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Thessalonians 5 v 23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;

Please read Romans 15

4 weeks ago our sermon verse was

Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Paul had called the Thessalonians to HOLD FAST TO true doctrine – now we have a word that tells them to HOLD BACK FROM evil.

The meaning of “all appearance of evil”.

Every sort or kind of evil – evil that is real – evil that is apparent, visibly, invisibly; mentally, spiritually, physically – anything that is evil in its effect and influence; anything that causes pain, sorrow and is malignant; anything that we would call bad or worthless; anything immoral and dishonest and wicked – all these are to be avoided – abstained from – absolutely!

Good should be accepted – evil must be avoided. THE Good (singular) should be followed – evil of every kind, with no exceptions, must be shunned and abstained from! We as saints of God must reject every kind of evil, refusing to be ensnared by any so called prophesy or revelation which can be proved to be counterfeit. This thought flows from the theme of prophecying and not quenching the good. Evil here can include false tongues, prophecies and teachings that do not square up to the Word of God already written.

John Owen says,

“Keep yourselves from every figment or idea of sin in your heart, abstain from all appearance of evil.”

With verse 22 Paul completes his string of exhortations which started at the beginning of Chapter 4. He recognises the great demands that the Lord Jesus Christ puts on His followers as they work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. Paul had been counselling and encouraging the Christians to help them become more settled and more mature in the Faith. He had called them God’s chosen people in v 4 of chapter 1 –

v 4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

Then as God’s chosen people he had called them to live holy lives in this world

4 v 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:

After all they were going to share in God’s kingdom and glory when the Lord Jesus Christ returns.

11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

So Paul finishes this first letter with a prayer – a fervent prayer. He points them to the only one who can enable them to act as they ought.

Beginning at verse 23 –

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

Someone has called this a DOUBLE PRAYER. Paul prays that his friends at Thessalonica might be SANCTIFIED.

Then he prays that his friends might be PRESERVED.

There is so much of this letter that has had to do with sanctification. We have visited this theme several times.

All Christians are to play their part in bringing their lives into line with the will of God.

But before we hold up our hands in horror and say to ourselves “This is too much! I cannot reach that standard! These things are far too hard for me!” – let us consider this – that the business of ordering our lives as those who are set apart for the service of God, will demand much more than we can supply naturally. Our gifts and graces on their own will not be enough. Our strength of character, energy or enthusiasm will not be sufficient. If Sanctification is to take place at all then God must work within us to bring it about, and we are to cooperate with His work.

We will look this morning at the first phrase of verse 23. There is so much here – therefore we must not rush through the prayer.

23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;

This phrase focuses on THE GOD OF PEACE. We are going to discover what this description of God means and how his powerful peace applies in our lives as a sanctifying agent.

GOD IS THE GOD OF PEACE.

Notice that God is called the VERY God of Peace.

Our translators have used a literary device here to show that peace is a facet of the nature of Almighty God. The original language in Greek has Now God Himself, the God of peace…

The thought is this – not to bring in the notion of truth with the word very – but to bring the notion of possession – He Himself within us is the God of Peace.

If you and I as believers are possessed by the Holy Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ who is God, then we have peace within – God Himself is peace – He is our peace!

Let us think of 7 ways that God Himself is the God of Peace. We have an alphabetical format in our points this morning – up to the letter G.

1. God is the AUTHOR of Peace.

An author is a writer or composer. But an author is also an ORIGINATOR. 1 Corinthians 14 says in verse 33

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

God is the author of peace. Peace is His idea and it is an orderly thing. Peace in this verse is contrasted with disorder, with confusion. The opposite of disorder is peace. What a wonderful thing peace is – especially the peace of God. Paul says in Philippians 4 v 7

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

We cannot fully understand the quality of this peace that passeth understanding. But we can try.

Such peace has 2 aspects

1. It is the peace which is made with God by the blood of Christ, and is made known to men and women in the Gospel of peace. It amazes angels and it amazes men! God planned this peace from everlasting; a council of peace was called and held between the eternal three persons of the Trinity, and they entered into a covenant of peace. The Lord Jesus Christ was appointed the peace maker, and the chastisement, the punishment of it was laid on him; He made this peace by the blood of his cross.

2. It is that peace of conscience, which arises from a view, a sight of peace made by Christ; a sight of justification by his righteousness, a sight of atonement by his sacrifice; and which may be called "the peace of Christ".

