How Are We To Possess Our Vessels
by G. Kirkpatrick

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In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul exhorted the body of Christ to know how to live to be pleasing unto God:

"That everyone of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God." I Thessalonians 4:4 & 5

Each one of us should know how we are to possess our vessel which is our body. Paul tells the Philippians:

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2:12

In the process of working out our own salvation before God with fear and trembling, we need to learn how to possess our vessels in sanctification and honor. The word sanctification means "holiness in our heart and life."

The word honor means "to hold yourself above reproach, to have respect for others, and to have respect for yourself." If you cannot respect yourself, then do not expect others to respect you. You can put up a front, but only for so long. Then all will see you for who you really are.

Paul said we are not to possess our vessels in the lust of concupiscence. The word lust means "inordinate affection." The word inordinate means "unrestrained, unregulated affection." Inordinate affection is giving in to the desires of the flesh. It is possessing no temperance in our lives. Temperance is a fruit of the Spirit. How can we say we have the Spirit of God when we give into every desire of the flesh. This is lust.

The beloved John spoke much of lust:

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." I John 2:16

No lust is of the Father. Lust is a worldly attribute. Paul stated this is what the Gentiles do. If we do not control our lust, are we any different then the Gentiles? Paul continues to show us how we are to possess our vessels:

"That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified." I Thessalonians 4:6

The phrase no man go beyond means "to step over the limits set down in God's Word." When we defraud a brother in any matter we are stepping over the limits God has set down in His Word. When we think of defrauding, we usually think of one who is deceptive in business dealings. But there are many other ways to defraud a brother. One of the ways we defraud our Christian brothers is when we withhold fellowshiping with them.

Another way we defraud our brother is when we do not lend a helping hand to them in their time of need. We also defraud when we do not show friendship to our brothers and sisters. We can defraud our brothers with our looks, our actions, and our deeds. There are many other ways to defraud, and we have God's promise He is the avenger of all who defrauds a brother.

The word avenger means "one who exacts the penalty of the law." Paul admonished all, "I have forewarned you of these things." Paul continues:

"For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit." I Thessalonians 4:7-8

God has not called us to uncleanness, but unto holiness. There are many kinds of uncleanness. Besides physical uncleanness, one of the most damning is mental uncleanness. When our thoughts are unclean, then our minds are perverted and we cannot think righteous thoughts. And this uncleanness will come out of our mouths in the form of profanity, hurtful words, and stinking attitudes. But when our thoughts are holy, then we would rather cut out our tongue, then to hurt someone with our words or actions.

Paul states, "He that despiseth does not despise man, but he despiseth God." This is a damning statement. When we despise another we disregard, reject, set aside, and nullify God's Word in our lives. We are not despising man, we are disregarding, rejecting, setting aside and nullifying God in our life who has given us the Holy Spirit. Those who despise man have given no place to the Holy Spirit, and He therefore has no effect in their lives.

Paul continues to admonish us how we are to treat our brothers in Christ:

"But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another." I Thessalonians 4:9

The word brotherly love is the Greek word PHILDELPHIA. This is not agape love. Agape love is God's unconditional love. Brotherly love is the love we have for our brothers and sisters. This is a love we must work at diligently.

We are taught of God to love one another. How do we show this love? It is by our kindness, patience, and caring. We should desire to be around one another, fellowshipping, lending a helping hand, and being there for one another.

Now, if we are taught this by God, then if we do not love one another we are walking in disobedience to what God teaches in His Word.

The beloved John has much to say about loving our brother:

"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." I John 3:14

Anyone who does not love his brother does not possess God's life in their vessel. They remain in their death state, just like the world. How then, do we recognize him or her who abides in death. It is because they act, talk, and look like the world.

"But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" I John 3:17

One who loves his brother has an open hand toward his brother. Paul speaks of shutting up his bowels. This means he or she has no compassion. They only think of themselves. These are selfish, lifeless people who are no good to anyone, not even themselves. These are always unhappy, discontented, and blame others for their failures.

"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." I John 4:20-21

Those who hate their brothers and sisters, hate God also. If we confess a love toward God, then we had better love our brothers. Paul continues speaking of love:

"And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;" I Thessalonians 4:10

We not only need to love our Christian brothers and sisters, we are to show our love toward all the brethren which are in Macedonia. The word Macedonia means "extended land." Our extended land includes all who are outside our immediate reach. This is our outreach toward others. As we walk with God, our love toward our Christian brothers and sisters should increase and grow more and more, so we can show God's agape love to all we meet.

