A Life Pleasing to God
It is so appalling to see so many in our culture today living corrupt lives filled with gross immorality of all kinds. Sexual sin is running amuck in our society and without restraint. It is even being promoted in high places. Unwed pregnancies are accepted and even heralded in society as normal behavior. Abortions are common place and encouraged. Adultery, and a grab bag of, you name it sexual immoralty, is being heralded as virtuous.
What a shock it will be to those who are ignorantly living such an immoral life style when they stand before God in judgment for their sins.
In our Sunday school each Lord’s Day, we are studying the epistle to the Colossians verse by verse and line by line. In chapter one,verses 9-10 we learned that The Apostle Paul was praying for the Colossians believers asking God that they “may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
As I was studying this Colossian passage I was led to another passage of scripture in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-6, where he says. something very similar, “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. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
What Paul is saying to both the Colossians and the Thessalonians is that they must live a life that is pleasing to God. “to walk and to please God” That phrase means they way that they live their life,“their manner of life.” That is, the life that Christians are to live is“a life that is pleasing to God” in all things and “do so more and more.”
The big problem for the Colossians and the Thessalonians, and for all people, is that they are bombarded by ungodly worldly influence and worldly wisdom by the world and by false teachers, including our owngovernmen officialst, all the time and everywhere. Paul prays that these believers will have the “wisdom and understanding”that comes only from God through the Holy Spirit.
The filling of Godly “spiritual wisdom and understanding” would then lead to changed lives, lives that are filled with Godly discernment of right and wrong. Lives that would bring honor to God.
As a former rabbi, Paul understood the Jewish meaning of “To walk” He calls believers to live a manner that pleases God in every area of their life.
Although Christians are completely justified and forgiven their sins from the moment of initial saving faith in Christ, they are not fully sanctified, (purified) and sometimes, even unknowingly, can do things that either please or displease God each day.
The phrase Every good work (Col 1.10) is viewed as the fruit of salvation in the life of a Christian, that is, the visable evidence of a good and righteous life as the result of receiving His grace in Christ. Good works can not be looked upon as the prerequisite for gaining God’s favor. No one deserves Gods favor or can earn it by good works and none of us can impess God by our self righteous deeds. God is a God of perfection, The best that we have to offer Him is terribly flawed. We are totally dependent upon His grace.
Even though these Colossians were believers in Christ, their progress of growth in sanctification and their ability to “please God” has not progressesd to maturity, do he continued with more explicit instructions.
“3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;6 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”Paul commands the Thessalonians to live in sexual holiness. Some converts who had been living lives of sexual imorality before they wer converted to Christ, may have found it a struggle to adjust to Christianity's moral and ethical code.
He tells them in verse 3 that they “must abstain from sexual immorality.”
Prior to coming to faith in Christ these people were pagans. In the pagan world (even today) sexual sin was commonplace and accepted as normal, and the lure of sexual sins was a temptation all around.
This language refers to adultery, fornication, or other forms of sexual immorality.
Paul, under the inspiration of the holy Spirit, forbids any sexual activity outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” (Eph 5:3)
1 Thess. 4:4 tells us that each one of us should know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.
In othe words,.one must conduct their sexual behavior in a manner that is honorable before God and humans respectively.
In verse 5 we are instructed that our lives are not to be “in the passion of lust like the Gentiles.”
Paul is concerned that some of the Christians may fall back into their former Pagan ways.
Then he says ( vs6) “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”
That word “wrong” means to defraud, to exploit,or cheat.”
Defrauding a fellow Christian (or anyone else) through sexual sin is a grievous sin and we are told that “the Lord is an avenger.”
Are you getting the picture here? We are looking here at the word of God and His view of the subject of sexual purity. The apostle Paul is speaking of both, chastity and uncleanness, not only to the Thessalonians but to you and me…..all of us!
The phrases used by the Apostle Paul describe the act of sexual immorality which includes adultery, coveting the wife of another, and lying with her, and by so, a defrauding and wronging him by defiling his bed; or practices of sodomy; an unnatural lust and desire in men after men, women after women and copulation with them. It also mean to "go beyond" what is natural and right, "to go upon", or "lie with", so often used in Jewish writings for lying with women, men, and beasts, in an unlawful way.
And the word translated "defraud", signifies a greedy, insatiable, and unnatural lust and desire after a man, a woman, or the committing of sodomitical practices with greediness: “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Eph 4.19)
These abominable acts are forbidden and should be feared and abstained from because the Lord is the avenger of all who commit these sins, such as, fornication, adultery, lasciviousness, and all sorts of “abominable” uncleanness.
From an old teacher I learned more about what will happen to the person who commits these “abominable” sins. “The Lord will avenge,” either in this life, by the law of reaping and sowing, or by some awful judgment from heaven, as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah; (Genesis 19) or in the world to come; for the righteousness of God waits IN WRATH against such persons. God will judge those who are living and dying in such sins. It is God to whom vengeance belongs; these persons shall not inherit the kingdom of God, but have their part and their portion in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. (Rev 20 1-15)
Galatians 6.7-8 warns us that we must not be deceived,: “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
And Paul continues in1 Thess 4 verse 6. “As we have also forewarned you and testified;”
Paul had previously taught them these things when he was with them in person, when he was preaching to them and teaching them the word of God.
This sexual wickedness was very prevalent in their city; therefore the teaching that they had previously received bore testimony against them, (they knew better) and exposed the evil among them, and warned them of the danger, so that they could not plead ignorance.”
Paul also wrote to the believers in Corinth on this same subject, (1 Corinthisan 6.9-10) saying “do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
In 1 Thess 4, Paul concludes his exhortation in verses 7-8 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you
Christians are called to live in a manner pleasing to God and a life that will bring Him honor and glory through their lives.
And at the same time non-Christians are called to repentance. (Matt 4.17)
Those who ignore the explicit commands of God and live in oppostition to His moral laws will face the wrath of God at the final judgment.
According to the word of God there is going to be a final judgment for all people, (Rev 20) believers and unbelievers alike. This is clearly confirmed in many passages of Scripture. Every person, and that means you and me, will one day stand before Christ and be judged for his or her deeds.
There is much more to living a life that is pleasing to God than simply abstaining from sexual sin. We find these lessons throughout the New Testament. A life pleasing to God starts with faith in Jesus Christ. Without faith (in Christ) it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11.6)
That is where the Christian journey starts, trusting in the One Whom God sent to save sinners from their sins. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15)
Humbly submitted, Dale Sterzer, elder/pastor
Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Bonham (grbcbonham.org)