January 12, 2015
I Thessalonians 4:3-7
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Instead of What Do I Do With Sinners? this blog might be called What Do I Do With Myself – A Sinner? And one of the most common sins manifested in humanity is sexual immorality! Why is that? Because sex is so basic to our human natures. We are all sexual beings – some more driven by sexual appetites than others. We all seem to find outlets for our sexual drives.
Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica concerning this, and our scripture is taken from I Thessalonians 4:3 through 7:
…this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from
sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own
vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust like the Gentiles
who do not know God; That no one should take advantage of and defraud
his brother in this matter: because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we
also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness,
but in holiness.
Sometimes we struggle to discern the will of God in matters that face us. What God wants as we seek our life’s work, where to live, whom we are to marry, and so on is not always easy to figure out. God does not give written specifics concerning every decision we face. God’s will and direction with such issues often comes through much prayer, counsel, studying His Word for principles or examples, and listening to the Lord’s “…still small voice.” (I Kings 19:12).
But other times God’s will is very plain, as in our scripture: “…this is the will of God, your sanctification…” (verse 3). Another word for sanctification is found at the end this passage in verse 7: “…holiness.” This is what God wants – sanctification unto holiness! I Peter 1:15 and 16 says it very plainly: “…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ [Leviticus 19:2]” And God wants sanctification unto holiness in things sexual in the individual Christian’s life!
It says in our scripture in verses 4 and 5, “…that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust like…[those] who do not know God….” The vessel spoken of here, might mean the partner with whom you share your body. But it might also mean your own body, which is the vessel – the dwelling place – of God Himself through His Holy Spirit residing in you (see Romans 8:11; I Corinthians 6:19; II Corinthians 1:22). How we treat our bodies is a serious issue before God! In I Corinthians 3:16 and 17 Paul writes:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God
dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him.
For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
God destroying the temple – or body – does not mean the soul occupying that body is going to hell. There are a lot of Christians who seriously rebel against His commands in many areas of life. If such an one has really received Jesus Christ into his or her heart and life as Savior, he or she “…has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment [concerning the soul’s eternal destiny in heaven or in hell], but has [already] passed from death into life.” (John 5:24). However, that one will not receive the rewards in heaven the Lord has reserved for His faithful followers. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:10 through 15 that the foundation of Jesus Christ in one’s life (verse 11) is just that – a foundation, a start. In verse 10 he admonishes his readers, “But let each one take heed how he builds on…” that foundation. You can build something for God’s glory that “…will receive a reward.” (verse 14). But if what you build on the foundation of Jesus Christ in your life is not for God but for your own glory, pleasure and pursuit – what Paul calls, “…wood, hay, straw…” (verse 12) – “…it will be revealed [tested] by fire…” (verse 13). “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through the fire.” (verse 15). You might say, some Christians will be saved by ‘the skin of their teeth,’ – getting into heaven with the smell of smoke on them, smoke from fire of Jesus Christ’s judgment as He reviews how we have lived our Christian life!
But what then does it mean that “…God will destroy him…” (I Corinthians 3:17)? Later on in I Corinthians, Paul deals with “…the Lord’s Supper.” (I Corinthians 11:20). These Corinthian believers were not treating it as a holy thing, coming to communion with blatant and unconfessed sins in their lives. (see I Corinthians 3:1 through 4; 4:6 and 7; 5:1 and 2; 6:1 through 8; 11:17 through 22; 15:12). They were receiving the bread and cup of the Lord “…in an unworthy manner…not discerning the Lord’s body [the seriousness of His sacrifice on our behalf]. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep [have died].” God will not allow His name and reputation to be continually dragged through the mud! Any believer who continues to blatantly sin, He may even take their physical life from them! This applies to whatever the Bible identifies as sin – including homosexuality and other sexual sins!
Remember this – and we will continue to explore how we are to respond to this serious matter in our next blog – if God calls us to holiness, He will provide the way, the power, the means to achieve such sanctification!