"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS"
Our Duty To The Truth (5:19-22)
INTRODUCTION 1. The last chapter of 1st Thessalonians is filled with exhortations to various duties that we have as Christians awaiting the coming of the Lord... a. Our duty to those who serve - 1Th 5:12-13 b. Our duty to those in need - 1Th 5:14-15 c. Our duty to ourselves - 1Th 5:16-18 2. Before Paul closes his epistle with a final blessing and admonition, he lists another series of exhortations... a. Do not quench the Spirit - 1Th 5:19 b. Do not despise prophecies - 1Th 5:20 c. Test all things; hold fast what is good - 1Th 5:21 d. Abstain from every form of evil - 1Th 5:22 -- Taken together, we can categorize these exhortations as "Our Duty To The Truth" [What is our obligation to the truth? What does God expect of us regarding the reception of truth, and that which proves to be error? From the exhortations in our text, we can say first...] I. DO NOT STIFLE REVELATION OF THE TRUTH A. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TRUTH... 1. In Proverbs, we are exhorted to "buy the truth, and do not sell it..." - Pr 23:23 2. Why is truth so important? In Psalms we learn... a. God's truth preserves us - Ps 40:11 b. God's truth is a shield and buckler - Ps 91:4 c. God's truth provides atonement - Pr 16:6 3. Jesus taught regarding truth... a. It provides freedom from the bondage of sin - Jn 8:32 b. It is the means by God sanctifies Jesus' disciples - Jn 17:17 -- In view of its benefits, we should never be guilty of stifling the truth! B. THE REVELATION OF THE TRUTH... 1. God's truth was made known through His Holy Spirit - Jn 16:13 a. In Old Testament times, He did this through prophets - cf. 1Pe 1:10-11 ; 2Pe 1:20-21 b. In New Testament times, He did this through the apostles and prophets of Jesus Christ - cf. Jn 16:13; 14:26 2. These inspired apostles and prophets communicated God's truth... a. Through their spoken word - cf. 1Pe 1:12 b. Through their written word - cf. Ep 3:3-5; 1Co 14:37 3. This truth was fully and finally revealed.... a. Completed through the work of the apostles - Ac 20:32; 2 Pe 1:3 b. Revealed one time for all times - Jude 3 c. Thus we have that which can make us complete - cf. 2Ti 3: 16-17 4. Today, if we desire to receive God's truth... a. We cannot look to their spoken word, since they are no longer living b. We must look to their written Word, i.e., the Bible c. We must accept God's Word in its entirety - cf. Ps 119:160 C. THE SUPPRESSION OF THE TRUTH... 1. Mankind has a history of resisting God's truth... a. Israel suffered this affliction - cf. Hos 4:1 b. The Gentiles likewise, especially the wise - cf. Ro 1:18-23 2. In New Testament times, Christians could be guilty of resisting truth also... a. By "quenching the Spirit" - 1Th 5:19 1) Refusing to heed what the Spirit was still making known at that time 2) Cutting off the revelation of God's truth intended for them b. By "despising prophecies" - 1Th 5:20 1) Belittling the prophecies being made known through the prophets 2) Refusing to accept what the prophets of God were revealing 3. Today, we can stifle the truth of God... a. "Quenching the Spirit" through neglecting God's revealed Word b. "Despising prophecies" through rejecting the apostles' teaching [Through neglect or outright rejection of God's Word, we can be guilty of stifling the truth, and suffer the consequences of not having the benefits of truth in our lives. To avoid being misled by false prophets or false interpretations of God's word, we need to...] II. EXAMINE ALL THINGS BY THE TRUTH A. CLAIMS OF TRUTH NEED TO BE CHALLENGED... 1. As Paul wrote: "Test (prove, KJV) all things" - 1Th 5:21a a. This is not quenching the Spirit nor despising prophecies b. But a recognition that not all claims to be from God are true 2. As John wrote: "...do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits" - 1Jn 4:1 a. For many false prophets have come into the world b. It is not quenching the Spirit to test what people claim is a revelation from God B. EXAMINING CLAIMS OF TRUTH... 