It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
1Thessalonians 4:3-7 (NIV)
Read: 1 Thessalonians 4
Consider: I mentioned in the previous post that what are called the seven deadly sins are attributes that tend to point out that a person is not living a Christlike life. It would be very easy in our discussion to concentrate upon the negative manifestation of these sins. What I will do in each post is introduce the sins, but to concentrate our thoughts on the positive virtues that we should be developing in a Christlike life.
We start our consideration of the ‘seven deadly sins’ with the one that generally appears first on the list – lust. There is no shortage of Bible verses on the topic of sexual immorality; the Old and New Testaments contain much instruction that those who love God should avoid sinning in this way. Jesus, however, took it to a new level when he told his listeners that it wasn’t just the act of sexual immorality, but also the thought that mattered. In Matthew 5:28 Jesus said:
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Although Jesus used the illustration of a man looking at a woman, this teaching must apply equally to women, as both sexes are equally vulnerable to allowing their thoughts to race in inappropriate ways. Let’s be honest here it is much easier to avoid the actual act of immorality, than to avoid the thought. It is when we allow the thought to take root and develop in our minds that we can feed impure thoughts.
In 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul instructs Timothy to:
Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Paul’s use of the word ‘pursue’ should give us the impression of something that involves effort on our part.
The positive virtue of Christlikeness set against the sin of lust is ‘chastity’. We don’t hear this word being used much in society today, even in Christian circles. It appears to be old-fashioned and out-of-date. Despite this, the pure and holy life that God wants to develop in us should be characterised by avoidance of sexual immorality in all its forms. This means chastity before marriage, as well as faithfulness in marriage.
Let me leave you with what Peter says in 1 Peter 1:14-16 – As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’
Pray: Father, we know how easy it is for our thoughts to slip away from what you want us to think about. Help us to be obedient to you and to live holy and pure lives. Amen