Walking Worthily with God

Pastor Phil Andrukaitis, December 18, 2022

The Apostle Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians

 General Theme: Living Righteously While Waiting Patiently for Jesus to Return

Sermon Title: Walking Worthily with God

Sermon Text: First Thessalonians 2:10-12

Subject: a godly lifestyle

Complement: The Christians’ earthly lifestyles ought to equal their heavenly calling.

Big Idea: Our worthy walk with God brings glory to God.

Overview and Review

I.          Spiritual leaders prove their concern for the church. (1:1a)

II.        Spiritual leaders provide care for the church. (1:1bc)

III.       Spiritual leaders pray for the church. (1:2-10)

IV.       Spiritual leaders pattern a life of loving service. (2:1- 3:13)

            A.         By evangelizing lost sinners with the saving gospel. (2:1-16)      

1st Question: How do Christians behave themselves before condemned sinners (2:1-12)         

  • with a godly testimony (1-2)                          
  • with godly motives (3-6)                                
  • with a godly attitudes (7-9)               
  • with a godly lifestyle (10-12)             Today’s Focus

2nd Question:  How do Christians recognize converted sinners? (2:13-16)

            B.         By edifying separated saints with loving concern (2:17 – 3:5)

            C.        By encouraging spiritual saints with hope and prayer (3:6-10)

Introduction                                  For God’s Sake…Wash Your Hands!

The year was 1818 and Ignaz Phillip Semmelweis (pronounced ZEMMELVISE) was born into a world of dying women.  The most magnificent hospitals of the day were losing one out of every six young mothers to a mysterious scourge commonly referred to as “childbed fever.”  For twenty-six years this disease would continue to incapacitate and destroy young mothers in the throes of labor and at times even destroying the lives of the newborn.

In 1844, the 26-year-old Dr. Semmelweis, believed there was a connection between the mothers’ deaths and the physician’s practice.  You see, a doctor’s daily routine began in the labs where autopsies were performed.  It was in the process of the autopsies that physicians would perfect their surgical techniques and their knowledge of anatomy and physiology.

Yet there was one alarming practice that occurred in this setting.  Many of these practitioners would leave directly from the lab, a place of death and move to the place of the living.  These men would never pause to wash their hands.  Consequently, something from the diseased dead would be transmitted to those battling for life.  In fact, the often ignorant and trusting public would look at a physician with a blood-stained lab coat and would consider it as a sign of his “success”; a morbid badge of honor.  The more soiled the physician’s lab coat, the more highly esteemed the physician.

Looking back on history, the young Dr. Semmelweis is considered the first man to associate this type of practice with resulting infection and death.  Consequently, he began to wash his hands in a chlorine solution when he left the lab before applying his healing skills on the living.  After eleven years and delivering 8,537 babies, Dr. Semmelweis lost only 184 mothers; about 1-in-50.  These results occurred before C-sections became another means of saving the mother and child. 

With this concise record keeping on his part, he began to lecture, debate, even argue with his colleagues.  Wherever he could, he implemented mandatory hand-washing among those whom were his subordinates and interns under his direction.  He fought with such vigor and strength that he was accused of madness.  He struggled to get doctors to wear clean clothes in deliveries and attempted to get clean wards in which to practice medicine.  Still, his resistant colleagues refused to comply with his standards.  The standards of Semmelweis were ridiculous and went against the current thoughts of the day.

He once argued, Puerperal fever (childbed fever) is caused by decomposed material, conveyed to a wound.  I have shown how it can be prevented.  I have proved all that I have said.  But while we talk, talk, talk, gentlemen, woman are dying.  I am not asking anything world shaking.  I am merely asking you only to wash. . . For God’s sake, wash your hands.

However, in his struggle, it seemed no one believed him.  Physicians and midwives had been delivering babies for years without washing and no crazy Hungarian was going to change them today or tomorrow.  Semmelweis would die at the young age of 47, practically at the edge of insanity with his wash basins discarded and his peers laughing in his face. . . . and the death rattle of a thousand women ringing in his ears.  But he refused to give up.  He labored valiantly on. . . . in a seemingly losing battle.

