The Ideal Walk
I Thessalonians 4:1-8
So far it has been personal- The Ideal Church [ch. 1], The Ideal Servant [ch. 2], The Ideal Discipleship [ch. 3].
Now it gets very practical.
v. 1 “beseech” = beg “exhort” = command
“Walk” is the key word. [also in v. 12]
Why compare the Christian life to a walk?
Enoch walked with God, and so did Noah. And Abraham told his servant to walk before God.
Walking requires life. Dead people cannot rise up and walk. But many try thru what we call ‘reformation’. But they need transformation. Ye must be born again!
Ill.—they try to turn over a new leaf, but they need a whole new tree.
Reformation is like a bottomless cup. Because you are trying to fill yourself WITH yourself, and nothing plus nothing still equals nothing. We need to tap into something else outside of us, something much more potent, something which can change us from the inside out and something big enough to fill us and fulfill us.
Walking also requires growth. It’s not only dead men that cannot walk...also babies cannot!
1 Peter 2:2
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
Chapters 4 and 5 give us several areas we need to walk in. And it’s a sure sign of maturity and growth when we are willing to walk in these ways. We’ll be looking at, over the next couple weeks:
Walk in holiness, love, obedience, honesty, hope, gratitude.
Growing spiritually is not a process of gaining things you did not have before you got saved. When a baby is born it has legs already, but they have not grown strong enough to work, and they haven’t learned the coordination to use their legs yet. And God has already given you the capacity and the capability to walk in new ways, but you need to develop the strength and coordination to use what He has given to you.
When you got saved you got the mechanism you need, but now you need nourishment and practice for the mechanics of it all to work.
Watch out for that which will stunt your growth: self will and disobedience. When we say no to God we throw a big monkey wrench into the mechanism! God is under no obligation to continue blessing us and continue nourishing us if we fiddle w/ the contraption. He loves to reveal truth to us but He doesn’t have to. He doesn’t reveal truth to us so that we may consider it...but so that we may OBEY it!
How can some who have been saved for decades still be so spiritually immature? Somewhere in their past they moved in their own direction of self will. They took a detour from pure truth onto a fork in the road, to go their own way. Maybe they are still heading in a good direction, but not the best direction. They aren’t heading toward the world, but also not heading toward Jesus, but rather to another goal of their own design. Or maybe there’s something they aren’t willing to obey...and the train stops right there!
So, walking requires life, and walking requires growth...
Also, walking requires liberty. If your legs are bound, they cannot walk, even if they have strength.
And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Walking also requires light.
Ever tried to walk thru the house in the dark, or find your way to bed? Years ago we were trying to keep the kids asleep as we made our way to bed and I was finding every toy, box, and piece of furniture along the way, and even a vacuum someone left in the way. My wife said, “Could you possibly make ANY more noise?”!
Another time I was carrying one of our babies down the stairs in the middle of the night and I slipped and hit every step on the way down like a washboard!
Walking requires light, and I’m so glad that Jesus is the light and we can walk in the light, in the midst of a dark world.
1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Finally, walking requires progress. You aren’t really walking unless you are going somewhere.
Ill.—a walk on a treadmill is a walk to nowhere. There’s no forward progress. There may be a lot of effort involved, but it is futile and fruitless!
Are you making progress spiritually? You ought to be able to look back and see progress over the years, as well as just this past year, and even in recent days!
So, what kind of walk should the Christian walk be?
1. A walk of holiness. [4:1-8] (More next week...)
v. 5 ‘concupiscence’ = evil passions
When Paul exhorts about holiness he is very specific about a certain brand of sins: sexual sins. They were the prevalent sins in that culture, and they still are today! Adultery is extra marital. Fornication is any sexual sin of any kind.
A sexual sin is 3 pronged:
And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. 18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.
28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? 29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.
The result is always broken hearts, much collateral damage, and usually divorce. And it’s such a serious sin that it’s the only sin for which God permits divorce.
1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
The body is a holy temple of God. In the OT only 1 man was allowed to enter the temple...that was the High Priest. And we need a revival of ladies recognizing the importance of only allowing 1 man into their body. Yes! It can be done, and some are still practicing abstinence until marriage, and then fidelity throughout marriage. My wife and I are proud to enjoy that rare and precious gift, and we want the same for everyone else. We need some men who will commit to holiness and purity as well. And it’s not just about the sexual act, it’s about our eyes, and our thought life, and our habits. Some men are only faithful by force...meaning, they lack opportunity to act out physically what they have thought about mentally all the time. But Jesus says lust is adultery for this reason.
Ill.—a teenage girl was teased about her innocence by a girl who really got around. She replied, “I can be like you anytime I want, but you can never be like me!”
STD’s today are rampant, and it only takes 1 immoral act to sign your death warrant, or to gain a most painful condition at the least. You do the math, a few minutes of pleasure compared to years of pain or an early death...does that add up? There’s a high price to pay for low living.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Safe sex is not the object to focus on. There is no safe sex outside of God’s plan for sex, which is 1 man w/ 1 woman for a lifetime. “If you can’t be good, be careful” is a motto which is destroying Christian young people all the time. We don’t preach safe sex, we preach purity!
v. 4 hold onto your purity.
v. 5 adultery doesn’t begin in a bed, but in your mind.
v. 8 If you don’t like what I’m saying, your argument isn’t with me, but with God!
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