Summary: God calls us to be holy with our bodies.
3 for it is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
This morning I would like to present five ways and five whys to remain sexually holy.
3 for it is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;
Sexual purity is God’s will.
For a follower of Jesus, that statement alone should be enough.
Yet for many Christians, sexual purity simply doesn’t appear on their radar-it is a foreign concept.
Many studies have been done on this subject. If you would like to track them down I suggest you visit a few sites and follow their links.
All the research reaches the same conclusion: Basically, Christians tend to follow the mores of society. If secular society is prudish about sexuality, Christians are as well. If secular society is promiscuous, Christians are as well.
But such should not be the case.
We are to live according to a standard set by God, not according the standards set by the world.
To be clear, the word here translated sexual is pornea-it is often thought to refer to pornography, and that, surely, is a part of what it should mean to us as modern readers. But the word is much more extensive than that. It means sex outside of marriage, and would include (but may not be limited to):
• Pornography (Jesus said to look on another to lust is the adultery of the heart)
• Sex with only one person you are not married to
• Taking off your clothes in the presence/view of another person
• Giving or receiving any kind of sexual pleasure with another person
All of these qualify as fornication. You want to know God’s will for your life? Part of it is that you would be holy, and holiness includes sexual purity-the avoidance of any form of sex outside of marriage. D.M. Martin said
I sometimes wonder why people would seek the will of God at a pivotal moment in life if they have been ignoring God’s will in their daily lives. (Commentary, pg. 121)
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 begins and ends affirming and reaffirming this truth. God’s will is for us to be sanctified. To be sanctified is to be made holy. What is holiness?
To understand holiness, we must first understand that God is holy and what that means.
Numbers 20:12 Kadesh means holy.
4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;
Holiness is not automatic. Unholiness is. We have to train ourselves in holy behavior. There is a method, a pattern to follow, a recommendation about how to obey God’s will. We are not left to fend for ourselves, or guess how it might be possible to keep such a counter-intuitive command. We are told why, then told how, then a combination of why & how.
The first part of knowing how to live a sexually holy life is to commit to progression. Vs. 3 begins with “for” in Greek (why it is missing in some translations mystifies me). Vs. 3, therefore, is an explanation of what came before-Paul is exhorting the Church to follow these guidelines “more and more”. Learning to become holy is a process which takes time. You become. You develop. You learn.
It is not something which necessarily happens all at once, as much as we might like it to—like a spell from a magician “abracadabra! You are Holy!!!” Our sanctification must be worked out as we become increasingly disciplined with our words, actions, intentions, thoughts, and the use of our eyes, and ears. We must intentionally move towards sanctification.
Some practical suggestions:
1. Don’t start!
• Job said “I’ve made a covenant with my eyes, that I might not sin against God”. “Friends” and devices may push you to look at things you know you should avoid. DON’T LOOK.
• Once you begin to awaking sexual desire it is much more difficult to stop. Stopping before you start is much easier.