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Encouragement

July 25, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Abstaining from Sexual Immorality Today

"For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;"

1 Thessalonians 4:3, Page 1849  

       I hear guys at the beach constantly telling each other to look at some bikini-clad babe.  One day I spoke with several of the men who claimed to be Christians.  I read them the passage: "but everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28, page 1507).    The guys then tried to justify their behavior by saying that they only appreciated the beauty of the woman, just as you would appreciate a beautiful sunrise.  I reminded them that I had heard that excuse many times, and their remarks did not seem in keeping with an appreciation of pure beauty, but rather a profound pattern of lust.  Like all men, I struggle with lust, but I also remember that God created me for holiness.  Remember, Paul had just told the Thessalonians that they were to appear blameless in holiness when Christ appears.   Now, Paul will be developing the theme of sanctification, that is, how to become more and more holy, particularly holy in our sexuality.

        God created sexual beings.  We have a sexual desire that profoundly influences each one of us.  For some of us, particularly males, we have a strong sex drive that lends itself to all kinds of temptations.  Our lust entices us to sin which leads to death (James 1:14-15, page 1888).   One of the things I love most about God is that He knows what I am like, and His word directly instructs me about my great problems in life.  His word lifts me up with His power to live a holy life in Him. 

        In 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Paul addresses sexual immorality.  He uses a broad term for sexual immorality ("πορνείας").  This word covers all improper sexual acts, including adultery, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, lusting, and coveting your neighbor's spouse.   God's will for our lives means that we completely abstain from all forms of sexual immorality.  Many people do not realize that abstaining requires the power of God in our lives.  The advertising and programming on television and the internet promote all forms of sexual immorality.  They give the impression that all forms of sexual expression are widely accepted and to oppose them amounts to bigotry.  Such lies!  God sets the standards for holiness and prosperous living.  He bases His commandments on love for us, and His desire for us to flourish in holiness.  He has commanded us to keep sex of all forms within marriage and no where else.   Lusting will never be acceptable to God.

       Jesus keeps the focus upon sanctification.  We become more holy as God becomes more and more in our lives.  He cleanses our lives for His service of love to our friends by removing from our lives the things that pollute our lives with sin.  You will never be the friend you ought to be until God sanctifies your life.  In passing, we should keep in mind that sanctification in the Bible has several aspects.  In one sense, every believer was sanctified at the moment of salvation.   God completely forgave your sins and eternally cleansed your life from sin.  I will call this salvation sanctification (Acts 26:18, page 1752; 1 Corinthians 6:11, page 1788).  The Bible also contains passages about progressive sanctification.  These passages show us that God works in our lives to make us more holy, a process that lasts a lifetime.  I will call this growth sanctification.  As we grow in our Christian lives, God wants us to grow in holiness, and often the Holy Spirit works in our lives to make us more holy in our behavior (1 Thessalonians 5:23, page 1851; 1 Peter 3:15, page 1897).

    So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.

     ●  Strong bonds of friendship form when we focus our lives upon doing the will of God.

    ●  Strong bonds of friendship grow when we abstain from sexual immorality, and live under the guidance of God's grace in our lives.   

       ●  We harm our bonds of friendship when we fall into sexual immorality, and destroy the work of God by engaging in sexual acts or thoughts displeasing to God and dangerous to our spiritual friends.       

Application for Today

        Today, I want to be sanctified in all my life.  I want to abstain from all sexual immorality, and live only for Jesus Christ.  Will you abstain today from every form of sexual immorality?  How about tomorrow?  Even in  your thoughts?