Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today I want to preach about the Epistle, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, because this verse speaks of sanctification as the work of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit begins when the Word preached touches our hearts, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to repent of our sins and seek a Savior. In holy baptism, we receive saving faith. We learn in catechism class that baptism is the water applied with the Word of God in which the Spirit is active. Therefore, baptism is the spiritual birth, the beginning of the Christian life.
We are children of God by adoption in baptism. In baptism the Spirit is poured out on us, like the whole church on the day of Pentecost. So we are members of the church by baptism. The Lord said to Moses in our Old Testament reading (Exodus 33: 12-23), “I have known thee by thy name, and you have found grace also in mine eyes” In baptism, God has known us by name and we have also found grace in his eyes. We are members of God's people, all who have found His grace.
However, the work of the Holy Spirit does not end with baptism. "He that believeth and shall be baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). In baptism, we are therefore justified by faith and have the promise of eternal life. Not by our own works, but by faith, which is the work of the Holy Spirit. But, that must change our lives. Good works are the fruits of living faith. After baptism, the work of the Holy Spirit is to help us live as sons and daughters of God.
To live as sons and daughters of God is to live according to the will of God. We find the will of God for our lives in His Law. You have memorized the 10 Commandments in catechism class. The summary of this Law, in the words of our Lord, that we confess every Sunday is, first, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. "(Matthew 22: 37-38) In fact, it is the summary of the first three of the 10 commandments. The summary of others is "to your neighbor as yourself. Of these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets " (Matthew 27: 39-40).
In our text for today, St. Paul focuses on two of the commandments, "Do not commit adultery" and "Do not covet your neighbor's wife."
"Now, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as ye have learned of us how ye ought to conduct yourselves, and to please God, so ye may abound more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the Lord Jesus. "
The Christians in Thessalonica learned the same 10 commandments from the apostles. Then Paul exhorted them to grow in these good works.
"For the will of God is your sanctification: that ye withdraw yourselves from fornication." Fornication is sex apart from marriage, which should not take place in the life of a believer. "Let each one of you know how to have his vessel in sanctification and honor; Not with affection of concupiscence, as the Gentiles who do not know God. "A man must respect and honor his own wife and the other women as the wives of his brothers. He must also treat the unmarried, the young ladies, as wives of brothers in the future. You should not treat a woman like a prostitute. A man approaches the prostitute only for sex. For him, she is like a sweet, to be enjoyed and thrown in the street afterward.
At the same time, a woman should not act like a prostitute. You young women must be careful about that. I have seen many photos on social networks that present an image that does not deserve the honor and respect of men. A Christian girl should present an image that deserves honor and respect as she who will be a wife and mother of children. In this past week, there was published the case of a young woman kidnapped, drugged, tortured and raped by a man she met on Facebook. It is not a joke. There are consequences in this world for your actions.
All men should treat women with respect and all women should conduct themselves as honorable women. All married men should be content with their wives and do not covet the wives of their neighbors. This is the will of God. "For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness."
We have learned in the catechism that no one can fulfill the Law of God, which is to love God and our neighbor. The Law does not save us, but because of Jesus Christ, His suffering and death, we have found grace in the eyes of God, as the people Israel found grace in the eyes of God because of Moses. Moses in the Old Testament prefigures Jesus Christ. However, Moses could not see the glory of God, because he was yet a sinner. We also. We are saints for the righteousness of Christ, but at the same time we are sinners.
The sinful nature lasts until physical death. Then, in our resurrection, the work of the Holy Spirit will be complete. Because we will be resurrected by the same power of the Holy Spirit who gave us new life in baptism.
We are still sinners, so every day we fall into sin. That is why every Sunday we confess our sins and God is faithful and just to forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness. This is the Christian life. Therefore, as the church always proclaim the good news that in Christ Jesus there is the forgiveness of sins and by the power of the Holy Spirit we must live as children of God. We must teach it is the right way and offer God's forgiveness and help to get back on this path.
But, as Paul says, "God is the avenger." No one loses hope of redemption until the final judgment, and that judgment belongs to God, not to us. Our duty is to seek the salvation of all. We offer the means of grace, baptism and the body and blood of Christ at the sacrament to help them live as children of God. There are only two paths in this life. If we abide in faith, with the help of the Holy Spirit, our lives will improve. If we do not listen to the Word of God and despise the means of grace, we will fall more and more deeply into sin. If we do not have the promise of eternal life, it does not matter if we fall into sin. But if we have the hope of eternal life, why should we live as those who do not know God? Thank the Lord for the promise and peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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