1 Thess 4:1-8
There’s a story about a group of coach drivers applying for a job. One of them would be chosen to carry the king’s children up and down a narrow, winding road leading up to the king’s mountain-top castle. With dozens of steep drop-offs and no guardrails, it was a daunting assignment. The king’s chief asked each candidate this question: HOW CLOSE CAN YOU GET TO THE EDGE WITHOUT GOING OVER? The applicants offered various responses indicating their confidence in skill! One man boasted he could drive the horses at nearly full speed for the entire length of the road, always keeping within 6 inches from the edge. The interviewer was unimpressed. Finally, one driver stepped forward and responded, “Sir, if it’s the king’s children, I want to stay as far from the edge as I possibly can.” This man was hired for the job.” This should be our answer when we are faced with a decision that will affect our Christian walk with a holy a merciful God! Shouldn’t it? As we look into the scriptures this morning let me ask you a question: HOW CLOSE DO YOU WANT TO THE EDGE......BEFORE FALLING OVER THE CLIFF?
See....There is nothing more I want in life....than to please the God of the Bible. The same God who saved me from what I was.......lost and without hope! The same God who picked up this lost soul wandered in the desert for 30 years. Shouldn’t that be enough to make me live my life to please Him? The question that always comes to my mind is: “WHAT MORE DOES HE NEED TO DO, IN ORDER FOR ME TO LIVE MY LIFE THAT IS PLEASING TO HIM?” He has given me a new life these past 14 years. He has given me the ability to glorify His name by living my life for Him...Because He is worth it! As we look into this letter this morning! We see Paul shifting gears from a personal side to a warning (a cautious) side! Because we all face this each and every day (men, women, young and old) no one is immune to this. This is what any good shepherd does......He care about the flock so much to warn them about any a danger that might lie ahead. Paul requests (humbly suggests, exhorts) the church to strive in holiness (v1) Paul requests the church to strive for spiritual excellence (to excel) which means to abound, to overflow) in their Christian life
How does a Christian do that? By walking in the holiness that Christ Jesus gives us through the Holy Spirit. But understand, God has to be the benefactor for this work in our lives. Why is this important for a Christian to walk in holiness? Because the Bible says so! “Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the LORD who sanctifies you.” Lev 20:7-8. As Peter said “ but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." 1 Peter 1:15-16. And here in our text! (v7) “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” Paul was telling that they were (we are) to walk in holiness because it will helps us to do; helps us to stand strong to what the Lord says next! Look at (Verse 3-4).
Do you realize that society teaches us (men and women)?
- To test drive a car before purchasing it
- Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free
- Live together before you decide to tie the knot
- Sow your wild oats before you get the ball and chain
- Casual sex is lots of fun ...........everybody is doing it
- If it feels good! How can it be wrong?
- It won 10 Day Time Emmy Awards
- Go ahead! Your one click away from paradise
- This is the number one best selling romance novel
- It won’t hurt.....Nobody will ever know
In reality these things leave a person empty and wanting more, which ultimately it leads to Hell and the wrath of God. Paul was deeply passionate for his spiritual babies a s they grow in their sanctification. Paul knew that the times were very tough when it came to this issue of sexuality. The city was filled with:
- Men dressing like women (transvestite)
- A wide variety of pornographic and erotic perversion
What made it worse was this was being done by a seared conscience and a society that accepted, embraced this form of behaviour. “Seared conscience” by definition means “The conscience is the God-given moral consciousness within each of us. If the conscience is “seared”—literally “cauterized”—then it has been rendered insensitive. Such a conscience does not work properly; it’s as if “spiritual scar tissue” has dulled the sense of right and wrong. Just as the hide of an animal scarred with a branding iron becomes numb to further pain, so the heart of an individual with a seared conscience is desensitized to moral pangs.” Remember they didn’t have an influence of Christianity on its institutions. As John MacArthur said “….The Thessalonians grew up with no Christian traditions to support laws and standards that forbid the grosser manifestations of immorality. Pagan Greek society apparently did not have civil laws to prohibit immoral behaviour.” We don’t have that problem today in North America, do we? Listen to these extremely saddening statistics (across Canada and the States)
- 59% believe its ok to have sexual fantasies or thoughts about someone.
- 60% believe its ok for someone of the opposite sex to live together before marriage.
- 42% believe its ok to have sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex to whom you are not married too.
- 38% believe that looking at pictures of nudity or explicit sexual behaviour is just fine.
- 30% believe a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex is a morally acceptable behaviour.
- Hollywood produces about 400 films a year to the porn industry’s 11,000.
