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Jun 05, 2022

Diurnal Spirituality

Passage: 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: 1 Thessalonians

Keywords: love, faith, hope, spiritual warfare, homelessness in spokane


In this passage, Paul calls us to 'put on' three spiritual character qualities that equip us for the spiritual war we are in with the world, our flesh and the devil. As people of the day rather than the darkness, we are charged to develop these three qualities out of sober-mindedness that comes from living in Jesus.


Diurnal Spirituality:  Dressed for Daily Salvation

1 Thessalonians 5:8-11

June 5, 2022


INTRO:  I’ve got a little vocabulary quiz for you today…a 1-word quiz.  What does “diurnal” mean?  While it sounds like it has something to do with the men’s restroom, don’t be fooled.   It actually means “of the day”.  It’s the opposite of “nocturnal”. 

ILL:  What are some “nocturnal” animals?

  • Bats
  • Coyotes
  • Hedgehogs
  • Opossums
  • Owls
  • Racoons

They look so cute, don’t they,…until they start living, working or playing around your house at night!

Q:  Any nocturnal humans?  BABIES …and those who sleep like them (another mis-assigned metaphor).

Most of creation is ‘diurnal’—“of the day”, sleeping at night and being active in the daytime. 

            We saw last week that when it comes to spirituality, the reverse is true in our world:  most people are spiritually nocturnal —of the darkness/night; as alive as they will ever be engaging in the deeds of darkness and evil. 

But those who have been “born again” by faith in Jesus Christ are ‘diurnal’—people of the light, people of ‘the day”.  We are most alive and true to our new nature when we are engaged in works of righteousness which God has prepared for us to do as ‘children of the light/God’ (Eph. 2:10). 

            Today’s passage is the latter part of the one we looked at last week.  Here it is.

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

            We ended last week by talking about the desperate need our nation has to ‘awake’ spiritually…to experience another “Great Awakening” that moves millions of people into an utterly life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.  And we looked at seven signs/symptoms that accompany any genuine spiritual awakening.  Here they are again:

  1. Worship comes alive and becomes fresh and new.
  2. There is conviction of sin and a return to holiness.
  3. The importance of brotherly love comes alive again.
  4. There is a new passion in serving the Lord… both in witnessing to the lost and ministering to one another.
  5. There is an unquestioning belief in and obedience to God’s Word.
  6. There is a new and powerful desire for prayer.
  7. There is a new and unequivocal battle launched against the strongholds of Satan.

It is that last onespiritual battle/warfare—that our text today addresses.  And remember that by our definition of “revival” these things are all meant to be the norm for the church, not the exception or rare occurrence.

Q:  What if we made these 7 characteristics our constant requests to God in prayer?  I challenge us all to do this.  [See Discussion Questions for today on this passage at the back tables.]

            War is horrible business.  Anybody who wants a war is either deranged or has never experienced war.  But in a sin-soaked world where there are deranged national leaders and power-hungry egomaniacs with weapons at their disposal, war is almost unavoidable.  Either those sick individuals will impose their evil wills on others or they will be stopped by force of war. 

            When God speaks about combat dress and warfare, He isn’t doing so because He loves war and the suffering it produces.  He does so because He is firmly rooted in reality.  And reality is that there is real good and real evil in this world.  Evil will never be happy letting good triumph…and genuine ‘good’ will never be happy letting evil triumph.  Spiritual warfare, in that sense, is inescapable.  Either it will conquer us or we will vanquish it.

            You may think that you can avoid the battle. But that is just another ploy of the enemy designed to defeat you. 

ILL:  Ever heard of “The Ghost Army” of WWII?  The Ghost Army were a group of 1,100 soldiers in the U.S. Army who were master illusionists of the war.   They were deployed, often on or very near the front lines of Europe, to deploy full-scale theatrical illusions using inflatable tanks, trucks, airplanes and sound effects.  They mission was to deceive the Germans by impersonating combat units of 13,000 to 30,000 men.  These relatively few meteorologists, writers, actors and camouflage designers saved thousands of lives by deceiving the Germans into thinking we were deploying our troops in one place when, in fact, it was happening in another. 

