Immorality is like a raging flood. Its impure waters are rushing everywhere, spreading destruction and muddy filth in every city, town, and hamlet. Lives, once pure and precious, are being carried away in the murky waters. Down the stream they go to eternal destruction. Immorality includes all sexual activity apart from marriage. The current wave of immorality is related to humanism. Absolute standards of judgment have been lost. Instead, merely human notions and desires rule. Society is like a ship at sea without engines or compass—at the mercy of wind and wave. Humanism ultimately robs mankind of any significance.
To what extremes will it all go? When will it crest? The National Federation for Decency warns of current movie and TV productions that parade blasphemy, incest, and homosexuality. The Bible teaches that such sin is not finished until it brings physical and spiritual death. Some will object, pointing out that the Scandinavian countries prosper with liberal moral laws. These countries also have increased suicide and sex crime rates. Others ask, “Is not free sexual expression therapeutic?” It is therapeutic only as alcohol is therapeutic to the alcoholic. The temporary enjoyment leads to a new low and deeper cravings. Our text shines like a welcome beacon in this smog: “It is God’s will that you should be holy; that you should avoid sexual immorality” (I Thessalonians 4:3). Sexual purity actually brings great blessings. Let’s now see these blessings with our Bibles open at I Thessalonians 4:3-8.
SEXUAL PURITY HONORS GOD. Jerry Rubin, the former hippie said, “If it feels good, do it.” Put God in the picture, however, and you see at once that impurity is sin against Him. God’s will is that we keep from sexual sins (v.3). Our very life purpose for God is to live holy lives—lives free from stain (v.7). There is grave danger in disregarding this teaching. Reject it and you grieve the very Holy Spirit who alone saves us. The true issue is not whether another is offended or consenting. The real concern is this: Is God offended? He makes His will very clear in this matter.
SEXUAL PURITY HONORS YOUR OWN BODY. Plainly, God holds us responsible to learn the way of godliness in the sexual area (v.4). The “vessel” here means one’s own body. Its very honor is at stake. What is blessed of God within the bonds of marriage is accursed if it is outside those bonds. In Romans 1:24-32 we find that punishment for sexual sin will be very personal, often involving the physical body. Sometimes one hears an older person boasting of his/her evil life. Although judgment is delayed, it is still certain. The only alternative to the honor promised by our text is that shame and horror warned of in Romans 1:24. Aroused passions tend to overcome reason and erase these clear teachings from the mind. Therefore, “Flee fornication.” It is a sin against one’s own body (I Corinthians 6:18). Verse 5 shows that such behavior is heathen-like and denies the very knowledge of God
SEXUAL PURITY HONORS OTHERS. At the heart of the Christian life is the question, “Do I seek my own pleasure or the good of others?” (Romans 15:1-3). We either honor or dishonor others by our own sexual behavior. Verse 6 makes it clear that immorality wrongs or takes advantage of others. Sometimes this is done directly. Cheating on your marriage partner stops blessings and brings a curse. There are steps to recovery, however: 1) Call it sin and seek God’s forgiveness; 2) Make necessary restitution in keeping with Matthew 5:23-24. Time never cancels debts. Make it right. Sometimes others are wronged indirectly. Pornographic “trips” even if done secretly and alone stimulate a destructive self-centeredness. There is a tensing of the personality and others around you are ultimately cheated. Pre-marital escapades in sex bring into one’s marriage a twisted outlook and a cheapened life. “The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you” (v.6b).
CONCLUSIONS. It is remarkable that the human sexual capacities have the power to bring us either the dearest of blessings or the direst of cursings. Our Savior shed His blood to pay for this sin. Claim His sacrifice and determine further to ask for His purity. Once forgiven, the Holy Spirit can bring you the very outlook and attitude of Christ in this important area of life. With that will come purity and peace. God will be honored, you will be honored, and others will be honored.
Finally, here is a word of suggestion for stemming this tide:
- Clean up. Rededicate your life.
- Pray. Grow up in a life of serious intercession.
- Speak out. Write individual letters to TV sponsors, newspapers. Make your concern known to supermarket managers regarding offensive magazines.
- Act. Support any efforts of the church. Take direct, legal action.