Chapter 4: 1-12
1 “Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; 2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
9 But concerning brotherly love, you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; 11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.”
We live in a world that is so ‘self’ focused that it is almost impossible for it not to creep into the Lord’s churches and into our Christian walk. The world is self-centered; do what feels good to me and avoid any kind of pain and hurt at all costs. Paul is an example of one who did the very opposite of this; he lived and eventually died for the Lord. Once he was saved and gave his life to the Lord, Paul stopped living for himself. He stopped living for fame and fortune and anything that did not please God. He lived in a time when living for the Lord was not a cheap choice to be made. In the 30-40 years after Jesus’ resurrection, the dangers that being a Christian brought were serious, from serious hurt to brutal death.
Right now, we do not face any such issues in our time here in North America. We are inconvenienced, and we are disliked, even hated; but as of right now, no Christian in North America is in imminent danger of losing his or her life for the Gospel. That time may come and maybe sooner than we think. In contrast, I know of Christ-followers right now that live in danger, maybe not death danger, but in hurt danger. They have no rights whatsoever; they are preaching the Gospel and sharing Christ in a predominantly Muslim nation that offers them no security and no guarantees.
We are called to live as pleasing to God, not self, not others, simply living pleasing to the Lord. Let us explore how.
- Sexual Purity, verses 3-5
God invented and designed sexuality. We are made as sexual beings. God designed sex to be an intimate act between a husband and wife only. In Hebrews 13:4, we are told that the marriage bed is undefiled, which simply means that God allows a man and his wife to explore their sexual union in any way they deem fit as long as it is between them. Any sexual activity outside of this union of marriage between a man and a woman is wrong. As well, any union that is other than a man and a woman is wrong.
Of course, in the Bible, there are many of our Biblical heroes that did not obey in sexual purity. From Abraham to David, to Solomon, and many others, there are examples of sexual misconduct. Sadly, this was still prevalent in Paul’s day and ministry and just as much today. Paul, through the Holy Spirit, calls us to sexual purity as children of God. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul tells us to get married if we cannot control our sexual urges. God has provided a way out if need be. Too many Christians are still putting off marriage into their thirties and forties. This is not normal. If you are able to control yourself, so be it. But for the vast majority of persons, this not the case, so there are sexual sins in our churches. We need to encourage young men and young women to be married early in life.
As well, there are other things that can lead us into sexual impurity, like pornography. This is nothing new; it is more accessible because of technology, but pornography or sexual writings have been around as long as man has been around. These can be very appealing to the young and leave lasting scars that are hard to shake. God is greater. But in the area of sexuality, we need to be determined to live pleasing to God.
- Financial Purity, verses 6-7
Sadly, money and the need to have lots of it has caused a lot of corruption and carnage in the Lord’s churches. There are countless stories of fraud in churches; from pyramid schemes to bold-faced theft, money and the temptation that comes with it have infected our churches. The church, while it should be run as a business to some degree, is not a business. We need to balance our books and live within our means, so to speak, but churches also need to step out in faith and stretch beyond what they can see and seek God’s miraculous provisions.
All around us, there are churches that are just about money. The preacher or preachers get richer and richer while promising riches to those that give to them. Many live extravagant lives while their congregants live very hard lives, and some are in abject poverty. There is nothing wrong with money nor with riches, for that matter. Abraham, Solomon, Jacob, David, and many others – godly men – were very, very rich. God made them rich. In the case of Solomon, God made him so rich that no one since that time has been as rich as Solomon.
Money is not to be our God. Being rich is not to be our goal. Even being financially secure is not to be the goal. God is to be God, and all we have is from Him and is for Him, His glory, and His use. We should not be defrauding our brothers and sisters. We should not be defrauding anyone. We bring shame on the Lord’s name and people when this kind of behavior exists around the Lord’s people and churches. The book of Proverbs tells us that a ‘good name’ is more important than riches (Proverbs 22:1). All too often, even in the Lord’s churches, we have seen riches chosen over a ‘good name.’ Do not cheat each other; do not take unnecessarily from each other. And whenever possible, share in our good fortune and seek God’s favor, not more riches. In the area of money, let us live determined to please God.
- Relationship Purity, verses 9-12
We are called to love each other as brothers and sisters in the Lord. This is the sacrificial love that we have from Jesus to us. We are to exhibit this kind of love to each other. We are to esteem each other (Philippians 2:3). Let us honor all men [and women] (1 Peter 2:17). When we live this way, both in the Lord’s churches, in our homes, among our friends, and with our businesses, we live to please the Lord. In Leviticus 19:18, we are told not to even bear a grudge against anyone but love our neighbors as ourselves.
In Proverbs 16:7, we are told that when a man’s ways please the Lord, the Lord makes even his enemies be at peace with him. This is relationship purity. Our love should extend to the brothers and sisters everywhere. It never ceases to amaze me how my wife and I can meet Christians for the first time, and once we know that we are all in the Lord, there is a comfort that comes and a familiarity that binds us together. We can see people once a year at camp or at functions, and the relationship just picks up as if we were never apart. Why? The Holy Spirit in us, the love in Christ that we share for and to each other.
We should love each other this way all the time. Sadly, this does not always happen, and every year, thousands of church members quit church because of a relationship failure. Someone hurt them, someone offended them, and they quit. Once they quit, the fallout of family and other friends leads to even more people quitting. Brothers and sisters, it should not be this way. If we have Godly love for each other, we will seek to forgive and move on. In 1 Peter 4:8, we are encouraged to love each other deeply, and that love should cover a multitude of sins committed against us. Jesus encourages us to forgive continually. Stop keeping score; just forgive as God forgives us.
In the same manner, when we put others first, we seek less and less to offend them. In so doing, we seek to build each other up and not tear each other down. When we have people who constantly build each other up and who constantly forgive each other, there is no room for the Devil to cause division, and we can keep our relationships pure.
When we seek sexual purity, financial purity, and relationship purity, we are living lives the apostle says that “lack nothing” (verse 12). Listen to that; lives that “lack nothing.” What kind of lives do we have? We have lives that are lived pleasing to the Lord and that lack nothing. Wow!! What more could we ask for in this life? Let us endeavor as much as lies within us to live lives that please the Lord.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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