Bible Study Lessons

The Difference Between Christians and Unbelievers

Introduction

Two centuries ago, the famous European artist Paul Gustave Dore got to a border crossing only to realize he had lost his official papers. After a moment of consternation, he realized his name was almost universally recognized and should get him through. Accordingly, he told the border official his name. Instead of recognition, the guard’s face registered disinterest as he told Dore that he would be surprised how many people claimed to be famous persons hoping to get through. Dore, however, continued to maintain that he was indeed the artist by that name. The guard finally conceded that he would give Dore a test. If he passed, he would be allowed to go through. With that, he gave Dore a pencil and a sheet of paper and instructed him to sketch the peasants standing a little way down the road. Dore’s skill and speed completely convinced the guard who promptly let him through. In a small way, this is a picture of a Christian. They look just like everyone else and have the same past. But their identity is different. They are children of light appointed to salvation. Their life demonstrates the difference. Study this identity difference in 1 Thessalonians 5:5-10.

Observation

Pray

Ask the Lord to prepare your heart to hear His Word and ask Him to challenge your thinking and living so that you can be more like the Lord Jesus.

Read Focus Verses

As you read 1 Thessalonians 5:5-10, notice the analogies it uses to speak of the Christian life.

Context

The first four verses of this chapter are inseparably linked to today's verses. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 and see how they introduce and provide a foundation for today's verses.

Comparison #1

What analogy is used to compare Christians with unbelievers in verses 4-5?

Comparison #2

What analogy is used to compare Christians with unbelievers in verses 4-8?

Comparison #3

What comparison is highlighted between Christians and unbelievers in verse 9?

Keyword - Light

Highlight the side of each contrast that speaks of Christians - light, of the day, obtaining salvation.

Light

Christians

Mark the side of each contrast referring to Christians in 1 Thessalonians 5:5-10.

Keyword - Darkness

Highlight the side of each contrast that speaks of unbelievers - darkness, sleeping, obtaining wrath.

Darkness, dark

Unbelievers

Mark the side of each contrast referring to unbelievers in 1 Thessalonians 5:5-10 (you might want to mark the word darkness in verse 4 also).

Watch

What commands are given to Christians in verse 6?

Put On

What are Christians told to put on in verse 8?

Jesus Christ

What does verse 10 highlight that Jesus Christ has done for Christians?

Result

What result does Christ's death bring in Christians' lives?

Interpretation

Light

1 John 1:5-7 talks about light and darkness.

Identity

John 1:1-14 also speaks of the identity of this light.

Who?

Who is light?

Response

John 3:16-21 speaks of people's natural response to the light.

Reason

Ephesians 4:17-19 explains this natural response and gives the reason for it.

Natural State

What is a person's natural state (light or darkness) without Christ? Why?

New State

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 explains how people go from darkness to light.

Two Kingdoms

Colossians 1:9-14 also speaks of this in terms of a transfer of citizenship from one kingdom to another.

Transferred

How does one go from darkness to light according to Scripture?

Children of Light

Ephesians 5:8-14 uses the same phrase "children of light" as today's passage.

Light of the World

Matthew 5:14-16 further expands on what this means.

A Test

1 John 2:7-11 tells you how to know if you are in the kingdom of darkness or a child of the light.

Change

How does going from darkness to light change a person's life according to Scripture?

Obvious

How does God's people being light impact the world around them?

Reaction

How does Scripture warn us that many people will respond to God's people shining brightly?

No More Sun

Like many of these other passages, Revelation 21:22-27, speaking of the New Jerusalem, also talks about light/darkness and day/night.

No More Night

Revelation 22:1-5 also speaks of this glorious eternity.

Eternal Darkness

Jude 1:13 speaks of the opposite eternity of darkness reserved for those who rebel against God.

Complete

How should knowing that someday there will be no more darkness and night for God's people (and that there will be eternal darkness and night for those who are not His) motivate Christians to live while they are on earth?

