Now, we are starting the 5th chapter of 1st Thessalonians. Let’s just refresh our memories about what we have read thus far. In the first four chapters, Paul praises the believers in this city, because they have heard the gospel, and believed, and took their faith, and poured it out of them, so much so that people in other cities heard, and they were changed as well. In fact, near the end of chapter 1, Paul says, from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. In chapter 3, he announces how overjoyed he was when Timothy came back and told him how great their faith was. Chapter 4 begins with a warning to avoid sexual immorality, and to not be like the Gentiles who do not know GOD. Then, last time, we saw how even death would not keep those of us who believe from witnessing the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. That one day, He will return and gather all of His saints together, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Well, after Paul writes about this good news, he tells us the bad news about what will happen to the unrighteous when that day comes. Paul begins this chapter by telling us about the Day of the Lord.
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
Now that phrase “Day of the Lord”, is different from when Jesus comes to rapture His church.
The “Day of the Lord” is a period of time when GOD will pour out His wrath upon the world that remains after that rapture. Listen to how GOD describes this day in Zephaniah 1:14-17—The great day of the LORD is near-- near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the LORD will be bitter…That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of trumpet and battle cry…I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD.
How quickly will this come? Like *that*. Once we, the church, are taken up out of this world, at the shout of the archangel and the trumpet of GOD, this world will begin to go through a period of death and destruction like none it has ever seen. When is it going to happen? The only one that knows that is our Heavenly Father. Listen to what Jesus Himself says in Matthew 24:36—“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Only the Father knows when His wrath will be full, and He’ll pour it back out onto the earth. That’s why Paul said, in chapter 4, verse 11, to keep working until that day comes. Also in chapter 4, Paul wrote that it is GOD’s will that we be “sanctified”, or separate, or different, from the rest of the world. And in this chapter, he expands on that principle. He tells us we are to be as different as light and darkness, as different as night and day, as different as sober and drunk, and as different as salvation and wrath.
First, we are to be as different as LIGHT AND DARKNESS.
For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.
Verse 3. How many times does a woman know the exact moment when her water is going to break? She may have a general idea, but as to the exact hour, does she really know? Now, her doctor may give her a date, a general time frame as far as when she’s expected to deliver. But how many times does it happen, two weeks before her due date and her water breaks?Well, those in darkness are going to go through a time like a woman in labor. What’s interesting about this is, when a woman is giving birth, the period called “transition” is generally the most painful.
This is the time when the child is getting ready to exit the birth canal, and the frequency and intensity of her contractions are at their greatest. And it’s at about his time when she may say some…not so pleasant things about her husband. And it will be at this time when those who do not escape the wrath of GOD will curse Him and blaspheme Him.
But look at verses 4-5. In Luke chapter 21, Jesus says that there will be wars all around, and that when this happens, the Day is close. And this will be a very painful time. He then says, don’t be weighed down by sensuality, and drunkenness, and the things of this world. Because if you do, then the Day will fall on you. He says in Luke 21:36—“…be watchful at every time, begging that you be counted worthy to escape all these things, the things…about to happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.” However, those of us who know Jesus as our Savior, we can be confident that we will be taken up out of this world, and escape these things. Listen to what Paul writes in this verse. He’s telling us that if we are “in Christ”, that we will escape the labor pains that will overtake those who are not “in Christ”. We are not in darkness, or the night. We are sons—and daughters—of light, and of the daytime.
Next, we are to be as different as BEING SOBER AND BEING DRUNK.
Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.
In verse 6, that word “sleep” means, “yielding to sloth or sin; to not be concerned about one’s salvation.” He’s saying, “Don’t yield to sloth or sin; don’t be drawn to live in the night time, because that’s where the drunk and those who are asleep live. We who are children of light should live in the daytime.” If you recall, when Jesus was praying in Gethsemane, he told the apostles in Matthew 26:41—“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Then, if we look at verse 7. Are bars full of people during the day, or at night? Why are bars some of the darkest, dreariest places around? And why do they call it happy hour when it usually looks like somebody just died? Drive down the road, and eventually, you’ll pass a liquor store. Except they don’t always call them “liquor stores”. The sign out front will probably say, “wine and spirits.” In Ephesians 5:18, Paul says, And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. That word, “excess” literally means “an abandoned, dissolute life.” He’s saying, “Don’t be focused on getting drunk, because that just leads to a wasted life. Instead, keep getting filled with the Holy Spirit, singing and giving thanks to GOD.”
And finally, we see the difference between WRATH AND SALVATION.
But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
Verse 8. Here, Paul tells us that we should “put on the breastplate…” To “put on the breastplate of faith and love,” means that our desires, motives, and emotions should be guided by our love and our faith. And also, that we should commit our thoughts to the hope we have in our salvation. It is by staying awake and vigilant, by not yielding to sin and sloth that we walk in the light instead of walking in darkness. It’s how we walk soberly instead of drunkenness and lasciviousness. 2nd Corinthians 6:14-15—Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.
Verse 9. Even before He laid the first foundation of the entire universe, GOD chose us out of all the billions of people who would ever be born. And He made a plan for us to be reconciled and reunited with Him. His will for those of us that He has chosen was not for us to go through this period of great tribulation that the world would suffer. He planned for us to escape all that, and to obtain salvation. That word “obtain” means a lasting, preserving obtaining. It means we get it, and we don’t lose it. It doesn’t mean that once we obtain it, that we can go out and live in drunkenness and darkness. We who are of the light should live in the light. 1st John 1:7—…if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Listen to what one man had to say about 1st Thessalonians 5:9--
Those who live and die in darkness and ignorance, who sleep and are drunken as in the night, are…appointed to wrath; but as for those who are of the day, if they watch and be sober, it is evident that they are appointed to obtain salvation. And the sureness and firmness of the divine appointment are the great support and encouragement of our hope. Were we to obtain salvation by our own merit or power, we could have but little or no hope of it; but seeing we are to obtain it by virtue of God’s appointment, which we are sure cannot be shaken…on this we build unshaken hope.Finally, look at verse 10. There’s a difference between eternal life and eternal existence.
Everyone is guaranteed an eternal existence. If we do not know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, that eternal existence will be spent in eternal separation from GOD, in the place we call Hell. 2nd Thessalonians 1:8 says that those who do not accept the truth of the gospel …shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power…
Matthew 7:13—“Enter in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and there many which go in thereat:”
But, if we do trust Him, then we are promised eternal life with Him. We all know what it says in John 3:16.
Romans 6:23—For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
John 10:27-28—“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
The will of GOD is our sanctification. We are to be as different as light and darkness, as different as night and day, as different as sober and drunk, and as different as salvation and wrath.