In 2008 a study was done of undergraduates and graduate students ages 18-24.....it showed: 69% percent of men and 10% of women viewed pornography more than once a month. In 2009 the most searched word on the internet for kids ages 7 and under was “porn” according to data by OnlineFamily.Norton.com. For all kids.....those up to 18.....”Sex” was number 4, and “porn” was number 5, most searched words. In a Time Magazine story about a 2003 meeting of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, where of the 350 attendees, 62% said of them said “the internet played a significant role in divorces in the past year, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half of such cases.” Dr Land said “I’m convinced that millions of men and boys are being destroyed by pornography, and statistics show that women and girls are joining their numbers” Daniel Weiss of Focus on the Family agrees with this statement by Land! He says “the church really needs to be concerned about this “Why?
Leadership magazine commissioned a poll of a thousand pastors! 12% of the pastors indicated that they had committed adultery while in the ministry (that’s 1 out of 8 pastors) 23% of the pastors said “they had done something they considered sexually inappropriate”. Christianity Today surveyed a thousand of its subscribers who were mostly: Church leaders, Deacons, Sunday School Teachers and they found the figures to nearly double. 23% saying they had extra martial relations, 45% indicated that they had done something they themselves deemed sexually inappropriate, 1 out of 4 Christian men are unfaithful and nearly one half have behaved unbecomingly.
Can I boldly say without you getting angry with me? The church has lost its grip on what it means to live holy and set apart unto the Lord, when we read statistics like this. Can I say, it’s no wonder society is in the shape it’s in, when we see what our Government trying, and succeeding, to pass immoral laws for the greater good of a few people. Canada has is becoming “cauterized” to the moral standards in which God placed for our lives.
Remember Society teaches and promotes openly by the way to……
- Just do it!
- Don’t worry, be happy.
- Do it your way as Frank Sinatra sang it.
- Mind your own business and tolerant of me and my lifestyle.
- I’m not hurting anyone!
Paul was so concerned for his spiritual children that they didn’t fall to the perversion of that day. The same can be applied to us today in this present perverse generation. The simple truth is "Don’t Do it". What should be our (your) number one desire.....goal.....in our daily walk ....Christian? To walk and grow in obedience to Him. This is His will for our lives............... which He set apart for His glory! (Look at the first part of v3). If you are a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ He has set you apart (By His divine power and providence). “Sanctification” includes the ideas of consecration, purification, dedication and holiness. The dominant idea of sanctification is separation from the secular and sinful and setting apart for a sacred purpose, for God’s special use, all made possible by the atoning work of Christ. We are sanctified by the finishing work on the Cross which is our position in our sanctification. Heb 10:10 “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” 1 Cor 1:2 “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus,...” There is another part of our sanctification that most Christians take for granted or forget sometimes. It’s called progressive or practical sanctification! Practical godly living (walking in holiness). Which requires? You (me) to separate ourselves from all forms of sin! Before this can work! We need to learn to trust the Holy Spirit to make us holy. Holiness is not produced by personal passivity or just letting go and letting God, as some have taught. This is a process that each and every one of must go through until the believers death or the Lord’s Return. We all have different struggles and things that we need to separate from in our lives, but we must preserver none the less.
Paul wanted his loved ones to understand that this was God’s will for their lives! Don’t do it I love you and want you to know that sin tears at the heart of God, before it tears at ours. God loves us and desires our complete dependence upon Him and cares for His children deeply to walk in the light where He is. Sin is devastating and it leaves permanent marks on a person’s life. Sadly for many, it leads to death and judgement. As John Owen said “be killing sin or sin be killing you.” Remember that a major problem for the early church was maintaining sexual purity. Paul mentions one particular sin they drew deep concern and it’s something that has many perversions attached to it! (v3-v4).
We are to abstain (means) complete self-discipline....in this case staying completely away from any thought or behaviour that violates the principles of God. It implies a rupture from a former association. “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Rom 8:13-14. In Rom 6:19 “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.” Though you once walked according to the flesh, now walk in the Jesus’ righteousness. Never put yourself in any situation that is going to cause you fall into sin! Especially this sin! Don’t go, hang out, or touch something that is going to cause you to fall in sin.
“Sexual immorality” it’s a term that describes any form of illicit sexual behaviour; this includes unclean thoughts and intentions whether their physical or mental.....Sexual immorality in the Greek here means “Porneia” this word was originally was used especially to describe the practice of consorting with prostitutes (porneis = “prostitute”) and eventually came to mean “habitual immorality.” Porneia is the comprehensive term denoting any and every form of sexual practice that lies outside the circle of God's revealed will, including adultery, premarital and extramarital physical relations, homosexuality, bestiality and any other perversion of God's design. Sadly we are guilty of this! "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt 5:27-28. This is one of the hardest things to hurdle over for most men and some women! In light of what I told you about a few minutes ago! Especially when it comes to marriage...any sexual relationship that deviates from the monogamous relationship between a man and a wife is immoral by God’s standards! “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb 13:4). God takes this issue seriously...this is no laughing matter especially in the church. This is just the tip of the iceberg...it goes much deeper than that!