Is it any wonder that this peace is what passes the understanding of every natural man? Man knows nothing of this peace, what this tranquillity of mind means; it is unaccountable to him how it should be, that those who have so much trouble, should have so much peace! Peace brings order to our disordered minds and souls – and the Lord Jesus Christ is the author of it.

2. God is the BRINGER of Peace.

The Lord Jesus Christ also is the bringer of peace. God is the author as we have seen – Jesus brought peace to hostile enemies. He was appointed as the peace maker by God the Father. Isaiah tells us that in Isaiah 53 v 5

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

It pleased the Lord God for His Son Jesus to make peace. We are told that in Colossians 1 v 19

For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself;

The Lord Jesus brought this peace by being that mediator on the cross; by making an atonement between us and God and by rising again to ensure our eternal future of peace in heaven. Peace through the blood of His cross! What an expression this is! We are reconciled with God through Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

What do you know of this peace my friend? Is your heart and mind at peace? Has the Lord Jesus Christ brought peace to you as the bringer of peace? Do you have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ?

“Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed,
Finding as He promised perfect peace and rest.”

We sang it at the beginning of the service. Why do I ask if you have peace? You may be someone this morning that believes that you do have peace – and that although you are not a Christian, you are not disturbed or particularly in turmoil in your soul. You could say that you know peace of mind and peace of heart.

Thomas Watson was a well known minister in London in the 17th Century – he said this –

“The seeming peace a sinner has, is not from the knowledge of his happiness, but the ignorance of his danger!”

There is such a thing as a false peace – but as Watson said it is ignorance of the danger. Most people have no idea that there is a war between God and sin. They don’t know because they don’t know God. They have no idea of His awesome holiness nor His mighty power to punish sin. They know nothing of the danger of dying without forgiveness and the peace that comes with the reconciling between God and men. You need to know this peace this morning, my dear friend. Do not let this Lord’s Day morning pass you by without making peace with God and coming to know Christ the bringer of peace.

Author, Bringer –

3. God is the COMPANION of Peace.

In 1555, Nicholas Ridley was burned at the stake because of his witness for Christ. On the night before Ridley’s execution, his brother offered to remain with him in the prison chamber to be of assistance and comfort. Nicholas declined the offer and replied that he meant to go to bed and sleep as quietly as ever he did in his life. Because he knew the peace of God, he could rest in the strength of the everlasting arms of his Lord to meet his need. So can we! (Source unknown.)

We read earlier from Romans 15 where we found a reference to the companionship of peace in verse 33

Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

It is just a simple thought – the God of peace be your companion – all of you! What it is to have a companion – either in life day by day – or on special occasions – or someone to walk up a mountain with – or to go shopping with – or to sit and drink coffee with. All these familiar aspects of companionship lead us to understand that God is the Companion of Peace. This peace causes us to rest – because the Lord Himself is a companion of peace.

Paul says the same thing in Philippians 4 v 9

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Someone has said that peace consists not in the absence of danger – but in the presence of God.

Is the Lord God your companion in peace through faith in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ? And are you prepared to be a companion of Peace to those in turmoil – to those in sorrow; to those in dispute with others?

2 Corinthians 13 v 11 Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Author, Bringer, Companion – now

4. God is the DELIVERER of Peace.

I recently read the gripping account of the Missionary to the New Hebrides Islands, John Paton.

One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave.

A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present — but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station.

What a deliverance of peace! God brought peace and ensured peace, delivering His peace to His people the missionaries. There is a wonderful verse in Romans chapter 16 – it is verse 20

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Surely this verse is a fulfilment of the prophecy in Genesis 3 v 15

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

It has had its accomplishment in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has not only destroyed the works of the devil, but the devil himself, and spoiled his principalities and powers, and bruised him and trampled them under his feet, when he led captivity captive. Even though, for the trial of our graces Satan is permitted to attack us in various ways, yet in a short time he will be bruised under our feet, as he is already under our Lord and master’s. That is delivering peace! How positive is this Christian life that we live brothers and sisters. Deliverance He affords to all who on His succour trust! King David was well able to say in Psalm 55

17 Evening and morning and at noon will I pray and cry aloud and He shall hear my voice. 18 He has DELIVERED MY SOUL IN PEACE FROM THE BATTLE that was against me:

16 As for me I will call on God; and the Lord shall save me.

Author, Bringer, Companion, Deliverer, now

5. God is the ESTABLISHER of Peace.

To establish something is to lay down foundations and build a structure of some kind. Colossians 1 again –

19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

“Having made peace”. What a wonderful expression!

The Lord Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace. He is the One who will end all wars – and wars need to end don’t they?

