There is a lot here to unpack…
Since I didn’t preach last week and we are starting a new chapter, let me remind you of where we have been up until now. In Acts 17, Paul, Silas, and Timothy had arrived in Thessalonica and had been accused of turning the world upside down with their teaching of the Gospel. They hastily departed, Timothy was sent back to encourage and teach, a good report was brought back to Paul, who along with then wrote this letter.
In the letter, Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, are encouraging and reminding them that they are loved by God and telling them that they are an example to all believers. They had work, faith, love, endurance and hope. They were imitators of Paul and of the Lord Jesus. They had turned from idols (things we substitute for God) to serve the living and true God, and they were waiting for Jesus Christ to return to take them home…
As we went through the first three chapters we found that their faith came from the knowledge of God’s love for them, that they received the message that was preached and taught “not a human message, but for what it truly is, The Word of God, which also works effectively in you who believe.” They were able to face the persecution and hostility because of their faith and belief. Believing is…
We found out how faith and love are bound together, inseparable as our faith works through God’s Love for us (Galatians 5:6). That to be still and know that He is God is to be still in the knowledge of His love, “I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
After encouraging the Church, they are prayed for. Our holiness is found in God’s love for us; it is faith in God because of His Love, it is willingness to do His will out of that same love, it is being dedicated to God – set apart for His use in this world. Jesus warned us that in the last days, as “lawlessness” increases, “the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). This is the apostasy, the falling away, seen today as a lack of love amongst the church (see 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3)! Whole denominations have fallen away claiming to be open and accepting, out of love, of what God clearly calls sin. Jesus never accepted, encouraged, or endorsed sin. He loved the sinner and hated the sin. When Jesus comes back, He is coming in Judgment. Judgment day, the Lord’s Day, the Last Day is coming.
The Duck… Prayer…
We are to live to please God continuously. How you do that is by following the instruction, that you know, from the Word of God. That is what the Thessalonians were doing when they received this letter.
But they were encouraged to go further to move beyond what they knew. We are to please God more and more.
In order to do that, we have got to go further, beyond what we know of mere church attendance, to being an active member of His Church. Just as they were. There are no limits to His grace and Spirit to those that by faith believe, to those who walk in the love of God and holiness, “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14, emphasis added).
Vs. 3 In order to please God you have got to be in God’s will. His will is our sanctification, that we should continue to follow the instructions given to us in and through Jesus Christ. As we do, we are being sanctified, being made holy. And walking in that holiness.
Sanctification makes growing and learning necessary. If you want to remain holy then you have to grow to move on in your sanctification. You cannot stay the same and still please God. I truly believe that God is pleased that we are where we are in our sanctification, but we must take our next step in our growth and progress in holiness or we will fall. God’s Word tells us, “be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of lawless people and fall from your own stable position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:17-18). We cannot be stagnant in our growth, in our love and relationship with God, or in our love for one another. To be stagnant is to be dead.
Vs. 7 tell us that we are called to live in holiness. Understand, our holiness is not the holiness of God he is Holy, Holy, Holy or completely Holy. Just as God’s love for us is behind our faith, so too is God’s love behind our holiness. For those who have the love of God in them are partakers of the divine nature, for God is love (see 1 John 4:7-5:3).
Sanctification takes place as we read and study God’s Word on a regular basis, and then put what we have learned into action; that is holiness. The bible reveals God’s love for us, instructs us, corrects us, and trains us in righteousness. Through God’s Word we are made complete and equipped for every good work (see 2 Timothy 3:10-17). God has a purpose for you, “For I know the plans I have for you”–this is the LORD’s declaration–“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). That plan can only be found as you are sanctified, perfected, and are walking in holiness.
If you struggle as a believer, be comforted. If you are here to warm a pew, are lukewarm, or are an apathetic church attender – be warned. The great evidence of true salvation is God’s ongoing work of sanctification in your lives. If you have been, “saved by grace through faith, you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10). The evidence that God began a good work in you is that He continues that work as long as you are sucking air. But you have to do your part and answer your calling until your last breath or Christ’s return, whichever comes first. A plant that stops growing is dead…
- Is your life pleasing to God?
- Are you being sanctified, are you walking in holiness?
- Living to please Go – Ephesians 4:1, Philippians 1:27, Colossians 1:10
- Israel of God: Galatians 6:11-16, Ephesians 2:1-22 (One People), Romans 11:11-24
- Holiness/pleasing God: Hebrews 12:14-17, Hebrews 11:6, Romans 12:1, 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, 2 Corinthians 7:1, Galatians 1:10, Ephesians 5:1, 10, 2 Timothy 2:20-21, 1 Peter 1:14-16, 1 Peter 2:9