1THESSALONIANS 4:1-12 (NIV – UK)
Living to please God
1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honourable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Paul now turns to matters of Holy living saying: ‘It is God’s will that you should be sanctified’ (v. 3). Sanctification is the Holy Spirit’s work in us of making us more and more holy. Knowing Jesus and having the Holy Spirit dwell inside of us intimately binds us to God. From that moment we start this process of sanctification – being formed more into his image as the Spirit works in our lives.
The Spirit’s work in our lives should produce holy living – Paul gives the example of sexuality as an area where of our lives that needs to be sanctified (v. 4-6). The Thessalonians are clearly already showing fruit and their journey of sanctification is evident as Paul acknowledges that they are living in a way that pleases God and urges them to to it ‘more and more’ (v. 1).
A relationship with Jesus is not a stagnant, long-distance relationship where we sort of lose touch – perhaps like a long-lost pen-pal. A relationship with Jesus is alive and organic – a relationship in which we are continually transformed and made Holy by the Spirit’s work within us. It is good for us to pray often for the Spirit’s work in our lives and for us to accept his work faithfully – being made more and more holy – after all, ‘God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life’ (v. 7).
Question: Take a look back to when you first turned to Jesus. Can you see the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification in your life since then? Do you often pray for God to be transforming you from the inside out?