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1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 God’s “To Do” List for Believers

Dennis Mock
Sunday, February 7, 2010

In Christianity today there is a growing emphasis on “being vs. doing” on “experience vs.
truth”. Yet you cannot be a Christian without first knowing Jesus through the Word of
God. Knowing though has never been enough. It must be accomplished by doing. Both
must be true. We must know Him and acknowledge the truth of scripture and then do
what He has called and enabled us to do by His Holy Spirit.

Matt. 7 – End of the Sermon on the Mount. Wise man builds his house on obedience to
Matt. 28:20 – We make disciples . . . teaching them to obey.
Phil. 4:9 – What you have heard . . . put into practice.

- Obedience must be motivated by love for God and desire to please Him.
- If we only know and never do then we are not obedient disciples.

We will read through the passage then identify 7 areas of concern where Paul identifies
“God’s To Do List” for believers. This is a very challenging passage!

From all of these 20+ commands I want you to pick one that you need to focus on.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

What God would have us do in regards to:

1. Attitudes towards Church leaders (v. 12 – 13)
a. This is one of the few places Paul talks about the relationship between
church members and their leaders (elders).
b. Elders direct the affairs of the church.
i. They work hard.
ii. Are over you.
iii. Admonish you.
1. This has to do with counsel, warning, advising.
c. Church splits happen usually because of:
i. Building programs.
ii. Leadership issues.
d. Hebrews 13:7 –
i. Imitate your leaders faith.
ii. (v. 17) Obey them and submit to their authority.
1. They must give an account.
2. Make their work a joy.
e. (1 Thess. 5:12-13) We should:
i. Respect our leaders.
ii. Hold them in highest regard because of the nature of their work.
iii. Most leaders in churches are underappreciated.
f. Other scriptures tell us they should not be accused lightly.
i. Leaders do not get a pass and must be called to account if they sin.
g. The starting point for peace in the church is respect and reverence for those
God has placed in leadership over us.
2. Attitudes towards other believers (v. 14-15)
a. The overriding thought is to act with the other person’s benefit in mind.
b. (v. 14) Warn the idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient . . .
i. Warn is the same word as “admonish” earlier.
ii. Timid means literally one who is “short of soul” or faint hearted.
iii. Help the spiritually weak by contributing to what will strengthen them.
Don’t do anything that would cause them to stumble.
iv. Be patient – longsuffering. Put up with a lot from others. Forgiveness is
c. (v. 15) Be kind and do not play the “payback game”.
3. Approaching life with a spiritual perspective (v. 16-18)
a. Two different places Paul talks about God’s will for us. Here is one.
i. It is not as complex as we like to make it.
b. We must be mindful of God and His purposes.
c. (16) Be joyful always – an internal attitude of a grateful heart.
i. By implication he is saying we can have this internal attitude toward
God in any circumstance. James also talks of this.
ii. Job rebuked his wife asking if he should only accept good from God.
iii. We cannot always be happy but we can always be joyful.
iv. It is not an emotion but the settled disposition of a grateful heart.
v. It is maintained by looking for what God is doing to bring glory to
himself in each circumstance.
d. (17) Pray continually – always approach life from a spiritual perspective.
i. This is evidence of a constant dependence on God.
ii. The idea here of the underlying cause is like a nagging, hacking cough
we can’t stop.
e. (18) Give thanks in all circumstances – not “for” all circumstances.
i. Not the suffering itself but what God is doing in them!
ii. The thanks comes form having an eternal perspective (Romans 8:28)
iii. 2 Cor. 4:16-18 – These are momentary light afflictions.
f. All of this together is God’s will for us.
g. Jesus Christ remember, thanks the Father for the privilege of suffering and
dying for the sins of the world!
4. Allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our lives (v. 19-21)
a. Allow, do not stifle the Holy Spirits work.
i. Fire is a picture of the Holy Spirit in scripture as He is active in
believer’s lives. This fire of the Spirit’s activity can be “put out” or
ii. 1 Cor. 14 we see the abuse of certain gifts from the Spirit.
iii. We do this by disobedience. By resisting Him when he convicts us or
moves us to act.
iv. We have been sealed by Him unto salvation but we can resist His
effective work in our lives or others lives.
v. We should instead cooperate with and submit to the Spirit.
b. Spiritual gifts differ from believer to believer and we should accept those
whose gifts are different.
c. We should hold on to the truth of scripture and test every teaching or
5. Accepting God’s main work in our lives (v. 23-24)
a. How many times have I heard someone say, “I really can’t figure out what
God is doing in my life through this!”
i. These two verses explain what he is doing!
b. Phil. 2:13 – It is God who is at work in you to will and to work according to
His good pleasure.
c. God is about sanctifying us.
d. (24) He will bring it about. Wholly complete at the Parousia or appearing of
i. With regards to our whole being: Body, soul and spirit.
ii. It is easy to distinguish body and spirit or soul. It is harder to
distinguish soul from spirit.
1. Heb. 4:12 – The Word of God . . . able to distinguish separation of
spirit and soul.
iii. I am a three part theologian –
1. Body – will be changed and transformed.
2. Soul – this is who we are. Our personality, traits, makeup. It is
what make us who we are.
3. Spirit – this is the animating force of life. It is what makes body
and soul alive.
a. It also has to do with the idea of discernment and
perceiving God.
b. Our spirit must be brought to life via the Spirit of God in
order to perceive who He is and what He requires of us to
relate to Him.
e. Sanctification requires our cooperation. We must work mightily with the
power of God working in us.
f. Romans 8:28 – The Spirit intercedes for us with words we cannot express.
Ultimately I want to be on a level of spiritual perception where I am in tune
with this.
i. This is getting beyond the level of our natural thinking to the level of
thinking in tune with the Spirit by offering our bodies as a living
sacrifice (Romans 12)
6. Appropriately expressing affection for one another (v. 25-26)
a. How we appropriately express affection for one another:
i. Pray for us (25)
1. This is done out of affection.
ii. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss (26)
1. This would be a way of expressing affection by kissing on the
2. It can be expressed by hug or by some other form of appropriate
3. We should just be happy to see one another!
7. Actively passing on God’s truth to others (v. 27-28)
a. This was a circular letter that was to be read to other believers.
b. They had a practice of taking a letter like this and traveling with it to another
church and actually read it in its entirety.
c. If we have good news or instruction that we know will help others.
d. We should use scripture in our interactions with others. In our letters, e-
mails, speech, etc.
e. God’s truth was meant to be shared.
f. (28) Paul is not talking about divine favor but divine enablement when he
says “grace . . . be with you”.

Let’s be list makers and list doers!

Go ahead and read through 2 Thessalonians. Also go back and read 1 Thessalonians
again. Read them once each week.

APP: Pick one thing from above and seek to do it this week!