Maintaining Sexual Purity – Part One
1 Thessalonians 4:4-8
Like almost every preacher, when Paul says “finally then, brethren” (1:1a), he doesn’t really mean “in conclusion.” The word indicates the division of Paul’s epistle. He is now entering the half of the letter dealing with practical application. He told the Thessalonians that they were doing great in their faith, but prayed for their continued growth. Now, he points to the need for more spiritual growth in some specific areas. “We urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more” (1:1b). Paul gives them ten good reasons why they should live a holy life and abstain from sexual sin.
Sexual immorality is rampant in our society. Just turn on the television, browse the internet, look up at the billboards that dot the highways with half-naked models selling every product on the market and you will see more pornography in a day than many of our great-grandparents viewed in a lifetime. Access to pornography has never been so easy with the advent of the internet. Movie stars like David Duchovny have checked themselves into rehabilitation centers for sex addiction. Many more celebrities are coming out of the closet boasting of their alternate lifestyles. As one preacher put it, “we live in a culture that sweats sensuality from its pores” (quoted in Secret Sex Wars: A Battle Cry for Purity). Sex on the first date is now a natural expectation. Casual sex is called “friends with benefits.” Children are using the phone to text explicit sexual messages and videos to other youth. This new sexual immorality is called “sexting.” As bad as it is today, the ancient world was also overrun with sexual immorality.
* Sexual Sins are Not Part of the Christian Walk
Paul has already mentioned to the Thessalonians about the conduct of Christians: “just as you received from us how you ought to walk” (4:1c). Walking was the most common means of transportation in the ancient world. Here the term refers not to how they travel on foot, but the manner of life they are living in the world. “Enoch walked with God” (Gen. 5:24). This is in reference to his spiritual relationship with God.
The walk of a Christian is to be very different from all others. They do no walk the popular broad way to visit prostitutes, hook up with lovers, view pornography, expose their bodies to the opposite sex. Sex is a God-given desire to be fulfilled in marriage. Too many wish to take shortcuts to fulfill their lusts.
* Sexual Sins Do Not Please God
The saints are to live life “to please God” (4:1c) Sexual sins are about pleasing oneself. “If it feels good, do it” is the motto of many. Christians cannot go through life pleasing only themselves (Rom. 15:1).
God created man and He created man’s desires. One of these desires is sex. To please the Creator means to operate and function as He was designed. Marriage is the designated relationship in which sexual desires are to be fulfilled.
God is the Father of all His children. Children ought to live in such a way to please the father. Our Father is perfect. Only Jesus Christ, the Son of God was perfect. He lived a perfect life by perfect obedience to the will of the Father. “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him” (John 89:29). Although none of His children are perfect God still loves us and desires the best for us.
To love the Father involves a desire to please Him. Pleasing Him requires His children to know and follow His will. Joseph understood sexual immortality would not be pleasing to God. “And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, ‘Lie with me.’ But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’” (Gen 39:7-9).
* Sexual Sins Are Contrary to the Command to Be Holy
Paul goes on to explain what is the will of God. “You know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (4:2,3a). God’s will is our “sanctification” which comes from the same Greek word (hagios) which is the root for “holy,” “holiness,” and “saint.” Separation from the world of sin and devotion to God are two components of sanctification. The commandments found in God’s will are what lead to a life of sanctification or holiness. Sex is from God and is holy. It is not dirty or inherently immoral. It is set apart for marriage between one man and one woman for one lifetime with one exception which allows for divorce: sexual immortality. This is what God the Father knows is best for His Children. The 1994 University of Chicago study: Sex in America: The Definitive Survey, found that monogamous conservative Christians reported the most physical satisfaction from sex. First, the saints long to please God by doing His will by obeying the commandments which leads to their sanctification or holiness. In this context the sanctification is sexual purity.
* Sexual Sins Are to be Avoided
To maintain a life of sexual purity Christians “should abstain from sexual immorality” (4:3b). The term “abstain” means “to keep away,” “to hold oneself aloof” or “to be distant.” Faithful Christians do not fool around with sexual desires, they are to “flee from sexual immorality”(1 Cor. 6:18).
Christians live in a world filled with sexual temptation on every turn of the page, every turn of the channel, and found on every other web page. So how can a Christian avoid it? A saint can try to maintain his sanctification by not frequenting places of temptation; by saying “no” to fornication, extramarital sex, homosexual sex, and pornography; by not flirting with others; by not fantasizing in the mind; by turning away the head from immodesty, by turning off the channel; by turning over to another page, by keeping yourself modestly dressed before the opposite sex, and by running from it.
Paul wrote, “but fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints” (Eph. 5:3). The question is asked in the Proverbs: “Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned?” (Pr. 6:27). No! The closer you get to sexual sin, greater is the danger in being burned by it. David a man after God’s own heart gave into sexual desires and was burned. Are you a stronger man or woman? So do not look at television shows or movies or internet sites that promote sensuality. Avoid listening to music that will fill your mind with impure thoughts. Turn your eyes away from looking at women or men who dress in tantalizing ways.
– Daniel R. Vess