Chapter 5: 12-22
“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.”
Over the past few weeks, we have explored these verses, and time and time again, we see a call to action. The Christian life is not a passive one. While we are to wait on the Lord, the idea of waiting and doing nothing is not even hinted at. A better idea would be to continue obeying the Lord as we wait on Him. In the same vein, the Christian life is not a spectator’s life. One needs to be actively involved to actually live out the Christian life. It is a life that requires our involvement, and the benefits of the Christian life will be experienced in direct proportion to your active obedience and involvement.
If you are a student of the scriptures, and you should be, then there are things happening around us that should make our spiritual ears perk up and take notice. I use the word student with the intent that you are a person who is not just reading the Bible, and that is good. But you are exploring and investigating the Bible and seeing the wonder and power of the Word as you live out your daily life. When things happen, your spiritual spider senses go off, and verses or stories come to mind. This is the study that I am talking about.
Last week we ended with the clear expression of God’s will for us. We are to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all things; this is the will of God for us. When we are in the will of God, when we are actively obedient, then we open the door for the Lord to move us through His Holy Spirit and to show us His glory and majesty.
- Do not quench the Holy Spirit, verse 19
Many churches talk about the Holy Spirit and make him the center of their attention and even worship. But the Holy Spirit is sent to us for a few purposes; the first is to indwell us and to lead us into the truth. But He can be hindered by our disobedience. If we stop rejoicing, stop praying, and stop giving thanks, then we are essentially quenching the Holy Spirit, and we find it hard to hear Him and follow His lead. There is a principle that once we are faithful in small things that God will lead us into bigger things. Rejoicing, praying, and being thankful are small things. These should be the natural outflow of the wonderful grace that we have received from God in Jesus.
All too often, we fail to understand the depth of our own sinfulness, and we lose our foundation for rejoicing, praying, and being thankful. According to the Apostle Paul, Jesus came to save sinners of whom he was chief (in his own mind). As such, Paul, thus understanding the depths of his sinfulness, is one to rejoice, pray, and be thankful, and we see it in his writing over and over again. If you and I lose all we have in this life and still enter heaven because we trust in Jesus, we have more than enough to rejoice, pray, and be thankful.
Sadly, we have all met Christians that are bitter, complaining, and anything but thankful. They can find the dark cloud behind every silver lining. They can tell you all the ways that God’s people have disappointed them, and they can take the wind out of all of our sails. How sad.
Do we have issues in life? Yes. Do we have pain in this life? Yes. Will we be disappointed in this life? Yes. Will God have to say ‘no’ to some of our prayer requests? Yes. Will some of the people we pray for die? Yes. Will some of the people in our church families hurt us and disappoint us? Yes. Is there a possibility that we will begin to experience true suffering here in North America for our beliefs in Jesus and the Bible? Yes. Yet, if we have Jesus as Savior and our sins are forgiven, and we have a secure future in Jesus, we have much to rejoice about, be thankful for, and pray for.
Now, when we are rejoicing in Jesus, praying all the time and living a thankful life, we are not quenching the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, we are told, will lead us into truth, and He will not speak of His own but only what He hears (John 16:13). Notice at the end of the verse that He will tell us what is to come. One of the benefits of not quenching the Holy Spirit is that we gain security into the events of the future. We also maintain an expectation of the future, and we don’t lose hope. We are warned that one of the problems of the last days is that people begin to stop expecting Jesus. They, Christians, become complacent and forget that they have to give an account to God about their lives.
I can say that I wonder often about that day of judgment. I fail my Lord and King so often, I mess up too much, and the sins that I long to cease will haunt me and seek me out. That day for me will be a long day. But in Jesus, I know that I have full redemption, and I can rejoice, pray and be thankful.
- Do not despise Prophecies, verse 20.
One of the ways that we will experience the Holy Spirit is that we will see, know and understand the prophecies more. Many modern Christians are afraid of books like Daniel, the Revelation, and other prophetic books. They don’t even read these books, furthermore, study them. Many pastors forgo these books as well, and they rob the sheep they serve of good spiritual food. They leave them blind and unprepared for the events that are unfolding before us right now.
How many know that the cornerstone to a building was laid in Germany this year and that it is the foundation to the One-World Religion. The Muslim, Catholic, and Jewish spiritual leaders were there to oversee this event, and the building should be ready next year.
How many can see that the framework for the Mark of the Antichrist is being developed right before our eyes? We have vaccine passports that any government anywhere in the world can determine your status and what privileges you are entitled to.
How many can see how God can affect the whole world at the same time with the various viruses and plagues of the Revelation?
How many can see that all the governments of the world can listen to the leadership of an organization like the WHO and make laws that affect the whole world?
How many can see the progress that has come in the last 121 years for Israel? First, they get their land back, then they get Jerusalem back, and then the US recognizes Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel and helps to set the stage for what is coming.
You see, when we obey the Lord in rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving, then as we read the Bible, the Holy Spirit leads us into the truths of the scriptures. These are not NEW truths but the truths that are reserved for the obedient children of the Lord. Once we obey more, we see more, we are open and listening to the Holy Spirit. We will find prophecies to be precious; we will not be afraid of Daniel and the Revelation; we will look forward to prophecies because we will see that God has a plan even in our time, in 2021 and beyond. The Bible is not just an accurate history book; it is an accurate future book as well.
- Test All Things, verse 21
The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom and discernment and allows us to not fall prey to false doctrines and other stuff. I have a dear sister in our church that prays for wisdom and discernment every time we ask for prayer. Wow, what a desire! Like Solomon, who could have asked for riches but asked for Godly wisdom with which to rule the nation of Israel, we need to ask for Godly wisdom and discernment for each day. And when we ask for it, the Holy Spirit gives us discernment that transcends man’s limited wisdom. Thus, we can make Godly and obedient choices in ALL situations. We will be led into the truth of God’s word in ALL things. The Holy Spirit does not lead us into new truths but rather the truths that are clearly written in the Scriptures.
We are also told to hold on to what is good. Once again, we need to see that the Christian life is one of doing. For a long time in my Christian life, I heard sermon after sermon about what we don’t do. But here in this text, we see a lot about what we should be doing. If we take the time, make the effort and obey the Lord, we will be actively holding on to what is good. When we obey the Lord and listen to the Holy Spirit, we actively hold on to what is good. The contrast is that we can let go of what is good; this seems to me as if we are cheating ourselves and our churches out of an awesome relationship with the Lord – a life of experience and a life of joyful obedience – the kind of joy and the kind of experience that transcends the trials of life and the struggles of faith.
Last but not least, abstain from evil. Once more, this is active. We need to deliberately avoid evil. Just as we need to be active in obedience, we need to be just as active in avoiding evil. Man, this hits me, and maybe it hits you as well. We need to make determined efforts to avoid evil. So, part of holding on to what is good means that you and I need to avoid evil. In the Lord, we still have so much that is all good. In this broken world, in this COVID mess, there is still so much that is good in the Lord. This is a supernatural gift from the Lord; this is a Holy Spirit work in our lives. These are tangible experiences that get us through the storms of life.
Keep holding on to what is good, keep loving prophecies and keep avoiding evil.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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