by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4 June 15, 2014 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(049)Thesis:The behavior of "believers" is succinctly established by Paul as deriving from the Spirit and consisting of "authentic", "peace-producing", and "faultless" activities.
Introduction:In our last study we looked into the issue of Paul's "behavior" as a consequence of what he and Silvanus and Timothy were "made to become" as it relates to the "body", the "holy one" of God that, by design, is the physical instrument of the manifestation of the inner Spirit. This is the only way the Thessalonians could be "witnesses" of the "holiness" of the messengers of the incomparable Message. The point, however, is that the body is called "the holy one" because, when it is properly related to the Spirit within, it shows an inner balance of attributes, an imbalance of which at any point of "competition" would create sin. Paul's point is two-fold: first, his argument is that their "witness" of such "balance" means that the Message is genuine (a bad root cannot produce good fruit); and, second, such a lifestyle is not only possible, but expected by those who actively "believe" in the promise of God regarding the "Fruit of the Spirit".
This is important because of what is often used as an excuse: "I am only human". There was an article online last week regarding the wildly popular artist, Thomas Kinkade, whose profession of evangelical faith was extremely "soiled" by his latter day behavior and drug/alcohol induced death. The reason given for this serious breach of "testimony" was "he was a victim of his own humanity". This kind of reasoning, frankly, kills the hope of those who look to "the faith" for "hope". Another example is the life-long missionary who committed suicide and burned down her home around her. One of her friends wrote of her: "she finished well". Kinkade was not a "victim", and the missionary did not "finish well". Paul was graciously adamant that our hope is built upon a better foundation than something just barely able to keep us in check until our last days weaken us to the point of becoming a "victim".
This evening we want to look into the other two issues: "uprightly" and "blamelessly".
I. The Issue of "Uprightly".
A. The word is only used in its adverbial form in five places in the New Testament, but its noun and adjective forms are widely used.
B. The word is "righteously" and is revealed by Luke 23:41 to that upon which "Justice" demands.
C. According to 1 Corinthians 15:34, this is an integral part of a person's ability to be persuasive in regard to the Gospel.
D. According to Titus 2:12, "grace" leads us into a lifestyle of "righteousness".
E. The point of the term is that, in God's relational universe, harmony between persons is only consistently possible if both persons practice, by the Spirit, what the Law requires (Hebrews 12:11).
1. At the root of this insistence upon relational harmony is the reality that the "soul" only really thrives in the presence of a fearlessness that is typically found in settings where no one is seeking to bring harm to anyone else.
2. This means that Paul was telling the Thessalonians that his Message would make it possible to at least be on the "giving" side of the relational harmony issue.
3. This also means that the Message is not some deceitful way to "take" from the hearers, but to give them a basis to become "righteous" doers.
II. The issue of "Blamelessly".
A. This adverb is used twice in the New Testament and both of the uses are found in this letter.
B. The word concept is that of someone who cannot be faulted in their behavior.
C. In the other text in this letter (5:23), Paul brings this trilogy of adverbs to their true impact.
1. The goal of Paul's letter is to get the Thessalonians to live in hope.
2. Such a life produces a lifestyle that is "blameless" in three domains.
3. These domains are basic, but complicated.
a. The domain of "spirit" is the domain of "production" through the body with the attendant issue of how that "production" rebounds upon the "doer".
1) In the relational universe, proper "production" produces a deep sense of personal satisfaction.
2) In the legal, mechanical universe, proper "production" is impossible, but the facsimile that is produced yields a deep seated sense of satisfaction when it is recognized by others and they give "praise" to the doer.
3) Ultimately, it is God Who decides what is/has been done properly so that there is no rebuke due (Philippians 2:15).
a) This means that one must put the praise which God gives to men on the top of the list of pursuits.
b) This also means that living in "hope" means that we are actively looking forward to the fulfillment of the promises of God and are, by that, motivated to live blamelessly.
b. The domain of "soul" is the domain of "emotional experience" caused by what the "spirit" produces through the "body" in light of the "kickback" that inevitably comes.
1) The repercussions of reaction caused by one's behavior depend upon what others do in reaction and how that is absorbed by the one doing the initial action.
2) It is possible, and preferable, to experience "joy" even when others react violently and negatively to what was done.
3) This highlights why "hope" is so critical to present living: what one "hopes" for is what creates the emotional response to the events of living.
c. The domain of "body" is the domain of actual activity sponsored by the inner spirit.
1) Behavior is at issue in this domain.
2) This means that the behavior must meet, or exceed, what "Justice" would require.
3) This means that doing what is right is always the final issue of performance; no excuse for doing something wrong.