This is not an easy subject to write about and I didn’t plan to address this in a post this morning but this is where God led me…so here it goes (this post may be longer than most).
If you are human, you have have experienced immoral lust at one time or another. Many people can control this fairly well and others not so much. However, our culture today is infused at all levels with opportunities to give way to sexual immorality. From advertising, to television shows, to social media, we are constantly given effortless opportunities to give into lust which is a freeway to sexual immorality. Paul wrote:
“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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 ESV)
This passage speaks for itself, but there are a couple of things that I find intriguing here. Paul compared those who lust passionately to people who do not know God. That alone should send a shockwave through every believer. He then says that when we give in to lust and act like non-believers we immediately transgress and wrong our brother. We sin against each other when we commit sexual immorality! Lust really messes up God’s holy design (sin has a way of doing that). Think about it, when a person is sexually attracted to another person, at the core of the attraction is a longing in some measure to gratify themselves and simply “use” someone else’s body to do it; we wrong our brother (or sister) in this matter. We defile another human being…made in the image of God.
Another thought: by saying that we wrong our “brother” by sinning sexually, Paul is implying that the person or persons who are wounded are other believers. So even if the person who is the subject of the immorality is not a believer (they are still wounded), other believers are hurt when we sin sexually. Christian families are split, churches are fractured, lives are marred, spirits are crushed. And why wouldn’t they be? Paul said whoever disregards God’s command not to sin sexually, disregards God himself; the same God who also gives us the Holy Spirit inside us! We disregard the God of all creation who literally lives inside of us, fused together with our own spirits. By his presence inside us, we have the power not to commit sexual immorality…and in this truth we have hope for a life with purpose.
Lastly, Paul gives a charge to us about what to do instead of sining sexually. He said, “…to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 ESV)
If we stay busy working, if we stay busy contributing to the betterment of this world instead of seeking after our own physical gratification, we will walk properly before outsiders. That is the key! Get busy living the Gospel and we will not have time to gratify un-Godly passions. And by doing this, we will “be dependent on no one.” I am up for a little Holy dependence on God and spiritual independence from the world…how about you?
One final caveat: If you have failed either slightly or miserably at this, take hope…today is a new day (or at least in can be). God will not change your past, but He can author your future if you let Him. What’s it going to be?