1. The Bereans provide a noble example - Ac 17:11 a. They received the word with all readiness (i.e., they paid careful attention to what Paul said) b. They searched the Scriptures daily (to see if what Paul taught was true) -- This is how the Bereans tested Paul's teaching, for which they were commended as being "fair-minded" 2. In examining all things by the truth today, we need to... a. Give people a fair hearing - Ac 17:11 b. Search the Scriptures daily, looking at God's word in its entirety - Ps 119:160 c. Accepting that which is in harmony with the apostles' teaching, and rejecting that which is not - cf. 1Jn 4:6; Ac 2:42 ["Our Duty To The Truth" does not end with simply believing the truth and rejecting that which is false, we must also "hold fast what is good" (1Th 5:21). I take this to mean we must...] III. APPLY THE TRUTH IN OUR LIVES A. WITH PROPER ATTITUDES... 1. A prayerful attitude, like David possessed - e.g., Ps 86:11 2. A meek spirit, allowing God's word to be implanted - Jm 1:21 B. WITH RIGHT ACTIONS... 1. In deed, not just in word; e.g., our love - 1Jn 3:18-19 2. We must be doers of the Word (truth), not hearers only - Jm 1: 22-25 3. Thereby walking in the truth, which delights those who see you - 3Jn 3-4 [Our duty is to hold fast what we find to be true, to practice what we believe to be true. At the same time, we must also...] IV. ABSTAIN FROM WHAT THE TRUTH DEFINES AS EVIL A. THE TRUTH DECLARES THAT EVIL EXISTS... 1. There is that which is false, that which is wicked - e.g., Exo 23:7 2. Those who do evil, do not want to hear that which is true - Jn 3:19-21 B. THE TRUTH DEMANDS THAT WE ABSTAIN FROM EVIL... 1. When we are not valiant for truth, we will become progressively worse - Jer 9:3 2. Therefore we must "abstain from every form of evil" - 1Th 5:22 a. KJV has "appearance" instead of "form" 1) Leading many commentators to conclude that we must always abstain from that which may "seem" to be wrong (e.g., Barnes, Clarke) 2) Yet Jesus did things that "appeared" to be wrong; e.g., eating with sinners which appeared to be toleration of their evil deeds - Mt 9:11 b. The Greek word is eidous - "As commonly explained, abstain from everything that even 'looks like' evil. But the word signifies 'form or kind.' Compare Luke 3:22; John 5:37, and see nearly the same phrase in Joseph. 'Ant. x. 3, 1.' It never has the sense of 'semblance.' Moreover, it is impossible to abstain from everything that looks like evil." (Vincent's Word Studies) c. "'Abstain from every form of evil,' i. e., every sort or kind of evil (not 'appearance,' KJV). This meaning was common in the papyri, the Greek writings of the closing centuries, B. C., and the New Testament era." (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) 3. This we do by taking heed to both our thoughts and our actions a. Thinking on things that are true - Php 4:8 b. Walking righteously and speaking uprightly - cf. Isa 33: 15-16 CONCLUSION 1. "Our Duty To The Truth" is made clear in our text... a. Do not stifle revelation of the truth b. Examine all things by the truth c. Apply the truth in our lives d. Abstain from what the truth defines as evil -- Because of the benefits that comes from knowing and walking in the truth, we should be careful to fulfill "Our Duty To The Truth"! 2. What about those who do not have a love for the truth? a. They will be susceptible to the lying wonders and unrighteous deception of the lawless one - cf. 2Th 2:9-10 b. Having no love for truth, God will harden their hearts even further by sending them a strong delusion - 2Th 2:11 c. Not believing the truth, but taking pleasure in unrighteousness, they will be condemned - 2Th 2:12 We must therefore have the prayer and attitude of David regarding God's truth: "Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day." - Ps 25:5 Is that your prayer? Is that your attitude? Are you walking in the truth?