TITN Series Part 2: Stay Alert and Self-Controlled – 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8
This world is racing toward God’s judgement. It can get depressing to see the world and this nation falling apart. Our country is becoming AN increasingly hostile place for those who believe the in the Bible and love the God of the Bible. Is there any reason to have hope that we believers will escape from God’s judgment against this world that has rejected His Son and refuses to submit to His rule in their lives? How are we going to survive in the great spiritual and moral darkness which is coming on the world? The Bible predicts that the last days will be characterized by widespread lawlessness and a hatred of anything that is true, good, right, and holy. Isn’t that what you see happening in our country and in the world today? How should we behave as the world is drifting into lawlessness? How can we protect our hearts and minds from being overcome by evil in these dark days just before Jesus comes back to take us out of this world? We can find answers to these questions in the passage of scripture we will be looking at this morning.
I believe that WE ARE the Church at the end of the age of Grace. WE ARE the last generation of Christians living on earth before Jesus Christ returns to establish God’s kingdom. This letter was written to Believers in Jesus Christ at Thessalonica in the first century AD. However, what it says is MORE RELAVANT to us, since we are living in the Last Days before Jesus comes in the clouds to gather his Church to himself and take us back to heaven to live with him.
Jesus told us beforehand, through the Apostle Paul, what we should be doing as his return and the Day of the Lord approaches.
Last time we talked about Getting Ready in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5.
Today we are going to continue the series with 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8.
If you don’t remember anything else I say this morning, I HOPE you will remember this…
*If you want to be ready to go when Jesus comes, then you need to Stay Awake, Stay Alert and Stay Self-Controlled. As you are watching and waiting for the return of Jesus, stay busy doing his work and don’t give in to sinful urges and behavior.
But if you missed something don’t worry. You can pick up a printed copy of this message on your way out to take home with you.
I. Stay Alert and Self-Controlled 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8
A. READ SCRIPTURE 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8
Please open your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 5 and follow along as I read verses 6-8. If you didn’t bring a Bible with you, there is one on the pew in front of you that you can use. I will wait for you to find your place. Remember that Thessalonians comes right after Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Please, follow along in your Bible as I read verses 6 through 8 of 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5. It will be good for you to see these verses as well as hear me read them out loud.
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 a helmet.
…. LET US NOT BE LIKE OTHERS, WHO ARE ASLEEP, BUT LET US BE ALERT
1. Sleeping people are inactive. Sleeping Christians are not working for the Lord.
Sleeping Christians are not doing THE good works God has prepared in advance for them to do.
In Revelation Chapter 3, Jesus rebuked the “Sleeping Church” of Sardis, saying,
“Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have NOT found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.
Jesus told the church in Sardis to wake up because their deeds were not complete. There were still things that HE wanted them to do for him.
2. Sleeping people are not aware of what is going on around them. Sleeping Christians are not aware of the needs of others.
The biggest need of people is to hear about the Love of Jesus and come to know him as their Lord and Savior. Believers who are spiritually asleep do not recognize this. They are not sharing their faith and pointing people to the only ONE who can save them.
Keith Green wrote a song about this called “Asleep in the Light”. Listen as I read some of the lyrics.
[Verse 1] Do you see? Do you see? All the people sinking down? Don’t you care? Don’t you care? Are you gonna let them drown? How can you be so numb? Not to care if they come You close your eyes and pretend the job’s done
[Verse 3] Open up, open up And give yourself away You see the need, you hear the cries So how can you delay? God’s calling And you’re the one But like Jonah, you run He’s told you to speak but you keep holding it in
Oh, can’t you see it’s such sin?
[CHORUS] The world is sleeping in the dark That the church just can’t fight ’cause it’s asleep in the light How can you be so dead when you’ve been so well fed? Jesus rose from the grave And you, you can’t even get out of bed Oh, Jesus rose from the dead Come on, get out of your bed
We Christians, who are awake and alert, are the only ones who can see that the Day of the Lord is near. The unbelievers are asleep in the dark and our sleeping Christian brethren are asleep in the light. If WE don’t sound the alarm, no one will. If we can wake up one person and tell him or her that Jesus is the only way out of this predicament, then our efforts will be worthwhile. And I’m sure the people who wake up and respond to our warning will be eternally grateful to us, as well as to the Lord for saving them. It may be too late to save the ship from going down, but we can still save some of the sleeping passengers by waking them up and telling them the ship is sinking and they need to put on a life preserver so that they can hold on until the rescue boats arrive. Maybe, GOD HAS US JUST WHERE WE ARE, so that we can be those who will Sound the Alarm!
What would you think of a scientist at an earthquake listening post, who was watching his instruments daily, and saw that an earthquake was about to take down a major city, but instead of warning the unsuspecting victims, he put his feet up on his desk and took a nap? When we begin to see the dark clouds of the Day of the Lord’s Judgement gathering, we need to open our mouths and sound the alarm. Who knows, some people might wake up and call out to JESUS and HE will save them IN THE LAST MINUTES before the Rapture. It would be JUST like JESUS to do this. While He was hanging on the cross, being put to death for our sins, JESUS saved one of men hanging next to him just minutes before he died.
