We live in a world much like the times of the New Testament, a world in which sexual impurity is rampant. We see it in TV shows, movies, commercials, the internet; wherever you look, it’s there.
But in buying into the times, we take a cheap imitation of what God intended for us. Instead of lasting relationships where two people truly become one, we take temporary thrills which ultimately leave us broken and empty. The numbers of people that have been devastated by sexual sin are innumerable. We see divorce, children without fathers (or mothers), unwanted pregnancies and abortions, STDs, and people torn emotionally apart because of it.
In short, we are far from the whole people that God intends us to be.
And so Paul tells the Thessalonians and us,
Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 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. (1-6)
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.”
What does that mean? It means that we are to be set apart for him. To be his temple that he can dwell in. Paul says in I Corinthians that our bodies are his temple. (I Corinthians 6:19)
But in order for our bodies to be set apart for him, we need to be sexually pure. For when we sin sexually, Paul tells us that we sin against our own body. (I Corinthians 6:18)
Put another way, when we sin sexually, we defile the very temple of God. And so right after Paul tells us that it’s God’s will we be sanctified, he adds, “that you should avoid sexually immorality.” That means any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage.
Paul tells us that we are not mere animals that simply give into their “instincts.” Nor are we like those who don’t know God and his will. God has revealed himself and his will to us. And he has given us the ability to make choices. More, he will hold us responsible for those choices.
When we sin sexually, we wrong the brother or sister that we sleep with. Not only that, if they are married, we wrong the one they are married to. And if we are married, we wrong the one that we are married to. And Paul says we will be judged for that.
For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (7)
Just as God called the Israelites from all the nations to be a holy people, he calls us to be holy as well. The question is, are you?
Paul is very strong about sexual purity, saying,
He who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. (8)
In other words, Paul is saying, “I’m not just giving you my opinions. This is what God is saying. And if you reject what I’m saying, you’re rejecting God.”
Are you rejecting God by the way that you’re living? By violating a gift that he has given to bind two people in marriage?
Remember Paul’s words when he says,
You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)