1Th 4:7-8 “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.”
The world around us is full of uncleanness; unclean thoughts, unclean writings, unclean laws, unclean entertainments. This is not new. It was around in Paul’s day, as witnessed by his warnings and counsel to the churches. We, as the called out assembly (church) of God are granted grace to recognize uncleanness (impurity).
As the children of God, we are deluding ourselves to try and excuse impure living with the attitude “Well, God knows I’m a sinner.” Yes, God knows we are sinners which is precisely why He sent His only begotten Son to be the propitiation for our sins (Rom 3:25, 1Jn 2:2). Christ being the propitiation for our sins, God has called us with a holy calling (2Ti 1:9).
God has called us according to His own purpose in grace. It is not about us, but about Him and His holy will. According to His will, He has worked directly in our lives (called) and made us able to serve Him (purified). God has called us to holiness and the scripture tells us to walk worthy of the calling (vocation) He has sent (Eph 4:1). This calling directs our manner of living in His kingdom here.
Remember who Paul is writing to. He is not addressing everyone in Thessalonica, much less everyone in the world. His concern at this point is not with the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles who persecuted him and his companions. Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica. This admonishment is to those who are not only Christ’s by His shed blood, but are in His kingdom here according to the calling of God in their lives!
We, who are the called out assembly of God’s people, have not been called to uncleanness. It is not for us to just “go along” with the unrighteousness of men. We have a responsibility to read and understand the will of God that He has plainly stated in His word and to walk with faith and patience in those things where we do not yet understand His will. It becomes us to recognize that, as the church, God has and is working in our lives on a daily basis.
God has not called us to live unclean lives: His calling gives us the grace to reject impurity. God has called us to live holy lives: His calling gives us the grace to walk in purity and light. His calling in our lives points men to Jesus and the great love He has for us. His calling in our lives gives us access to the Holy Ghost for comfort and instruction.
It is a serious matter to despise the counsel of God’s word. The word translated as “despised” carries the idea of “rejection or casting off” (see Strong’s). This is viewed as being more than just ignoring these things, but actually throwing them away (as though to be rid of them). While our carnality might be tempted to take the position “This is just Paul’s idea” or “The preacher’s just a man like me,” the inspired word here says that it is not man we are throwing away, but God.
There have been people in the past who threw God away in the sense of living in uncleanness after being called to holiness. Paul tells us about these people in Romans 1:28. He talks about those who “did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” He was not talking about people who never had knowledge of God, but of those who did not like to retain (hold on to) that knowledge. To be holy, we must hold on to the knowledge of God through the Holy Spirit.
May we walk in the holiness that God has called us unto and reject the craftiness of men who would persuade us that evil is good!