When someone signs up for the military, theye get to bring our list of demands and requests? Do we say what food we want to eat or how early we get up in the morning? No, it is the military that determines the lives of recruits. In the same way that when we give our lives over to God, he will provide for us. But we cannot bring our own list of demands, but trust in God. Paul uses this type of military ideas when speaking to Timothy in 2 Timothy.
The area of Thessalonian people was a very thriving community in Paul’s day. Paul recounts that they presented the gospel to the people there and they accepted that as truth, not as words of men, but at the truth of God. But Paul has some consistency in his letters to focus on and remind them to live as God would have them and not of the world. It appears that these people might have tried to compartmentalize their Christian lives.
We are to live in a way that pleases God. And that sounds obvious, but the people Paul is talking to might have been lacking in this principle.
We are to be set apart. Some translations use the word “sanctified” or “holy”, but we can think this as God has set us apart from the fallen world. He then goes on to tell them to avoid sexual immorality. This must have been the major issue of these people in the area of intimate relationship between people.
He directs them to learn to control their bodies. Learning is an interesting idea because it implies that there is a desire to move in a direction, a willingness to put in the time to move in that direction, and the acceptance of correction when getting off track. Some people can learn quickly, like a two-by-four over the head. But other times, we are hard headed and a two-by-four is not strong enough.
Paul ends by saying that we are to reject the cultural push to accept their definition of intimacy. In addition, we are not to take advantage of another brother or sister. We don’t know the exact context of this statement, but it appears that those in the group were allowing the trust between believers to take advantage of others.
But we see that there are time where man rejects God. And even in the context of declaring to be a Christian. They bring their list of demands and when God says we must leave behind our list and follow, we see some who try hard to justify the demands. They ignore some scripture while pulling other scripture out of context. They have chosen the demands over God.
God has placed us together to edify one another, and we are not to bring the cultural influence as a twisting of the truth laid out by God. We cannot be ashamed by what God has done. We cannot expect the world to love us for it. We might even start to realize that the world will not like us because of it. Because it isn’t a rejection of us they show, but a rejection of God.
The elephant in the room (here in America) is the upcoming Supreme court decision. And a struggle will be between man and God, not man and man. Jesus said that what God put together, let no man put asunder. But we can also say let no court put asunder, or no organization put asunder.
We trust in God’s word, and we will use it to respond (not react) to a world that fights the holiness of its truth.
4:1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. (ESV)
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. (ESV)
7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. (ESV)