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Pleasing Men Or Pleasing God


"Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you."
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We are so thankful for all of our brothers and sisters around the world who are with us today.

As I began studying for this passage for our message today, I was reminded of Peter's words in II
Peter 3:11
, "Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness." The matter of sanctification and holy living are rarely addressed in
the day in which we live. Our society, has embraced an "anything goes" mentality and there is very little, if any, limitations or accountability. It has been accepted as modern philosophy. However, we, as the children of God, have an obligation to live a life that not only honors and reflects our Lord, but one that brings Him glory.

That philosophy was also prevalent in the Apostle Paul’s day. He continuously sought to remind
the church of their obligations unto the Lord. As we look at these verses, I want for all of us to consider the responsibilities a believer has as we unpack the truths of this passage in the Word of God.
Let us bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father,
Father, Thank You for this Word for us today. Lord, we acknowledge that this serious subject which has so devastated and violated Your church. Open our hearts and ears, that we would hear it loudly, clearly and straight forwardly. Help us to live as we ought and separate ourselves from immorality and sin. Lord, awaken Your church leadership, call them into repentance for compromising their teaching on sin, and to hold their congregations accountable for sin. Give us what we need, even in this passage. Lord, cause us to deal with the condition of our own hearts. Ignite a passion of our hearts to fulfill Your will, which is our sanctification and holiness, that we would live a life pleasing to You. May it all for Your glory.
We pray this in Christ's name
Today's Message: Pleasing Men Or Pleasing God
Open with me your Bibles the Book of Thessalonians chapter 4, verses 1 through 8. I would encourage you to follow along with me as I read to you from this portion of the Word of God. I believe there are great truths to be revealed to us today. I Thessalonians 4:1-8

"Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.  For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,  not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.  For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you."
I would like to begin, by breaking down the first two verses of our text, "Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
These words form a gentle reminder of the previous instruction they had received concerning how they should live in order to please God. The term "brothers" is used 17 times in this letter and literally means, "to come from the same womb." I love how Paul urges them on by first affirming them when he says, "…just as you actually do walk" It’s always best to look for ways to encourage someone before we call them on the carpet. Affirmation must always come before exhortation.

The Thessalonians have been following the instructions they had been given and "still excel more." This was a military term used for orders that were handed down to the troops. These weren’t just suggestions, but commands, and the army of believers who made up the new church faithfully followed these directives. Paul is saying that there’s something more that they need to put into practice so he "requests and exhorts" them to action.

I'd like to point out, that they actually have been doing well, but now need to carry out their marching orders. They needed to "step it up a notch", by taking their faith walk to the next level. This is both a compliment and a challenge. We must always be open to press on, to strive for excellence, to not become complacent, resting on our laurels. Notice the two uses of the phrase, "the Lord Jesus." They are being urged to fully obey the Lord Jesus in the commands that are given by His authority.  in other words, none of this is optional! Christ is our commander and our job is to follow Him, fully. The practical matters to follow are of supreme importance. Verses 1 and 2 contain a plea to please God. Here Paul discusses the priorities we all should possess and exhibit in our daily lives.

Paul reminds them in verse 1, yet again of their association with Christ and His church, brethren. He then exhorts them to walk in a way that pleases God, following the example of Christ the Lord and Paul, His apostle. This was not something they were unable or unwilling to do; in fact, it had been modeled for them time and again. And, Paul expected them to be imitators of Christ.

Beloved, we are all aware of the need for purity in our lives and the obligation we have to walk in a way that pleases the Lord, however, I fear, many times we are failing miserably in fulfilling that obligation. I, myself, have been challenged, as I studied this passage, in that I was reminded of my responsibility to live upright before the Lord, seeking to imitate the life He lived.

