Dear radio friends,
Last week we were engaged in a study of the Word of God in I Thessalonians 4:3-8. Please open your Bibles and read that passage now.
The Word of God there teaches that God’s will for the child of God is sexual purity. That will is that we be sanctified. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (v. 3). Then, applying it to a specific area of our life, “That ye should abstain from fornication.”
The Word of God there continues to say that this applies to marriage. Everyone who is married must know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor, not in the lust of concupiscence, not in a passion of overwhelming desire as the Gentiles or heathen who know not God.
The will of God, then, is purity – in single life and in married life. And the will of God for those whom He has purchased in the blood of Jesus Christ is also faithfulness in this. For, we read in verse 6, “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter,” or, literally, “in this matter.” One must not go beyond, must not overreach, defraud, deceive. The apostle is referring to adultery, which is the violation of the right of another, whether that is fornication and one robs another of virginity, or whether that is another man’s wife or another woman’s husband. Do not overreach, do not deceive, do not disregard the bounds of a brother’s marriage – what the world calls “an affair.” Some say, “We were meant for each other,” and “We must seek our own happiness, therefore we may engage in sexual activity outside of the bond of marriage.” No, the Word of God says that we must not do that. That is sin. Building on the truth of the sanctify of marriage and of the exclusiveness of that bond, we must live with our husband or wife in the bond of marriage in holiness and in honor. That is the will of God. You may not involve yourself in the union that belongs exclusively to the brother’s marriage. You may not have your brother’s wife. You may not lust after her in your heart.
We read in Proverbs 5:15-20, “Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well…. Rejoice with the wife of thy youth…. Why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?”
What is God’s will, then?
Abstain from fornication, all sexual uncleanness.
Live in marriage in sanctification and honor.
Do not cast your eye towards your brother’s wife.
That is the will of God for us.
Why? Why is this so important?
The passage from which I read (I Thess. 4), in the second part of verse 6 and also in verse 8, supplies reasons for the Christian’s sexual purity. There are three of them. Let us consider them.
First of all, “because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.” The apostle there is saying that the Lord is the avenger of all such. All such what? Of fornicators. Of those who take a wife out of mere human lust. Of those who disregard the bounds of the brother’s marriage. Even if the brother would never figure it out, never get wind of it, God is the avenger of all such. Even if these sins remain covered, God remains the avenger of all such sexual impurity. The word “avenger” refers to someone who sets right the wrong, one who administers justice. The Lord created marriage. The Lord created the human body. He gave to marriage the gift of sexual union. He created it good and for His own purpose. And He will take action when it is perverted. The apostle says, “The Lord is the avenger of all such sins as we have also forewarned you and testified.” We warned you about this before and we testified most solemnly in the presence of God.
For example, I Corinthians 6:9, 10, “Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” The Bible makes it very plain: the grace of God, working in the Christian, is a grace which calls him to depart from every way of sexual immorality and to walk in a way of genuine repentance. The apostle goes on in I Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified (made holy), but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
The Christian walks in sexual purity, first of all, because he knows that God is the avenger, God is the judge of this sin and He will take action. Though we rejoice as children of God that the judgment that we deserve also for this sin is removed in the blood of Christ, nevertheless, the thought of God’s hatred of this sin is also a reason for the child of God to flee from it. I do not want those judgments of God in my life, or in the life of my family. I do not want to come under the chastening of God in this area of life, for these chastisements of the living God are some of the heaviest known. It is not so that fornication is harmless. It is not so that it is neutral, leaving no effects upon a person’s life. This is the deceit and the lie of the devil himself. It is not reality, it is not true. It is not so that fornication is simply something to be expected, an inevitable part of a person’s life – part of being human. No, the Bible says that fornication is a sword going down through the bones and piercing one’s soul with untold sorrows.
The pleasures of fornication and sexual uncleanness are deceit. They are lies. They offer something they cannot give. They offer satisfaction. Only obedience and only the life of God can give that. In reality, the way of uncleanness gives dissatisfaction.
That is especially true of this sin. It cannot satisfy, so one must go deeper and deeper into this sin. Men and women who blindly fall into this sin discover that God is not the frail deity our society assumes that He is. They discover that the God of the Bible judges the sin of fornication in one’s lifetime and at the end of one’s life.
He judges it in one’s lifetime. He visits a man with sexual diseases, conflict, guilt, turmoil, lack of peace. It makes the soul empty, miserable. And at the end God judges, too. He closes the gates of everlasting fire in the face of those who did not repent of their fornications ( Rev. 16).
A second reason for the Christian’s sexual purity is stated in verse 7: “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” The call is God’s saving call. It is the voice of God heard in the soul and in the heart saying, “You are Mine, come to Me.” Do you hear that call? That is the work of the Spirit.
