1 & 2 Thessalonians

by Sim Kay Tee

Day 12

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

God created mankind as sexual beings-″male and female he created them″ (Genesis 1:27). His first command to mankind involved the sexual act between a man and a woman-″be fruitful and increase in number″ (v. 28; see also 2:24-25). Sex was part of the creation that God had called ″very good″ (1:31). As such, sexual intimacy between a husband and wife, as God originally intended, is good and holy!

Controlling our own desires and cravings-sexual or otherwise-is something that we all must learn to do, as the Spirit helps us.

Paul says that to live a holy life, we must ″learn to control [our] own body in a way that is holy and honourable″ (1 Thessalonians 4:4). Controlling our own desires and cravings-sexual or otherwise-is something that we all must learn to do, as the Spirit helps us. And this mastering of our own bodies, Paul says in Colossians 3:5, must include the severe act of putting to death whatever belongs to our ″earthly nature″, which includes sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires.

The Greek words for the phrase ″to control your own body″ can also mean ″to live with your own wife″ or ″to acquire a wife″. In fact, the Revised Standard Version and the Good News Translation both render it as ″take a wife for yourself″ and ″live with your wife″.

Before the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, God had purposed marriage for procreation and partnership (see Genesis 1:28; 2:18). After the fall, marriage took on a third purpose-a preventive against sexual immorality. ″Because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband,″ Paul told the Corinthian church, and concluded: ″It's better to marry than to burn with lust″ (1 Corinthians 7:2, 9, NLT).

At the same time, anyone seeking marriage must do so ″in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God″ (1 Thessalonians 4:4-5). We are not to treat marriage as a thing to feed our lustful cravings. Lust is sexual desire without the commitment to honour, cherish, love, and respect one's marriage partner; it treats him or her as a mere object for personal sexual gratification.

Paul lists three motivations for loving our marriage partner in a holy and honourable way.

First, he warns that ″the Lord will punish all those who commit such sins″ (v. 6). Sexual purity in marriage must be held in high regard. As Hebrews 13:4 makes clear: ″Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.″

Second, God himself calls us to lead holy lives (1 Thessalonians 4:7). Holiness lies at the core of our salvation-2 Timothy 1:9 stresses that God ″has saved us and called us to a holy life″, and Ephesians 5:25-27 declares that Jesus ″gave himself up for [the church] to make her holy . . . without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless″. 1 Peter 1:15-16, too, reminds us that we are to be holy because God himself is holy. And sexual purity is one aspect of holiness, which is God's will for us (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7).

Third, the Holy Spirit living in us must transform how we use our bodies, motivating us to live in a way that pleases God (v. 8). As 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 stresses: ″Your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God . . . Therefore honour God with your bodies.″

Paul further warns that ″anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God″ (1 Thessalonians 4:8). This is how seriously God takes our sexual purity!

Think through:

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:4-8 again. What guidelines did Paul set for sexual behaviour? How could you apply these guidelines in practical ways?

What would these biblical guidelines mean in today's context? How might we establish and maintain biblical standards for sexual purity without becoming unnecessarily puritanical or prudish?




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.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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