Possess the Vessel

That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
1Thessalonians 4:4

In this section, the Apostle Paul is sharing his hopes for the young church at Thessalonica. Acts 17:1-10 describe the founding of the church. While we do not know how long Paul stayed, it could not have been long. He only reasoned with the Jews for three Sabbath days (Acts 17:2), and his visit was cut short by the hostilities of the town's people.

Even so, the work was thriving (1Thess 1:6-8). While Paul does exhort and nurture the church with instructions, not a single rebuke is given in this epistle. This Gentile church, with very little spiritual foundation being laid, had become a model New Testament church.

Now, as Paul shares his heart, he mentions the hope that these Gentiles would learn how to possess their own vessels. What vessel is Paul speaking of? He is speaking of their bodies. Paul will spend several verses (1Thess 4:1-8) warning of fornication, concupiscence, and other sexual impurities.

The question I have is why does Paul spend so much time warning a model church about sexual sin? Perhaps the answer is that when Satan cannot find any other means by which to infiltrate a good, Bible-believing church, he will fall back on a favorite ploy--sexual immorality.

Have you seen it happen? When Bitterness would not let Satan into a church, Adultery did. When Jealousy and Hurt refused him entrance, Fornication laid out the welcome mat. Division said, "You cannot come in here!" but Impurity swung open the door.

Paul was giving this group of young believers a "heads up" about what to expect. Perhaps you and I should be listening as well. If you want to keep your church holy, each must learn how to possess the vessel.