Scripture Study: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
At the end of their first date, a young man in a bygone era took his favorite girl home. He decided to try for that important first kiss. With an air of confidence, he leaned his hand against the wall of the house, smiled, and said, “How about a goodnight kiss?” [I never had that kind of confidence as a teen!]
“Are you crazy?” she said. “My parents will see us!”
“Oh come on! Who’s gonna see us at this hour?”
“No, please. Can you imagine if we get caught?”
“Come on, they’re all sleeping!”
“No way. It’s too risky!”
“Please. I like you so much.”
“No, I like you too, but I just can’t!”
Then to their surprise, the porch light came on, the door opened and there stood the girl’s sister, hair tousled, in her pajamas.
With a big yawn, in a quiet, sleepy voice she said, “Dad says to go ahead and give him a kiss. Or I can do it. If need be, dad will come out on the porch and do it. Whatever you do, tell your date to take his hand off the intercom button” [source: email@example.com]
There was a time when a kiss on a date was considered “risky”. Now couples are expected to jump into bed together, if not on the first date, at least by the time they get serious with each other. So-called virgins are laughed at. They are considered weird and sex outside of marriage has become the norm in our society, even among Christian singles. In a recent study found at ChristianMingle.com, Christian singles between the ages of 18-59 were asked,
“Would you have sex before marriage?”
The response? 63% of the single Christians responded, “YES”.
Kenny Luck, Executive Pastor of Ministries (Crossline Church), in response to the survey, said, “[Christian young adults have become] sexual atheist. In other words, God has nothing to say to them on the subject of consequences or at least anything meaningful enough to dissuade them following their own course of conduct. It’s the ultimate oxymoron. A person who at once believes in a wise sovereign and loving God can also believe simultaneously that he/she shouldn’t, cannot or will [let them] inform their thinking [about them] sexually.” (See Footnote [i].)
There’s Got To Be Another Way!
And there is!
Exodus 20, where in just one short sentence, God tells us how to have fun, fantastic sex without all the hang-ups:
“You shall not commit adultery”
There you have it! Keep sex exclusively within the marriage relationship and you will enjoy true intimacy.
You see, God is the One who created SEX; and when He did, He called is “VERY GOOD” – Genesis 1:31
Sex isn’t some “dirty” little secret of every married couple. It’s a beautiful creation by God. One pastor called it “God’s Wedding Gift,” after a wedding ceremony. The point is, I believe, “Don’t spoil the gift!” Don’t take what God created as good and beautiful and ruin it by taking it outside the context of marriage.
All of this takes us to our passage of Scripture in 1 Thessalonians 4:
GOD WANTS YOU TO BE HOLY (OR SANCTIFIED, SET APART) IN ALL YOUR BEHAVIORS.
That means He wants you to be set apart, different, special, not like most of the rest of the world, cheapened sex. Specifically, God wants you to abstain from sexual immorality–ie, any kind of sex outside of marriage. WHY? Because sexual purity is God’s will for your life. It’s why God wants purity for His people because He loves them so much. You see, God doesn’t say, “Abstain from sexual immorality”, to kill your enjoyment. On the contrary, He wants you yo enjoy life more, more abundantly than you thought was possible…till it overflows! (John 10:10)
Sex outside the boundaries of marriage leaves you feeling empty.
But a passionate relationship with God through Jesus Christ is the most fulfilling, satisfying thing you will ever experience. God is passionate about you. That’s why Jesus died on a cross for your sins. He did it so God could have a relationship with you, a mind-blowing relationship beyond anything selfish, self-centered act He can ever give you.
SEX ITSELF IS SACRED!
SEX IS SPECIAL!
Sex is a holy thing in a marriage, and any kind of sex outside of marriage cheapens it.
1 Thessalonians 4:4-5
Don’t be driven by your passions like people who don’t know God, no! God has set you FREE from that through the Cross. Instead, control your bodily urges with holiness and honor.
You see, SEX is NOT dirty. It’s holy and honorable within the bounds of marriage. It’s special! It’s sacred! Don’t cheapen it by taking it outside the context of marriage.
Gerontologist Dr. Karl Pillemer wrote a book, 30 Lessons for Loving, drawn from 700 interviews with older adults. He discovered that older adults, “place intimacy as a high priority” in their marriages. After 55 years of marriage, I can say AMEN to that conclusion.
An example, was Jennie B., an 82-year-old widow who married her first and only husband in their mid-20s and was sexually active throughout their 47 married years. Jennie explained, “There’s an intimacy that comes later that is wonderful. You can hold hands with this person you love and adore, and somehow, it’s just as passionate as having sex at an earlier age. There’s such a sense of connection and intimacy that grows out of a long relationship, that touch carries with it the weight of so many memories. And many are sexual.” [See footnote [ii].]
