Expository Sermon from the First Epistle to the Thessalonians | Rejecting God | 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Rejecting God (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)

Several years ago, I was working in the office, and the phone rang. When I answered a sweet lady was asking for some advice.

This sister told me a sad story. Her son had married a girl, but his wife had some mental problems and suffered a nervous breakdown. Her son was in the process of divorcing her, and his mother wanted to know if I thought he could remarry. I asked if there had been any fornication on the wife’s part, and I was told there had not been.

I read Matthew 19, and I said, “Fornication is the only way someone can divorce and remarry.” This sister then said, “I know that’s what the Bible says, but that just doesn’t seem fair. My son deserves to be happy, and I think he can remarry.” Here was a sister who claimed to love God with all her heart but who wanted to supplant God’s word with her own.

Have you ever encountered people who wanted to supplant God’s word with their own? Has anyone ever said to you, “Yeah, I know that’s what the Bible says, but I just don’t see it that way?” Have you ever thought that maybe God just wants you to be happy? Have you ever clung to a sin—although you knew what Scripture said—simply because you liked it? Have you ever refused to give God your best because you were holding something back from him? Have you ever gotten mad at a preacher because a sermon hit a little too close to home?

Paul wrote the Thessalonians some things in this morning’s text that they were probably not going to like. These Christians were, by and large, former pagans, and sexual sin was prominent among the pagans of Paul’s day. Unmarried Greek men (i.e., men under 30) commonly engaged in sex with prostitutes, slaves, and other males; nothing in Greek culture or religion condemned such behavior. Paul, however, wrote through divine inspiration that any sexuality outside of a proper marriage is sinful. After Paul declared the truth about sexuality, he said, in essence, “Don’t shoot me; I’m just the messenger.”

Paul told the Thessalonians that “To reject Scripture is to reject God.

Scripture (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)

verses 1-2:

Paul urged the Thessalonians to live their lives in a manner pleasing to God. He urged them to do so “more and more.” That statement may indicate that there was a problem with sexual sin in Thessalonica, and these brethren needed to step up and repent.

Notice how Paul began this discussion of sexual morality: “You know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.” Paul didn’t devise Christian sexual morality; he gave these instructions through “the Lord Jesus.” Notice further the use of the title “Lord,” a reminder that Jesus Christ is sovereign.

verses 3-6:

God’s will is for one to be sanctified (in this context, sexually pure). Again Paul said that sexual purity is God’s will, not man’s.

Notice furthermore than living “in the passion of lust like the Gentiles” means that one does not know God. Not living according to God’s standards means that one does not have a relationship with God.

Paul’s mention of the Lord as “an avenger in all these things” likely indicates that some in Thessalonica were living immorally, and Paul warned them of God’s great justice. For our point this morning, the Lord as “an avenger in all these things” should remind us that God takes his word seriously. What God says is what God means.

verse 7:

God has called the Christian to holiness, not impurity. God is the One who has done the calling. God is the One who determines how Christians live.

verse 8:

“Whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God.” Paul penned these words about sexual purity, but they didn’t come from his mind; these words came from God. God is the One who says how the Christian must be sexually pure. Paul didn’t get a say in what God said. You don’t get a say in what God says. “To reject Scripture is to reject God.


To reject Scripture is to reject God.” You need to understand that truth. Some of God’s truths aren’t popular in today’s culture: marriage, divorce, and remarriage; homosexuality; the role of women; and the uniqueness of the church, for example. Yet no man developed those doctrines. Those doctrines came straight from God himself.

What do you need to do because “To reject Scripture is to reject God?

One: Rule.

In the first place, you need to recognize the Rule of Scripture. The Bible is not a man-made book. Men simply put the words to paper; God determined what Scripture would say.

  • “We impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit” (1 Cor 2:13).
  • When he wrote about the Lord’s Supper, Paul said, “I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you” (1 Cor 11:23).
  • About orderly worship, Paul said, “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord” (1 Cor 14:37).
  • “We also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess 2:13).
  • “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:21).

The words in Scripture are the very words of God. You are free to reject them, you are free to dislike them, and you are free to disagree with them. However, God is right and you are wrong.

Two: Role.

In the second place, you must recognize your Role with Scripture. God is God; he is Sovereign; and you are not. When John was given the Revelation, he wrote, “At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne” (Rev 4:2). At the end of the Revelation, John again saw the throne: Revelation 20:11-12. God sits on the throne, and he will judge men according to their faithfulness according to his word. You do not sit upon the throne, and you will not judge men according to their faithfulness to your word.

Let me be perfectly honest: If God were to come to me and ask me to rewrite the Bible, I’d change so much that you wouldn’t recognize it. And if you’re honest, you would likely do the same. But that is not my right, and that is not your right! Scripture is God’s word, not mine. I have two options: 1) I can recognize my Role and live obediently to the God of heaven, or 2) I can reject my Role and live life how I want. But you cannot do both!

How are you living this morning? God blesses those who recognize their Role and obey: “The one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (Js 1:25). Are you obeying the word? Are you being blessed in your obedience?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

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