We stopped abruptly last time, almost in mid-sentence. I simply had way too much material to cover it all in one sermon. So this is really part two of last week’s sermon, which means all the things we said last time lead up to what I am going to say today. But since a lot of you weren’t here last week because of the snow storm, I need to bring you up to speed. So a little review is in order.
1st Thessalonians 4 ends with perhaps the greatest passage on the Rapture in all the Bible starting at verse 13 and on. But in light of that great truth, that Jesus could come at any moment to catch us away to meet Him in the air, how then should we live? The answer is: We should strive to be holy, to be useful for God’s service. And that’s how we came to verse 3. 1st Thessalonians 4:3 said: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality.”
To be sanctified is to be set apart for God’s service like the furniture and utensils in the temple were set apart for God’s service. The word for sanctify, “hagios,” is the same root word that gives us holy. This is all review, by the way.
But what will hinder your being set apart for God’s service? How about being contaminated, defiled, in other words, getting yourself dirty. And nothing gets us dirtier than illicit sex.
This is made so clear in 1st Corinthians 6:15-20:
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.Thus, since Paul wants us to be usable, the command to “abstain from sexual immorality.” As we said last time, “abstain” means, “Don’t do it!” It involves total abstinence. We spent a lot of time last time proving from scriptures that you not only can control your fleshly desires, but you must. And a lot of the process is simply recognizing that you can.
18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
This was important for the Thessalonians to know in their sex-saturated society, and for us to know too in ours. The root of Christianity is Judaism and the moral law of God, but the root of Gentile Christianity has always been paganism and immorality. We were saved, unlike the Jews, out of a pagan, immoral society. That’s all many of us ever knew before we came to Christ. So the Thessalonians, and many of us for that matter, need to be re-grounded.
I believe that’s the emphasis of this next verse, 1st Thessalonians 4:5, which says, “Not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God.”
The re-grounding is always away from the “passion of lust.” The King James translates that phrase as the “lust of concupiscence.” Isn’t that a fantastic phrase? It’s got a nice ring to it. Too bad we don’t know what it means. Actually, we do. It refers to out of control cravings - those uncontrollable desires for what is illegitimate or immoral that control so many of our lives.
But the point is, don’t be like “the Gentiles who do not know God.” Obviously, that means the unsaved ones who haven’t met Him yet. They really don’t have a boss over their lives. God certainly isn’t. Jesus isn’t their Lord.
But you know God, and you know His commands. Or, you sure ought to. You know the Ten Commandments, right? Commandment #7 is what? “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Pretty clear, isn’t it? It fits right in with 1st Thessalonians 4:3, “Abstain from sexual immorality.” We know that any sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage is taboo for a believer.
Now why is this so important? Because of what sexual immorality does. It defrauds our brother. 1st Thessalonians 4:6 says, “That no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.” Don’t defraud your brother.
What does it mean to defraud? It means to steal someone’s property by deceit or trickery. It is to swindle, cheat, rob, or embezzle. And who are you not to defraud? Your “brother in this matter” – your fellow believer. This is even worse now that you are saved.
But what property is this talking about? Certainly not swindling them out of their life savings since the context is sex, so it must mean something besides money. Here is the answer (think critically, now): Leviticus 18:8 says, “The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness.” The property is a wife’s nakedness, and the owner is the husband. No, this isn’t slavery or bondage, but it does speak to the exclusive right of a husband to his wife’s body. The man owns the nakedness of his wife. Isn’t that what the verse says?
Here’s more confirmation: Leviticus 18:16 says, “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness.” Why aren’t you supposed to “uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife?” Because it belongs to your brother. Again, the husband owns his wife’s nakedness.
Do you follow this? According to God, the husband owns the rights to his wife’s body, to her nakedness. No one else has a right to her body, not even to gaze their eyes on it, just him.
This is reinforced by the passage we read last time:
1st Corinthians 7:3-4
3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.There is an ownership here – titled property. The husband has exclusive ownership rights to his wife’s sexuality, and the wife has the same rights to his sexuality.
And for virgins (Someone’s future wife, if not yours), it is the Father’s duty to protect her modesty. Every Christian husband and every father wants to present his bride or daughter to God as pure and spotless. Ephesians 5:27 talks about Jesus wanting a pure, spotless bride - it says: “That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”
Now, every husband should want that same thing in his bride. Few men dream of marrying a promiscuous girl well experienced with lots of men. It used to be fashionable to want to marry a virgin. Even now, in our day of free-sex, I’ve counselled a lot of young men who are torn up inside because the young lady he fell in love with was quite used sexually. The thought of her having slept with someone else fueled his jealousy. Well, the Father is responsible to keep his daughter pure until he can walk her down the aisle and present her spotless to her bridegroom.
So you young men, listen to me. Don’t fight him against that. Don’t defile a young woman and steal her virginity. Not even if she’s willing.
