In the letter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul recalls the conversion of the Thessalonian believers. He also rejoices that they are continuing to grow in their faith, and that they are being made more like Christ. As we come to chapter 4, he continues commend them, but he also exhorts them to press on. Specifically, he encourages his hearers toward both holiness and brotherly love.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Paul writes, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification….” We often ask, “What is the will of God for my life?” As the Christian writer Kevin DeYoung notes in his book, Just Do Something, we tend to overcomplicate that question. We certainly ought to pray when it comes to major decisions and should always want to submit to the will of God, but Paul is making a point about what the will of God is ultimately for every Christian—sanctification. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks in question 35 “What is sanctification?” The answer provided by the catechism is, “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” In other words, this means that if you are a Christian, God is at work in you. You are not saved by your holiness; rather, you are saved by Jesus Christ who lived sinlessly on your behalf and who died bearing your sin and guilt. But now that you are a Christian, God is at work in you to make you more like Jesus. Do you love Christ more and hate sin more than you once did? That is because the Lord God is at work in you.
Paul, knowing that God is doing this work of sanctification in the lives of his hearers exhorts them then unto holiness and brotherly love. And those two things really go together. As one is being made to be more like Jesus, they will love His people all the more. Is your fellowship marked by brotherly love? We will discuss these things more fully as we meet for worship this Lord’s Day, September 19 at The Commons at St. Andrews Church in Little Rock at 5 PM. For directions, click here or contact us for more information. You can also join us on Facebook Live@RiverCityARP or on YouTube.