Lessons from a Model Church - Living in a corrupt Society chp 4:1-12
Has it ever struck you how greedy for success we are? In business, companies
buying up other companies and building their empires. In politics, trying to win
every seat! In sport the teams that aim to win all the trophies; never mind a
treble let's have a quadruple. The pupil who gets nine A stars and is really
annoyed with their one A. There is a greediness that is a little frightening.
There is a difference between aiming to give your best and beating the
opposition into the ground to prove you are the best.
I’m not implying there is no generosity around, there is. But still, greediness is
all around us.
There is one thing you cannot be too greedy for; godliness. In a society that is
greedy in it’s godlessness we cannot be too greedy for godliness. In the best
possible way these early missionaries were never satisfied. “More and more” is a
theme of Paul’s, which he learned from the Spirit of God.
One of the reasons for this is that there is a continual stream of things against
God and against godliness. There is a constant challenge to living God’s way in a
world that is really determined to live it’s own way.
This was a church where God had been and was at work. This was a church
that had great examples of Christian leadership. This was a church which had
been taught how to follow Christian leaders.
This was a church living in a corrupt society. This was a young church facing
many challenges. In these verses they are counseled and challenged on some of
the key issues they were facing. We are seeing a model church from the inside.
IT IS POSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD AS WE LIVE IN A CORRUPT SOCIETY
The apostles were not suggesting these Christians were a cut above people.
They made it clear that they were people who had been rescued from a life that
would lead to disaster. cf 1:10 They had emerged out of a pagan, idolatrous and
immoral world and been changed from the inside. And now they were charged
and challenged to live as Christians in that society and do so in a way that
This is what being a Christian is all about, living to please God. He is Lord, he is
the master, he has shown us love, mercy and grace. He has dealt with our past
and he has plans for our future. This is about the power and energy of gratitude
in response to grace.
Is that your outlook on the Christian life? Do you desire to please God? To bring
him pleasure in your life and your lifestyle? Not trying to win his favour or
approval but a whole way of life that says “thank you Lord”.
Notice too, this is a lifetimes’ occupation - they are commended for doing it and
urged to go on doing it. That means when you fail you get up and keep on
This was to be the practical working out of the apostle’s prayers (see chp 3:10-
13). This was also what Paul had taught and trained them in while he was with
them. Behind this training was the authority of the Lord himself v2.
The thing I want to emphasize here is that it is urged upon us and it is possible,
if you like it is doable. Not that it’s the most comfortable illustration but the
English created little Englands in the midst of Indian society and life in the days
of empire. The church should have something of the atmosphere of heaven
even in the midst of a godless and corrupt world.
At the time Paul was writing it would have seemed impossible that one day
Christians would bring about an end to the grim entertainment of the Gladiatorial
IF YOU WANT GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE CHECK OUT THE ISSUE OF SEXUAL
How serious are you when you say you want God’s will for your life? Well here it
is - be Holy. That means essentially be set apart for God. Maybe like that
dinner set that you always and only use when visitors come the house. As a
Christian you have been cleansed and set apart for God; every part of you.
Why does the Bible have such an emphasis on sexual immorality? Can’t be
because God is anti-sex, after all he created it. It is because these first
Christians, like us, emerged from this background and were surrounded and
threatened by it. It is said that the general view of the time was to look on
immorality as “not bothered” or if you enjoy it then “go for it”.
In Thessalonica itself there were gods with whom various sexual practices were
There was always a danger of getting dragged into this kind of thing. V5 is
interesting because this society was not atheistic but its religion was infected
with sexual immorality.
What Paul means is that these people do not know the true God and do not
know his will and his ways.
It is, however, worth noting that where God is pushed aside in society, sexual
immorality is more likely to flourish.
It is not hard to find examples of the problems we face today - it is all around us
and is continually, openly forced upon us in so many ways. I came across this in
an article about the lifestyle of the heir to the British throne. “Do extramarital
affairs breach the standards of right for the “upper classes”? .... they have very
relaxed views on adultery. “The Public may take a dim view of Charles and
Camilla’s behaviour over the years, but under their own cultural rules they are
God’s way is pointed out to us here: Learn to control verse 4. In contrast to the
general approach which is out of control. That there be honour, respect and
restraint among the Christian church family.
God is against such sins and will judge them. They often have bitter
consequences now for those caught up in them. Our society testifies all to
plainly to that fact. With so many unwanted pregnancies and damaged lives. As
the porn profiteers exploit and get rich.
The Christian is called to a different standard and given spiritual resources as
well as challenges to deal with it. v7 and v8. If we are not interested or
concerned about sexual purity then we are not seriously interested in the will of
God for our lives.
