A Prescription For Christian Conduct

We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone, I Thessalonians 5.14.

In this verse, Paul prescribes four imperatives for Christians to follow: Admonish, Encourage, Help, and Patience. These can be a hard pill to swallow. But the Bible is clear about this; followers of Jesus are to obey this prescription. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we all struggle with these at times.

To admonish the unruly isn’t always comfortable. The word translated as “unruly” refers to those who are idle or lazy. Let’s face it; a backache is one of the most common excuses to get out of work. Lazy people are undisciplined; they don’t maintain any proper order in their lives, they are always absentee, they are the ones who cause a multitude of problems for people wanting to get the work done. In particular, in this context, they are “shirkers” who neglect their duty and live in idleness at others’ expense. They’ll say, “Let somebody else do it.” This verse is telling Christians that it is their responsibility to reprove other believers.

The second imperative given is to encourage the fainthearted. Encourage those who are discouraged. In the context of this verse, the fainthearted are people concerned about one of two things: 1) People who have died (I Thessalonians 4.13); 2) People worried about the second coming of Christ. 1  Thessalonians 5.11 says, encourage one another and build up one another. To encourage is to comfort, to help them grow in their faith.

Now, concerning the second coming of Jesus. What difference does it make to worry about His second coming if you are not in the right relationship with His first coming? In other words, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus based on His first coming, you should be looking forward to His second coming, not worried about it. And if you’re anxious about His second coming, then now is check and make sure you have a relationship with Christ. Knowing about Jesus is not the same as a relationship. I can know the president of a country, but that doesn’t mean I know him. It’s a personal relationship like that between a husband and wife, you knowing Jesus and Him knowing you. Because after Jesus returns, there are no second chances. Time is up.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

Hebrews 9:27-28

Help the weak. Specifically, Paul is talking about people who are weak in their faith, not physically weak. Those who are strong in tier faith should bear the frailty of those who are spiritually weak. Romans 15.1-3 says, We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Galatians 6:2, 3, Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Be patient with everyone. It’s that “everyone” that makes this tough to do. Patience with others is something we all struggle with at times. Being even-tempered and slow to anger is the goal here. Patience is a quality of God. Psalm 103.8 says, The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness. Patience comes by prayer and seeing others through God’s eyes. God is patient with each of us, and we’re to be just as patient with others. You could say that patience is the key if we are to admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, and help the weak. And if we follow this prescription, then we demonstrate evidence of the fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:22-24

Christians are to live a life of Separation from the World

Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you (John 15:19). 

Biblically, separation from the world means Christians must separate ourselves from evil, from worldliness, and from being involved in sinful activities. Jesus separates us from the world because He knows what is best for us.

From what are we to separate ourselves? Sinful companions. If we participate with people engaged in immoral (worldly) activities, our witness for Christ is baseless. There is a difference between witnessing to the unsaved and participating with them in ungodly and unbiblical activities. Share the gospel with them, but don’t do as they do or condone it.

Christians are to separate themselves from sinful occupations. If your employment causes you to sin, it’s time to find a new job. Years ago, I had a church member tell me that his job required him to take clients to a strip club. He stopped by my office one day and asked for my advice on the subject. I asked him what his thoughts were about what he was doing. He said that he felt like what he was doing for his company was a sin and that his wife did not like him doing it. I told him that he already knew the answer. He nodded and left my office. Unfortunately, the big paycheck meant more to him than following Jesus and His word. In the end, he lost his wife and family because he began spending more time at the strip club and with the strippers than he did at home. He refused to separate himself from worldliness, and it cost him.

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:15-16).

The apostle Paul before his conversion, was a Pharisee of Pharisees, a strict legalist,  and persecuting Christians. He served God with his lips, but his heart was far from God. After he met Jesus on the Damascus road, he spent time with different people, with those who could instruct him concerning Jesus.

After living it up in the world, the prodigal son wised up. He looked over at the pig he was eating slop with and decided to go back home to his father to be a slave. His decision meant he had to separate himself from his worldly lifestyle. Seeing his son return home, his father rejoiced and restored his son. That’s how it is with God when we decide to separate (repent) from sinful living and enter the family of God. We offer ourselves as slaves, God restores us and calls us His children.

