Explore The Bible Study: Demonstrated

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If you have ever gone to physical therapy for an injury or to recover from a surgery, you might have had the therapist show you how to do specific exercises. Then you are instructed to do the exercise. Sometimes the therapist will watch as you do the exercise and encourage you to do one more or to stretch a little further. He is doing this for your own good because he knows that you can’t be satisfied with your current physical condition. You must progress further. The Explore the Bible Study: Demonstrated, examines 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 as the Apostle Paul challenges the Thessalonian believers to, “do this even more.” He knew the believers needed to continue to grow, exercise, and stretch their faith. 

First, one should strive to live and please God even more. – 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2

It’s one thing to receive instruction. It’s still another thing to actually apply instruction. For example, would you feel comfortable flying in a plane where the pilot had read all the instruction manuals but had never practiced flying a plane? Of course not! 

The Thessalonians had received instruction from Paul and his coworkers during their stay in Thessalonica. Timothy had shared even more during his stay with them. But head knowledge was not enough. They needed to apply this information if they wanted to live and please God. As young believers, they had only scratched the surface of their spiritual potential. By rejecting complacency, the Thessalonians could become even more like Jesus.

Because pleasing God should be our primary goal, we should strive to do even more with what we know or have learned about Christ. We have been blessed with a wealth of knowledge concerning God’s commands. That knowledge comes at us from so many channels we sometimes experience information overload. Therefore, our knowledge needs to be at the heart level and not just the head level, so that it becomes a natural part of who we are.

What is one thing you learned about living for Christ that you know you need to simply start doing even more?

Second, we should avoid unholy lifestyles even more. – 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

Paul told the Thessalonians that:

  • They should keep away from sexual immorality: Sexual immorality was first on Paul’s list then and it would most likely be first on his list today. Sexual immorality has been the destroyer of lives, families, marriages, and children, since the fall of man in the Garden. 
  • They should avoid lustful passions. Lustful passions is more of a broad term. It manifests itself in the form of greed, jealousy, and vengeance.
  • They must not transgress against or take advantage of a brother or sister in this manner. "In this manner" points back to what he previously described. Imagine the heartache brothers and sisters in Christ experience when someone whom they trusted, served alongside, or followed commits sexual immorality or allows lustful passions to violate that relationship.

When one is saved, they are sanctified (positionally; set apart; made holy) before God, by God, and through Christ —See 1 Corinthians 1:30. However, there is also the process of sanctification. Believers are in the process of being made holy until they meet Christ face-to-face. They are constantly being drawn toward the unholy lifestyles Paul describes in this passage. Therefore, Paul continues to emphasize they should continue even more to live in holiness.

Sanctification is God’s will for us. Knowing God’s will is less about DOING God’s work and more about BECOMING like God’s Son. Sanctification IS God’s will.

Notice how Paul describes God’s response to those who commit these offenses -- He is an avenger. Notice also how Paul describes one who doesn’t avoid these lifestyles -- He rejects God and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Is Paul alluding to the fact that one who willingly continues to live as those who don’t know God without ever striving to live a holy and sanctified life has rejected God and doesn’t have the Holy Spirit residing in them? Can someone live in this manner if the Holy Spirit is in his heart?

We are to control our bodies instead of our bodies controlling us. When our bodies control us, then we act like those who don’t know God. The process that results from sanctification is something our bodies will fight tooth and nail because of the sin broken world in which we live.

Finally, one should demonstrate God’s love even more – 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

The Thessalonian believers were not only expressing sacrificial love to one another but toward the brothers and sisters in the entire region of Macedonia. This region encompasses the upper half of the country of modern-day Greece. Their reputation for loving others was known throughout Macedonia. Paul said they were to do this even more

If a church already felt it was loving as Paul described, and he said, “do this even more,” how could it determine how else to demonstrate brotherly love? Perhaps the explanation is found in verses 11-12. Paul stated in these verses that they could demonstrate God's love even more by:

  • Leading a quiet life
  • Minding their own business
  • Working hard
  • Behaving properly toward outsiders
  • And, not being dependent on anyone

Which of these actions do churches find most difficult to practice?

Which of these actions do you find most difficult to practice?

How would the communities in which we reside change if our churches sacrificially loved those around us even more, as described in verses 11-12?

Following these commands is vital because it is a Christian’s calling to behave properly in the presence of outsiders – those who do not know Christ. Outsiders should be able to look at the life of a Christian and see a marked difference. Christians are to be different in how we love one another and live out our daily lives. 

Reflect upon your growth in Christ. What habits does God want you to embrace or discard even more as you pursue Him daily?

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

Download PDF Version                  Download Word Version

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