Holy Grace, Holy Living

by Ronnie Hewitt
1Thess 4:1-8 “As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, ‚Äčnot in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; ‚Äčand that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.”
Please understand that I know it is through the grace of Jesus Christ alone that we are saved. No amount of personal righteousness or effort could ever suffice. I believe this wholeheartedly. It is truly by the unmerited and undeserved forgiveness of God, that we are His children today. However, you also find in your relationship with Jesus and all throughout the Scriptures a pretty serious call to a holy life.
The above passage was written in the context of a society where sexual immorality was the norm and was acceptable. What we find though is that the apostles did not compromise God’s holiness and truth by lowering their standards to accommodate the ideas or trends of their society. Wherever they found standards being lowered in the church, they rebuked and sought to correct them. In light of today’s prevalent low morals, such correction is still needed in order to call the church to God’s standards of righteousness.
I’m reminded of the scene where the Pharisees brought a lady caught in adultery and threw her before Jesus. This mob was ready to stone her. But after interacting with Jesus, we see the town square empty out one by one, until only she, in her shame, is before Him. He rescued her from a terrible death, and then forgives her. This is the unmerited, undeserved grace at its best. But Jesus has one more word for her: “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
So, yes we see grace reigns in the kingdom of God; but right alongside it is an unflinching call to holiness. Yes, God is extending grace, kindness, gentleness, and love, which secures us as His children. But from that secure state, where is God saying to you, “Go and sin no more?”