Verse 2, "For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus."
In this verse, Paul speaks of the commandments they were given of the Lord. Christ had given them a charge to fulfill, a life to live, and a ministry to perform. This was not an option; it was an obligation. The Lord has not merely suggested that we as believers live according to His words, He has commanded that we all do so!
In verse 3, Paul writes, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality."
Often times, we make God’s will something that is elusive for us as believers. We wonder as if we have no idea what it is He wants us to do, and where He wants us to live, when God is actually more concerned with who we are. We are too often more concerned with location and vocation, when God is committed to our transformation! 
Beloved, we can find the will of God in the Word of God! I was amazed this week when I did a concordance search and discovered that the emphasis in the Bible is not so much on knowing God’s will, but actually on "doing" the will of God.

Psalm 143:10 says, " Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground."

And in John 7:17 teaches  us "If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself."

I believe that Scripture is clear: when we know God’s will, we must also do God’s will. Verse 3 is a helpful verse because it spells out the will of God for us. God’s desire is that we be sanctified. Sanctification is the process of being made holy. The word means, "to be separated or set apart." Much of the lack of knowledge concerning God’s will can be attributed to a lack of knowledge of the Bible.

The process of sanctification begins at conversion, as we see in I Corinthians 6:11, it is a process that continues throughout our Christian life as stated in Hebrews 2:11, and it will be completed when Jesus returns I Thessalonians 5:23. The Apostle Paul gets more specific in the command for us to be separated in the last part of verse 3 when he describes what sanctification looks like: "that you abstain from sexual immorality."  I do not believe that you can get much clearer than that! 

God’s will is that we abstain from sexual immorality. To "abstain" means, "to avoid, hold oneself from, to run away and be distant from." We are to keep our distance, heed the warning, much like not walking on a frozen body of water because of the "Thin Ice" sign. You are abstaining from something when you separate yourself from it completely. 

Ephesians 5:3 makes it even clearer, when it tell us "But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;"

The phrase "sexual immorality" comes from the Greek word porneia, which is a very broad word encompassing every kind of sexual activity outside the circle of the will of God. Our English "pornography" comes from this word porneia. Paul is telling us that as Christians, must abstain from a pornographic lifestyle, in the broadest sense of that word. We are not to dabble in sexual sin in any of its various forms. 

This is not a suggestion, it is a command of God and an absolute prohibition. I know for some of you, this is not easy to hear and is not easy to preach about sex, in our society today. One that is plagued by sexually illicit behavior of every form. However, I am called to teach the Word of God, therefore, preach it I must, for it is God’s will that we abstain from sexual immorality. 

I recall that several years ago, the Gallup Poll released a survey in which they compared the beliefs and lifestyles of evangelical Christians with the public as a whole. One finding hit me particularly hard was "There is little difference in ethical behavior between those who go to church and those who don’t." That is just astonishing to me! 

While our culture has an extremely defiled view of sex, and we are literally drowning in a barrage of illicit iniquity, it may have been even worse in Thessalonica, which has been frequently compared to modern day San Francisco. Thessalonica was a seaport, which meant that sailors and visiting merchants brought with them the usual desires for sexual gratification. More importantly, the Greek religions of that day practiced sacred prostitution, which involved hiring a prostitute at a pagan temple as part of worship. 

Much like today, pleasure, at any cost, was the philosophy of the day. Given that moral atmosphere, there must have been enormous pressure on these young Christians to lower their standards and conform to the world around them. But Paul will have none of it. He orders them to stay away from every form of sexual immorality. 

Beloved, I want you to understand something, God’s commandments are not meant to steal our joy, they are meant to protect us, so that we don’t lose our joy. He wants us to be set apart from sin and to the Savior. I Chronicles 16:29 tells us that holiness is beautiful. "Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him; Worship the Lord in holy array"

To be sanctified is to be splashed with splendor and to be bathed in beauty. God is designing beautiful people who will experience wholeness and joy. This can only happen as we keep his commands and pursue His parameters for moral purity. God is not some kind of a celestial killjoy. He has set us apart in order to serve notice that we are exceedingly special to Him. Because He prizes us with delight, He demands the best for us and the best, is always to do things His way. To abstain from sexual immorality is not a prison, but a safe and beautiful garden.

