How To Live

Friday, October 24, 2014, 6:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Give Me Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Thessalonians 4:1-10 (NIV84).

Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.

Please God

Some people today teach that we don’t have to live to please God, because God is already pleased with us just because we invited him into our lives, no matter what else we do. I don’t believe scripture teaches that. Certainly God is pleased every time a sinner turns from his or her sinful ways and he or she gives his or her life over to God, by God’s grace, and through faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, I believe there are times in the life of the Christian when God is not pleased with us, and so he speaks to us about our behavior, attitudes, and sinful indulgences, in order to invite us to repentance and to walk faithfully in obedience to him and to his word. As well, he instructs us in how to live in order to please him, so obviously he gets pleasure out of our obedience, and he is displeased when we choose to go our own way and we disregard his teachings and the promptings of the Spirit within us (See: 2 Co. 5:9; Gal. 6:8; Eph. 5:10; Col. 1:9-11; 2 Tim. 2:4; Heb. 13:6; & 1 Jn. 3:22).

To me, this would be like marrying someone and then telling our spouse that we don’t have to do anything to please him or her because we married him or her, and that should suffice. Along those lines, there is an old saying that goes something like this, “I told you I loved you when I married you. If I change my mind, I will let you know.” Some people think that is funny, but it is not funny, either for a marriage or for our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When we marry someone, it should be because we love that person, and if we truly love someone, we will want to do what pleases that person, as long as it is not something sinful. And, that is how we should feel about Jesus, too. He is our husband, and we should love him as the husband of the church, and we should desire nothing more than to do what pleases him. So, we need to find out what pleases him, and then do it.

Be Sanctified

All throughout the writings of the New Testament books we read about things we need to forsake, or to put off, and about things we need to put on (Ex: Ephesians 4-5; Heb. 12:1). Coming to faith in Jesus Christ is not just about making a one-time decision at an altar in order to escape hell and gain heaven. Coming to faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, that we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and that we are given new lives in Christ to be lived out in his righteousness and holiness (See: Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 1-5). Jesus said that if anyone wants to come after him, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow him. The Christian life is an everyday experience of choosing to follow Jesus Christ with our lives and to not give in to the desires of our flesh.

It is God’s will that we should be sanctified (made holy; purified). To be holy means: To be separate (unlike; different) from the world and set apart to (like) God and to his service. So, when Paul wrote here that it is God’s will that we be sanctified, he was not speaking merely of the cleansing of sin which takes place when we accept God’s invitation to his salvation, but he was speaking of an ongoing and continuous process in our lives of us willingly letting go of living to please ourselves, forsaking sin, and us yielding the control of our lives over to the working and the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We are continually being conformed into the image of Christ as we cooperate with the Spirit’s work.

Put Off

So, what kinds of things should we be putting off or cutting out or throwing off from our lives daily? We are given a list here. The first on the list is sexual immorality, which includes any sexual relations outside of marriage, homosexuality, any kind of sexual perversion, pedophilia, incest, adultery, lust, and romantic affections and attentions (flirtations; affairs) with someone(s) to whom we are not married while we are married to another. This can also include sexting, stories, pornography, and fantasizing, et al. I find that too many people think if they are not in a physical sexual relationship with someone that they are not cheating on their spouse, for one, and/or that they are not really sinning. That is not true! If we are going to be able to throw off the sins which so easily entangle us, it begins by us honestly evaluating our lives before God, and not making excuses for sin. The biggest excuse I am hearing these days is that “I am under grace, and God’s grace covers it all.”

As well, we should put off anything that truly wrongs another human being, yet not by the world’s standards of what “wrongs” another, but by God’s standards. Some people think if we teach the truths of scripture and we teach about sin that we are harming other people. Yet, that is loving them, not harming them, although they may see that differently. Yet, what this is speaking about is not hating, biting, devouring, slandering, gossiping about, cheating on, stealing from, and lying against one another. I have found that so many of these grievous sins against others go hand-in-hand with sexual addiction or any kind of sinful addictive behavior. So, if the problem goes deeper than just a singular act of sin, then we need to do a heart examination before God and find out what ugliness is in our hearts that keeps us repeating these multiple offenses over and over again.

