1 & 2 Thessalonians

by Sim Kay Tee

Day 11

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

Internet pornography is one of the scourges of our times. According to some reports, more than 30,000 people watch pornography online every second. Studies also show that Christians are no less vulnerable to pornography than non-Christians, with many saying that they were first exposed to such content before the age of 12.7 Technology has made it far too easy for anybody-even children-to access pornography.

When it comes to sexual temptation and sexual sin, we must keep a safe distance.

How, then, do we live the Christian life in this lust-filled world? In 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Paul tells us that ″it is God's will that you should be sanctified″.

We often think of ″God's will″ as something that He demands of us. But the Greek word for ″will″, thélēma, is not to be understood as a demand. Rather, as one definition notes: ″When it denotes God's will, it signifies His gracious disposition toward something.″8 Doing God's will or being in God's will is what God desires of us. This honours Him, and He rejoices for us when we do His will.

″Sanctified″ sounds like a big theological word, but it simply means being ″set apart or consecrated or dedicated″. It means being set apart, for God, to be distinct from the people of this world-to be made separate from evil. God is pleased when we lead holy lives even when we are surrounded by promiscuity and immorality.

Paul also tells us to ″avoid sexual immorality″ (v. 3). On this, biblical commentator John Stott writes: ″'Avoid' is too weak a word.″9 The New Living Translation (NLT) renders the phrase as ″stay away from all sexual sin″, while the J. B. Phillips New Testament translation does so with even greater force, calling on us to execute ″a clean cut with sexual immorality″.

When it comes to sexual temptation and sexual sin, we must keep a safe distance. In fact, Paul exhorts us to take flight in the opposite direction. ″Flee from sexual immorality!″ he says in 1 Corinthians 6:18. The Greek word for ″flee″ is pheúgō, which means ″to take to flight in order to seek safety″.10 Because of the urgency and severity of the danger, we are to run away as fast as we can. Joseph, when tempted by Potiphar's wife, did not stay around to fight off the temptation. Instead, he ″ran out of the house″ (Genesis 39:12). We must flee because of our weakness and sinfulness; we have to accept that there are times when ″the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak″ (Matthew 26:41).

By thinking that we can stay put and fight temptation with our own strength, we would be foolishly over-estimating ourselves and our ability to resist. We would also be grossly underestimating the power of sexual temptation to entice and entrap us (see Proverbs 6:27-28). It is unwise to stay and try to fight it out. The Bible reminds us to ″flee″, and not to linger and resist (1 Corinthians 6:18). This is how we can maintain purity in an impure culture.

7 ″Internet Pornography by the Numbers; A Significant Threat to Society″, WebRoot. Accessed from https://www.webroot.com/us/en/resources/tips-articles/internet-pornography-by-the-numbers.
John Biggs, ″The annual PornHub year in review tells us what we're really looking at online″, TechCrunch, Dec 14, 2018. Accessed from https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/13/the-annual-pornhub-year-in-review-tells-us-what-were-really-looking-at-online/
″Christians and Online Porn″, Enough Is Enough. Accessed from https://enough.org/stats_christians_online_porn
8 Spiros Zodhiates (ed.), The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (AMG Publishers, 1992). Quoted in ″Will - Thelema (Greek Word Study)″, Precept Austin. Accessed from https://www.preceptaustin.org/will_thelema
9 John Stott, The Gospel and the End of Time - The Message of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, (IVP, 1991), 82.
10 ″1 Corinthians 6:18 Commentary″, Precept Austin. Accessed from https://www.preceptaustin.org/1corinthians_618_commentary

Think through:

Read what Proverbs 5:8, 1 Corinthians 6:18, and 2 Timothy 2:22 say about dealing with sexual temptation. Why do you think Scripture tells us to ″flee″? How can you do this in practical ways?

Paul says that it is God's will that we should be sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3). What are some things you could do to live a sexually pure life?




About Author

Sim Kay Tee is a Bible teacher and writer of Our Daily Bread Ministries. Based in Singapore, K.T. writes for the Discovery Series Bible Study guides, the Journey Through Series devotional, and is a regular contributor to the Insights for Our Daily Bread. K.T. has taught the Bible in various countries. He has three daughters and one granddaughter.

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