living forever with Him -- then we will stay sober. We will live a righteous life for Christ and we will be eagerly waiting for the return of Jesus.
Why are we to stay in control and protect ourselves? One, because God has not appointed us to wrath, but to salvation. The only way to escape the wrath of God is to stay sober and focused upon Jesus Christ. When God saved us, he appointed us to receive salvation from sin, death, and judgment to come. He did not appoint us to death and wrath. Therefore, there is no excuse for a believer to fall asleep and return to the world of darkness. A person who does not have self-control will suffer the wrath of God. That’s one reason we are to stay in control and protect ourselves, the second is this: Christ died for us. Look at the words in verse 10, “awake or sleep:” they actually mean alive or departed. When Jesus returns, whether we are still alive on the earth or departed, we shall live together with Him forever and ever. This is why He died, the very reason He went to the cross: that we might have the glorious privilege of living together with Him throughout all eternity.
The final thing it says here that the believer is to do is to minister to each other by comforting and edifying each other. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. God has delivered us from the wrath to come and given us the glorious hope of living face to face with Him forever. Therefore, we are not to sleep, but we are to be sober, awake, alert, and watchful for that glorious day. Pray for one another, support one another ---- love one another.