If the church doesn’t stand up for sexual abstinence, who will? Where will people hear about the sacredness of sexuality if the preachers in the pulpits are paralyzed by what is "politically or socially correct?"

I believe that one of the biggest hindrances and pitfalls of the modern church today. is that many, even those who are willing to serve the Lord, treat His Word and His desire for us, as if it were a spiritual buffet. Beloved, may I boldly tell you, that we don’t have the right to pick and choose when it comes to the things of God. We are commanded and obligated to live according to His way and will for our lives. We cannot afford the privilege of reading a passage of Scripture and somehow pretend it doesn’t apply to our lives. All Scripture is there for our good and admonition, and we must be obedient unto it. One of the many things I love about the Bible is that we’re not just given commands and prohibitions. One of the things I love about the Bible, is we are not just given a command, but God also gives us a game plan to follow that is best for our lives.

Paul tells us in verse 4, "that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor." The word "vessel," is speaking about the body, signifying something fragile and in need of tender care. Our modern society is plagued with the lusts of the flesh and the desire for that which is immoral. It even promotes and encourages sexual promiscuity. Beloved, we really have two choices. We can learn to control our bodies and lusts of the flesh or we can allow our sex drive to run our lives, leading us to unrighteousness. That is simple enough to understand, but it is a problem of gigantic proportions in our culture today. There is no restraint among men. There is no thought of the consequences of their actions, there is no accountability for their actions! There is only a consuming desire to possess the lusts of their hearts. Our world today operates under the slogan of "If it feels good, do it!"

 Genesis 4:7 says this "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."

Look, I know that some of you are allowing your urges and desires to have control over you, as you give in to whatever you feel like doing. Listen, as I read to you Romans 6:12-14 which teaches us "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." You know what you can handle and what you can’t and let's be honest here, some of you are treading on some pretty thin ice. I beseech you do not allow yourself to be put into situations where you can easily be tempted and allow yourselves to get out of control. Stay away from whatever meddles with your sexual emotions. Be careful about what you look at on the Internet and make sure you have a good filter installed. I recommend one at .

In verse 5, "not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;" Here, Paul reveals how we are to present ourselves. We should not be surprised when lost, unregenerate people lust and engage in sexual immorality, because they do not know God, the Holy Spirit isn't indwelling in them.  However, we should be shocked when believers, those claiming Christ, live like pagans. Perhaps the saddest thing about lust is that it never satisfies. Someone once said that lust is "the craving for salt by a man dying of thirst." It promises everything and delivers nothing. There is no great release. It has no lasting satisfaction. You must always go back for more! It’s the law of diminishing returns, therefore, you can never be satisfied for long.

We are not to be who we once were! We are to be controlled by our love for God, our commitment to obedience, not by our lusts for someone or something else. We are different and we must now act like who like one whose life has been transformed by Christ! We are created for bigger and better things because we know God, we know the "truth." And having that wisdom and knowledge, should make all the difference in the world. 

II Corinthians 5:17 says it this way, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." 

Paul is calling upon the church to be reminded that they were living among a people who did not know the Lord. They were not to engage in the sinful practices of the Gentiles; their lives were to be lived separate from the ways of the world.

We must also consider the responsibility to present a positive witness to those whom we live among. They do not know the Lord. We can’t expect a lost man to live for the Lord because he has never met Christ. They need to see those who belong to Jesus Christ setting a positive example by their lives, not just their words! We will never be able to reach the lost, if our lives are lived no differently than theirs. Our lives must match our words!

Paul says in verse 6, "and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you."

