By Kevin Shrum
Pastor, Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville
We are way past the point in our culture when Christians can get away with simply “saying” we’re Christians. There may have been a time in America where a person could label themselves a Christian because everyone identified as a Christian, true or not. Those days are gone, and good riddance.
Cultural Christianity has nearly killed the church in North America. It’s time to get serious. Now, our actions must match our words. If we say, “Jesus is Lord,” we must make every effort to live as if “Jesus is Lord.” We must be hearers and doers of the Word (James 1:22).
PLEASING (I Thessalonians 4:1- 2). Demonstrating genuine faith begins with a desire to please God. For this reason, Paul begged and implored the Thessalonians to walk (live) in a way that pleased God (v. 1). When the Bible uses the term “walk” it refers to how a person lives. In other words, as Christians our walk must match our talk. This is why Paul called God’s people to focus more and more on their walk with the Lord. Demonstrating our faith in God to a world in need begins by pleasing God not the world.
HOLY (I Thessalonians 4:3-8). But what does a life lived for Jesus Christ look like? To answer his question Paul used one of the great “tion” words in the Bible — sanctification, meaning to be set apart to look and live like Jesus. Sanctification is a part of God’s redemptive plan of salvation, justification, and regeneration. Sanctification is God’s will for His people (v. 3).
When we are set apart to reflect who Jesus is we avoid sexual sin, not defrauding our friends in Jesus Christ (v. 3). Rather than taking vengeance into our own hands, the Christian trusts God to be the avenger of all wrongdoing. We live for God and leave the results to Him.
In addition, Paul reminds us that God has given us the Holy Spirit who empowers our sanctification. The Christian cannot and must not live the life of faith on his own.
Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit there is no salvation, regeneration, justification, or sanctification (II Thessalonians 2:13). We must reflect the character of our great God when we live holy lives.
DAILY (I Thessalonians 4:9-12). How often are we to live holy lives? Every single day. And in every single way. Every day we are to love others (v. 9). Every day we are to example God’s love to others as the Thessalonians did for their brothers and sisters in Macedonia (v. 10).
Further, we are to live quiet lives, lives that are not loud or proud (v. 11). In addition, we are to mind our own business, avoiding gossip and slander (v. 11). Added to this is the biblical principle of hard work (v. 11).
And why would a Christian need to live like this daily? We are to live holy lives so that those outside the body of Christ can see our lives and, at the same time, see the person of Jesus Christ (v. 12). Paul encouraged a quiet life that demonstrated a “loud” witness for Christ. This is what it means to demonstrate life in Christ. The gospel must be seen in us in Word and deed. B&R