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Summary: Christian sexual ethics are oriented toward the long-term and contrary to society’s values and contrary to our fallen human natures.

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Sexuality and Holiness

(I Thessalonians 4:1-8)

1. The Slavic peoples today populate several nations: the Czech Repulic, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Ukrania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

2. During Medieval times, the Slavic peoples were ready to convert to a "modern" religion. They were between three religions: Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Islam. The vast majority of Slavs chose either Catholicism or Orthodoxy because if they became Muslim, they would no longer be able to consume alcohol.

3. Although we are grateful that they did not choose Islam, we wish they had the alternative of Biblical Christianity to choose from.

4. But there is a lesson to learn: many people choose a religious faith not on the basis of their perception of truth, but on the basis of what accommodates them best.

5. Because of this, many people in our land turn away from the Lord because Biblical Christianity does not accommodate America’s new sexual ethic.

6. People want the freedom to engage in extra-marital sexual activity without a twinge of conscience -- or someone them of wrong-doing. The only thing they retain from Christianity is a partial quotation used out of context, "Judge not."

7. Sexual sin comes naturally. What is wrong to do before we are married is not only tolerable but very good within the context of marriage. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right to many people that a marriage license should make a difference. But it does.

8. Hebrews 13:4, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous."

9. I Corinthians 7:2, "But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband."

10. Marriage ordained by God and recognized socially.

11. 73% of first-marriage couples remain together for life.

Couples who first live together and then marry are more prone to divorce.

Married couples have much better sex lives than sexually active singles.

12. Many discussion about sexual issues are done best in small or specialized groups, like marriage seminars or in a counseling context. Some of you are single or minors, others of you have been abused sexually, and yet others struggle with a sense of shame; some of you are very comfortable with the subject, others tense. Because of these limiting factors, we need to do justice to the text, but we will leave some of the applications of the text for you to sort out. The Bible does not go into graphic detail, so neither should we feel constrained to do so.

13. How difficult was sexual purity in the first century? Was it easy then? Commonplace?

The ancient writer Demosthenes expressed their view of sex: "We keep prostitutes for pleasure; we keep mistresses for the day to day needs of the body; we keep wives for the faithful guardianship of our homes."

14. In Rome, for the first five hundred and twenty years of the Republic, there had not been one single divorce; but now, under the Empire, as it has been put, divorce was a matter of caprice. As Seneca said, “Women were married to be divorced and divorced to be married.” In Rome the years were identified by the names of the consuls; but it was said that fashionable ladies identified the years by the names of their husbands. Juvenal quotes an instance of a woman who had eight husbands in five years. Morality was dead. [source: http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=1654]

Main Idea: Christian sexual ethics are oriented toward the long-term and contrary to society’s values and contrary to our fallen human natures.

I. ASPIRE (1-2)

To aspire means, "To have a great ambition or ultimate goal; desire strongly; To strive toward an end"

A. To PLEASE God

"What the apostle really desires, therefore, is that the branches that bear fruit shall bear more fruit" (William Hendriksen).

They had come along way, but Paul wants them to go further down the road…

We tend to look at obedience or sin as black and white, right and wrong; and this is true, but there is another sense as well…. we grow in obedience as we obey at deeper levels…

outward conformity vs. inward motivations…

To glorify God is to please Him, and to please Him is to glorify Him; one automatically accomplishes the other…

B. To GROW in obedience

Why does Paul say, "By the authority of the Lord Jesus" (2b) and "he who rejects this instruction….rejects God…" in verse 8? Because he knows human nature. Gentiles who had been used to living with complete sexual freedom would find it easy to rationalize this teaching.

Webster on rationalize: " To devise self-satisfying but incorrect reasons for (one’s behavior)." We basically use creative reasoning to worm out of what we do not want to believe or practice.

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