Put On

We should learn to control our own bodies in a way that is holy and honorable. I hear so many professing Christians claim that they just can’t help themselves; that they are not able to stop, as though they are helpless victims of sin. They may be victims, but if they are truly in Christ, they are not helpless. The Bible teaches us that no temptation has overtaken us except what is common to humankind, and God is able to provide a way of escape so that we can stand up under it. He may or may not keep Satan from tempting us, but he promises to provide the way out from us giving in to temptation so we can stand against sin, and not give in to it, but we have to take his way out, and so many do not.

In other words, if my problem was sexual or romantic temptation, and I chose to look at pictures, or read stories, or watch TV shows, movies, music videos, and/or cartoons, and/or to listen to music and/or to play games with even a hint of sensuality or sexual sin in them, and/or if I made friendships with people of the same or opposite sex who I knew were attracted to me, and/or with whom I shared intimate information about myself, such as sharing my thoughts and feelings while not talking with my spouse about those things, then I would be setting myself up for a fall. We can’t play with fire and not expect to get burned. We can’t play with sin and then wonder why God doesn’t rescue us as he promised.

Jesus Christ made the way out for us when he died on the cross for our sins. All we have to do is to take that way out by faith and by cooperating with the Spirit’s work in our lives by not tempting fate, i.e. by not doing what is counterproductive to holy living. He will give us all we need to live holy lives pleasing to him. We just have to let go of our sin and yield to his control. The Bible says that God’s grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin, but his grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present age while we wait for his return (Tit. 2:11-14).

Love Others

We are to put on love. Love is the opposite of selfishness. We sin because we are selfish and because we want to do what we want no matter who gets hurt in the process. So, we need to reject our selfish desires and refuse to let them have a hold on our lives, so that we can truly love others with Christ’s love. True love does not do acts of “kindness” for what it can get out of it, but it always has the benefit of the other person in mind. Jesus didn’t die on the cross for our sins so we would think he was a swell fellow, or to make a reputation for himself. He died because he cared more about us than he cared about himself. The benefit we would gain was what was uppermost on his mind. So, he willingly gave up his life so that we would go free, and that is the perfect example for us of what it means to love.

In James 4 it talks about fights and quarrels among God’s or all people because of hedonistic desires which rage (battle) within them. They fight, quarrel, kill and covet in order to feed and to satisfy their self-indulgent devotion to pleasure and happiness as a way of life. They seek self at the cost of others. They desire and choose pleasure over God. In today’s culture, which is extremely pleasure-driven, this is a serious problem. It is one which ruins entire households, breaks up marriages, and destroys our relationships with our Savior and God, Jesus Christ. And, it is epidemic in today’s world.

So, what should our response be to all this? What is the solution to this problem? The remedy for lives given over to selfish and pleasure-driven desire at the cost of all other relationships is to desire Jesus Christ, his love and mercy, his forgiveness, his restoration and renewal and a walk of faith in him that is undivided in loyalty and commitment, which puts Jesus first and which chooses to love others as we love ourselves and as Christ loves us.

Give Me Jesus, Oh, What Gladness!
An Original Work / December 2, 2013

Give me Jesus. He’s my Savior.
I’ll walk with Him in His favor.
I’ll abide in His love always;
Follow His ways to the end.

Jesus is the Son of God.
He died upon a cruel cross.
He’s forgiven all my failures
By His mercy and His love.

Give me Jesus – His compassion,
And His mercy; loving kindness.
Let Him teach me how to love Him,
And to please Him. He’s my friend.

Jesus died for all our sin
So we could have eternal life.
He will free you from your bondage
If you trust Him with your life.

Give me Jesus. Let me trust Him.
May I listen to His teachings.
May I follow where He leads me
In His service. He’s my Lord.

Jesus Christ will come again
To take His bride to be with Him.
Oh, what gladness; free from sadness
When I meet Him in the air.