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Sabbath School Lessons on 1 & 2 Thessalonians
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 7: Living Holy Lives *
Introduction: Sometimes it is good to peek over into the office,
yard, home or church of other people to see how they do things - how
they think and act. For most of my life, I believed grace was on one
side of Christianity and works was on the other. The strong, I'm
saved regardless of what I do, didn't pay much attention to what they
did. The strong, I won't drink, dance, chew or hang around with those
who do, didn't pay much attention to grace. Teaching at Regent
University has given me a very clear vision of another way. I've
bumped into people, of various denominations, who are very strong on
grace. They believe that once saved it is very hard to lose your
salvation by bad works. At the same time, holiness in living is of
extreme importance to them. What a wonderful combination! They are
secure in their salvation, but constantly alert to whether they are
advancing the Kingdom of God by their deeds. Let's plunge into our
study and see what Paul teaches us about salvation and living holy
- Pleasing God
- Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1. What kind of living did Paul
recommend? (Living in order to please God.)
- How often do you ask yourself, "Is what I'm doing
- Should this be something that becomes a habit
in our life - asking whether what we are doing
at the moment is pleasing to God?
- How do the Thessalonians measure up with their
living? (Paul says that, in fact, they are living to
- How does Paul say the Thessalonians could improve on
this aspect of their lives? (They should do it more
- Consider the apparent conflict in what Paul is
writing. He first says they are "in fact" living in
order to please God, and then he says "do this more."
How can they be "in fact" doing it and yet not be
doing it sometimes? How can there be room for "do
this more?" (This reflects Paul's "grace" message.
Because of what Jesus has done for us, we are saved.
We are perfect in God's eyes. But, on our own we are
far from perfect. Paul says, "Keep working on it.
Keep paying attention to your goal of holiness.")
- Read 1 Thessalonians 4:2. On what authority is Paul giving
these kinds of directions? (God's authority.)
- Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5. Put yourself in Paul's place.
He is writing to people who have not learned to control
their bodies. People who are involved in sexual
immorality. Would you start out by saying they are living
to please God, but please try to do this more often?
Please work to do it better?
- What kind of Christians are these Thessalonians?
(They are saved Christians. Paul does not say they
are pagans. He does not say they are lost.)
- What is the goal for these saved Christians? (Their
goal is to live in a way that is "holy and
honorable." They should be sanctified. They should be
on the road to becoming saints.)
- Passionate Lust
- Read 1 Thessalonians 4:6. When I was young all sorts of
messages about sex were presented to me by Christians.
Some would refer to "dirty pictures," and dirty and impure
conduct. At the same time, my parents sent me to a sex
education class taught by a fellow who wrote the book "God
Invented Sex." Paul does not refer to "passionate lust"
as either being dirty or being created by God. What is the
main problem Paul sees? (You take advantage of someone
else. You treat someone else wrongly.)
- Have you viewed pornography, adultery and other
sexual sins from this perspective?
- I was recently a moderator in a conference about
human trafficking. It opened my eyes to the fact that
many of those involved in prostitution and creating
porn are slaves in some way. Some other person is
controlling them. How does this knowledge change your
view about your personal involvement in this
activity? (The old argument is that this is
"victimless fun" or a "victimless crime." Instead, it
has many victims - generally young people victimized
in the most terrible of ways.)
- Just this week a mother told me that her son's wife
had left him and their very young child for another
man. This story could be repeated millions of times.
What "trade" is being made here? (The spouse finds
someone who is more fun or more interesting, and the
other spouse and the children suffer. The wandering
wife has taken advantage of her family. A wandering
husband takes advantage of his family. It is extreme
- Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:6 that God will "punish"
those who commit such sins. How can you reconcile this
with 1 Thessalonians 4:1 which says they are living in a
way that pleases God? (Not all of God's punishment is
eternal damnation. Our immoral choices result in
punishment here. The excitement and fun of "wandering"
results in damage to others who will, in turn, damage
- How many times have you observed the truth of what I
just wrote? Those who thought this would be "fun,"
end up with a load of grief?
- Sin That Separates
- Read 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8. We have the same problem we
discussed before. Paul says these people are living a life
pleasing to God, and he also says that they are in danger
of rejecting God. Pick a sexual sin. Has the person who
commits that sin rejected God or is that person leading a
life pleasing to God? (It seems, amazingly, that the
answer could be either one. For the Thessalonians the
answer, according to Paul, is that they are leading a life
pleasing to God - they just have to get better at it.)
- What does this teach us about the nature of sin? (We
serve a Holy God, but He tolerates sin in those who
claim the righteousness of Jesus. We all know that
sin is progressive. It gets worse as we wallow in it.
The result of moving in the direction of sin is that
sin leads to a rejection of God and the Holy Spirit.
This is the point where the loss of grace occurs. We
no longer have accepted God. We have rejected God,
rejected His grace, and rejected the purifying power
of the Holy Spirit!)
- How can we know when we cross the line from a sinner
saved by grace to a sinner who is lost? (When we no
longer choose Jesus as our Savior. When we no longer
care when we reject God and the direction of the Holy
Spirit. Grace is deep. Grace covers a multitude of
sins. But, at some point sin separates us from God
because it causes us to reject God.)
- Friend, can you see what Paul is saying? You can be secure
in your salvation as long as you choose to remain
connected to God. The daily sins that we fall into do not
threaten our salvation - no matter how much Satan tells us
this is true. Instead, God calls us to avoid sin, to
pursue holiness because God is holy and because we want to
avoid the punishment that wrong actions bring here on
earth. Our salvation lost only when our sins have gotten
so out of hand that we end up rejecting God and rejecting
- Life of Love
- Read 1 Thessalonians 4:9. What does this amazing grace
teach us about loving others? (Paul says we are taught by
God to love others. When you consider how generous God is
to you, when you remember what a sinner you are - yet you
are living a life pleasing to God - it changes your
attitude towards all of those other sinners around you.)
- Read 1 Thessalonians 4:10. What kind of love do the
Thessalonians have? (It seems much like their pleasing
life - they need to work on it! They need to love more and
- Read 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. Paul has instructed the
Thessalonians to obey more and to love more. What is the
goal of greater obedience and love? (They will be a
positive example to those around them. People will respect
- Friend, are you filled with joy knowing that your
salvation is secure? Let that radiate out of you! Radiate
love and good works so that others will be drawn to our
great and gracious God! Will you determine to do that
- Next week: The Dead in Christ.
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.