Nearly 40-years passed.  Dr. Joseph Lister, a British surgeon and pioneer of antiseptic surgery came across the records and journals of Dr. Semmelweis.  As a result, Lister began to soak his surgical instruments in carbolic acid and the results were astonishing.  What previously had been considered as risky and hazardous surgery now became routine.  While many physicians ridiculed and ostracized Lister, he too plodded steadily on and became known as the “founder of antiseptic surgery.”  [By the way, did you know Listerine mouthwash is named after Dr. Lister?  Listerine’s slogan:  Kills germs that cause bad breath.].

Thanks to the work of these two physicians, before any patient undergoes any surgical procedure, the surgeon will stand outside of the operating room and “scrub” his hands with a Betadine scrub or Hibiclens soap for ten minutes before entering the operating room.

The lesson:  When the medical team neglects the practice of cleanliness, deadly, infectious microbes are spread abroad among patients thereby causing patients to become acutely ill, even die. [1]

Transitional Thoughts

Just as the young Dr. Phillip Semmelweis (pronounced ZEMMELVISE) discovered the connection between cleanliness and death regarding infectious microbes, think of how the believers’ ungodly lifestyles desecrate their lives and ministries, especially their outreach to the lost.   God desires every Christian to live a life worthy of God – worthy of the calling – worthy of the kingdom and glory He has given to every sinner saved by grace!  After all, what happens to Christians and their ministries when they…

  • …invest themselves in working for God without first living a holy life with prayer?
  • …make life-altering decisions without prayer?
  • …share the Scriptures and the gospel but are careless with the way they live their lives?

While the Scripture has so much more to say regarding the impact of ungodliness upon the Christians’ ministries, let us confine ourselves to the Thessalonian text.

For the past several weeks, this pulpit has been looking at how Paul and the mission team, who pattern their lives with loving service, sought to evangelize sinners with the saving message of the gospel.  These servants of God have been excellent examples, showing us how to behave before the community of unbelievers. 

The text (1st Thessalonians 2:1-12) has revealed four qualifications for a godly lifestyle, if outreach to the lost is to be effective:  Believers need a godly testimony, godly motives, and a godly attitudes

The last qualification Paul emphasizes in this text is a godly lifestyle (1st Thessalonians 2:10-12). 

            “You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would have a walk worthy of God Who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

(1st Thessalonians 2:10-12)

Therefore, let’s look at four godly actions that defined Paul and the mission team’s godly lifestyle:

I.         They lived piously.               

II.        They lived righteously.                    

III.      They lived blamelessly.

IV.       They acted paternally

Our worthy walk with God brings glory to God.

I.         They lived piously, devoutly hosiōs (Strong’s #3743)

Living piously-devoutly is the first of three adverbs Paul employs to describe his and the mission team’s ministry.  What is piety?  It is holy devotion; living in a manner that pleases God.  God gives to each of His children duties and responsibilities which must be carried out.  It is faithfulness to divine obligations. 

Piety is not some type of fake religious lifestyle but the genuine expression of fidelity (faithfulness) to God.  Paul and the missionaries’ holy devotion to the Thessalonian people and to God was witnessed by everyone thus, creating a desire to follow after God.  Read Psalm 15.

Our worthy walk with God brings glory to God.

A second godly action that defined Paul and the mission team’s godly lifestyle is…

II.        They lived righteously; dikaiōs (Strong’s 1346)

Living righteously is the second of three adverbs Paul employs to describe the team’s ministry among the Thessalonian people.  It simply means to “live rightly.”  Do the right thing.

It’s interesting to see how this word is used elsewhere in Scripture.  In Luke 23:41, one of the two thieves who were crucified next to Jesus said to the other that they were “justly” dikaiōs being condemned for their criminal activities.  In other words, the government and its laws were doing the right thing by executing these two thieves.

This account is, however, too precious to leave here.  Listen to the rest of the account (Luke 23:39-43 – ESV) so that you may hear the gospel.