            The reverse is what happens if you and I think spiritual warfare is optional.  If we are lulled into thinking that we don’t have to suit up for battle, we don’t have to train or prepare for spiritual war, or we don’t have to actually show up in the battle today and engage the enemy of our souls, Satan, then he’s won a battle we refuse to fight. 

            Paul consistently uses warfare imagery to call God’s people to spiritual wakefulness.  Whether it is in Ephesians 6 or here in 1 Thess. 5, we are told to prepare for battle…or become spiritual casualties and prisoners of war.  There can be no middle ground. 


  • How many of you have served in the military?
  • Did you expect boot camp to be easy? Like a vacation
  • Was it more difficult for any of you than you expected?
  • If any of you actually went to war, were you grateful for how much boot camp required of you?

Spiritual discipleship is like bootcamp.  It is intended to prepare us for the real spiritual warfare we’re going to engage in life.  This is why biblical teaching matters, why coming together and praying together matters, why deep fellowship matters. It’s training that equips us for the battle out there.  We have to learn what the “ghost tactics” of the enemy are so we don’t engage or disengage the wrong places in our lives.  We have to ‘armor up’ so that we’re ready when the enemy shoots at us, throws spiritual grenades and lobs heavy artillery at our lives.  We must learn why, what and how to engage well in this daily spiritual battle.  And we must learn “on the fly,” in the midst of battle. 

            In vs. 8, Paul tells us that winning in this war has to do with “be[ing] sober.”  Then he will describe what spiritual sobriety looks like and what it does.

The term used here in the Greek for “sober” is nepho (nay-pho).  It’s defined this way by Greek scholars:  to be calm and collected in spirit; to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect.  Paul uses it twice here in this chapter and paragraph (vss. 6 & 8).

  • 5:6—So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
  • 5:8--But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

Paul will use nepho one more time in the N.T. in 2 Timothy 4:5 when he challenges his son-in-the-faith to “…always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 

Then the Apostle Peter will use it 3 times in 1 Peter:

  • 1:13--Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
  • 4:7The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
  • 5:8—Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Notice that 4 of the 6 times it’s translated “sober-minded.”  The two that are just translated “sober” both are being contrasted with what people who are not spiritually awake or living in the light are doing.  Spiritual sobriety is the opposite of spiritual darkness.  It is living with a clear, enlightened and fully-revealed vision of spiritual realities, especially realities that help me walk in righteousness and holiness. 

            God is calling us to train our minds, our thinking for this new battle.  Look again at what Peter said in 1st Peter 1:13—“Preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded….”  Every temptation begins in our thoughts inside us, not the people or things outside of us.  Every sin starts in our minds before it ever comes out of our words or actions.  So spiritual sobriety requires a change of thought process.  It requires

  • Recognizing the wrong things (alcohol, people, sex, rage, hatred, etc.) that are exercising control over us (compared in this passage with spiritual drunkenness).
  • Saying “no” to those things and people; “putting off” these things so we can begin to develop ‘spiritual sobriety’, and…
  • “Armoring-up” or developing the mind-set of “spiritual sobriety” that enables us to continue to reject the darkness and deeds of darkness while equipping us to orient our new life around the light of God and the righteous living He has planned for us to walk in.

ILL: So, I have a confession that will become a case study this morning of what God is calling us to do in this passage.  Here’s the confession.  And, as with most confessions, it’s not pretty and I’m not proud of it.  But if I’m to get healed of my sin-sickness, I need to take the lead in doing what James calls us to—"confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed,” (James 5:16).   

Probably THE most destructive sin in my 65-year life has been ungodly anger…and I’m struggling right now with lot of it.  It’s over the whole homeless situation in Spokane.  Here’s where it’s cropping up in my soul and how I’m feeling and thinking.