3. Morally sleeping people are not aware that they will have to answer to God for their sinful behavior. Morally Sleeping Christians are just drifting along with the world and letting it determine their moral compass. Christians who are morally asleep are not conscious of, or concerned about, their sinful lives and behavior.
Jesus had more words for the sleeping church at Sardis. The verse following the one we read earlier says… “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”
Apparently, in their spiritual sleep, the Sardis Church was slipping morally. They were not obeying the Dos and Don’ts of scripture. He told them to REMEMBER what they had received and heard AND OBEY IT AND REPENT. Jesus warned them that if they didn’t wake up, he would come like a thief, and they would not know what time he was coming.
Listen to what Paul says to the Romans about waking up and putting aside all kinds of sinful behaviors and putting on the Lord Jesus Christ as the day of his coming approaches.
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Paul also gives the Ephesian church a moral wake up call, saying in Ephesians 5:11-14 …
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Likewise, in Ephesians 5:15-20, we are encouraged to be VERY careful how we live … because the days are evil. In summary, Paul tells us TO BE AWAKE AND ALERT as the Rapture AND the Day of the Lord approaches.
The next admonishment is …
…. LET US BE SELF-CONTROLLED
Paul, speaking by the Holy Spirit, TELLS US to be self-controlled twice in two verses. So, it must be important for the last days. This statement addresses our wills and our behaviors. When the world is at its worst behavior, we followers of Jesus are to be at our best. This means we are going to say No! to sin and unrighteousness.
Why is it important to be self-controlled as the Day of the Lord approaches?
In Titus 2:11–12, 14, we read …. For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age …. Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Jesus died to deliver us out of our own sin. The grace of God that brings salvation to us, ALSO teaches us to say “No” to sin and teaches us how to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.
If we do this, we will not be ashamed when Jesus comes. The apostle John tells us in 1 John 2:28,
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and UNASHAMED before him at his coming.
Our goal as Christians should be to always walk close to Jesus and stay away from sin so we will be blameless when he comes, just as it states in 1 Thessalonians 3:13.
May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be BLAMELESS and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
SELF-CONTROL APPLICATION – “Let’em In” Song
I urge you fellow Christian, don’t be feeding your old sinful nature. You already know what your own weaknesses are, so work extra hard not to fall into them. Pray for God’s help and protection as you do battle with secret sins.
Don’t get caught doing something that you know God disapproves of when Jesus comes. You don’t want to be exposed as a hypocrite and feel shame before the Lord when you see him face to face for the first time. By God’s grace Just Say No to those sins that so easily trip you up. When temptation comes knocking at your door, don’t answer.
The older folks among us may remember a song called “Let’em In”, from the 1970s by the band, Paul McCartney, and Wings. The song goes like this …
Someone’s knockin’ at the door (KNOCK KNOCK),
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell (DING DONG),
Someone’s knockin’ at the door (KNOCK KNOCK),
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell (DING DONG)
Do me a favor, open the door (YES) and let’em in (YES).
Oh Yeah, let’em in (YES).
Because we are commanded by our Lord to have self-control, I would like to propose slightly different lyrics for the Christian to live by in these last days before leaving earth….
Sin is knockin’ at the door (KNOCK KNOCK),
Sin is ringin’ the bell (DING DONG),
Sin is knockin’ at the door (KNOCK KNOCK),
Sin is ringin’ the bell (DING DONG),
Do me a favor, open the door (NO!) and let it in (NO!).
Oh Yeah, let it in (NO!).
Decide beforehand that evil desires and sinful behaviors are NOT welcome in your life. You belong to Jesus NOW, and you want to serve and obey him. He said that no one can serve two masters.
Now, with the coming of Jesus so close…he could literally be here any minute…IT IS A REALLY GOOD TIME TO BE SELF-CONTROLLED, HOLY, AND OBEDIENT. BUT IT IS A REALLY BAD TIME TO BE SELF-INDULGENT, SINFUL, AND DISOBEDIENT. It is a really BAD time to be feeding the flesh and dabbling in secret sins.
Jesus said he will come at an hour when you don’t expect. So, stay ready all the time, by continually doing the things that you know the Lord approves of and that you can be proud of. This is the ONLY way you can make sure you will be ready to meet him and won’t be ASHAMED when he suddenly appears to take you back to heaven.
Jesus tells us, through the apostle Paul, that we need to have self-control in these last days.
So, church, I have some questions for you…
What are you gonna do when Sin starts knockin’ at your door?
What are you gonna do when Sin is ringin’ your bell?
Are you gonna open the door? (NO!)
Are you gonna let it in? (NO!)
… PUTTING ON FAITH AND LOVE AS A BREASTPLATE ….
