How do you live in a culture that is sexually ‘out-of-control?’ Ask any serious Christ follower today how they pursue holiness and seek the Holy Spirit’s fruit of ‘self-control’ or ask the Apostle Paul as he addresses this topic in writing First Thessalonians.
God’s will is always a ‘hot topic’ for devotionals. I heard more than my share of studies in this area, as this was often the ‘go-to’ topic for retreats, conferences, or even our high school ISCF (Inter School Christian Fellowship) devotionals.
God’s family follows God’s will. They seek choices that will honour God, in fact when they don’t they discover the discipline of a loving father. (Read Hebrews 12:1-14 if you need proof!). So what is the will of our holy Father, the One we approach in prayer with the reminder “Hallowed be Thy name?” Look at what Paul writes….
“It is God’s will that you should be holy; that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.”
God’s will? …be holy …live a holy life …receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God’s will is not an optional extra but an essential pursuit for those who know Him. Justification – a declaration that God makes about our righteous standing before Him, having trusted Jesus Christ, is accompanied by Sanctification – a process whereby God works in us transforming us into the very likeness of His Son.
Where does this show up? Where life happens, in the day-to-day decisions that everyone must make in living in a culture bent on rejecting God. Paul selects the area of sexuality.
What are God’s guidelines for living purely in an impure world?
- Avoid sexual immorality – Today’s social media crazed world is filled with onramps to evil. Consider the amount of money spent on pornography (billions) and the easy access for those who avail themselves of the Internet. Safeguards, filters, accountability partners, etc are all practical tools for avoiding the lethal addiction of impurity. Read Galatians 5:19-21 where Paul reminds the Galatian church of sexual and spiritual sins as well as those of attitudes and appetites. He drives home the seriousness of sin with the warning, “…those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:21b)
- Learn sexual morality – Instead of being out-of-control, God’s family demonstrates self-control. Temptations may be resisted. Elsewhere God promises “Resist the devil and he will flee from you…” Those who don’t know God follow their passionate lusts and reap the harvest of such activity. Even health practitioners alert the public about the physical risks involved. But knowing the standard does not enable anyone to keep it. We need God’s help, and it is available to those who ask for it.
These are not simply one leader’s ideas. Paul references God six times in this paragraph. “It is God’s will…. the heathen, who do not know God…. The Lord will punish ….. For God did not…. but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. God has explicitly stated His will. The question remains – Will we submit to His standard and seek His help to obey or will we follow our culture in this and other areas as it races out of control?