7 Commands for Christian Living

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

In this passage Paul is summing up how the Christian should live. In seven verses he gives us seven commands for Christian living. Let’s go through them one by one.

1) Rejoice Always

In 1 Peter 1 we’re reminded to rejoice with “joy inexpressible” because we have a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”.

Even when we go through hardships we still rejoice because we’re focused on this hope. We rejoice in spite of the fact that the bank is about to foreclose, or the doctor has bad news, or whatever else comes our way. We rejoice because the source of our joy doesn’t come from our earthly circumstances, it comes from our heavenly standing. We rejoice always because we belong to Christ.

2) Pray Without Ceasing

If we’re always rejoicing, and always focused on our relationship with Christ, that will lead us to being continually in prayer.

To pray without ceasing doesn’t mean we’re to go on and on repeating the same words. Jesus told us not to do that in Matthew 6:7, “when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”

To pray without ceasing means that there shouldn’t be a long gap in our prayer life. In other words, we shouldn’t just pray once in a while, we should pray all the time.

In Mathew 6:9-13 Jesus teaches us how to pray. We learn that it’s through prayer we praise God, make our requests known to Him, ask forgiveness for our sins and forgive sins done against us, and ask for His protection against evil.

Someone once described prayer as the breath of the Christian’s life. Just as we can’t live without breathing, the Christian life can’t be lived without praying. And just as we don’t wait a long while in between breathing we shouldn’t wait a long time in between praying.

3) In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

If we’re rejoicing in Him, and we’re constantly in prayer, the result will be a heart that gives thanks for all things.

Thankfulness is a characteristic of the Christian. A.J. Gossip once said that “thanksgiving is the language of heaven.” This is in contrast to the unbeliever who, we’re told in Romans 1:21, “neither glorify God nor give thanks to Him.”

We praise God from who all blessings flow. From who all things work together for the good of those who love Him. Who gives us beauty for ashes, whose strength is made perfect in our weakness.

We don’t always understand the reasons for our hardships but we’re promised that even though these things aren’t good, God will bring good out of it.

In John 16:21-22 Jesus was talking to the disciples about His death and resurrection. He told them that, “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

In other words, “you won’t understand what’s happening now, and it will grieve you, but later you’ll understand and when you do you’ll have a joy no one will ever be able to take away from you.”

Now you’ll notice that Paul adds, “For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We always ask, “What’s God’s will for me?” Here’s our answer: rejoice always or always keep focused on your relationship with Christ, pray without ceasing or don’t go a long time in between praising God and seeking His blessings, and in everything gives thanks or be glad that even in bad times God is working in your life. If you’re doing these things then you’re doing the will of God.

4) Do not quench the Spirit.

John 16:8 tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. Romans 8:14 says the Spirit leads us. 1 Corinthians 2:12-16 tells us the Holy Spirit teaches us the spiritual things of God and us discernment.

So we shouldn’t quench or, as the NLT puts it, “stifle” the Holy Spirit as He works in our lives to make us more like Christ.

5) Do not despise prophecies.

In other words don’t reject the preaching, interpreting and applying of Scripture. Remember Acts chapter 8 where Philip meets the Ethiopian who’s reading Scripture? Philip asks him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”

God has given the Church teachers to help them understand the Bible. We should never reject good bible teaching.

6) Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Just because someone claims to be a bible teacher that doesn’t mean we’re to automatically accept their teaching.

Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:15 to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 warns us that “Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

False teachers present themselves to the Church as good teachers.

Charles Spurgeon gave good advice, “Do not believe all a man says because he is a clergyman, or eloquent, or learned, or even because he is kind and generous. Bring all to the bar of Holy Scripture, and if they cannot stand the test, do not receive them.”

Do not accept any teaching from anyone unless it lines up with Scripture.

7) Abstain from every form of evil.

If we’re holding all things up against Scripture then it’s inevitable that we’ll find teachings and actions that are unbiblical. When we find these things we’re to stay away from them.

If we do accept something unbiblical 1 John 1:9 tells us that “If we confess our sins, Christ is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

To sin is to go against God’s will and to be out of fellowship with Him. To abstain from sin is to draw closer to the Lord. Closer to the Lord is the place every should Christian want to be.

Seven Ways To Read The Bible

1. Read The Bible With An Honest Desire To Understand It

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.” (Ps 119:103-104)

Don’t be content to just read the words of Scripture. Seek to understand the message they contain.

2. Read The Bible With A Simple Faith And Humility

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (Jhn 5:24)

Believe what God reveals and rest in His promises.

3. Read The Bible With A Spirit Of Obedience And Self-Application

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. (Jam 1:22,25)

Apply what God says to yourself and obey His will in all things.

4. Read The Bible With Every Day

“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isa 40:31)

We quickly lose the nourishment and strength of yesterday’s Word. We must feed our souls the manna God has given us daily.

5. Read The Bible In Its Entirety

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Tim 3:16)

Read the entire Bible, a portion every day, comparing Scripture with Scripture.

6. Read The Bible In Context And Interpret Scripture With Scripture

“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” (Matt 22:29)

Read Scripture in its context, and use related Scripture to help interpret a passage’s meaning.

7. Read The Bible With Christ As The Centerpiece

“Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luk 24:27)

The whole Book is about Him. Look for Him on every page. He is there. If you fail to see Him there, you need to read that page again.

7 Things That Change When We Follow Christ

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

When a person comes to faith in Christ there will be some evidence of this faith in their lives. You won’t see perfection in a Christian, but what you will see is something different in that person. You will see some evidence that a person has a relationship with Christ.

Now it’s very important to we understand that we aren’t talking about being saved by works. You aren’t a Christian because you don’t curse or smoke or cut people off in traffic or because you go to church or give money to charity.

Everyone sins and falls short of God’s glory, but through Christ we are forgiven of those sins. A Christian is someone who calls on Christ to save them from their sins. (Rom 3:23-26)

You’ll see these differences more clearly in some Christians than in others – we’re all a work in progress and we all grow in Christ at different rates. But eventually the person who is following Christ will:

1) Love Christ

We love Him because He first loved us. (1 Jhn 4:19)

2) Hate Sin

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Rom 12:9)

3) Pray

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)

4) Read and Apply the Teachings of the Bible

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (Jam 1:22)

5) Turn from the Works of the Flesh

The works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like. (Gal 5:19-21)

6) Produce the Fruits of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23)

7) Live by Faith

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal 2:20)