Coming Again

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 tells us what Christians are watching for.

What?

What are Christians watching for?

Shine and Watch

Luke 12:35-40 speaks of shining as lights and watching like today's passage.

Watch and Stand

Read 1 Corinthians 16:13 and see what it says about how to watch.

Watch and Be Sober

Like today's passage, 1 Peter 4:7 speaks of watching and being sober.

Watching

Based on these verses, what are some things which will characterize the life of a Christian who is watching for Christ's return?

Sober

The command to be sober appears twice in this passage. Take a look at the word.

Strong's G3525

Greek,nepho [nay'-fo]

--Verb

Origin: of uncertain affinity

Definition:

  1. to be sober, to be calm and collected in spirit
  2. to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect

In Your Own Words

In your own words, what are some of the things the command to be sober in this passage means for a Christian's life?

Awake

Ephesians 5:14 also warns against sleeping spiritually.

Give You Light

Who gives light to those who awake?

Armor of Light

The Bible speaks of spiritual armor many times. In Romans 13:12 it speaks of this armor in terms of light and darkness like today's passage.

Weapons

2 Corinthians 10:4 speaks of the nature of a Christian's armor

Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-20 is probably the best known Scriptural passage about spiritual armor.

Spiritual Warfare

What are some of the reasons God compares the Christian life to a battle and Christian virtues to armor?

Breastplate

Why does God compare faith and love to a breastplate which protects the vital organs?

Helmet

Why does God compare the hope of salvation to a helmet which protects the head (mind)?

Faith, Hope, Love

It is interesting that the three virtues compared to a Christian's armor in today's passage are faith, hope, and love - the three virtues singled out in 1 Corinthians 13:13.

Partners

How do faith, hope, and love work together in the Christian life?

Wrath

If we go back to 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, we see how Christians escape the righteous wrath of God against sin. Sin deserves God's wrath and the just punishment for it is death. But Jesus stood in the place of sinners and died in their place taking God's wrath for them so that those who trust Him will never know God's wrath and will never die eternally.

Appointed to Salvation

Verse 9-10 of today's passage goes a step beyond the fact that God's people escape wrath to the glorious truth that they are appointed by God to obtain salvation. Read what 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 says about this.

How?

How do Christians escape wrath and obtain salvation according to these passages in 1 and 2 Thessalonians?

Here or in Glory

The idea in verse 10 that Christians live with Christ whether they are living here on earth or in heaven is repeated several times through the New Testament. Read Romans 14:8 for an example.

One Preferred

In Philippians 1:19-26 Paul discusses how a believer should think about living here on earth and in heaven.

Hope

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and think about how the reality of Christ's return and eternal life impacts a Christian's perspective on death.

Remain

According to these verses, why would a Christian want to remain on earth for a time?

Go

Why does a Christian want to go to heaven?

Evidence

Today's verses have emphasized the difference between Christians and unbelievers, light and darkness, those who will obtain salvation and those who will face God's wrath. The next few verses, 1 Thessalonians 5:11-22, show us what a Christian's life of walking in light should look like.

Summary

Other studies will look into 1 Thessalonians 5:11-22 more closely, but what are some of the things that characterize a Christian's life which stood out to you?

Application

Taking Sides

Which side of the contrasts in today's passage are you on (Christian, child of light, of the day, appointed to obtain salvation OR unbeliever, of darkness, sleeping Spiritually, going to face God's wrath)? How do you know based on the verses you've looked at in today's study?

Getting on God's Side

If you're not sure you're on God's side, will you turn away from your sin and trust in Jesus' death on your behalf and ask Him to save you and make you a child of light?

How Bright Are You?

If you are one of God's children of light, how brightly is your light shining? What things in your life are blocking your light? What are you going to do about it?

Shine Brightly

What are some things the Lord wants you to do to shine more brightly?

Wrapup

Closing

We hope this study has helped you better understand the difference between Christians and unbelievers, and has challenged you to shine brightly.

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