  • I’m angry at what homelessness and the homeless are doing to our city. It’s destroying the downtown core, driving hard-working business people out of our city and keeping adults and children who should be enjoying our city from coming downtown.
  • I’m angry at how the city is handling and not handling homelessness and frankly how our national and state policy makers are feeding the crisis by not addressing mental illness in our cities…or the flow of drugs across our southern border and into our cities…how they are supporting drug addiction in our land by giving millions of people free money every month, no strings attached, that they know is used to fuel drug habits day after day, week after week, month after month.
  • I’m angry about what it is doing to this neighborhood and our witness as God’s people. EX:  Just drive downNeedle Alley” that runs from Division to Maple in our block and ask yourself, “Which part of this is the ugliest and dirtiest?” I think you will find, as I have, that our block is the worst!  You’ll also find that it's the only part of this strip that has two churches in it.  These blocks should be the best looking, the cleanest, the most beautiful and attractive…IF we are really doing the right thing with the right heart regarding the homeless…or any social ill, for that matter. 
  • I’m angry about what homelessness is doing to our church—to how it is harming those of you who are homeless and a part of Mosaic and to how its presence all around us here drives many a good family away from our fellowship.
  • I’m angry at how some other non-profits and churches are ‘handling it.’
  • I want to give “what for” to a bunch of different people who have what I think are wrong or misguided solutions or won’t do the hard things to create solutions, everyone from government to fellow believers.
  • Honestly, I’m angry at many of the homeless themselves who seem to care less about themselves than many of us care about them, who not only use drugs but use everyone around them.
  • And finally, I’m angry with myself for struggling with anger so much!

So, this week I have two meetings I need to be at that are going to be addressing homelessness.  And I’m going to be talking at both.  One is in our neighborhood with a couple of our local organizations and churches… and the other is the City Council Monday night as they decide about a no-barrier shelter…or not.  (Some of you may want to join me.)  And I’m very aware that in just a few moments, with the wrong attitudewith my anger that I’ve just described to you… I could harm the witness of Christ, damage the impact and reputation of Mosaic, destroy a good personal reputation I’ve spent a lifetime building, and wound a whole lot of people.  In short, I could easily become part of the problem and make it worse rather than being part of the solution and making it better.

            To top it off, I was challenged this week by a brother with whom I shared my concern to look past the anger (a “secondary emotion”) at what might be the real (“primary”) causes of anger in my own soul.  That could be things like…

  • Wanting to control the uncontrollable around me.
  • Pride that takes personal offense at the general disrespect I may feel the homeless are showing our city.
  • A sense of hopelessness in the face of such a massive problem.
  • Rejection of values I was raised with and have held dear for a lifetime, things like the value of hard work, of frugality, of cleanliness, of courtesy towards others, of responsibility, etc.

APP:  So, WHAT does this passage have to say to me and my anger… and you and whatever issues of darkness you are facing in your own souls…when it comes to fighting and winning the spiritual battle?  I think it has quite a bit, actually. 

1 Thess. 5:8—"But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

Clearly for me to “be sober”, to have an internal compass that is the definition of this word—"calm and collected in spirit; temperate, dispassionate, circumspect” in both my internal attitudes and external actions, I’ve got to change the way I’m thinking.  The first step in that is what I just did—called my anger what it is and recognized where it is both sinful and where it is justified.  In this passage, Paul doesn’t talk about “putting off” the sinful part of our nature.  But it is implicit in that he does go on and talk about “putting on” better attitudes and actions.  That whole process is more clearly outlined in Ephesians 4:22-24.

“…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

            Having chosen to reject my old-nature, sinful tendencies to use anger to control others, to use it to vent or express my personal frustrations with others…having called sin “sin” in my life, I now need to “be renewed” in my thinking.  I need to figure out what “sober-mindedness” looks like in this situation.  And here this passage gives me some direction: “…put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

            Faith…hope…love—the holy, good, righteous ‘trinity’ of spiritual character God wants to work into my life. 

            Paul uses much the same imagery here as he does in Eph. 6 with the armor of God. 

Breastplate:  in Roman times during which Paul wrote, the breastplate was meant to protect all the vital organs of the body—heart, stomach, liver, lungs, etc.  It was meant to protect a soldier facing an opposing enemy, not running from it.  It’s both defensive and offensive in nature.  Without it a soldier was terribly exposed to the swords, spears and fiery projectiles of the enemy.  In Eph. 6, Paul specifically names the “shield” as associated with ‘faith.’  Here he combines it with the breastplate…and he combines faith with love. 

