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1 Thessalonians 3-4: God Has Called Us to Holiness

Christian Living, I Thessalonians, Love, morality

Today’s reading is I Thessalonians 3:1-4:18.

I Thessalonians 4:3-8 says:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Sex is a great thing. Sexuality is a natural desire. Sexual immorality is an abomination. There is no greater way to have intimacy than to commit your life totally to another person, getting to know them emotionally, mentally, spiritually and then celebrating that union physically. There is not greater cheat or destructive force than to take that great celebration and waste it on just a few moments of physical pleasure with someone to whom there is no commitment or union. Therefore, abstain from, avoid, flee sexual immorality. 

But do not stop there. It is not enough to simply say, “Well, I won’t have sex unless I’m married.” We have to know how to control our bodies or possess our own vessel as some translations say. We need to present our bodies in a way that befits holiness and honor. We must not present our bodies in a way that says, “Look at me, I’m sexual.” We must not present our bodies in a way that says, “Look at me, I’m aroused.” We must not present our bodies in a way that says, “Look at me, I want to arouse you.” We must shine forth holiness in the way we dress these bodies, in the way we walk with these bodies, in the places we go with these bodies, in the way we allow our bodies to interact with other people and their bodies. 

But do not stop there. It is not enough to simply say, “I’m going to present myself in a modest way.” We must not live in the passion of our lusts. We must work on our minds as well. We may follow the strictest of rules about bodily modesty, but if our minds are filled with lust and thoughts of sexual immorality for those around us, we are still not living in holiness. Men, we need especially think about this as we walk through the mall and the Victoria’s Secret store. We need especially think about this as we pass the magazine rack at the grocery store. We need especially think about this when we are firing up our computers and heading to the internet.

Then I notice the reasons why. First, so we won’t transgress against our brother. I think this is an interesting statement and perhaps I’m missing the point. However, since I see the issue being discussed as mostly a male problem, I think what Paul is saying is when I look at a woman to whom I’m not married to lust after her, if I present myself in a way to purposefully arouse a woman to whom I’m not married, or if I even pursue a sexual encounter with a woman to whom I’m not married, I’m not only transgressing against me and against her, I’m also transgressing against her husband or future husband.

Additionally, I should avoid these fleshly sins and attitudes because God has called me to holiness. He hasn’t called us into a special club in which we can mentally trade wives because we are all becoming spiritually intimate and vulnerable with each other in Christ. We may greet each other with hugs and even kisses, but they are to be holy hugs and kisses. They are not to be attempts to satisfy fleshly lusts. God has called us to holiness, not to cop a feel in the name of Christian greeting and relationships.

Finally, Paul says if we disregard this, we aren’t disregarding him, we aren’t merely disregarding the men and women against whom we are perpetrating our sins, we are also disregarding God. No matter how far down the path of lust, immodesty, and immorality we have traveled, we need to get back to God’s call of holiness. He will work with us if we will surrender to Him.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What did you get out of today’s reading?

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