Wednesday, April 21, 2021
1 Thessalonians 5:4-8
This week, we are working through 1 Thessalonians 5 and talking about the Lord's return. Last time, we looked at the first three verses and how the Lord is coming like a thief in the night. He's coming very stealthily, and he's going to come at a time when we don't expect. The whole point is that we need to understand that the Lord will come back and he will come back like a thief in the night. The reason why God is going to come back like a thief in the night and doesn't tell us the exact time he will come back is so that we will stay ready. If we knew the Lord was going to come back today at five o'clock, we would do whatever we want until four o-clock, then at four we would say, "Oh God, help. I love you." A lot of people would do that and manipulate God. So God says, "I do that for this purpose, so that you'll stay ready."
I get that from 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8. Look at what Paul says, "But you brothers are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others who are asleep, but let us be alert and self controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as our helmet." What is he saying? First, he's contrasting this passage with first three verses of the chapter, where he says that people who are not yet Christians are going to cry, "Peace and safety," but then in reality, there is sudden destruction. They'll proclaim everything's okay, but it really isn't because God's judgment will take effect. And he's saying that if you're a Christian, you're different. And I certainly hope you are a Christian.
He says, "But you, brothers, are not in darkness," meaning it will not surprised you like a thief. Now, he's not saying that we will know the date. It will surprise us in the timing, but the event itself will not surprise us because we know what's coming. That's what Paul means when he says you'll know the timing. Jesus said it. Paul said it. You don't know the timing. He's saying the event itself will not be a surprise. We know it's inevitable, and it will happen. And he goes on, "You are all sons of light and sons of the day." We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So that's an attribute of every Christian. Darkness is when sin goes on. It's a picture of sin. Light is a picture of righteousness, when you can see everything. The contrast is a foil against each other. "So then, let us not be like others," meaning those who are not in the family, or those who are weak Christians or carnal Christians. "Let's not be like others who are asleep." He's not talking about being asleep if Jesus comes in the middle of night. He's talking about being spiritually dead, knocked out asleep. "But let us be alert and self controlled, for those who sleep, sleep at night." He uses the metaphor of sleep to go along with the metaphor of night, to go along with the metaphor of darkness, to go along with a better metaphor of not being a Christian being in sin. "Those who sleep, sleep at night and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as our helmet." In other words, what he's saying is, if you're a Christian, you live in the light. Start living like who you are.
What's he saying? Stay ready. Stay spiritually ready. Stay morally ready. Stay pure. Stop looking at stuff you shouldn't be looking at. Stop saying the things you shouldn't be saying. Stop hanging out in situations you shouldn't be in. Stay ready. Live as if the Lord could come back at any moment. Do you want the Lord seeing you do some sin, or be involved in some evil? No. Live as if the Lord will come back soon. Stay ready. Are you ready? Make sure you know Jesus Christ. Say, "Jesus Christ, you are God. I'm a sinner. I believe when you died on the cross and rose again, you paid my way. And I want to believe and receive it by faith." And then, once you receive Christ by faith, you're a Christian. Then, you can stay ready.
Let's pray. Father, forgive us for those times when we sin and we do things that are displeasing to you. Help us instead to stay ready, because your coming is near, like a thief in the night. Help us to morally be ready, to stop doing the things that displease you, and start doing the things that please you. Not just not doing bad things but engaging in good things. And we ask this through your power, your spirit, your grace, and your mercy, that you'll accomplish them through us. In your name we pray. Amen.