MP3: The Rapture Road Thru 1 Thessalonians 4
Hosts: Nathan Jones & Vic Batista
Since the first installment of The Truth Will Set You Free podcast series titled “The Rapture Road,” Pastor Vic Batista and Nathan Jones have been teaching through the Bible’s prophetic book of 1 Thessalonians in a verse-by-verse study. We will now move into chapter four.
Sanctification Instead of Sinning
Vic Batista: We have finally reached the chapter in 1 Thessalonians about the great “catching away” — the Rapture of the Church. How exciting!
Nathan Jones: Since we’re approaching this study verse-by-verse, we will first have to study through 4:1-8, which is the next section we’ll be reading.
“Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.”
Vic Batista: Thessalonians’ author, the Apostle Paul, often admonished believers to walk worthy in the Lord. He was always encouraging them to walk pure and clean lives. Again we see this exhortation about our Christian walk and it reminds me of what it says in Galatians 5:6, which reads, “I say then, walk in the spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh, for the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and this is contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you wish.” This appears to be exactly what Paul is also saying to those Christians living in Thessalonica.
Nathan Jones: We need to remember the context when reading this passage. The Christians in Thessalonica were new believers in Christ. This was a very young church living in a very worldly city. The city of Thessalonica served the Roman Empire as a port town, making it a very important trade center. These new Christians were just coming out of living a worldly life, for they didn’t have the Mosaic Law or Jesus’ teachings yet, or anything morally redeemable really. Paul had only recently arrived to give them the Gospel.
The Thessalonians were learning to live by the big word Paul used called sanctification. Sanctification, as Dictionary.com defines it means, “To make holy, to set apart, to consecrate, to purify, to stand apart.” So, what Paul was telling the people was to stand apart from the pagan lifestyle that rejects God, and instead turn towards Christ and become more Christ-like. As soon as a person gets saved, that is when they accept Jesus as Savior, they begin the process of sanctification. We give up our sinful life and act more and more like Jesus Christ; to be as perfect as He is perfect.
Vic Batista: Unfortunately, sanctification is a doctrine that’s not often taught that much, and yet it is a process necessary to Christianity. Paul wrote to those believers in Christ in the town of Corinth, in 1 Corinthians 3, about the carnality that was infiltrating their church. When you are a baby Christian there will still be some carnality issues to overcome, but then we need to mature out of sinning and to learn to walk in the Spirit.
Nathan Jones: A friend of mine and fellow evangelist by the name of August Rosado has a great testimony. He shares with people how he and his wife became saved. When they were both pretty young, he and his then-girlfriend were living together and they didn’t think anything of it. They happened to darken the doors of a church one day and there heard a message about sanctification.
August heard this word “fornication” being equated with sexual immorality, and he began to wonder how fornicating was involved in sexual immorality. The truth struck him that he wasn’t supposed to be living with this woman before he was married. God did not want them to be having sex outside of marriage. August didn’t know he was not supposed to do that. He just didn’t know, for he’d never been taught that sex outside of marriage was wrong. He and his family had grown up in a pagan culture that encouraged lust with anybody you wanted, and if you did marry, you didn’t have to be true to your wife. He and his girlfriend then gave their lives to the Lord and got married.
Paul taught that holy living was the will for God in the Christian’s life. If you want to walk and please God, then abstain from sexual immorality. Don’t sleep with any person before you are married. Don’t cheat on your wife. Stick close with the Lord, for that’s so very important. I think probably one of the biggest challenges for a young Christian is to learn to give up sexuality immorality and live in purity. Abstaining from sex can be very hard for people, especially in this very sexually sin-soaked culture which we live in. It’s the very same culture found in the town of Thessalonica, and like them, Christians today still need to abstain from sexual immorality so that we, too, can work on our sanctification and become more Christ-like.
Vic Batista: God’s message still remains the same. God requires the same from the body of Christ, both young and old. I understand how much temptation there’s out there today due to social media, smartphones, and other handheld devices. We are continuously bombarded by opportunities to give into temptation and sin. And, yet, the Bible tells us that if we walk in the Spirit we will therefore not gratify the desires of the flesh.
For myself, I always go back to Titus 2:11 which says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” I find that the call of Bible prophecy is to live a pure life, and so, the two messages need to be tied together.
Nathan Jones: They do indeed, because the big picture reveals that someday Christians are going to see Jesus Christ face-to-face, and when we do, we’ll have to give an account of our lives. We should want to be the servant who was rewarded for the ten talents he had earned, referring to the parable Jesus told concerning the three servants who were given their master’s money to invest. The one who used the money the most wisely earned ten talents out of the money that he was granted. We don’t want to show up before God and say we didn’t do anything with our lives because we never worked towards sanctification. We didn’t use our spiritual gifts to bring other people to the Lord.
How interesting that verse 8 says, “Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man but God.” Our sinful nature pressures us into committing sexual immorality, and that sin is probably one of the hardest pressures Christians must face. Jesus even said that if we look at a person lustfully we are committing adultery in our hearts. That point reveals how wrong pornography actually is because we’re cheating on our present or future spouses with our eyes.
To conquer temptation, God says in this passage that He provides us with the Holy Spirit. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit living within us, and that helps us reject that which is unclean. So, if you are struggling with sexual immorality, give it to God. Pray to God, asking His Holy Spirit to give you discernment. Christian, get out of that bad situation and continue your work of sanctification as you draw closer to becoming more Christ-like! Jesus will give you the power and the ability to do just that.
Vic Batista: What an excellent passage! Paul exhorts us Christians to turn to the Lord and give up sexual immorality. Give up your impurity! Become more Christ-like. That’s our goal while we are living on this earth. Serve the Lord by doing good works, but work on yourself by becoming more Christ-like.
In the fourteenth part of our travels along the Rapture Road and our verse-by-verse study of 1 Thessalonians, we examine what Paul calls the quiet life.