Introduction: Sometimes it is good to peek over into the office,
yard, home or church of other people to see how they do things – how
they think and act. For most of my life, I believed grace was on one
side of Christianity and works was on the other. The strong, I’m
saved regardless of what I do, didn’t pay much attention to what they
did. The strong, I won’t drink, dance, chew or hang around with those
who do, didn’t pay much attention to grace. Teaching at Regent
University has given me a very clear vision of another way. I’ve
bumped into people, of various denominations, who are very strong on
grace. They believe that once saved it is very hard to lose your
salvation by bad works. At the same time, holiness in living is of
extreme importance to them. What a wonderful combination! They are
secure in their salvation, but constantly alert to whether they are
advancing the Kingdom of God by their deeds. Let’s plunge into our
study and see what Paul teaches us about salvation and living holy

  1. Pleasing God

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1. What kind of living did Paul
      recommend? (Living in order to please God.)

      1. How often do you ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing
        pleasing God?”

        1. Should this be something that becomes a habit
          in our life – asking whether what we are doing
          at the moment is pleasing to God?

      2. How do the Thessalonians measure up with their
        living? (Paul says that, in fact, they are living to
        please God.)

      3. How does Paul say the Thessalonians could improve on
        this aspect of their lives? (They should do it more

      4. Consider the apparent conflict in what Paul is
        writing. He first says they are “in fact” living in
        order to please God, and then he says “do this more.”
        How can they be “in fact” doing it and yet not be
        doing it sometimes? How can there be room for “do
        this more?” (This reflects Paul’s “grace” message.
        Because of what Jesus has done for us, we are saved.
        We are perfect in God’s eyes. But, on our own we are
        far from perfect. Paul says, “Keep working on it.
        Keep paying attention to your goal of holiness.”)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:2. On what authority is Paul giving
      these kinds of directions? (God’s authority.)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5. Put yourself in Paul’s place.
      He is writing to people who have not learned to control
      their bodies. People who are involved in sexual
      immorality. Would you start out by saying they are living
      to please God, but please try to do this more often?
      Please work to do it better?

      1. What kind of Christians are these Thessalonians?
        (They are saved Christians. Paul does not say they
        are pagans. He does not say they are lost.)

      2. What is the goal for these saved Christians? (Their
        goal is to live in a way that is “holy and
        honorable.” They should be sanctified. They should be
        on the road to becoming saints.)

  2. Passionate Lust

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:6. When I was young all sorts of
      messages about sex were presented to me by Christians.
      Some would refer to “dirty pictures,” and dirty and impure
      conduct. At the same time, my parents sent me to a sex
      education class taught by a fellow who wrote the book “God
      Invented Sex.” Paul does not refer to “passionate lust”
      as either being dirty or being created by God. What is the
      main problem Paul sees? (You take advantage of someone
      else. You treat someone else wrongly.)

      1. Have you viewed pornography, adultery and other
        sexual sins from this perspective?

      2. I was recently a moderator in a conference about
        human trafficking. It opened my eyes to the fact that
        many of those involved in prostitution and creating
        porn are slaves in some way. Some other person is
        controlling them. How does this knowledge change your
        view about your personal involvement in this
        activity? (The old argument is that this is
        “victimless fun” or a “victimless crime.” Instead, it
        has many victims – generally young people victimized
        in the most terrible of ways.)

      3. Just this week a mother told me that her son’s wife
        had left him and their very young child for another
        man. This story could be repeated millions of times.
        What “trade” is being made here? (The spouse finds
        someone who is more fun or more interesting, and the
        other spouse and the children suffer. The wandering
        wife has taken advantage of her family. A wandering
        husband takes advantage of his family. It is extreme

    2. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:6 that God will “punish”
      those who commit such sins. How can you reconcile this
      with 1 Thessalonians 4:1 which says they are living in a
      way that pleases God? (Not all of God’s punishment is
      eternal damnation. Our immoral choices result in
      punishment here. The excitement and fun of “wandering”
      results in damage to others who will, in turn, damage

      1. How many times have you observed the truth of what I
        just wrote? Those who thought this would be “fun,”
        end up with a load of grief?

  3. Sin That Separates

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8. We have the same problem we
      discussed before. Paul says these people are living a life
      pleasing to God, and he also says that they are in danger
      of rejecting God. Pick a sexual sin. Has the person who
      commits that sin rejected God or is that person leading a
      life pleasing to God? (It seems, amazingly, that the
      answer could be either one. For the Thessalonians the
      answer, according to Paul, is that they are leading a life
      pleasing to God – they just have to get better at it.)

      1. What does this teach us about the nature of sin? (We
        serve a Holy God, but He tolerates sin in those who
        claim the righteousness of Jesus. We all know that
        sin is progressive. It gets worse as we wallow in it.
        The result of moving in the direction of sin is that
        sin leads to a rejection of God and the Holy Spirit.
        This is the point where the loss of grace occurs. We
        no longer have accepted God. We have rejected God,
        rejected His grace, and rejected the purifying power
        of the Holy Spirit!)

      2. How can we know when we cross the line from a sinner
        saved by grace to a sinner who is lost? (When we no
        longer choose Jesus as our Savior. When we no longer
        care when we reject God and the direction of the Holy
        Spirit. Grace is deep. Grace covers a multitude of
        sins. But, at some point sin separates us from God
        because it causes us to reject God.)

    2. Friend, can you see what Paul is saying? You can be secure
      in your salvation as long as you choose to remain
      connected to God. The daily sins that we fall into do not
      threaten our salvation – no matter how much Satan tells us
      this is true. Instead, God calls us to avoid sin, to
      pursue holiness because God is holy and because we want to
      avoid the punishment that wrong actions bring here on
      earth. Our salvation lost only when our sins have gotten
      so out of hand that we end up rejecting God and rejecting
      His instructions.

  4. Life of Love

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:9. What does this amazing grace
      teach us about loving others? (Paul says we are taught by
      God to love others. When you consider how generous God is
      to you, when you remember what a sinner you are – yet you
      are living a life pleasing to God – it changes your
      attitude towards all of those other sinners around you.)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:10. What kind of love do the
      Thessalonians have? (It seems much like their pleasing
      life – they need to work on it! They need to love more and

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. Paul has instructed the
      Thessalonians to obey more and to love more. What is the
      goal of greater obedience and love? (They will be a
      positive example to those around them. People will respect

    4. Friend, are you filled with joy knowing that your
      salvation is secure? Let that radiate out of you! Radiate
      love and good works so that others will be drawn to our
      great and gracious God! Will you determine to do that

  5. Next week: The Dead in Christ.