In other words, we are not to take advantage of others. The idea of not wronging means that we are to not cross the line or go out of bounds. We are not to take advantage of someone for our own fulfillment.
We are called to live lives that are above reproach and accusation. Sexual sin always hurts somebody. I'd like you to notice, that they do not make a condom that can protect your heart. We are not to plunder someone’s purity. Do not rob their self-respect. I recommend this simple principal: Treat God as Holy and people as honorable.
The Lord will punish men for all such sins! The Lord will punish men for all such sins, I know that this is tough for us to hear. We know that God will "avenge" a lost person’s sins, however, we don’t like to think of what this means for the believer. Remember that Paul is writing to the church here. While it is true that the Christian is not under condemnation, the principle of reaping what we sow is also true.
Galatians 6:7, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." This has a future element to it. You may think that there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing. It feels good and it's OK because you’ve not been caught ­ yet. Don’t be deceived. God always takes action, unless you repent and turn away from your sin, you will not be able to escape the painful results of sinful choices. 
It’s the law of inevitable consequences as spelled out in Deuteronomy 32:35, when God says: "Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them." 
Some of you think this is just an Old Testament teaching, it doesn't apply to today. Well, listen to Hebrews 13:4 "Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge."
What do those consequences look like when we live outside of God’s lines?  It could involve something like Cirrhosis of the liver, cancer or HIV. It could be living with guilt and shame. There could be negative circumstances like an unexpected divorce or joblessness. It may be the absence of blessings; it could lead to a devastated marriage. Your passions may become inflamed, which can lead to your destruction. Whatever the case, I can assure you that you will reap what you sow! You cannot sow corn and harvest wheat.
Beloved, if you are currently involved in something sexually immoral, its time to repent, to ask God for forgiveness, accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You don't want to live as a fugitive forever, always looking over your shoulder to see if your secret sins have caught up with you? We cannot disregard God and get away with it. Justice demands payment!

In verse 7, "For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification."
We should also avoid sexual immorality because God has called us into a life-changing sanctifying relationship with Himself. The word "impure" literally means, "refuse" and was used of the contents of graves. Beloved, no matter what you’ve done in your past, you are not garbage. If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, your life has new purpose, and now that is to live a holy life.
Paul tells us in verse 8, "So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you."
The word, "reject" means to treat with utter contempt. I'm pretty sure that for some of you, this message is cramping your style. You might not like what I have to say. Don’t become upset at me; direct your anger towards the Almighty. Your complaint is not with me or this ministry, it’s with Jesus Christ. I do not make this stuff up to criticize, judge or condemn you. God knows I have made enough of my own mistakes in this life! I want only to restore you back to where you belong, in the good graces of God.

God gives us the Holy Spirit to enable and empower us. Galatians 5:16, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." Some of you have tried to stop your sexual activity on your own, it didn't take long until you’ve realized that you can’t control it. The Spirit is the Holy One, who consecrates us to holiness. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit; as you submit and surrender to Him daily, He will bring a harvest of righteousness into your life.

 In Closing...

We cannot hold a grudge against our brother without also being guilty of having a grudge against God. We are obligated to live for Him, and in so doing, we must love our brother. We cannot be right with God if we are not right with man. We cannot say that we love God if there is anger or bitterness toward another.

The Holy Spirit will deal with our hearts when there is anything in our lives contrary to God’s will for us. As believers, we are obligated and expected to heed the guidance of the Spirit. We will never experience God’s abundance if we are unwilling to submit to the leadership of the Spirit. It is dangerous to ignore the pleading of the Spirit. We are given the indwelling of the Spirit to guide and direct our lives. Are we making it a suitable place for Him to dwell?

I will have to admit that these have been challenging verses for most of us. They deal with where we are in our spiritual life. We all want to think that we are doing pretty good, but are we?

I want to live a life that edifies my Lord, encourages other believers, and points the lost to the cross of Jesus Christ, Who is our Lord and Savior.

I am sure that we all could live closer to the Lord than we currently do. Has He spoken to you about an area in your life that needs attention? If so, submit to the direction of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead you into the depths of God’s greatness!

 May it be so..... 

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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