God calls us not to uncleanness but to holiness. We have been called out of sin, called out of the world into the light of light. God is saying to us, “Take stock of who you are.” Consider carefully what God has done for you. Do not leave all of the Christian doctrines and truths in a notebook on your table. Do not leave it within the covers of your Bible. But, by prayer, let it sink down into your soul in order that you might know how to view yourself. “I am called of God to holiness. I have been made pure in Christ. I am one who is called to serve Him by presenting my body a living sacrifice of praise and obedience to Him.” That is dignity, honor, beauty, joy!
Honor and beauty and joy is not compromising yourself in dress so that you turn heads. Honor, dignity, joy, and beauty is not that some boy shows attention to you. It is not found in being suave and seeing how many girls you can get. Dignity, honor, worth, beauty – these are the things Christ alone can give. And He has called me, called me unto Himself, to walk in these things. Learn the gospel. Make the gospel personal to yourself by faith. Read, study Scripture. Learn of God’s purpose in redemption. Put yourself in the yoke of Christ. Get into the spiritual gymnasium and build that Christian character. And learn. Learn to run away. Learn to take God’s warning seriously.
The third reason for the Christian’s sexual purity is stated in verse 8, “He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.” “Despise” is a word which means to make null and void. The idea of “to despise” is to make of no importance. To despise means that one would say that this will of God for sexual purity has no importance. The world does that. Unbelievers think that the sexual act is just another physical act – something like scratching themselves when they are itchy or drinking water when they are thirsty. They despise sexual purity. They make themselves as beasts. They say, “It’s all a man’s code, so we can set it aside and make it null to suit us.”
But the Word of God says it is much more than that. It is to despise God – God the Ccreator, the One to whom man is answerable, the One who has made the human body for Himself. Unbelief thinks that God can be set aside, that God can be despised, that God can be ignored. But this is not so. For God will judge. And He knows what to do when a man shows contempt for Him.
There is a very powerful passage in the Word of God that I’d like to read with you from Psalm 50, especially the last verses of the psalm. In this psalm God has declared Himself as the glorious God who owes His life to nothing outside of Himself. Then, in verses 16ff., He tells the wicked in the way of sin that He sees every action of sin. He goes on to expose the self-thought of sin – what a person is thinking in the way of sin. God knows what a person is thinking. “These things hast thou done (these acts of transgression), and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” In the way of sin, one is thinking that God is like himself. As human beings our power is limited. As human beings we change. One thing is important one day; two years from now it is not very important. “Thou thoughtest I was like thyself. Your thoughts of Me were human,” says God. “But I will reprove thee and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces,” says the psalmist, “and there be none to deliver. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.” God is not like man. God is the pure, God is the holy One, and God is the avenger of all uncleanness. God will judge. God will maintain His own holiness.
Our flesh would make this will of God for purity null and void. Our flesh would foolishly want to break the bounds that God has set and ensnare ourselves in ruin and misery.
Then the Word of God says, “You are not simply breaking a human code.” We are sinning against God who is present at that moment. That is what the apostle means when he says “God hath given unto us his holy Spirit.” He has given us the Spirit to dwell with us. He is present. He is present at that moment of sin. He is there. Our bodies are not ours. They are purchased with the blood of Christ. Not only does the body belong to Him but, by the grace of God, He dwells in us by His Holy Spirit. He has given the Holy Spirit to us so that we are not only His property and then left vacated, but God dwells within us. Right now, God dwells in me. He dwells in you, as a child of God. He dwells in us by the Holy Spirit.
Can I? May I? Will I give that body over to sexual lust? The mind to uncleanness? The deeds of the body to sin? God forbid it me!! Do you know that?
When I ask, “Do you know that,” I am not simply asking if there is an apprehension of what I said, an understanding intellectually of what I said. That is not what I am asking. Do you know, as a living truth in your soul, that you are purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, so that the words “Christ” and “cross” are not mere words but reality? And do you know that the Holy Spirit dwells within you, not merely as a textbook answer, but as the reality of your life, Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:28)? Do you know that? That is why you must be sexually pure, because Christ dwells in you.
Then you know the honor and dignity of your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. But then you also know something more: you know the joy and the goodness of purity.
We have a gracious Savior who wipes away the mountain of our filth, who restores us again. We have a faithful Shepherd, we who stray foolishly into the devil’s den, we who play with eternal ruin and misery. The Shepherd restores us again and brings us back to Himself. Sometimes that way of restoration is painful, extremely painful. But it is the Shepherd’s way of bringing us back to what is right – the way of truth, righteousness, and purity.
This is God’s will for you. No matter what the world will say, no matter what your flesh is telling you, no matter how strong your urges may be, this is the will of God: sexual purity for you as a young person. For you as a child. For you married, husband and wife. For you who are single. Sexual purity. This glorifies Him. And when His will is our delight, then truly God is glorified in you and Christ is seen in you.
May God so grant to us.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy word. We thank Thee for our Savior. We thank Thee, O Lord, that Thy word is clear to us. Work its power in our soul. Give us to see the foul vileness of sexual immorality and give us to taste and rejoice in the purity of the love of God. In His name do we pray, Amen.