      “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, Are you not the Christ?  Save Yourself and us! 

      “But the other rebuked him, saying, Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong. 

      “And he said, Jesus, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom. 

      ‘And He said to him, Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’”

Like both criminals, each of us also deserves to be punished for our unrighteous lifestyles.  The Bible says that we have all sinned (Romans 3:23).  In other words, each of us has offended God and like sheep that go their own way, we, too, insist on our own lifestyle (Isaiah 53:6). 

It seems that the only time we call out to God is when we are faced with imminent danger, financial ruin, and terminal disease.  Remember the days following “9/11”?  It seemed that many people in our country called out to God; but in less than six months, it’s business as usual.  And as of today, we have moved further away from God.

Because of our sinful and self-directed way of living is offensive to God, God declares that our “wages” for our offensives against Him and others is spiritual death – separation from God forever in the Lake of Fire (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20). 

If God did not act on our behalf, no one would make it to heaven.  That is why Jesus Christ, the Son of God became a man, lived life righteously, became our substitutionary sacrifice on the cross for our sins by taking on our sin, shame, and guilt.

And most gloriously, Jesus was raised to life – proof that God had accepted His Son’s payment for our sins – a payment only God could pay.  The results:  Those who receive Christ by faith from God will experience no condemnation but an everlasting intimate relationship with God the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.

Our worthy walk with God brings glory to God.

We have seen that living piously and righteously are two actions that defined Paul and the mission team’s godly lifestyle.  Here is the third action:

III.      They lived blamelessly; amemptōs (Strong’s #274)

Living blamelessly is the third of three adverbs Paul employs to describe their lives and ministry among the Thessalonian people.  Living blameless means that there is no cause for silencing.  In the past, we have heard of televangelists whose secret sinful lifestyles became known.  Consequently, most people stopped listening to them. 

Their credibility is gone.

The Scripture reveals the fact that the Christian’s accuser (the devil) continually comes before God to call attention to our sins (Revelation 12:10).  Yet, because of God’s omniscience and unfailing love for those He has saved,  God knows us and all about our failings.  Moreover, God is mindful of our physical frames – we are but dust – another way of saying that we are weak.  God sees everything in us, even though our eyes cannot see the depth of our sinful desires.  Nevertheless, God’s love is unconditional – in other words, God’s love for us does not change, as He accepts us just as we are.  His Son’s blood has paid for all our sins and has removed its entire penalty for all time.

But know this, while God’s love for us is unconditional, He does not allow us to stay in our sin.  Rather, He has sent the Holy Spirit into our lives to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ. 

Illustration:  Near the end of my enlistment with the Marine Corps, the company commander, with whom I had a “tight” relationship because of the training we experienced and taught together, conducted a surprise inspection of the barracks.  The twenty enlisted men who lived in the squad-bay, stood at attention as the CO and XO opened each Marine’s locker and inspected it for contraband.  When the Captain looked inside my locker, he found a nearly empty “fifth” of Cutty Sark scotch.  I chanced a quick glance at him and caught his eye and a little smile.  And then to my surprise, placed the bottle of scotch in the middle of the squad-bay for all to see; needless to say, I did not receive my promotion to E-4 yet by his grace, he did not place into my records an official reprimand.

What would a close inspection of our lives suddenly turn up if God were to inspect our lives?  Might we be guilty of impure motives; sinful attitudes; secret sins; swindling others out of money; envy; lust; deceit; and the list goes on.  If we fail to pass inspection, how can we expect God’s blessings?  And as leaders within the Christian community or in any community, if our character flaws are not addressed before the Throne of God’s grace, our ministries will suffer, the church will suffer, and “lost souls” will suffer for lack of our ministry.

Listen we don’t need the enemy of our soul to silence us; we silence ourselves because we are ashamed and know our guilt.  Therefore, let us cast off every sin that weighs us down; confess our sin to God, Who will cleanse us from all unrighteousness; and let us rest in God’s unfailing promises.  AMEN?  AMEN.

