2 August 2017
…that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 1 Thessalonians 4:6
In verse 4:3, Paul wrote, “for this is the will of God, your sanctification.” After that, he noted sexual immorality as being opposed to sanctification. Now he goes on to a conclusion of this thought, and notes that which would hinder sanctification. It would be to “take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter.”
The word translated as “take advantage” is one which is found only here in the Bible. It means, “to go beyond.” In the previous verse, Paul had spoken of the “passion of lust.” As noted, that phrase is not limited to sexual desires, but includes all sorts of desires. They can be positive or negative, but in the context of the verse, they are negative. One of the main uses of the word is that of covetousness.
What he is now saying is that we are not to allow our hearts be filled with covetousness in this way. By allowing this, we would then be impelled to “take advantage and defraud” one another in this matter. As he says elsewhere –
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:6-10
Rather than have hearts filled with covetousness, we are to be content with what we possess, and not look to those things which we have not rightly earned on our own. For those who would act in a manner contrary to this, he then provides a warning by saying, “ because the Lord is the avenger of all such.”
One must remember that Paul is writing to believers, but the principles which he writes also pertain to non-believers. Any such negative actions will be judged by the Lord. For those who are saved, they will be judged at the bema seat judgment of rewards and losses (Romans 14:1 & 2 Corinthians 5:10). For those who are not in Christ, they will be judged and then cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15). No matter what, all transgressions will be judged.
To finish the thought, he then adds in, “as we also forewarned you and testified.” It is obvious that Paul preached the grace of Christ throughout his ministry, and it is confirmed throughout his epistles. However, he also preached that sin will be judged. He never teaches that grace grants a license to sin. Instead, he speaks clearly and carefully about the need for believers to be molded into the image of Christ, and to stay away from sin. His words here show that he taught it to young believers right along with their salvation message, and he continued to warn them as a part of their regular instruction.
Life application: The Bible asks God’s people to be holy because He is holy. Let us endeavor to live in this manner at all times, ever striving to be the best examples of righteousness and holiness that we can be – to the glory of God!
Almighty heavenly Father, we come to Your glorious throne to confess our shortcomings and to petition You, because of the marvelous gift of Your Son, for forgiveness and restoration. Help us to not have hearts filled with covetousness, but to be content with what we have. Help us to strive for holiness and righteousness. And may we be people of thanks for the many blessings You have given to us. Help us in these things, O God. Amen.