August 19, 2019

Warning! What you are about to read is counter-cultural and designed to push you out of your comfort zone. Yet its truths have transformed relationships and blessed the lives of generations of people around the world for over two thousand years.

This is the will of God, your sanctification, that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:3–4).

The passage you just read was written around 50 AD by the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to relatively new Christian believers in Thessalonica, Greece. Thessalonica was a thriving port city of over 100,000, with major Roman roads connecting it to the outside world. The constant mix of cultures, religions, and commerce fed an environment of sexual “liberation” that devastated people with disease, unwanted pregnancies, broken marriages, human trafficking, and abuse.

Into this devastation came the blazing light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul and his team taught and modeled the gospel, and as a result, relationships and sexual ethics of generations were revitalized. Honor replaced abuse, purity pushed away lust, marital fidelity cast aside domestic instability, Holy Spirit powered self-control overpowered selfish manipulation, and clarity replaced sexual confusion.

Paul urged these new believers to love and serve those who rejected their faith and sexual ethics (1 Thess 3:12; 4:11–12). He told them to expect resistance and even persecution but to feed their hope on Christ and His coming kingdom (1 Thess 4:13–5:28).

Instead of calling them to curse the darkness, he compelled them to embrace the light of Christ by living pure and responsible lives for the glory of God and the benefit of others. Paul’s instructions are extremely relevant to us in our sexually liberated society.

We will explore this passage and other related ones this coming Sunday. Read ahead and bring a friend with you.