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4. Living to Please God
1Finally then, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as ye received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, even as ye do walk, --that ye abound more and more. 2For ye know what charge we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication; 4that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God; 6that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in the matter: because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified. 7For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification. 8Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God, who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you. 9But concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another; 10for indeed ye do it toward all the brethren that are in all Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, that ye abound more and more; 11and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your hands, even as we charged you; 12that ye may walk becomingly toward them that are without, and may have need of nothing. 13But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; 17then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
3 For this is the will of God. This is doctrine of a general nature, from which, as from a fountain, he immediately deduces special admonitions. When he says that this is the will of God, he means that we have been called by God with this design. “For this end ye are Christians — this the gospel aims at — that ye may sanctify yourselves to God.” The meaning of the term sanctification we have already explained elsewhere in repeated instances — that renouncing the world, and clearing ourselves from the pollutions of the flesh, we offer ourselves to God as if in sacrifice, for nothing can with propriety be offered to Him, but what is pure and holy.
That ye abstain. This is one injunction, which he derives from the fountain of which he had immediately before made mention; for nothing is more opposed to holiness than the defilement of fornication, which pollutes the whole man. On this account he assigns the lust of concupiscence to the Gentiles, who know not God. “Where the knowledge of God reigns, lusts must be subdued.”
By the lust of concupiscence, he means all base lusts of the flesh, but, at the same time, by this manner of expression, he brands with dishonor all desires that allure us to pleasure and carnal delights, as in Romans 13:14, he bids us have no care for the flesh in respect of the lust thereof. For when men give indulgence to their appetites, there are no bounds to lasciviousness. 567567 “Il n’y a mesure ne fin de desbauchement et dissolution;” — “There is no measure or end of debauchery and wantonness.” Hence the only means of maintaining temperance is to bridle all lusts.
As for the expression, that every one of you may know to possess his vessel, some explain it as referring to a wife, 568568 “Au regard du mari;” — “In relation to her husband.” as though it had been said, “Let husbands dwell with their wives in all chastity.” As, however, he addresses husbands and wives indiscriminately, there can be no doubt that he employs the term vessel to mean body. For every one has his body as a house, as it were, in which he dwells. He would, therefore, have us keep our body pure from all uncleanness.
And honor, that is, honorably, for the man that prostitutes his body to fornication, covers it with infamy and disgrace.