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1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8


Sermon: Pleasing God
Bible Passage: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

I. Introductory Information

1. The Thessalonian Christians had a genuine spiritual conversion,[1] but they needed to progress “more and more” in their Christian life (cf. 4:1, 10)
2. Prior to their conversion, indulging in sexual immorality was part of their life
3. Such a behavior was approved by their religion (e.g., Aphrodite, Dionysus, Cabiri, Osiris and Isis, etc.,)
4. Most likely, some members of the church rejected the teaching of Apostle Paul (4:8)—Timothy must have reported about it to Paul

a. Some believers had not “separated from sexual immorality” (4:3)—“abstain”
b. Some members of the church must have yielded to sexual indulgences like “those who do not know God” (4:5)

II. Paul recalls to them his instructions about how they must live that is appropriate for a Christian (verse 1, cf. 2:12; Acts 17:1-10)

1. Paul’s teachings to them were not just instructions, but “commands” from God
2. They (most of them) were already living, but he wants them to do “more and more”

a. One should not come to a place where they say, “I have come to the place, and I do not need to grow any further”
b. For Paul, two things go hand in hand: Christian living and their aim to please God (verse 1)
c. In other words, pleasing God becomes believers’ primary ambition

3. Paul brings to their attention certain commands that probably need further attention (verse 2)
4. Timothy reported to Paul about the gaps/deficiencies in the faith of Thessalonian Christians

a. First, lack of love among the believers (3:11-13)
b. Second, sexual immorality πορνεία[2] (4:3-8)

III. Though God is the one who makes believers holy, they [believers] must demonstrate a separation from certain areas of their culture

1. Abstain from sexual immorality

a. Such abstinence is an important boundary between them and the rest of the society
b. Separation from “sexual immorality” is the “will of God” (4:3, 4, 7, 8), not just human suggestion

2. Know how to gain control over their own body (4:4)

a. Believers’ must gain control over their sexual desires (4:4)
b. Believers’ sexuality must be characterized by holiness—“holy” and “honorable” (4:4)
c. Believers are not asked to do away with their sexual desires, but they must sanctify them (4:5)

3. Should not wrong or exploit his brother/sister or take advantage of them in matters related to sexuality (3:6)

a. Most likely, Timothy reported about adulterous relationships within the faith community
b. The Lord is the avenger in all these matters, not necessarily government officials
c. This was instructed to them when Apostle Paul was with them
d. They need to correct their casualness with regard to holiness because sexual immorality affects one’s holiness (verse 8)—important
e. When believers disregard “God’s will” concerning sexuality, they disregard God Himself (4:8)

IV. Three theological truths on which Paul builds his exhortations:

1. Jesus is coming (3:13)
2. The believers are going to stand before Him (3:12)
3. In the time between now and Jesus’ coming, the believers’ mandate is to please God (4:1)

Take Away: 

Align your thoughts and actions to God’s expressed will

Speaker: William J. Subash

Born and raised in south India, William J. Subash became a follower of Jesus Christ in 1983 at the age of nineteen. After a brief career in a tea and coffee plantation, Subash decided to spend rest of his life to preach about Jesus and his life-transforming message of God, which is popularly known as “the Gospel.” Subash teaches New Testament Studies at two institutions: SAIACS in India and Liberty University Online, VA, USA. Currently, Subash serves as the chief point person for GROW Gospel Initiatives and the Lead Pastor of the Crossroad Church, Bangalore. Write to him at