Our worthy walk with God brings glory to God.

Three godly actions define a godly lifestyle:  Living piously, righteously, and blamelessly.  The last godly action that contributes to a godly lifestyle is living paternally.

IV.       They lived paternally.

In verse 10 we examined three adverbs that described Paul’s life and the mission team’s lives.  In verses 11-12, Paul employs the figure of a father and his love for his children.  It’s interesting to note how Paul used the image of a nursing mother (2:7) and now he employs the image of a wise father.

What paternal characteristics did Paul and his mission team display among people?  Like a godly father, these mature saints…

  • …constantly encouraged believers.

            Believers always need encouragement; but new believers need constant encouragement paraklēsis (Strong’s 3874).  When troubles, trials, disappointments, deaths, discouragements, when divorce looms over your marriage, when disease disables your body, we know that the Holy Spirit will come alongside and strengthen God’s children (John 16:7, 13-14; Romans 5:5) and do what is right. 

            This is how mature saints minister to the lost and to other Christians, especially those who are afflicted.  Come alongside of them, hold them up in your prayers, and seek practical ways to lessen the burden by meeting their needs – without enabling their sin.

  • …incessantly comforted believers.

New believers also need immediate and continuous follow-up.  The word, paramutheommai (Strong’s #3888) means to come alongside of and speak.  Thus, like a godly father, mature saints will speak words of truth in a comforting and encouraging manner.  Sometimes, silence is best.  If a person is not sure when and what to say, simply wait for the Lord to lead you.

  • …unceasingly testified to all believers.

Finally, like godly fathers, mature saints must continually urge martureō (Strong’s #3140) all believers, especially the young believers, to live and act responsibly, according to God’s Word.

When any of these actions are over-emphasized or are missing in a Christian’s ministry, it is easy to understand why God’s people are offended

Our worthy walk with God brings glory to God.

Transitional Thoughts towards Conclusion

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, along with the rest of the mission team, lived piously, righteously, blamelessly, and paternally.  Like a godly father, Paul constantly encouraged, incessantly comforted, and unceasingly testified to believers to live lives worthy of God Who called them into His Kingdom and glory

The idea of living worthy of God comes from axious tou Theou, which has the picture of “drawing down the scale.”  In other words, if we could picture a scale where one side is weighed down with the blessings of God, then our lifestyle and desire to please God ought to equalize or “draw down the scale.”


Remember the introductory story of Dr. Semmelweis (pronounced ZEMMELVISE)?  His admonition to his colleagues was, “For God’s sake, wash your hands.”

Let me bring you back to ancient Israel’s past.  Because of Israel’s continued rebellion against God and His Word, even with the warnings from God’s prophets, Israel continued in her gross uncleanness [physical, spiritual, and moral].  Finally, God’s patience had reached an end and so, God ultimately brought judgment upon the nation by way of the Babylonian conquest and captivity.

After Israel spent 70-years in captive in Babylon, God fulfilled His promise to restore Israel and bring her back home under the leadership of Zerubbabel.  Two prophets were also ministering to the returning exiles,  Haggai and Zechariah. 

The Book of Haggai is a record of four sermons for the Jews returning to their homeland.  While the prophet’s sermon could be titled, “Seek first the kingdom of God, the Jews were not experiencing the anticipated blessings of God (Haggai 1:1-11).  And so, the prophet cries out twice, “consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5, 7). As Haggai could have said, “For God’s sake, wash your hands.”

Might that be one of the significant reasons why many churches are struggling to grow?  Are they why sin may be hindering God from blessing the church? 

As illustrated in the introduction, uncleanness in the spiritual realm will desecrate the child of God and the work of God.  Therefore, consider the following applications:


1.         Know this, someone is always watching us.

  • The community of believers and unbelievers

            The Thessalonian community had been watching Paul and the mission team. 

  • The Triune God

Hebrews 4:13  “And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.”

1st Samuel 16:7  But the LORD said to Samuel, Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature because I have r ejected him (referring to Eliab, David’s older brother).  For the LORD sees not as man sees:  man looks on the outward appearance,   but the LORD look on the heart.”

