Maintaining Sexual Purity – Part Two
1 Thessalonians 4:4-8
▸ Sexual Sins Defile the Body
The end result of avoiding sexual immorality is “that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor” (4:4). This applies to all Christians: “each of you”. No one is exempt from this command, no matter what gender you are, how old you are, how young you are, your job, your hobbies, your sports, etc. The phrase “know how to” suggests that learning is involved. When it comes to sexual desires every saint can learn how to control the lust of the flesh. The term “vessel” is subject to various interpretations. The wife is called by Peter “the weaker vessel.” Yet, in this context it is perhaps more fitting to view “vessel” in reference to the body. Our bodies are vessels of our soul and the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19,20). When one commits sexual sin he sins against this own body. Clearly other sins also affect the body, such as gluttony or drunkenness, but no other sin has the same effect on the memory, personality or soul of a person as does sexual sin.
▸ Sexual Sins Are Ungodly Lust
The way to live a life of sexual purity is: “not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (4:5). Sexual promiscuity in the first century was just as bad if not worse than in the twenty-first century. While we live in a society that is in the throes of trying to throw off sexual restraints, they lived in a society that knew no such restraints. The Gentiles simply accepted immorality as a way of life. Women of the Roman Empire counted their years by the number of their husband. Juvenal tells of one woman who had eight husbands in five years. Homosexuality was common and accepted. Incest was overlooked. Slaves were kept and used for sex. Some Pagan temples employed prostitutes for the pleasure of “worshipers.” Demosthenes said “we have to prostitutes for pleasure, we have concubines so that we can have regular sex, and lastly we have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately and for looking after our household affairs.”
In the eyes of the world sex is seen as a bodily function. Just as food was for the body, they thought sex was for the body and the body was for sex. “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Cor. 6:13). Just as the human appetite for food, drink, rest, etc. naturally need to be satisfied by all, so sexual desires are to be met. However there is still a need for self-control over our God-given appetites. Eating and drinking too much is the sin of gluttony. Sleeping too much is the sin of slothfulness. And sex outside of marriage is sinful.
The problem of sexual immorality is an ignorance of God and His will. They do know the ways of the world, but do they know the will of God? Today failure to preach God’s will and a lack of a spiritual relationship with God has led many to be involved in many unholy sexual relationships. Holy marriage and its vows are no longer sacred and jealously guarded. Anything now goes between “consenting adults.” Unbridled expression of all desires has become the norm.
▸ Sexual Sins Hurt Others
Not only does sexual immorality have a negative impact on our relationship with God but also our relationship with our brother: “that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter” (4:6a). The term “defraud” means to “take advantage of.” It is an act of taking advantage of another individual either directly or indirectly. It refers to fellow members of the body of Christ, both male and female. We have no right to that which belongs to another man. When one takes another’s wife and daughter to engage in any form of sexual immorality he robs others of their sexual purity. It is like stealing their property and destroying their rights. It also defrauds some fellow Christian who eventually will take this woman as his own wife.
How often is heard the excuse: “I am not hurting anyone” when a man or woman engages in sexual immorality. There is no such thing as a “victim-less” sexual sin. Sexual sins hurt a vast multitude of people both socially, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. AIDS, babies born out of wedlock, abortion, STDs, damnation of one’s soul are just a few of the ways others are taken advantage of one’s sexual promiscuity.
Even premarital sex has lasting consequences for future relationships. Sex with a multitude of various partners is one way to prepare for future divorce before one ever gets married. Historians tell us that during the 520 years of the Roman Republic, there had not been a single divorce. In the first century the Roman philosopher Seneca said, “women were married to be divorced and divorced to be married.”
▸ Sexual Sins Are Judged by God
The wrath of God upon sexually immoral persons is a strong motivation to avoid it. “Because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified” (4:6b). The Bible is filled with warnings against sexual promiscuity. Sodom and Gomorrah went up in smoke because of sexual sin. King David lost a son because of his sexual sin. The Hebrew writer warned, “marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). Paul told the Romans, “for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). In this verse Paul is most likely warning of God’s final vengeance upon them on Judgment Day.
▸ Sexual Sins are Unclean, Not Part of Your Holiness
“For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness” (4:7). “Uncleanness” is a sexually impure life. Pagan religion called its worshipers to commit fornication. God calls Christians to a separate life from the uncleanness of the world. They are not to conform to the ways of the world but to the holy character of God. Christians do not wallow around in the filthy beds of sexual impurity, but save their bodies for the holy marriage bed (Heb. 13:4).
▸ Sexual Sins Are a Rejection of God’s Will and His Gifts
“Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit” (4:8). Still another reason for compliance with sexual purity is that they are God-given. These are the God-given rules which men are rejecting. The Holy Spirit has revealed that sex is for married people only. Anyone rejecting this is not just rejecting Paul, but God and the Holy Spirit. Remember one of the fruits of the spirit is self-control.
– Daniel R. Vess