YOU WILL FIND BOTH AN EXPECTATION AND EXPLANATION OF CHRISTIAN LOVE
You are in your English exam and you must write an essay on “Explain why a
mother loves her child”. Do you think you would find it difficult to write? Paul
gives the explanation of Christian love; God teaches it from the inside. Yes it
might need help and direction but it is God-taught never the less. Paul does not
have to put it there he only has to draw it out.
Having just written about non-Christian lust out of control he now writes about
Christian love. He knows this model church have shown their love and were
showing their love.And their love over spilled the boundaries of their own local
church and went much wider.
This is one of those things we can afford to be greedy about. We are urged here
to do this “more and more”. Love is often challenged by many circumstances.
Love is needed today and every day in all the changes of circumstances that may
It is taught throughout the New Testament especially and is the distinguishing
mark of Christians. This emphasis was forever stamped on the mind of the
church by the Lord Jesus himself. If such love is not found it is fair to ask if the
inner teaching of God, spoken of here, has ever happened.
“Greg Louganis recorded an unprecedented double/double in Olympic diving
when he won gold medals in the men's 3-meter springboard and platform
competition in both the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. Few will ever forget how he
fought back in 1988. In the springboard event he missed one dive and hit the
board with his head. Physicians stitched his cut, and he went on to win. In the
platform diving he won the gold on his final performance with an incredible
reverse three-and-a-half somersault tuck. It was a breathtaking finish that
brought Americans to their feet. It was the same dive that clinched the gold for
Louganis in the '84 games.
When reporters hounded him in Los Angeles he gave them a very unusual
response. They asked, "What were you thinking about as you prepared for your
final dive?" Maybe they were referring to the pressure, or to the fact that that
dive is extremely dangerous and killed a Soviet diver just a year before in 1983.
Louganis' simple answer was, "I was thinking that no matter what happens, my
mother will still love me."
When Greg was just eleven, he became very frustrated at his diving performance
in an early and important meet. Frances Louganis took her son aside and said, "I
do not come to see you win. I come to see you dive. Just do your best. I will
love you no matter what." That unconditional love carried her son to forty-three
national diving titles, sixPan-American gold medals, five world championships,
one Olympic silver medal, and four Olympic golds. Unconditional love can cause
anyone to excel.”
God shows us unconditional love (especially in a dying Saviour) and he teaches
us the same thing - it is very powerful. For a true Christian it is also very
HERE ARE SOME AMBITIONS EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD GO AFTER vv11-12
He does not just pluck this issue out of the blue it was a problem. see 2 Thess
We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are
busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to
settle down and earn the bread they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers, never tire
of doing what is right.
It seems some of them may having been using fact that Jesus was to come back
again as an excuse for idleness and that of course breeds other problems. The
apostle challenges this. It does not fit with a profession of Christian faith.
Christian truth inspires action not idleness.
I understand part of Greek culture degraded manual work. Vocational and
practical skills are still treated as second class in much of our society. This was
not the view of the Jews or the Christians. Rather it was dignified and service
offered to God. You can do you work with hands that are dedicated to God.
It is a beautiful thing to think of tables, chairs, cupboards, tools and toys, made
by the hands of the Jesus the carpenter. It is amazing to think how much
ordinary life and work may be of pleasure to our great God. Tomorrow you can
bring service and pleasure to your heavenly Father.
A quiet life, that is calm and avoids promoting trouble as indicated in the verses
from 2 Thessalonians. Be mindful of your own business and not to anxious to
get into other people’s. Roger Carswell says these words should be “etched on
The world is watching us as we go about fulfilling these ambitions. Indeed
A.T.Robertson put it like this; “People outside the churches have a right to watch
the conduct of professing Christians in business, domestic life, social and political
It is possible to live a life pleasing to God in the midst of a corrupt society. If
you want to know God’s will for you life start with holiness and check out the
issue of sexual purity. There is both and expectation and explanation of Christian
love. We can thank God that there are simple, humble ambitions that every
Christian can go after; these please God and can enrich our lives.
“At the opening of the second century the church was to be found in every
land and almost every city from the Tiber to the Euphrates, from the Black
Sea to Northern Africa, some think it extended as far west as Spain and
Britain. Its membership included several millions.
Pliny’s letter to the Empreror Trajan (112 AD) states that in the provinces of
Asia Minor bordering on the Black Sea the temples of the gods were almost
forsaken and the Christians were everywhere a multitude. The members
were of every class, from the noblest in rank down to the slaves, who
throughout the empire outnumbered the free population.’ Hurlbut.
Christians can not only live in a corrupt society, by God’s grace and the gospel
they can change it! Amen.