Pleasing God in a Pagan World
Sermon Series: The Affectionate Gospel
Sermon Title: Pleasing God in a Pagan World
1 Thessalonians 4:1-10
Knowing God and His ways gives us both the desire and the power to be pleasing to Him.
Persecution against Christians in Thessalonica continued unabated, so the church needed encouragement. Initially addressing the topic of sexual purity, the apostle Paul calls the church to know God, to say no to sin, and to say yes to love. In doing so, we are encouraged and empowered to please God.
Point 1: Know God
Unlike the gentiles who do not know God (v. 5), Christians doknow God and are enabled to please Him. Knowing more intimately who God is and what He values kindles our desire to please Him with our lives. He is the avenger of all things ( 6) and the giver of the Holy Spirit (v. 8), who upholds holiness (v. 4), honor (v. 4), and love (v. 9). God revealed Himself most clearly through the cross where Jesus was lifted up (John 3:14, Num. 21:9) and died to sin (Rom. 6:10). We also must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11), moving forward in sanctification (v. 2).
“Christians must behave in a completely different way because we do know God.” John Stott
Point 2: Say No to Sin
Like the Christians in Thessalonica, we, too, live in a pagan culture that encourages sexual sin. Yet it is God’s will for us to abstain from sexual immorality (v. 3). God calls us to control our own bodies, for we are set apart in holiness (v. 4). To disregard this teaching is to disregard God Himself (v. 8).
“It is amazing how many professing Chrisitans think that day to day choices have no bearing on their relation to a God.” John Piper
Point 3: Say Yes to Love
As we put off sexual sin, we must treat each other with brotherly love, for God has taught believers to love one another (v. 9). Paul commends the Thessalonian church for doing just that (v. 10), but he urges them to pursue continued improvement (v. 10).
We can know God because of the cross. And when we know Him, we can please Him by living pure lives for His glory.