Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-28
Consider: Today’s reading from 1 Thessalonians 5 reminds us that although we do not know when Jesus will return, we can be certain that he will return when the time is right. Knowing that Jesus will return should cause us to live in such a way that pleases God.
Did you notice that Paul talks about those who are ‘awake’ and those who ‘sleep’? He also tells the believers to be ‘sober’. Although the Greek word used for sober infers abstinence from wine, Paul is using these words to convey the effect on the mind of alcohol. This creates a picture of someone who is half-asleep and drowsy, not regarding clearly what is going on around them. Paul is telling the believers to be alert and watchful, so that they are not taken by surprise when Christ returns.
Paul says: But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet (1 Thessalonians 5:8). This should remind you of the armour of God mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 6:11-17. Paul encourages the believers in Ephesus: Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand (Ephesians 6:13). Paul’s encouragement in Ephesians is in anticipation of opposition the believers would encounter. While using the same analogy of armour in 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul does not mention the ‘full armour’, but only the breastplate and the helmet. In this case the pieces of the armour mentioned are those that protect the heart (and vital organs), together with the head. In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul is thinking of the Christian’s need to protect the heart and mind as we anticipate Christ’s return.
At the end of the chapter Paul says: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The dictionary definition of sanctification is:
1: to set apart for a sacred purpose or for religious use; to consecrate;
2: to free from sin; to purify;
3: to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to.
Paul reminds us that the sanctification of the believer is the work of God. This can only be achieved through the work of the Holy Spirit, as you submit to God. God wants to ‘… sanctify you through and through’ (5:23). He wants every part of your life surrendered to his will. When reading about sanctification does it create an excitement in you that God wants to purify you and set you apart for his service? Or does it worry you that your heart and mind are not what they should be? Rest assured that God is working in your life to achieve his purposes. Surrender yourself to God, so that this work of sanctification can begin and continue.
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
Pray: Father, we acknowledge that the condition of our hearts and minds is so easily influenced by the world’s view. May we surrender to you, seeking your sanctification to make us more useful in your service. Amen