Posted by Milo Hurley for August 18, 2012 Sabbath School
1 What three elements of sanctification are repeated in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12?
|Part One (1 Thess. 4:1-8)||Part Two (1 Thess. 4:9-12)|
|“we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more” (1a)||“we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more” (10)|
|“just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God” (1b)||“that you may walk properly toward those who are outside” (12)|
|“for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus” (2)||“as we commanded you” (11)|
- Thus, sanctification is a continuous process onward and upward,
- is illustrated by the “walking” metaphor (versus “standing” for justification),
- and upholds God’s commandments as the guide for holy living.
2 If we are justified by faith alone, why is sanctification necessary?
- There are two reasons connected to God’s will (verse 3). Both of them are found in Matthew 6:10:
- “On earth” is our witness in this world (see James 2:14-18).
- “In heaven” is our fitness in the world to come (see Steps to Christ, page 17).
3 What is “sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3), and how is it different from genuine love (verse 9)?
- A definition from George Knight:
Here the apostle used the Greek word porneia (from which we derive pornography), which means “unlawful sexual intercourse, prostitution, unchastity, fornication” (Bauer, p. 854) both inside and outside of a marriage relationship.1
- Love will always respect bounderies, but lust will always be overreaching (verse 6).
- Love can always wait to give, but lust can never wait to get.
- Jacob waited seven years for Rachel (Genesis 29:20).
- Amnon, however, couldn’t wait a day for Tamar (2 Samuel 13).
- Your class may suggest other differences too.
4 Given two models for sexual behavior — the Greco-Roman and the Christian — which do you think governs society today?
- In the Greco-Roman world:
Sexual morality in the Greco-Roman world was about as low as it could get. Prostitution was legal and was often a part of pagan worship, “pederasty was also widely practiced and was considered an acceptable form of sexual expression between and adult male and a prepubescent teen,” and even the pagan gods got into the act with Zeus’ . . . affairs with women and boys providing a model for both the other gods and the people of that day (Hubbard, pp. 187, 188).2
- In the 21st Century world:
It has been rightly claimed that one of the greatest contributions of Christianity to the world is its revolutionary ideas regarding sexual purity and wholesomeness. . . . But we now live in what we can call the post-Christian era — a time in which the loose morality portrayed in television and other media provides the culture’s understanding of sexual rights and wrongs. And with that change of models, the post-modern world has reverted largely to the Greco-Roman sexual morality in which almost anything goes between individuals of both sexes.3
5 What power to overcome lust is available to us in 1 Thessalonians 4:8, and what are some practical ways to cooperate with that power?
- The power of the Holy Spirit:
Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world’s Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His church.4
- Some practical advice for cooperating with the Holy Spirit:
- Make a covenant with your eyes (Job 31:1).
- Hide God’s Word in your heart (Psalm 119:11).
- Don’t provide for the flesh (Romans 13:14).