We are to....
- Turn around
- Turn it off
- Throw it out
- Go in the opposite direction
This is supposed to be done at ALL TIMES when there is any form of illicit sexual behaviour!
- What about T.V? TURN IT OFF
- What about the movie I rented? REVIEW FIRST ON CHRISTIAN WEBSITE (Plugged In by Focus On the Family is a great resource)
- What about the internet? DISCONNECT OR PUT A FILTER ON IT (USE COVENANT EYES)
- What about the magazine racks at the grocery store? LOOK THE OTHER WAY
- What about the people I hang out with in school? FIND NEW FRIENDS
But, I can’t do Pastor Mike….I'm not strong enough, I always fail! Your right in saying that. We can't do it in our own strength, we need Christ to see us through our temptation of sexual sin by the work of the Holy Spirit. We need to be focused Heavenward and be more concerned about disobeying God's will for our lives, than fulfilling my lusts and passions.Think about Joseph for a moment! Here was a young boy whose hormones were probably going a mile a minute. Here was a young boy who worked for a very powerful man named Potiphar. Here was a young boy who was face to face with a beautiful older woman who had no problem with what she was doing when it came to sexual immorality. She was the same kind of person Paul spoke about in (v4) “not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who did not know God”. Which means: uncontrollable desires; compelling feelings; out of control craving. Unregenerate people practice this as a way of life, all sorts of immoral sexual behaviour just as Potiphar wife try to do with Joseph on numerous occasions according to Genesis 39. What did Joseph do in this situation? HE RAN THE OTHER WAY FROM ALL FORMS OF SEXUAL IMMORALITY. In Gen 39:8-9 we read "Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" He heard that voice behind him saying “Don’t Do it! And in (v12) “But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.” The Word of God says we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices unto God which is our reasonable service. Joseph knew what was most important to him “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" The Word of God says we are abounding more in more by walking in holiness which pleasing to God! Not man or selfish desires. Look what Paul says in the end of (v4) “You should know how to posses his own vessel”
What does that mean? To gain mastery over. We as believers are personally responsible to control his or her body! (Before God) don’t say “the Devil made me do it.” Believers are to maintain self-control (the fruits of the Spirit). You know what your weaknesses and strengths are better than anyone else. You may think you know what you can handle...... “but the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked” Jer 17:9. We are to keep (abstain) our bodies from all forms of sexual immorality at all costs! Paul uses the term “vessel” which means “body” Some theologians said this meant wife! Because of what Peter said in his epistle “the weaker vessel” Others theologians say this means you, and me! By what Paul says “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonour?” Rom 9:21. I tend to sway to the camp of its speaking to you and me! Why? Because Paul gives such high honor for the wife throughout his writings to the churches! Especially to the church in Ephesus. I agree with Leon Morris when he said “it’s a very low view that thinks of the wife as no more than a vessel for gratifying the husband’s sexual desires” She is much more than that! Paul said we are to posses our bodies with self control and walking in holiness which is our sanctification! Paul goes even further to say “Don’t even do this to you brother or sister” (v6)
Don’t sin against and take advantage of other believers! A Marriage that is on the rocks and you come in as a knight in shining armour to sweep her off her feet and she begins to have feelings for you.... DON’T DO THAT! I like to spend a lot of time with the pastor…… DON”T DO THAT! My parents don’t understand me like my coach or my favourite teacher does....... DON”T DO THAT! I feel special when I’m alone with him or her.....DON’T DO THAT! Can I ask you a personal Sunday question! Are fleeing or are you staying? The Lord Jesus bought you with a great price.........All He asks of you is? Separate yourself from the former lusts of your heart and flee all forms of sexual immoral behaviour. If you don’t believe me! You’re only rejecting God; this is His will for you! Not mine (v8). One day you won’t be standing in front of Paul or me....You will be standing before Almighty God who wills that you be set apart for Him.....by abounding more and more in your sanctification....in your holiness unto Him! God’s desire is to produce holy people who would walk worthy of the divine call into the Kingdom and glory! Not sexual immoral children who desire to feed their selfish passions: As the Gentiles did....As Potiphar wife did....As Delilah did. As Watchmen Nee reminds us men “An affection which is not inspired by the Lord will soon be transformed into lust. Samson is not alone in the history of man in failing in this regard. Delilah is still cutting the hair of man today!” SO CHURCH FAMILY I LOVING WARN YOU.....Don’t Do it! He calls you to holiness and as He set you apart for Him! “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision (no excuses, or buts) for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” Rom 13:14. SO! Flee and run to the Saviour for He is our only means of victory over sexual immorality! Every time you do.......He is whispering into your ears, into your conscience…… DON”T DO IT!