All of Christ for All of Life
Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone

9 January 2021 – 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. – 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (ESV)

Rick Philipps writes:

How different Christianity looks when it is empowered not by human legalism but by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, whose work produces a supernatural holiness. Paul thus prayed for the Ephesians to “know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:18-19). The power that Christians may access through faith is nothing less than “his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at the right hand in the heavenly places” (vv. 19-20). In other words, the same power that raised Jesus from death is able to raise us up from lives of selfishness, hatred, and sin. The power to which Paul referred was the Holy Spirit, as he made clear in Romans 8:11: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

A high view of God’s sovereignty fuels a high aspiration for personal holiness precisely because it relies on the power that God has promised in this regard. Paul says that by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, believers are being “transformed into [Christ’s] image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18). This is what gives us confidence that we can overcome our besetting sins: God will give us the Holy Spirit to overcome them. This is what makes us believe that we can display the fruit of the Spirit in ever increasing measure: God has the power to bring holiness to life in our hearts. It is God’s sovereign will that we should be holy; it is the rule of Christ’s reign that we should obey God’s Word; and it is the work of the Holy Spirit in us that empowers us to ever-higher degrees of holy living.

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 30
Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.