These application questions are designed to be preceded by observation questions to provide a self-directed or group study of the book of 1st Thessalonians. Find all 1 Thessalonians resources here. Enjoy!
1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 – Application Questions
- In Paul’s desire for the Thessalonian church to become established in blamelessness and holiness, he urges them to live in a way which pleases God (3:13-4:1). In what ways has a desire to please God changed the decisions that you make or the way in which you live
- As Paul encourages the church to live to please God, he specifically mentions the need to abstain from sexual immorality. Why do you think this particular prohibition was so often given to believers, especially the Gentile churches? (see Acts 15:20,29; 21:25; Rom 13:13; 1 Cor 5:11; 6:13ff; 1 Cor 7:1; 10:8; 2 Cor 12:21; Eph 5:3; Col 3:5. Cf 1 Pet 2:11)
- List the ways which participating in sexual immorality can be harmful. Think about how it harms one’s faith, relationships, testimony, mind, etc.
- If one is to abstain from sexual immorality, he must learn to control his own body in holiness and honour (4). This type of self-control is necessary for every believer and applies to many areas of life (1 Cor 9:25-27; 1 Cor 6:12-13; Gal 5:23; Titus 1:7-8, 2:2; Col 3:5; 2 Pet 1:5-6). What are some areas in which you struggle with self-control? In what areas have you learned self-control since you’ve become a Christian?
- Self-control and self-discipline are closely related. Besides the idea of abstaining from sin, what are some other areas of the Christian life where learning self-discipline is necessary?
- Why might it be a good practice to exercise self-control even in areas which may not be sinful? What are some areas of self-indulgence which are often overlooked by Christians but should be considered when exercising self-control?
- In 4-5 Paul contrasts a lifestyle which is characterized by holiness and honour and that which is controlled by passion of lust. The latter, he says, belongs to the world of the Gentiles who do not know God. Indicate some areas where the contrast can clearly be seen between unbelievers (given to lust) and believers (given to holiness).
- In verse 6 we learn that sexual immorality is not a victimless crime. Paul warns that to participate in sexual immorality is to transgress and wrong our fellow believers. In what ways can we understand participating in sexual immorality as a wrong against our brothers and sisters in Christ? Think of unintended consequences as well.
- In verse 6 Paul uses very strong language. He tells the Thessalonians that God will avenge all such transgressions and reminds them that he has given this solemn warning in the past. Considering that Paul is writing to Christians, why do you think it is appropriate to give warnings like this?
- A repeated theme in this section is that of holiness and sanctification. List below the phrases which relate to holiness and sanctification in verses 1-8.
- Considering that it is God’s will that we increase in holiness (sanctification, v3); that we control our bodies in holiness and honour (v4); that we’ve been called to holiness (v7); and that we are to live in submission to the Holy Spirit (v8), it is obviously very important that we understand what holiness is. How would you define this holiness to which God has called us?
- In verse 8 Paul warns that to disregard God’s call to holiness is to disregard God himself who has given us his Holy Spirit. In other words, God has given us his Holy Spirit for the express purpose of pursuing practical holiness in this life. To disregard this call to holiness and to live in impurity is to disregard (also translated disannul, reject, abandon, nullify) God himself (cf. 1 Cor 6:15ff). How might thinking about this truth help you the next time you are tempted to sin?
- Considering verses 1, 6, 9 and 12, whose interests should we consider as we decide how to live? Do you consider each of these when making decisions in life? Which, if any, have you neglected?
- In verses 11-12 Paul gives some brief instructions regarding how to behave properly before unbelievers (outsiders). Use the space below to indicate what behaving opposite these instructions might look like: a) aspire to live quietly; b) mind your own affairs; c) work with your own hands; d) be dependent on no one.