Sons of Day; Sons of Light
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
"For you yourselves know full well that the day of the
Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, 'Peace and
safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a
woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in
darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of
light and sons of day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness; so then let
us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do
their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since
we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and
love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for
wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for
us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him."
(1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
Second Coming Insurance
"For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night." (1 Thessalonians 5:2).
"I'd like to talk with you a few minutes to make sure your policy is up to
date." This statement ranks right up there with the least favorite sentences in
the English language. But while some insurance may never be used due to the fact
that the covered event never happens, I can assure you that the second coming of
Jesus is absolutely assured; and those not covered will lose everything in a way
no earthly tragedy can claim.
It makes sense to protect ourselves against things that may happen if the likelihood that we'll suffer loss is very high. Does it not make even more sense to protect ourselves from an event that will definitely happen and the loss is complete and irreversible? More than that, being prepared will not only protect us from loss, but will reward us in ways so wonderful that human language fails to be an adequate medium of expression. At any rate, Jesus is coming again. Let us all be ready! (Matthew 25:1-13; John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
"While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
This pretty well describes how well many are prepared today for Jesus' return.
The very idea that they will stand in judgment for their sins strike many as
doubtful at best; or a thing to be mocked at worse. The worldly encourage one
another in further ungodliness, exclaiming their irreverence for God and His
will, scorning His moral laws, and holding in derision those who diligently seek
Him. Brash and foolish, rebellious men and women give little thought or care for
their souls and their eternal destiny. Already, presently many suffer temporal
consequences of their behavior. How tragic; and all the more because the eternal
consequences of darkness is so much more severe (Hebrews 10: 29-31; 2
Where will the boasting and mocking be when the final series of angelic trumpet blasts are heard; and the clouds part; and our Lord Jesus appears in the sky? When the righteous souls of the ages shout their joyous welcome and rise to meet Him and His holy ones, bodies changing in a twinkling of an eye into beautiful spiritual bodies of something other than flesh and blood? When the physical heavens and earth shake and burn and dissolve? When every knee bends and every mouth confesses the Lord Jesus in His glorious presence? When the One who was dead but is alive forevermore abides by the choices those lost in sins have made during their lifetimes here and says, "Depart from Me." as all hope vanishes? No more boasting and mocking. Without Christ, "Peace and safety" is an illusion.
How To Be Prepared
"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober." (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6).
There are several things the Holy Spirit suggests through the apostle Paul that
we need to do to be prepared to welcome our King:
Let us not sleep ~ "Sleep" (vs. 6) has reference to the spiritual state of those who are blissfully continuing in sin despite the warnings of God. It is not that they're unable to hear the warning, for they are answering it with "Peace and safety!". Rather, because their interests do not include exalting Jesus as Lord of their lives, they choose spiritual darkness, or night, and insist that there is no cause for alarm. We, as "sons of light" choose to walk in the day, living according to the light of His word (1 John 1:6,7).
Let us be alert ~ To be "alert" (vs. 6) is to be watchful or vigilant. We are to exercise watchful care over our lives so that all is ready at the time Jesus returns. Since we do not know when that will be, we need to always be in a state of readiness (Matthew 24:45-51).
Let us be sober ~ To be "sober" (vs. 6) is to be serious about maintaining a proper balance and not be given to extremes. Ours is not to be an "off and on again" discipleship. We are to maintain self-control even during life's upheavals, not allowing adversity to cloud our perspectives (1 Peter 5:6-9).
Let us put on the breastplate of faith ~ Our "faith" (vs.8) protects us. Satan's attempts to defeat us are thwarted when we live by faith. Faith comes by hearing (heeding) the word of God and through it we "overcome the world" (Romans 10:17; 1 John 5:4,5).
Let us put on love ~ "Love" (vs. 8) also protects us because it is outward looking. When we love God we put His will first and are willing to do only those things which are pleasing to Him (1 John 5:2). When we love others concern for them grows and goes beyond mere words (1 John 3:18,19). This unselfishness robs Satan of one of his principle forms of attack.
Let us put on the helmet of the hope of salvation ~ Our desire for and confidence in our future inheritance also works to protect us from spiritual harm. A living "hope" (vs. 8) is a great motivator, allowing those who possess it to become strong. The Lord strengthens His disciples in many ways, and one of these ways is by His assurances of future reward (Philippians 4:13; Romans 8:24).
The Destiny of the Sons of Light
"For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him." (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11).
God has not appointed wrath for those who live by faith, but rather for salvation. Whether we are "awake or asleep" which here means physically alive or dead makes no difference as far as this salvation is concerned. In fact, even the Lord died, but that did not keep Him from being raised up and glorified. Neither will death keep us from sharing His glory if we live by faith.
These words of encouragement are given because we need encouragement. Sometimes the way seems difficult, and we must never allow ourselves to be persuaded to give up. The consequence of turning away from our faith, hope and love is to forsake our destiny. The Holy Spirit had made it quite clear earlier in this epistle that if one turns away from the faith he will be lost. Paul was so happy to hear from Timothy the news of their steadfastness. He had been sent to Thessalonica to "find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor should be in vain." (1 Thessalonians 3:5). Elsewhere, we are told that vigilance is called for else the tempter, Satan, devour us. That would have indeed made Paul preaching there in vain.
But that is not the destiny God has planned for us. Let us not sleep, but be on the alert, sober, faithful, loving and always live out our hope of salvation. God has destined great things for us.
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 5.1; January 1998