            First FAITH.  Faith is very simply “taking God at his word and living by it.” 

  • “Faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of God,” (Romans 10:17).  Biblical faith must be grounded in the word of God.  Otherwise our ‘faith’ is in something else.
  • Biblical faith means I trust what God says about anger, about homelessness, about wanting to control, about all the issues that touch on homelessness rather than my own feelings, emotions, opinions and thoughts. If I’m going to come close to what God wants me to be as a child of light, I must believe Him when he says things like…
    • 29:22—A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.
    • James 1:20—for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
    • 12:18—There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
    • 21:23—Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

APP:  So, what is an “issue” you’re struggling with?  What keeps tripping you up in life?  Maybe it’s despair.  Maybe it’s negative thoughts about yourself of life.  Maybe it’s fear/worry. Maybe it’s loneliness…or sexual immorality…or bitterness…or _______________ (you fill in the blank).

  • WHAT does the Word of God say about it? If you don’t know, you need to find out.  It’s never been easier to “search the Scriptures”.  Use a concordance or web site.  Memorize the passages.  Get them in your mind so that you can then make a faith-choice.
  • Put on faith. Decide to believe God’s truth about your temptation/son rather than your own mind.  Tell him that in prayer and start making decisions based on that faith.  Pray about it every time the temptation to do otherwise presents itself. 

Faith can be both a defensive and offensive tool in our armor.  It is defensive in that it protects against the lies of Satan that want to drive us into unrighteous, unholy and ungodly reactions to life, things like ungodly anger, lust, pride, fear of anything but God, etc.  Once we’re standing firm in faith against the wiles of the devil, faith can become offensive in that it can move us into positive actions that push back the gates of hell.  It can give us the courage and confidence to claim new victories in Christ, to replace sinful attitudes and actions with ones that actually do good and righteous.

This is where the next God-given quality of godly character comes in. In this passage, Paul combines “faith” and “love” together as protecting us from spiritual attacks that will really damage us as well as clothing us with the godliness our new nature is designed for.  So now let’s go to…

LOVE:  agape (Gk.), God-like love.

This is “godly, self-sacrificing, love that desires and works for what is in the best interest of the one loved.” In agape love there is no room for self-focus or selfishness that is primarily concerned with how something is affecting ME. 

So back to my particular issue with anger

  • Love stops looking at how I’m feeling about homelessness.
  • Agape starts asking questions that will help me grasp, understand, feel and act in the best interest of everyone involved.

WHO must I love well in this situation to embrace living in the light? 

  • The homeless
  • The people serving them—like Cup of Cool Water, City Gate, Crosswalk, Shalom, Mosaic, UGM, Mosaic, etc.
  • The people being affected by this crisis, starting with those our closest neighbors and moving outward: downtown residents, local businesses and their employees, local non-profits and churches, etc. 

Let’s just take 3 of those groups:  the homeless themselves and our neighboring residents, businesses and fellow non-profitsour “near neighbors.”  We don’t have the time to unpack in depth today what God-like love needs to look like towards each of those groups.  But when I start asking myself, “How does God want to love each of these groups of individuals?” I’m starting to care more about them than my own feelings and self. 

  • If these homeless in our block were my children, how would I want them to be loved?
    • If they had mental illness, I’d want them to get help, have a system that actually serves them and doesn’t let their mental illness destroy them…even if they think that’s what’s best for them.
    • If they are addicted to drugs or alcohol, I’d want opportunities for them to get clean and sober—long-term treatment options and steps to get them there; the power of Christ in the Gospel to equip them to change, a disruption of, and end to, the supply and dealers (which includes the money people and the government gives them to fuel their addictions).
    • If they are genuinely disabled physically, mentally or emotionally and can’t care for themselves, then I’d want to be compassionate enough to find ways to get them housed, clothed and healed (or at least cared for).
    • If they are homeless because they are simply rebellious, self-absorbed, selfish and wanting to be given food, clothing and shelter that they could, like most of us, work for if they stopped being the center of their universe, then God’s word calls me to limit the damage they can do to others and let things like hunger, cold, illness, the elements, isolation and even discipline be their masters. ILL:  what I felt I had to do at one point with one of our sons when he was a rebellious teen…and it took him 9 months of street life, of trouble with the law, of cold and loneliness to learn that was not the life he wanted…and today he is a wonderful, productive, caring and kind young man

Having taken just a little bit of time to ask God, “What should Your love look like to these, my homeless neighbors, some of whom are addicted, others having mental issues, others physically or emotionally disabled and others simply selfishly self-absorbed?” I can now genuinely advocate for and love on the homeless.   I can now begin to see the kinds of solutions each needs rather than just throwing money or food or clothing at them. 

