August 12, 2018
Pastor John Hering
Therefore, beyond this, brothers, just as you received instruction from us about how you are to walk so as to please God (as indeed you are doing), we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that you do so even more. 2 To be sure, you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 Indeed, this is God’s will: that you be sanctified, namely, that you keep yourselves away from sexual immorality. 4 He wants each of you to learn to obtain a wife for yourself in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in lustful passion like the heathen, who do not know God. 6 No one is to overstep and take advantage of his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we said previously and solemnly testified to it. 7 For God did not call us for uncleanness, but in sanctification. 8 Consequently, whoever rejects this is not rejecting a man, but the God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
You just got done telling your friend how healthy you’ve been the past several years. But, waiting at the stop light yesterday you noticed a tickle in your throat. Then by afternoon the tickle had turned into a froggy sore throat. So you went on line to the Urgent Care web site and got an appointment, saw the doctor and then something amazing happened! You took your medication and your sore throat went away! Your AC isn’t working so you call the repair man, and it’s a mighty thing, your AC gets fixed!
“One call. That’s all” and you can have pizza delivered, be picked up by Uber or get medicine for your throat because people respond to your call. By the grace of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament you and I have responded as well! The Bible teaches us that at our Baptism God called you from darkness into his light—from eternal death to eternal life! At his Altar God calls his people over and over again from guilt and fear to forgiveness and peace. When God calls to your soul through his preaching pastors he feeds your soul and increases your faith and hope. That same call is also a powerful appeal to a life of love in family and marriage. Today is Jesus’ call to each of us through the pen of St Paul that
God Has Called You
To Live a Holy Life
Here is Paul’s appeal:
“…you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.”
So, how do you supposed Paul talked to the Thessalonians? We know from Acts 17 that they spoke of Jesus’ suffering, resurrection as the promised Messiah. Then they appealed to them to live a holy life in response to being forgiven. Perhaps he used the story of Moses and Manna from heaven to remind them to live thankful lives. And because of these words in 1 Thessalonians, he must have spoken to them about living a pure and decent life.
“3 Indeed, this is God’s will: that you be sanctified, namely, that you keep yourselves away from sexual immorality. 4 He wants each of you to learn to obtain a wife for yourself in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in lustful passion like the heathen, who do not know God.”
Paul probably taught them about God’s perfect creation and man created in the image of God. Adam’s thoughts and life were in perfect harmony with God’s. But he was alone,
“21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
For the rest of their days the two would become one, one family, one flesh, one marriage about which Jesus would say,
“This is ‘what God has joined together’”
They were Called By God To Live a Holy Life!
Perfect. Pure. Grand. Glorious. That marriage and, yes, that the marriage bed be beautiful in a way that is nearly impossible for you and me to imagine because we are so familiar with what happened next. Devil. Desire. Disobedience. Paradise lost. Perfection lost. Purity lost. God’s image lost. Their holy life lost! It’s so easy to see in the walk in the garden. Adam and Eve contracted STDs. Hiding from Shame. Trembling from Terror. Dealing with Death. BUT, the LORD God came calling with a focus. He called them by the law to know their sin and what they deserved. And grace upon grace, the LORD God came calling with his gospel promise to crush the Devil and give new life to mankind through the offspring of the woman—Jesus. God turned them away from despair in the sinful ways and blessed them and their marriage. Called by God’s love Adam and Eve remained one flesh, one family called by God to live a holy life.
The Bible gives testimony of sin and God’s forgiving call to love and live a holy life. Israel complains against Moses and God provides food. But, food for our bodies really isn’t of great concern for us in 2018, is it? But, let me ask you: in the area of human thought and conduct today is the fall into sin any more obvious than in the area of marriage and the sexual appetite? I’ll guess that if you have a smart phone it would take each of you about 5 seconds to point to a specific instance that proves how nowadays the production and sale of pornographic filth is a multi-billion dollar industry; how it’s nearly impossible to watch a movie that doesn’t make a mockery of marriage as God created it; how every human heart have the seeds of every imaginable sin planted inside and is capable of imagining and lusting for what God never intended when he created Adam and Eve and gave them to one another in the first marriage.
Looking around you might be tempted to wonder, “Where in this sinfully corrupt world can we see God’s love?” Here it is: God has called us away from what’s always been evident in the fallen world. You are Baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—you are God’s own dear child through faith in Jesus. Before God you are declared pure and clean through faith in Jesus Christ. And that’s what you’re also called to be. Jesus’ suffering paid the price of your sin, gave you the holiness you need to enter into heaven, and that’s the life Jesus has called you to live. God so loved you and now you get to demonstrate that love in a thankful life of love to God and to each other. It’s the life to which God has called you,
“that you be sanctified, namely, that you keep yourselves away from sexual immorality. 4 He wants each of you to learn to obtain a wife for yourself in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in lustful passion like the heathen, who do not know God.”
God has called you to live a holy life.
Forgiven in Christ,
- trust the power of Christ to change the way you think and live.
- Struggling with the weakness of the flesh?
- Struggling with dating in a way that is holy and honorable?
- Struggling with the failure to be the spouse God has called you to be?
Dear Friends in Christ – you haven’t abandoned Jesus through which you were saved. That means neither have you abandoned Jesus for which you’ve been saved! Listen to Paul’s encouragement!
“just as you received instruction from us about how you are to walk so as to please God (as indeed you are doing), we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that you do so even more.”
Simply put, God has called you to be his own through faith in Jesus and God has called you to live a holy life…
To Please God More and More
The 10 year old boy whose parents gave him a smart phone without parental controls and the 26 year man who realizes that marriage is good and would like to find a wife soon, each needs to practice self-discipline and keep away from the filth of the world. Both need to be reminded over and over that God loves them and has called them to live a holy life and to please God more and more.
The college student whose campus is flooded with messages about gender identity and orientation and freedom to choose who they are sexually each must understand that most of that so-called expression of freedom comes from people who do not know God or his Word. But, they know God and need to be reminded over and over that God loves them and has called them to live a holy life and to please God more and more.
The life-long Lutheran sitting in pews and chairs is surrounded by the devil’s temptations all day long—marriage, money, management, priorities. But, you know God and need to be reminded over and over that God loves you and has called you to live a holy life to please God more and more.
What does this look like? It looks like people who come into worship every Sunday realizing that God is completely dedicated to your well-being now and forever. It looks like you, dear child of God, that you are an adopted son or daughter of the king who has promised his devotion to you when he said,
“Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you will honor me”
It looks like what the Apostle wrote for you today,
“ 7 For God did not call us for uncleanness, but in sanctification. 8 Consequently, whoever rejects this is not rejecting a man, but the God who gives you his Holy Spirit.”
It looks like God who has set you apart, not rejecting God’s intended blessings for you, but completely dedicating your life to him in order to please him more and more.
So, you call the doctor for your throat, Pizza Hut for lunch and text Uber for your next ride. Amazing! You call and it gets fixed, delivered or serviced. Dear Friends, God has called you to be his very own, to live under him in his kingdom, and to serve him. Today may you joyfully serve the Lord in the area of family, friends and marriage. Praise God for the opportunity he gives you and for what he brings about in thoughts, words and actions. Yes, God has Called you to serve him. So, let’s serve him more and more each day! Amen!