Jesus lived a perfect life, separate from worldliness and sin. He faced temptation just as we do, but He did not sin.

 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

If we want to be like Jesus, we must bear the mark of separation from the world and its ways within our bodies. Jesus was in the world, but not of the world. We must live the same way. Our influence on others depends on it. If we are still living like the world, our impact on the people we meet will be ineffective. If people do not call you a Christian, then maybe your lifestyle is more worldly than Christlike and biblical.

Do you have the eternal security found only in Jesus Christ

 “God is our refuge and strength, a very help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

Jesus never lost touch with the realities of human life and the frailties of human flesh. Jesus came, not so God could understand us, but so we could understand God. Listen to the words in John 14.27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus made a distinction between the false peace of the world and the true peace of God. In His peace, we find real authentic comfort during troubling times, whether on a personal scale or a grander worldly scale.

Sufficiency in Christ

Jesus, in John 14.1, declared God’s sufficiency for those who put their faith in him: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” Using the word “trust,” he says to His followers that we are to have faith, belief, conviction, dependence, and confidence in Him for everything in life. It doesn’t matter what the world is doing or telling us to do; we are to put our trust in Jesus and have faith that He is in control and that He alone is sufficient.

The narrative about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in Daniel 3.19ff provides a beautiful example of what Jesus is telling His followers. They refused to worship false gods, so King Nebuchadnezzar had them bound and thrown into a raging furnace. But something supernatural happened that stunned the king. He exclaimed to his advisors, “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed, and the fourth looks like the Son of God.”

Here we have the pre-incarnate Christ – Jesus – saving Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego because of their absolute faith in God. Without a doubt, these men understood the meaning of “God is our refuge and strength, a very help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

For the Christian, in the fire of life’s trials, we too can rest assured the fourth person is with us. That person is Jesus! There is no sorrow, no heartache, no trouble that we face in life that Jesus is not with his children. Jesus watches over and protects His followers. He is we go to for comfort and strength. He is our help in times of trouble.

Sympathy in Christ

Hebrews 4:15 reads, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus understands what we face as flawed humans. Jesus knows our weaknesses. And Jesus wants to help us and heal us from the sin that plagues us.

One thing you need to know, Jesus is interested in you personally. The comfort offered to us is the presence of Jesus in us. His comfort in trying times comes from Him and many times through other people He places in our lives.

Before His crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples to “love one another.” Jesus is interested in how we treat and care for each other. We find this theme throughout to New Testament: Romans 12:10 “Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters.”; Romans 12:16 “Live in harmony with one another.”; Romans 15:7 “Therefore accept one another, just as Christ also accepted you, to the glory of God.”; Galatians 6.2 “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Security in Christ

Jesus said to the storm, “Peace, be still.” And there was calm. The real source of all comfort is because of the security we have in Christ Jesus. Jesus provided safety for his disciples during the storm. More importantly, with all of the problems we face, Jesus still provides for our security, not just today but our eternal security as well.

At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Jesus began preparing His disciples for his departure. In John. 14.5-6 Thomas asked Jesus, “Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered him and the rest of the disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Here Jesus offered comfort to His followers by explaining that in Him, we have eternal security. That security comes to us through His Spirit, who guides us in life. In John 14: 16, 26, Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever” . . . “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.”

Consider this question: Do you have the eternal security found only in Jesus Christ? If not, you can. How? The Apostle Peter answers this in Acts 2:38: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ

Baptism is a visual statement of giving Jesus authority over your life.

into the forgiveness of your sins

A person’s life position changes from being unforgiven into forgiven.

and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

You are in Christ, and He is in you.

Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of the living God was bold and uncompromising, just as ours must be

In Matthew 16:15, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus’s question is straightforward and demands an honest thought-out response. What a person believes and says about who Jesus is the most important question a person can answer—ever. A person’s confession concerning Jesus Christ is a matter of life or death. The only response that saves someone from eternal hell is “Jesus is Lord.” And when those words come from a heart that truly believes in Him and who He is. It is remarkable the number of different opinions people have about Jesus. They range from the biblical declaration of Him being God in the flesh to those who deny He ever existed. Most fall somewhere in-between.

Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah (the Christ) and Son of the living God was bold and uncompromising, just as ours must be. The title Messiah refers to the “Anointed One, promised Messiah from God.” Prophets, priests, and kings were all anointed when appointed to their offices. Jesus holds all three offices. Jesus gives every proof He is the Son of God—Messiah.

Many people don’t understand who Jesus is, even in a world filled with multiple media at one’s figure tips. They diligently seek to find the truth by listening to popular opinions, and then, like a puppy chasing after a ball, they follow it. They refuse to accept Jesus’ declaration that He is the truth. It is somehow easy for some to deny His truth for the pseudo-truth of man or various unbiblical denominations, each selling their version of biblical truth. They wrap the truth of God’s Word and who Jesus is with their honey-soaked sweetened versions of reality to garner followers. In the end, they are nothing more than modern-day snake oil salesmen, stealing not your money but your soul, your eternity.

People have their opinion about Jesus but lack conviction, and it is their opinion that misguides them. The American writer Elbert Hubbard defined public opinion as “the judgment of the incapable many, opposed to that of the discerning few.” Which are you? Do you believe what you do base on your or another’s opinions? If so, stop. God gave you a brain capable of understanding His truth. Is your belief in who Jesus is grounded in convictions based on proper discernment? The previous question is a question you must answer unless you choose to waddle through life chasing video game prizes and short-lived fantasy happiness. You can try all you want to avoid answering this question, but you will. Either you believe Jesus is who He says He is, or you don’t. Which is it?

Having confessed their faith in Jesus as the Christ, the disciples were ready for the “secret” Jesus wanted to share with them. Everyone loves to hear a secret, right? When Jesus told them that He must suffer and die, it shook them to their core. One can almost hear their minds spinning with a single question: “If Jesus is the Messiah, then why would the religious leaders reject him?”

Well, true to character, it was Peter who expressed their concern. At one minute, Peter confesses his faith in Jesus as God’s Messiah, the Anointed One. Then in the next, Peter was thinking like an unbelieving man and expressing the thoughts of Satan. He argued with Jesus, God’s One True Prophet, about how Jesus was wrong concerning His future of going to the cross. Peter’s actions here are a warning to us. When we argue with the truth of God’s word, we open the door for Satan’s lies. Remember Adam and Eve debating with the serpent? Satan has one temptation he uses, and it is to get us to argue with the word of God. It worked with Adam and Eve, it worked with Peter, and it works with us today. Never argue with God's word.

But Peter does more than argue; he rebukes his Master. Peter’s protest was born out of his ignorance of God’s will.  And with his deep love for his Lord, he didn’t want Jesus to die. He wanted an earthly king. He was trapped by his temporal view of history, having lost sight of the eternal. Peter, the “rock” became Peter the “stumbling block.” British evangelist Dr. G. Campbell Morgan said, “The man who loves Jesus, but who shuns God’s method, is a stumbling block to Him.” Followers of Jesus are not to be stumbling blocks. We are to trust Jesus to rule His creation in His time and His ways.

Note that when Jesus rebuked Peter, He also “looked on His disciples.” Why? Because they too agreed with Peter’s assessment of the situation. They had been taught from an early age the traditional Jewish interpretation of the coming Messiah; thus, they were unable to understand how the Messiah could suffer and die.

Many modern-day Christians are deceived by erroneously following church tradition instead of true biblical Christianity. Immersed in “Churchianity” and its wrong interpretation of the Bible, which sometimes runs contrary to God’s word, they miss what Scripture says. Do not be like that. Respectfully challenge those who say they speak God’s when what they are saying flies in the face of biblical truth. Refuse to be drawn into a worldly way of thinking that a political leader will save the world. That is anti-biblical akin to trusting the AntiChrist. Put your trust in Jesus and His written Word!

You have two choices: 1) Accept Jesus as God and Savior, or 2) Deny Him and put your trust in someone else. The decision is yours. Accepting and believing in Jesus means you will follow and obey Him.

How do you answer the question: “Who is Jesus?”

My answer? I believe Jesus is God, having presented Himself to humanity in human form so that we, his creation, might understand Him and His character. Jesus also came to earth to offer Himself as the only perfect sacrifice for our sin to reconciled His chosen ones to God, something humans are incapable of doing. Jesus is humanity’s only hope for salvation.