Having told us to be self-controlled in light of the Coming Day of the Lord, Paul tells us here to prepare for battle like a soldier does by putting on body armor. Our battle is not a physical one, it is a spiritual one. We are to put on Faith and Love as a breastplate to protect our heart. Our faith in Jesus Christ will give us COURAGE to stand our ground in the day of battle and not run away in fear. Since faith comes by hearing the word of God, we need to be reading and hearing the BIBLE daily to keep our faith strong.
We are also to put on Love. Love for others will give us GRACE to share God’s love with them. It is hard to love those who are hostile toward us and want to CANCEL us and SILENCE us. Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44-45). In Romans it says, “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). I think it will help us to realize that those who hate us and attack us are NOT our TRUE enemy, but instead they are victims of Satan, the TRUE enemy of our souls.
Satan is the Pied Piper of Hell, leading as many humans as he can get to follow him to destruction. Those who slander and mistreat us have been deceived by Satan’s lies and they are blindly following him to their own eternal damnation. There is still a chance that, if they hear the Gospel, they might repent and turn back to God and receive forgiveness and salvation. God rebuked Jonah for wanting judgement to fall on the evil Ninevites instead of desiring their repentance. Similarly, when we are abused by the people of this world, we shouldn’t delight in the fact they will burn in hell someday. If we really understood the fearfulness of eternal torment in the Lake of Fire, we wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Not even our enemies. Instead, I think having pity on them and warning them about their coming Judgment would be more acceptable to God.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matt 5:44-45). If God is kind and sends the sun and the rain on both good and evil people… If in this life he blesses those who have rejected his truth and have rebelled against the Lordship of his Son… then we should be kind to them as well. When we do this, we will be like our Father in heaven.
Doing this will also keep us from becoming like our enemies by hating them the way they hate us. Jesus doesn’t want his followers live in the prison of hate, unforgiveness, and bitterness.
…. PUTTING ON THE HOPE OF SALVATION AS A HELMET
The hope of every believer is for Jesus to return and complete our salvation. Our bodies will be transformed into new, glorified bodies like his resurrected body. Our souls will be totally cleansed from sin and fully and permanently transformed to reflect the righteous life and holy character of Jesus Christ. Our spirts will be forever connected to God, the source of all spiritual life. We will experience eternal and unbroken fellowship with God. This will all happen when Jesus comes back and appears to his Church.
The Apostle John said that we do not fully understand all this now, but we do know that we will become like Jesus WHEN we see him. (1 John 3:2)
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
In Titus 2:13, the return of Jesus for HIS saints is called, “THE BLESSED HOPE”.
… while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own …
The blessed hope of the believer in Jesus is to be with Jesus and to be like him. This will happen at the Rapture when he comes back to take us to heaven to live with him.
The timing of the promised return of Jesus also gives HOPE to those still living on earth when he returns.
In Chapter 1 of this letter, Paul told the Thessalonians that we believers are waiting for the return of God’s son from heaven to rescue us from the coming wrath. Listen to verse 10 of 1 Thessalonians chapter 1.
… and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath (1 Thess 1:10).
Jesus will come back when the Church is in desperate need of him. It will be like the time when Israel was being pressed against the Red Sea by Pharoah’s army. God came down and parted the Red Sea so that Israel could escape and not be destroyed. True Christians will be hated by the world and Satan will want to silence them. He will try to destroy the remnant of the Church, who follow the REAL Jesus, and have not denied his name. But before the coming New World Order, which is following Satan, can wipe the Church out, Jesus will snatch us away out of its grasp. By doing this, he will also rescue the Church from entering the Day of the Lord. We will talk more about this next week.
The hope that Jesus is going to come back for us just in time should keep us from worry. As always, God’s timing is perfect. He is never early, and He is never late. Jesus will call us up into the clouds at exactly the right time. If we believe that Jesus will arrive and save those who are awake and waiting for him before the ship goes down, it will give us hope that will enable us to hang on a little longer when things get bad. Sometimes, we need, just enough HOPE to get through one more day.
This reminds me of Tevye in the ‘Fiddler on the Roof”. You probably remember the scene where his wife is nagging him to get ready for the Sabbath. And he says to her, “I WON’T BE LATE! I WON’T BE LATE!”.
Jesus IS coming to RESCUE us from the coming wrath! (AMEN)
We can have HOPE because HE WON’T BE LATE! (AMEN)
Page BreakBenediction and Celebration
Titus 2:11-14 fits well with the theme of the message this morning. Listen as I read it…
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
LET US GET WITH THE PROGRAM OF JESUS TO REDEEM US FROM ALL WICKEDNESS AND PURIFY FOR HIMSELF A PEOPLE THAT ARE HIS VERY OWN, EAGER TO DO WHAT IS GOOD.
As we wait for the blessed HOPE of HIS GLORIOUS APPEARING let us STAY AWAKE, STAY ALERT AND STAY SELF-CONTROLLED. Let us be found WORKING in God’s vineyard, DELARING the Word of the Lord when he comes back riding on the clouds.
As we close this service let’s celebrate HIS coming and sing together with this video. When it is over you may be dismissed. Please, stand for the King. ALL RISE!
Worship Video – Days of Elijah