I THESSALONIANS 4:3-8: “God’s will is that your lives are dedicated to him. This means that you stay away from sexual immorality and learn how to control your own body in a pure and respectable way. Don’t be controlled by your sexual urges like the Gentiles who don’t know God. No one should mistreat or take advantage of their brother or sister in this issue. The Lord punishes people for all these things, as we told you before and sternly warned you. God didn’t call us to be immoral but to be dedicated to him. Therefore, whoever rejects these instructions isn’t rejecting a human authority. They are rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” (CEB)
OBSERVATION: Have I been affected by the “New Morality”? Paul is writing to the Thessalonians who were living in a culture that was rampant with immorality. The worship of pagan idols also included the practice of sexual immorality. It was the norm of the day. Does this sound familiar?
The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing really new under the sun. Immorality has existed since the dawn of sin entering into our world. Yet, there are periods of time in history when immorality has been checked by outward social norms and restraints, and times when the flood gates have been opened wide. We live in a day when there are no restraints. We live in a day just like the day when Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers. Paul’s exhortation is as valid and as contemporary as it ever could be for our lives!
As a child of the 60’s I have watched the erosion of morality in our nation happen over the years. The 60’s were filled with a “love revolution” that attempted to throw away the social restraints of moral decency and marriage. And to an extent they were successful. However, the real campaign for the removal of all moral standards in our land took place on television. It was through the media of television and movies that the enemy has spread his deceptive web of immorality in our culture – and in the church.
Today, it is common place for Christian men and women to engage in sexual activity outside of the covenant of marriage. Most young people don’t even question this any more, or the new morality that is common place on almost every show on television and every movie shown at a theatre. Today, to stand for the morality of the Bible is to be out of touch, an archaic fundamentalist. Or is it?
Paul’s exhortation is not about sex – it is about holiness. It is about our lives being dedicated to the Lord, and walking in self control. And Paul makes it very clear,
- “God’s will is that your lives are dedicated to him. This means that you stay away from sexual immorality and learn how to control your own body in a pure and respectable way.”
Why is moral purity so important in our call to live our lives dedicated to the Lord? So many people do not understand the reason why. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, tells us why this is so important.
- “The one who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. Avoid sexual immorality! Every sin that a person can do is committed outside the body, except those who engage in sexual immorality commit sin against their own bodies. Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves? You have been bought and paid for, so honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:17-20 CEB)
There are two things that happen when we succumb to sexual immorality. First, we sin against our own bodies. This can be seen in the rampant spread of sexually transmitted diseases in the world. Second, and most importantly, we grieve the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit lives in us (spirit, soul, and body). We (spirit, soul, and body) are the temple of God, and we have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. As such, we are to honor the Holy Spirit, by honoring God with the whole man – including our body. The role of sexual fulfillment has been blessed by God within the covenant of marriage. To seek fulfillment outside of this covenant is a sin against our own body and against the Holy Spirit.
- Therefore, whoever rejects these instructions isn’t rejecting a human authority. They are rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”
So is there hope for the person who has fallen into sexual immorality! Absolutely! God has given us the provision of forgiveness (I John 1:8-9), and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26). One of the fruits of the Spirit that is often overlooked is the fruit of “self control”. The Lord knows that we all struggle with temptation in life, especially in the culture that we live in. So, He has provided us with the gift of self control – through the power of the Holy Spirit! This is exactly what Paul is referring to in these verses in Thessalonians.
- “…learn how to control your own body in a pure and respectable way.”
How? – By walking in the Spirit. If we walk daily in the Spirit we will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16)! We are not alone! And – we are not called to resist the temptations of sexual immorality in our own strength! Through the Word of God and the Power of the Holy Spirit – we can resist sin, our flesh, and the devil! We can win this battle through the Lord Jesus Christ!
Lord, thank You for the victory that is mine through Jesus Christ my Lord! Help me to abide in Your Word, and to walk in the Spirit each and every day. Grant me the grace to resist the constant pull of our culture and to stand in the victory of Your light and Your love!
In Jesus Name!