Paul explains what causes sickness in our bodies?

"I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servant to righteousness unto holiness." Romans 6:19

We need to know how God expects us to possess our vessels. Paul states why we have infirmity in the flesh. The word infirmity means "sickness." When we yield our bodies to uncleanness (mental and physical), then sickness will come upon our bodies. But we have God's promise when we stop yielding our members to uncleanness, our health will increase.

If we do not diligently work at yielding our members to righteousness and holiness, then we have yielded ourselves to iniquity unto iniquity. This will cause us to fall further and further away from God's purpose in our lives. Paul continues:

"For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." Romans 6:20-22

The end of those who yield their members to uncleanness and iniquity unto iniquity is death - - - both spiritual - - - and in the end, physical death.

When we deal with the sin in our life and become true servants of God, then we can expect EVERLASTING LIFE.

What a promise to us if we learn to possess our vessels in godliness. God spoke through the pen of Moses:

"See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil." Deuteronomy 30:15

God has set before each of us life and death, good and evil. Every person has choices to make every day. Do we choose God's way which leads to life and good - - - or do we choose to follow death and evil? Moses continues:

"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." Deuteronomy 30:19

God has not only set good and evil before us, He has set His blessing and cursings before us. We can choose life and blessings, or we can choose death and cursings. These choices are not only for us, but for our seed, our children, and our relatives. If we fail, they fail also.

The all-wise Solomon wrote:

"As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death." Proverbs 11:19

Life and death, good and evil. Those who pursue evil, pursue it to their own death. The all-wise Solomon wrote:

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." Proverbs 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Those who speak life and good will partake of life. Those who speak death and evil will suffer and pronounce their own death. It is recorded in the book of Job:

"Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways." Job 22:28

When we speak life, then life will be the substance of our being, and God's light will shine upon all our ways. James explains the destructive power of the tongue:

"Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!" James 3:5

Does our tongue speak life or does it speak death? Does it speak blessings or cursings? Do our attitudes and what we speak bring peace, or do our words cause contention and strife? John records Jesus' words:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath EVERLASTING LIFE, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." John 5:24

When we believe God and act upon His Word, we have passed from death unto life. When we get in our heads what we are here for then we can understand the words recorded in Ecclesiastes:

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

The only reason God gives us life is to keep His commandments. His Word is the whole duty of man. God is the ultimate judge who will judge man by the words recorded in His book. He will also judge us by every word that comes out of our mouth, whether they be words of life which bring blessings, or words of death which will bring cursings.

Jesus spoke to the religious system of His day:

"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things: For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Matthew 12:34

Jesus called them a generation of vipers. Those who He spoke to were the ones who cried, "Away with Him! Crucify Him!" In the generation we live in , many are crying, "We do not want Jesus to have anything to do with our lives." This generation has crucified Jesus again by their actions.

We wonder way there is so much sickness, so many suicides, so much discontent. It is because many have said, "Away with Him!."

Solomon goes on:

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Proverbs 17:22

There are not many merry hearts in the world today. All we see is wrinkled brows, worried faces, and anguished looks. Mens' hearts are failing them for fear when they see what is coming upon the earth.

How are we to possess our vessels?

In review, let's look at our beginning Scripture:

"That everyone of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;" I Thessalonians 4:4

We can know how to possess our vessels because God has given us all we need to know in His Word. He is our Creator. He knows what makes our bodies sick, and He knows how to keep them healthy. He knows what we must do to receive His blessings, and He also informs us how we can bring cursing and death upon ourselves.

Peter, who was given the keys to the Kingdom, gave us a remarkable insight when the Holy Spirit revealed to him:

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." II Peter 3:9

When we come to true repentance by turning from our worldly ways to serve God with a true heart, then we come to understand it is not God's will that men should perish. This is the decision men make themselves because they refuse to heed God's Word in how to possess their vessels.

Man is so tied up trying to please others they forget their whole reason God gave them life was to keep His commandments, the whole Word of God. Whether we live or die depends on the choices we make every day by what we read, watch, and allow in our lives. We need to possess our vessels to live and serve God. This is the whole duty of man.

Vital Words to the Body of Christ 
Freely We Have Received, Freely We Give
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