Proverbs 15:3  “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”

            Please allow me to get personal for just a few moments.  Listen, God sees the secrets of our heart, pain, shame and guilt, struggles, fears, unwillingness to surrender to Him, and our attitude to control our lives.      Even if someone has hurt us, do we hurt them back?  We all have sinned and have offended those around us and we have offended God.  Jesus came to set sinners free from the guilt and power and penalty of sin. His death on the cross for your sins and mine is God’s greatest act of love for you and me.  And His resurrection from the grave is the greatest proof that the payment for our sins was accepted by the Heavenly Court.

            If God is drawing you to Christ, run to the cross and cry within your heart, Oh God, thank You for Your forgiveness and save me and change me into the person You have called me to be.

  • The angelic hosts

According to Hebrews 1:14, angels are ministering spirits sent out as servants of God to help and protect those who will inherit salvation.  I believe they help us more than we realize.  All through our lives angels are ever present; and at the moment of death, I believe angels usher Christians to their heavenly home, as they did with Moses (Jude 9). 

There is an interesting passage in Ephesian 3:8-10 where God’s grace given to the church makes know the wisdom of God for the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.  Yes, the angelic hosts are watching us, and they marvel at the grace and wisdom of God.

  • Satan and evil spirits

            In the opening chapter of Job, we read of Satan’s search for a godly person; and God presents Job.  Satan’s three goals according to Job 1:9-11 are:

                        To cast doubt upon our motives

                        To challenge God’s right to be followed

                        To destroy our faith and witness (1st Peter 5:8)

            Following Jesus’ time of testing in the wilderness, Satan’s watchful eyes remained on Jesus.  “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). In other words, Satan remained close enough to watch Jesus and opportunities to tempt Him.

            Like Jesus, let us live our lives in such a way so that when any of these witnesses scrutinize our lives, they will not be able to “dig up any hidden dirt” or reveal a lack of faith.

2.         Walk devoutly.  What does a devout life look like?

  • Read Psalm 15 this week and list out its eleven characteristics. 
  • How often are we reading our Bibles during the week and talking with God?  Are you going to change up the pattern?  Don’t say, I don’t have enough time.  We all have the same time.  It’s a matter of realigning our priorities, considering what is more important.  Need help?  Call someone.

3.         Walk righteously.  What does a righteous life look like?

  • It simply means living rightly before God and others. 
  • Would God approve our loss of temper with others in the home, workplace, or in traffic? 
  • Would God approve our use of the computer and internet?
  • Would God approve the programs we watch on TV?
  • Would God approve of our use of money?
  • Would God approve the way we support the church?
  • Would God approve of our attitude towards the lost, no matter their lifestyle?

4.         Walk blamelessly.  What does a blameless life look like?

  • If God permitted Satan an audience concerning our lives, of what habitual sins might Satan accuse us? Praise God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that they already know all about us.  And that the grace of Christ is ours to plead, but never to abuse. 

            Read Daily Bread devotional entitled, “Quiet Witness” – [November 25, 2018].

5.         Act paternally. 

  • Who needs encouragement in your family, especially when poor health [physical, emotional, spiritual] is involved?  Spouse?  Children/grandchildren?  Are you personally discouraged?  Besides the Lord, to whom do you turn and seek a word of encouragement?
  • Who needs comfort?
  • Who needs to be exhorted, challenged to do the right thing and to stick with it?  Look, if you are a spiritually minded person and believe God has blessed you with a heart to lift up others, then do it.  A father ought never to leave his kids to grow up by themselves.  Their kids need guidance.  So do young believers.  This is where the heart of disciple making begins.

Our worthy walk with God brings glory to God.

Let’s walk worthily of our calling and live up to what God has given to us.

[1] Philip Harrelson, For God’s Sake…Wash Your Hands, [doc online]; https://barnabas14.wordpress.com/2006/04/02/for-gods-sake-wash-your-hands-2/, accessed 2018, Nov. 20.

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