Paul tells us that until she becomes your wife, you are to treat her as a sister. 1st Timothy 5:1-2, in a verse that tells us how to treat people, says: “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.”
Until she becomes your wife, you treat her like a sister, do you hear? Sure, you can be friends and have fun together, but who ever heard of getting romantic with a sister? Can you imagine making out with your sister? YUCK! Or holding hands? You’d almost rather kiss a dog. You wouldn’t do that with a sister, so you shouldn’t do that with some other girl you are interested in.
But, why does Paul say in 1st Corinthians 7:1, “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman?” Because girls are stimulated by touch. Keep your hands off her. Just like she shouldn’t be arousing you by her immodesty, you shouldn’t be arousing her with your touch. Hands off! Until she is legally yours, keep your hands off. Her body is not your property, and may never legally be. Don’t defraud a brother by stealing it.
“Oh, sweetie,” guys say, “I love you; and if you really loved me, you’d let me. Besides, we’ll get married someday.” That’s most always deceit, girls, and he is out to defraud you and your future husband. Don’t fall for his lie. There should be no deceit in a relationship.
Here is a conversation Jonathon Lindvalle had with his son. His son was heading out on a date that night, and his dad was having a talk with him before he left.
“So, son,” asked Dad, “is this a nice girl you are going out with tonight?”
“Oh, yeah,” said the son, “She’s real nice.”
“Good,” said the Dad. “So are you going to marry her?”
“Marry her?” said the son, aghast. “No, I’m not going to marry her. We’re just going out on a date.”
“Well,” said the Dad, “Do you think someone will marry her?”
“Well sure,” said the son, “She’s a nice girl. Someone is sure to marry her.”
“So,” said Dad, “You Are going out with some else’s future wife.” And the son starts to get a funny look on his face. “Well, what about you?” asked the Dad, “Are you going to get married someday?”
“Well, yeah. I think so.” Responded the son.
“Good,” said the Dad. “Then somewhere out there is the girl you will marry. Do you suppose she could be out on a date tonight with someone else?”
Shock came into the son’s eyes as that realization dawned on him. “Yeah, I suppose so. Yeah, she might be out with someone else.”
“So,” asked the Dad, “How far would you want her date to go with your future wife tonight? That’s how far you should go with your date who will someday be someone else’s wife.” That kind of puts things into perspective, now doesn’t it?
You have no business stealing what really belongs to someone else, and that includes a husband’s future wife. How dare you steal the virginity of his wife? And if she is someone else’s wife, or going to be, how dare you try to allure her? You can’t love him or her if you defraud them in that way. This affair you might want to be having isn’t love, but a great crime. “Abstain from sexual immorality.”
Now, this verse can even have application to modesty. Did you ever wonder why God would command women to dress modestly? He does, you know. 1st Timothy 2:9-10 says:
9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.Remember, her nakedness doesn’t belong to the world, and it doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to her husband, and him alone. She shouldn’t be showing it off to every Tom, Dick, and Harry.
Now, certainly women have discovered the effect that wearing immodest clothes has on a man. A man is sexually stimulated through his eyes, remember? That is one of the reasons women dress that way. They like the attention of having guys do a double take when they walk by with their blouse cut down way too low or their skirt cut way too high. But they have no right to give away their nakedness (even partial nakedness) because it belongs to her husband. And the man has no right to steal a look, not even if it’s freely offered. Why fathers let their daughters out of the house wearing the little things they do sometimes is a mystery. If we are to “abstain from sexual immorality,” we need to keep from advertising the wares that aren’t for sale. Cover up girls, and stop causing men to lust.
Yes, we talked about it last time, men are required to control themselves. Yes, it is his fault for looking and lusting. 1st Thessalonians 4:4-5 told us, “that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust.” But why make it so hard on him by showing off your stuff, girls?
Now let me say something: The Lord is even more concerned about a woman’s purity than you are, and He always gets even in the end. So if you want to mess around and spoil a woman’s purity, watch out. Don’t worry about a jealous spouse, worry about the Lord’s wrath. You’ve been warned. 1st Thessalonians 4:6 declares, “The Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.” Paul told them that.
Yes, the Scripture assures us in Romans 8:1 that, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” God does forgive and cleanse our record, but He doesn’t take away the consequences of sin.
That’s why it tells us in Galatians 6:7-8
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.So watch out. If you want to sow seeds of sexual perversion, you’ll reap the loss of a God blessed relationship with your spouse. Weeds always have a way of choking out the good crop. God does not wink at sin.
David, in Psalm 32, tells us about life with a guilty conscience, and you are guilty if you engage in sexual immorality.
Psalm 32:3-4 says:
3 When I kept silent, my bones grew oldWhy not keep your conscience clear? “Abstain from sexual immorality” Don’t bear that awful weight of guilt.
Through my groaning all the day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.
But a husband’s jealousy is nothing to be sneezed at. Jealousy is a normal thing.
