For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)
The Will Of God For The Church
Jesus died to purchase the church with His blood thereby redeeming the citizens of the kingdom to Himself and to the Father. The church was not an afterthought or mistaken idea temporarily put in place until a new revelation. On the first day of the kingdom when Peter opened the doors to all those who would believe Jesus was the Son of God, the church became an essential part of the character of God’s grace to save humanity. Those who would become disciples of Christ were added to the church which would be described as the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, and the family of God. To be in the company of the children of God was to be special people called for an eternal promise of divine grace. These citizens of a heavenly promise were sanctified to the Lord God as holy people and a royal priesthood. The character of those who would embrace the love of God would need to be identified as separate from the world in every way. This would become a dominant factor in the manner of life as the disciple of Christ would seek to live a pure life in a very impure and immoral world. Sexual immorality was very common and almost a sign of culture. Sexuality was accepted at every level. Divorce was common. Infidelity would be a part of society without turning an eye. Temple worship among the pagan culture of Roman mythology including Diana, Bacchus, and Venus would open the floodgates for gross immorality. It would become a great challenge to keep oneself pure in a world given over to debauchery.
The will of God has always been the measure of man’s salvation whether he accepts it or not. Rejecting the word of the Lord displeases God and brings His wrath upon the transgressor. As people of God, the Christian exemplifies the character of faithfulness to show the world a life of purity. Living among the sexually immoral would become one of the great battles for the early church and Paul warns the saints in Thessalonica to abstain from the carnal pleasures of the flesh. The will of God was for His people to abstain from something that would be accepted in society, a normal part of relationships and to some degree, expected as a part of growing up. Sowing the seeds of fornication was an affront to the holy nature of God. The Christian is a sanctified or set apart individual who honors the covenant of marriage as given by the will of God. Fornication, adultery, sexual perversions and the like were not in keeping with the life of those who professed Jesus Christ as Lord. One of the great challenges of a Christian is how to control his own body and live in holiness and honor. The motivation behind abstinence is to live according to the will of God. Marriage is honorable and God does not want the bed to be defiled with the carnal pleasures of the flesh. God did not call His people to live in the lusts of the flesh but to live holy lives before all men. Engaging in sexual immorality is rejecting the love of God and His grace. Of all the people on the earth, those who profess to be Christians should separate themselves from the uncontrolled carnal desires of the flesh and possess their bodies with honor and purity.
While the world views sexuality as an expression of self-indulgence, the scriptures condemn fornication, adultery, homosexuality and all sexuality outside the bonds of marriage. Like Israel of old, the modern mind does not know how to blush. What God has called evil, men have called good. Those things that were called sinful are now called a lifestyle. The word of God has not changed and never will. Paul said the will of God is for His people to abstain from sexual immorality and the will of God remains the same for the Christian today. Accepting sexuality in the modern world does not change what God has said since the beginning of time. One of the failures of human wisdom is to believe that advancing cultures have a better understanding of morality. The Bible is viewed as a book that is out of date and out of step with the culture of mature minds who view themselves wiser than their ancestors. Sadly, the character of man remains unchanged since Adam and Eve and sexuality is still a transgression of the law of God. The sanctification of the Christian is an example of how the word of God (the Bible) establishes a life of purity and integrity. It is not easy to live in a world that is slowly accepting more and more of the debauchery of the flesh but if Paul exhorted the saints in Thessalonica to abstain from sexual immorality, the people of God today can follow the same admonition. Pleasing God and walking in truth is defined by the sanctification of the heart to abstain from sexual immorality.