A former president of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and historians from England, Egypt, Germany, and India have come up with some startling information: Since 3600 B.C. the world has known only 292 years of peace! During this period there have been 14,351 wars, large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed. The value of the property destroyed would pay for a golden belt around the world 97.2 miles wide and 33 feet thick.

It does not seem that people in the world want peace at all! It would appear that war is the preferred status quo! Man’s way is war – but God’s way is peace.

God’s authorship of Peace can be a great comfort to us.

John Greenleaf Whittier has this verse in His Hymn – Dear Lord and Father –

Drop thy still dew of quietness
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace. – Whittier

Whittier was reflecting the truth that peace belongs to God and that He gives us His peace and in doing so brings order into our lives – peaceful order! God establishes peace and maintains it.

Is this your experience this morning my friend? Has the Lord Jesus given you peace replacing the disorder and confusion of sin in your soul?

Author; Bringer; Companion; Deliverer; Establisher –

6. God is the FILLER of Peace.

Romans 15 v 13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

The peace of God when it comes to a person’s soul floods that soul so that it is filled with peace. It penetrates every nook and cranny of the soul so that peace is profound and permeates.

God’s peace keeps us peaceful when the storms rage around us.

Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally the great day of revelation arrived. The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered. The tensions grew. Only two pictures remained veiled. As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd. A mirror-smooth lake reflected lacy, green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner.

The man with the vision uncovered the second painting himself, and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace? A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice; the crowd could almost feel its cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-grey clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters as if foolishly seeking to experience its full power. A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil.

This peace that fills the believer’s soul enables us to endure the hardest and most difficult situations in life, without crumbling; without sinking beneath them. Does the God of all hope fill you with His peace and believing?

Author; Bringer; Companion; Deliverer; Establisher; Filler –

7. God is the GIVER of Peace.

2 Thessalonians 3 v 16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.

Paul prays this in his second letter as earnestly as he prays it in our text in the first. He acknowledges the author and giver of Peace as none other than the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ. He had said, and Paul knew this well –

John 14 v 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

What a gift this is! But what use is this gift to us?

Romans 5 v 1 tells us of this brilliant news – that Sin and Satan is conquered and we are justified before God.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

With such news in our hearts we become those who advance into battle. The battle is won. Peace is achieved. So there is an eagerness and willingness to advance against the devil and take the fight to him. It is almost as if we are reminding him over and over again that he is conquered. We can be bold to tell him his days are numbered whereas our days are eternal! The believer is freed from anxiety even though the advance is against such a powerful enemy – his power is limited. Paul again –

Romans 5 v 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

He died for sinners who have now become soldiers. We have peace with God through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is peace for distressed minds – because God’s wrath has been turned away by the marvellous work of Calvary. Once our hearts were at war with God – now there is peace in those hearts.

Oh the peace my saviour gives,
Peace I never knew before,
For my way has brighter grown,
Since I learned to trust Him more.

What about this Gospel of Peace? Surely it is the Good News that, through the Lord Jesus Christ we can be wonderfully at peace with God and he is on our side. Look how Paul further states it in Romans 5 v 7

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

What is it that enables us ordinary Christians to stand firm on our spiritual feet? It is the support – divine support – that allows each believer to stand firm knowing, that since we are at peace with God then God is our strength and that we have the forgiveness and pardon so much needed in our war torn souls.

Is this our experience my friends? Is the thrill and joy of sins forgiven racing through your veins, sufficient to drive you amongst your neighbours with the message of the Gospel of peace? Surely we who have been delivered from a great burden, through the Gospel of peace have courage now to take the fight to the enemy and the good news to those who are still captives? We have been given such peace – but do we realise it? Jesus Christ has GIVEN us His peace – and goes on giving it!

Here then is our responsibility as Christians. To march against the enemy, and to run with the Gospel. To advance in holiness, resisting the devil, and to spread the good news of peace.

Are we afraid? Are we timid? Does Satan terrify us? Do our neighbours give us a hard time?

Then let us afresh realise the terms of the Gospel of Peace, and take them to our hearts. Because we have the peace with God that comes from the Gospel then we need not fear the attack of men or Satan.

Satan has declared war but you and I are ambassadors of peace and we take the Gospel of peace wherever we go. Let us be eager and ready to experience and demonstrate this peace in our hearts – by the movement and readiness of our feet and by the simple trust in the Lord Jesus Christ the giver of peace – who giveth and giveth and giveth again.



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