1 Thessalonians 4:4-7
That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;…
I. TO WHAT DOES GOD CALL?
1. Negatively: "Not unto uncleanness."(1) Of mind. Let this warn us against impure imaginations, conceptions, reflections which will make the memory one day a sink of infamy.
(2) Of heart. Let us beware of impure loves, desires.
(3) Of tongue. Away the obscene anecdote or illusion.
(4) Of life. Eschew the licentious associate, the unchaste deed.
2. Positively: "Unto holiness."(1) Let your thoughts be holy and be set on good subjects, such as are worth treasuring and will cause no pain in recollection.
(2) Let your feelings be pure. Cherish worthy objects, and aspire after noble ends.
(3) Let your words be clean, such as dignify the instrument and edify the hearer.
(4) Let your life be spent in the society of the good and in compassing righteous ends by righteous deeds.
II. WHOM DOES GOD CALL? "Us." Everybody in general — you in particular. God calls —
1. The young. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the early cultivation of habits of purity. The Holy Being says: "My son, give me thy heart." All will follow if this be done. If the spring be pure so will the stream be.
2. Women. Christian women are the salt of the earth without whose influence the world had perished in its corruption. And a false delicacy should not seal the lips of those whose duty it is to remind them of their responsibility in this particular. And she whose very presence is sufficient to abash the profligate should be very tenacious and careful of her social power.
(1) Public men are called by God to give effect to the commandment which is "holy and just and good" in the national and provincial parliaments, to make virtue easy and vice difficult.
(2) Private men are called by God to purify society by precept and example.
III. HOW DOES GOD CALL?
1. By His Word which reflects His holy nature and reveals His holy laws. All its legislation, narrative, biography, poetry, prophecy, doctrine, are summed up in this: "Be ye holy."
2. By His works. They were made very good. In an elaborate argument (Romans 1:20-32) the apostle shows that the natural order of things is holiness, and that men guilty of impurity sin against nature as well as God.
3. By the course of His government. History affirms the existence and administration of "a Power above us, not ourselves, that makes for righteousness." Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Rome, perished by their own corruptions — a judgment in each case no less real than that which overtook the cities of the plain. It would be difficult to find a nation that was overthrown until all that was worth preserving was dead. "Righteousness exalteth a nation," etc.
4. By His economy of redemption. The Cross of Christ and the mission of the Spirit are loud protests against uncleanness and calls to holiness. "Ye are bought with a price." "Your bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost."
5. By the witness of conscience which is an echo of the voice of God.
IV. WHERE IS THE CALL TO BE OBEYED?
1. At home. Let that be guarded against desecration as sacredly as a church. Watch with scrupulous care the course of conversation, and the literature upon the table.
2. In the state.
3. In society.
4. In trade.
(J. W. Burn.)
Parallel VersesKJV: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;