We find ourselves at the end of 2009 and on the verge of 2010. It is a time when we tend to evaluate our lives, and make resolutions for the future. That is a very good thing , for the unexamined life is not worth living .
The first thing that a Christian man and woman would tend to ask is this : How can my life speak more of the glory of God ? How can I please the Lord in all that I do ? No question is of greater importance than this one for the Christian man and woman . And it is an all encompassing , comprehensive discipline . In 1 Cor 10:31, Paul says “ whether you eat or drink , or whatever you do , do all to the glory of God “.
THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE : LIVE TO PLEASE GOD !
At the end of 2009 and on the verge of 2010, I want to stir up godly desires in you with the help of the Holy Spirit, through the inspired Scriptures.
That was certainly Paul’s desire as the apostle and pastor who first brought the gospel to the Thessalonians. Paul knew that the end to which these Thessalonians were saved was not that he might say, “Look , these are my converts !” No! They were saved that they might glorify God.
So, we are not surprised at Paul’s introductory statement : (4:1) Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.
Paul asks and urges the Thessalonians to please God in their walking ! This is a matter of urgency.
Why? We must walk what we talk ! We must confess with our lives what we profess with our lips. A life that pleases God is a life that is truly grounded in God. And if there is an error in the foundation of our profession of faith, if our life’s foundation is not laid in grace in the heart , then we cannot truly live a life that pleases God. The house built on sand may stand for a while, but when the storm and the floods come, it will quickly fall .
Paul is certain of the solid foundation of the Thessalonian Christians, for he sees the evidence (4:1) … “ just as you are doing “ .
But there is always room for growth, “ We urge you … that you do so more and more…”
The basis of Paul’s appeal is the command of Christ.
He is not some power hungry control freak. No! He urges them in the Lord Jesus! (4:1) – and again in 4:2 “ For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus “ . And in 4:3: “ This is the will of God …” .
As we too sit under the authority of the word of the Father and of the Son , let us take care to listen very carefully to this exhortation as it comes to our attention at this time by the providence of God. “This is the will of God , your sanctification.” God wants you to grow in holiness.
‘Sanctification’ is the process by which the believer is brought to greater spiritual maturity and Christ-likeness in the course of their lives . This process begins at conversion. The old ways and the old habits are increasingly done away with and replaced with new ways which please and glorify God.
Two areas in which we need to grow in order that we may please God:
Although there are many aspects in which we need to be sanctified, Paul, for reasons unstated in the text, specifically highlights the subjects of
(i) sexuality (4:3-8) and
(ii) brotherly love (4:9-12),
...as the special focus of God’s transforming work in the lives of the Thessalonian Christians and in our lives.
Note , that in both these areas Paul wants them to do this more and more (4:1,10).
Today we will focus on the matter of "sanctified sexuality."
The Sanctification of our Sexuality :
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; The word translated as "sexual immorality" (Gr. porneia) is a wide term referring to any illicit or forbidden sexual activity, including pre-marital , extra-marital sex and prostitution—sins which were probably rampant in the Thessalonian culture, as they are indeed in our own. This is will of God for every believer. Every believer must avoid sexual sin.
How must we do that ? 4:4 gives the answer : 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
Self control ( a fruit of the Spirit) is required in controlling one’s body. Verse 4:5 shows us that “the passion of lust” (as opposed to sexuality that exists within the bonds of marriage) is characteristic of “ Gentiles (unbelievers) who do not know God." Remember that if Christ lives in you and the Holy Spirit lives in you, you have power to overcome sin (2 Peter 1:3,4 ; 1 John 5: 1-5) – no matter how much you may have struggled with sexual sin in the past . You are no longer a slave of sin. You are now a slave of Christ and therefore you are under the power of Christ.
4:6 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.
According to this verse, sexual immorality must be avoided not only because it violates God’s will, but also because it has a devastating effect on other people – particularly the relationships which we share as Christian brothers and sisters . These may be seriously damaged or even destroyed by sexual immorality. We have seen this often in our own community.
The Scripture says that "the Lord is the avenger in all these things." Please note that sexual sins are not inconsequential. God judges these.
4:7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
God’s will for each believer is that they should become more and more conformed to Christ’s moral character. Paul’s point here comes with a solemn warning .
4:8 warns us that the rejection of this exhortation is literally the rejection of "the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you."
Since the call to sexual purity finds its origin in the will of God, its rejection is tantamount to disregarding and dishonoring of God Himself. That is very serious , and God says that He will not leave a sexual offender unpunished . ( see also Hebrews 13:4) Paul expresses a similar point in 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 where he argues that the believer’s body is the "temple of the Holy Spirit." You dare not defile God’s property. If you do , you insult God – and God is not mocked .
The Holy Spirit warns us today that we must not underestimate the effects of sexual sin . Tragically our Namibian culture does not view sexual immorality as evil. We are currently bearing huge consequences and scars in the heart of this nation. There is an anger rising in this nation , and God alone knows where it will end .
We have seen firstly that such sexual sin is a plain act of rebellion against God who warns us in His word, and He plainly tells us that He is an avenger in all these things.
But we have also seen , secondly that sexual sins (particularly those within the confines of the church) hurt our fellow believer . I must remind you then that in your desire to please God, you must understand the serious nature of this particular sin. Even though every sin has serious consequences when unrepented of, yet sins like adultery or fornication (and murder) have severe consequences .
Why? They damage the name of God. They damage the character and lives of the people involved and they damage relationships in the church.
This is because adultery and fornication are physical sins. Greed , lust, envy, pride, and hatred are essentially sins of the heart - and although these sins are very serious if not repented of yet sexual sins are more severe than the heart sins that precede them. Sexual sin is an explicit sin. "Heart sins" , damage you and your relationship with God. Sexual sin damages you, your relationship with God and your relationship with others .
Why this reminder at the end of the year ?
- Everyone needs a regular reminder of these things.
- The Bible believes in preventative counseling.
6 things that will help you to please God and resist sexual sin
- Purposely Walk to Please God (v.1)
- Remember the instructions given ( v.2)
- Remember the will of God (v.3)
- Control your body (v.4)
- The incentive of Christian love which seeks the good of others( v.6)
- Remember the wrath of God (vv. 6-8)
Knowing God is ultimately the path to sexual purity. We have bodies so that God might be gloried in them. That is why God gave you a body. And if you are in bondage to pornography and fantasies or fornication or adultery the strategy is to repent (turn away from your sin) and turn to God and get to know your God! Lustful passion is the mark of the Gentiles who do not know God.
May God increase your joy as you make your sexuality a part of your worship of God.