            That same process must be followed when I think about our church, non-profit, business and residential near-neighbors.  For example, when I see and experience the negative effects of neighbors who simply want to give literally tons of food to the homeless and think that is the best way to “love” them, I need to enter into meaningful relationship and dialogue with them about how we can do that in a way that doesn’t actually perpetuate or encourage homelessness, addictions and failure to really address mental health and disability issues.  I need to applaud where they are loving self-sacrificially while challenging them to see where their actions are not really loving of either the homeless or the other neighbors God has put next to us like downtown residents, businesses and people who those businesses both serve and need. 

Personal APP:  So, for you…take an issue(s)/sin you identified earlier in your own life. 

  1. When you “put on” the love of God, how does your view of and attitude towards that sin or temptation or person change?
  2. What does God-like love call you into? What kinds of different thinking and positive action will it move you into?
  3. Make putting on that love your constant prayer, your heart, your speech and action…and watch what God will do.

The last thing Paul points us to in calling us to really live as “people of the day”, people of righteousness rather than selfishness or sin, is the long-look of HOPE.  Look one last time at this passage:

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 

            Biblical “hope” is usually not realized or fulfilled until the coming of Christ.  God is calling us to keep all of life in perspective.  When I get too myopic in my focus of life, I lose sight of the most important things.  When this temporary irritation of homelessness consumes me instead of the daily salvation God wants me to experience through living and dying (waking and sleeping) with Jesus (vs. 10), I’m not ‘putting on’ “hope” as “the helmet of salvation” God wants me to wear every day.  God designed the homeless in my life to help me “live with” our Lord Jesus Christ. 

APP:  And He designed your situation, your trial, even your temptations to move you to fix your hope in life upon “living with Christ” at all times. 

  • If your temptation is to cheat on tests at school…or get depressed because you can’t seem to get the grades you want… or drop out and give up…God wants to build hope in Him through those experiences, not the sin you’re tempted to choose.
  • If your marriage is disappointing and hard and you are tempted to drift off into an affair or wall off emotionally and go for a divorce, God wants you to learn to “live with Him” IN that, to find hope that only he can bring to a marriage like that.
  • Whatever your issues, God’s design for the battle is for you to ‘put on’ HOPE—hope in your relationship with Jesus, in your daily life with him…hope that when nothing else is working, Jesus Christ is at work in and around you. Whether “waking or sleeping”…living or dying…our Savior Jesus is at work saving us from sin and darkness through just “living with” us in it. We may lose everything and everyone in life…but we can never ‘lose’ Jesus!  Even when we can’t hang onto Him, He will hang onto us!


  • Do you need to receive Jesus Christ?
  • Which piece of the armor do you need most today: faith, love or hope?  How is God asking you to armor-up right now?  How can we help?    LORD’s PRAY…& Prayer Counselors


Follow-Up Questions to

1 Thessalonians 5:8-11, “Diurnal Spirituality”

  1. Which “characteristics of revival” given in this message do you wish were more prevalent in your life presently? What two things could you do this week to improve that?
  2. When it comes to spiritual warfare, which of the three great pieces of armor do you find easiest to take up? Which is most difficult?  Why?
  3. Choose an issue…a sin…that repeatedly trips you up. What would the three steps of “spiritual sobriety” look like in your life? (1—recognizing the sin, 2—putting it away, 3—choosing the right by ‘armoring up’)  See Ephesians 4:22-24
  4. How would biblical faith look applied to that issue/sin (thoughts & actions)?
  5. What would biblical love look like applied to that issue/sin (thoughts and actions)?
  6. What would biblical hope look like applied to that issue/sin (thoughts and actions)?