Proverbs 6:25-35 says this:
23 For the commandment is a lamp,There are real world consequences, my friend. The husband will accept no recompense. But even worse is the fact that verse 32 says, “He who does so destroys his own soul.” So don’t do it! You must “abstain from sexual immorality.”
And the law a light;
Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,
24 To keep you from the evil woman,
From the flattering tongue of a seductress.
25 Do not lust after her beauty in your heart,
Nor let her allure you with her eyelids.
26 For by means of a harlot
A man is reduced to a crust of bread;
And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life.
27 Can a man take fire to his bosom,
And his clothes not be burned?
28 Can one walk on hot coals,
And his feet not be seared?
32 Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding;
He who does so destroys his own soul.
33 Wounds and dishonor he will get,
And his reproach will not be wiped away.
34 For jealousy is a husband’s fury;
Therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
35 He will accept no recompense,
Nor will he be appeased though you give many gifts.
So with all that said, listen to the conclusion of the matter.
1st Thessalonians 4:7-8
7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
The “uncleanness” here is sexual uncleanness (context, remember?). In whatever form it takes, from immodesty to watching pornography to homosexuality to adultery, it is all outside the bounds that God has set, and it all needs to be repented of. Because, ultimately, this sin isn’t so much against your partner or his or her spouse (I mean, they may even be willing participants), but your sin is against God. “He who rejects this does not reject man, but God.” God wants our lives to be characterized by holiness. Sexual sin has no place in that.
But here is one final word of encouragement. Verse 8 says: “God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” We don’t have to live this life alone, fighting against our sinful lusts, we have a powerful ally that dwells within us. And 1st John 4:4 says: “Greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world.” The Holy Spirit can give us victory over sexual sin, if we ask for His help.
Immorality should be totally inconsistent with a believer’s sanctification. We were called to be holy, righteous, spotless because we are set apart for God’s glory. Don’t defile yourself.
Now last time, we spent a lot of time talking about the Bible’s remedy for sexual sin. We said God’s solution was to get married. 1st Corinthians 7:2 says: “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.”
And then 1st Corinthians 7:8-9 adds, “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
We also spent a lot of time talking about the problem when a man marries and still burns since his wife has a perpetual headache every night. The answer to that, I believe, is found in the next verse, 1st Thessalonians 4:9, which says, “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.”
If we are to be concerned about showing kindness and affection to others in the church, we certainly should we willing to show even more affection and kindness to our spouse, this one person out of all the billions in the world we’ve chosen to shower love upon. So why would we deprive each other? And, as I said last time, why should we go looking somewhere else when we can have the very best right in our own homes?
Now, I need to explain that. Some of you may question the validity of that statement thinking how can you say drab routine sex with your aging spouse who may be overweight, wrinkled, bald, have varicose veins, etc., can be better than exciting sex with a younger, newer partner. There are a number of reasons, and I want to elaborate a couple.
Think about Christmas presents. What has more meaning? When someone goes out and buys you something off the rack, or when they take time to hand make you something special? Even if the hand-made present may not be perfect (Like your toddler son’s attempt at finger painting), why would you treasure the hand-made present more? Isn’t it because of all the love that was stitched in, or added in however it was made? The present that was bought simply isn’t as personal – it doesn’t come with as much love. Intimacy with a loving, dedicated spouse has to be better because of that especially when your spouse is more concerned for your pleasure than his or her own. Your new partner may be better looking, but can they give you as much love?
Let’s face it, sex isn’t that complicated. The dumb animals figure it out by instinct, and most people can too. And sure, you can go buy a copy of the Kama Sutra, and try out all fifty gazillion sexual positions that take a gymnast or a contortionist to get into, but it won’t improve on the intimacy of two people in love and committed to a lifelong union. There is security, acceptance, and a comfortableness in that.
So, if you want to improve your sex life, here are the greatest tips from Pastor Dan, the sex therapist. Ask your spouse what would please him or her, then do it. And if they know you love them, and know they can trust you, they’ll probably tell you.
But no intimacy can be better than the relaxed, comfortable intimacy of two people in a marriage who truly love each other, and trust each other, and when they both are most concerned with pleasing the other. There’s no guilt in what you do fearing that it is outside the bounds God set up. There is no embarrassment because you have a big belly, or stretch marks, or varicose veins. There is no fear that you have to perform up to expectations, or that you will be rejected because your performance doesn’t measure up. You can freely give who you are to your spouse knowing you will be accepted and appreciated. Simply doing things God’s way makes all the difference. Besides, no super model or movie star hunk is going to give a second look to any of us anyway.
Listen to me, applying these next verses is God’s way:
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.That is the answer right there. Obeying that will solve so many of your problems.
Now, as we close, some of you may have the need to do some repenting. Take time right now to confess your sins to God and seek His forgiveness. You also might need to ask His help so that you can make some new commitments to keep your life pure and holy. That’s where we started this two week series. Now it is time you work on it.