That’s the beauty of sex within the long-term commitment of marriage. The intimacy only grows the older you get with a whole lot less effort. But if you take sex outside of marriage, it becomes a cheap thrill with diminishing satisfaction.
Sexual Immorality Robs Others.
SEX outside of marriage is stealing.
It’s taking something precious that belongs to someone else.
1 Thessalonians 4:6a (ESV)
[This is the will of God] that no one transgresses and wrongs his brother in this matter…
Literally, no one should “go over” and “get more” in the things concerning his brother. In other words, when a man sleeps with a woman who is not his wife, he robs that woman’s husband; and if she’s not married yet, he robs that woman’s future husband. He robs that woman’s husband of his wife’s purity. He robs that woman’s husband of a beautiful relationship that they could have enjoyed without the entanglements of previous sexual activity.
Don’t Go Messing Around With Someone Else’s Property.
“Returning from Sunday School one day, where the Ten Commandments had been the topic, a young boy asked his father, “Daddy, what does it mean when it says, ‘Thou shalt not commit agriculture’? He didn’t quite pick up on the word “adultery”. But there was hardly a beat between the question and the dad’s smooth reply: “Son, that just means that you’re not supposed to plow the other man’s field.” (Reader’s Digest, July 1979, pg. 87, http://www.SermonCentral.com)
Don’t go messing around with someone else’s property. Don’t rob your brother of the joy of a pure and holy relationship with his wife.
Sexual purity is important, because #1, it pleases God; #2, Sex itself is sacred; #3, Sexual immorality robs others; and #4, Sexual purity is important, because…
SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE ISN’T SAFE.
It’s hazardous. It’s downright dangerous, not only to your body but your soul as well.
1 Thessalonians 4:6b (AMP)
“For the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we have already warned you solemnly and told you plainly.”
There are very real physical AND spiritual consequences of sexual sin. A devoted Christian mystery writer, Dorthy Sayers, put it this way:
In our society, there are two kinds of laws: The law of the STOP SIGN, and the law of the FIRE.
The STOP SIGN law says when the traffic is heavy on a certain street, and as a result, the police department or the city council decides to erect a STOP SIGN.
They also decide if you run that stop sign, it will cost you between $25-$35. If the traffic changes, then then they up the ante. The police department or the city council controls the law of the STOP SIGN.
Then there’s the law of the FIRE.
The law of the FIRE says that if you put your hand in the fire, you’ll get burned!
Now imagine for a moment, that all of the nations of this entire world gathered in one great assembly, voting unanimously that from here on out, FIRE would no longer BURN. The first man or woman who left the assembly put his or her hand in the fire and discovers the law of the fire is different than the law of the stop sign. Bound up in the nature of FIRE itself is the PENALTY for abusing it.
So Ms. Sayers says, the moral law of God is like the law of FIRE. You never break God’s laws; you just break yourself on them. God can’t reduce the PENALTY, because the penalty for breaking the law is bound up in the law itself. (Hadden Robinson, “Crafting Illustrations”)
Sex outside the context of marriage will burn you every time.
You may escape the STD some of the time, but you can’t escape the emotional, psychological, and relational damage it always brings.
And finally, SEXUAL PURITY is important, because…
GOD GIVES YOU HIS HOLY SPIRIT
God Himself dwells within and helps you live a holy life. He gives you the resources to do what He has called you to do.
1 Thessalonians 4:7-8
God gives to you when you are SAVED–“born again”–His Spirit who helps you live a holy, sanctified life in this world of ours. Without Him, you could only fail, and His commands would only frustrate you.
But with Him, you can live the life God has called you to live. All you need to do is TRUST Him!
That’s the GOOD NEWS in all of this!
Even if you’ve already failed in the area of sexual purity, invite the Lord into your life and let Him begin to clean you up from inside out. God wants you to enjoy life with Him at any age, whether you are newly married, married for 50 years or more, or without a spouse. Just open the door of obedience to Him. And if you are reading this post from one Christian’s point of view, and living the single life, God has laid down the standard.
The Standard of God.
What seems to be a secret with so-called Christianity in the 21st Century is that God has standards for us to follow. God’s standard is His will for which you are to live as a Christian single. If you are truly saved you will be moved by the Spirit of God inside of you yo live by His will and not your own. And that will is that you live your lives in holiness, sanctification, set-apart and transformed from the world’s standards.
I’ll give you two familiar Bible verses read and think about regarding your lifestyle as an encouragement.
CREDITS & FOOTNOTES
Footnote [i] : Kenny Luck, “Sexual Atheism; Christian Dating Data Reveals a Deeper Malaise,” The Christian Post, 4/14/14.
Footnote [ii] : Mark Tapson, “Is Sexual Variety the Spice of Marriage?” Acculturated blog, 4/1/15; http://www.PreachingToday.com.
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Bible Translations: The NIV Bible; The Amplified Bible (AMP); The English Standard Bible (ESV).