Today’s Daily Light:
Continued: God’s Will
Friends: This week, M-F, we will use Daily Light to share a truly wonderful article written by Stephen Cole. SC is a pastor of many years and has counseled hundreds of people. He is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. Please pray as to who you can share the light and truth of this series. Blessings in this week and my God’s light shine in and out of you! 😊
Sexual Purity (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)
October 9, 2016
Most of us have had trouble at times discerning the will of God. At those times, we’ve wished that God would just speak audibly, “My will is that you take the job that you’ve been offered.” Or, “My will is that you marry Suzy.” “Okay, God, I’ve got it!”
In our text, God plainly states His will for each of us in one important matter (1 Thess. 4:3): “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” There is no ambiguity in that: God wants you to be morally pure. He doesn’t command moral purity to deprive you of fun, but rather to increase your ultimate pleasure in Him. At His right hand are pleasures forever (Ps. 16:11). He designed the sexual relationship in marriage for our pleasure in Him. So, any violation of moral purity goes against God’s good and perfect will for your life. Any form of sexual immorality will hurt God’s name, hurt you, and hurt others. As the one who created sex, God tells us in His word both how sex can bless us and how it can harm us. His clearly stated will is that we abstain from sexual immorality.
But it’s safe to say that we live in a world where sexual temptation is more readily accessible than at any other time in history. When I was a young man, it wasn’t nearly as easy to view pornography as it is now. Then, you had to deliberately search it out, often in sleazy stores where you wouldn’t want to be caught dead. Now, it just takes a few clicks on your smartphone.
In 1988, before the internet or smartphones existed, Leadership journal (Winter, 1988, p. 24) did a survey on sex and the American clergy. Of the pastors responding to the survey, 20 percent said that they looked at sexually oriented print, video, or movies at least once a month! And 38 percent of these pastors said they find themselves fantasizing about sex with someone other than their spouse at least once a month.
The same survey found that 12 percent of pastors admitted to committing adultery since entering local church ministry! Leadership asked the same questions of readers of Christianity Today magazine who were not pastors. The incidences of immorality were nearly double, with 23 percent admitting to extramarital sex (p. 12)!
More than a decade ago, Al Mohler wrote (cited without reference by Ligon Duncan in a sermon on Eph. 5:3, June 4, 2006, at: fpcjackson.org/resources/sermons/Ephesians):
The statistics are truly frightening. According to industry studies, 70% percent of 18-24 year old men visit pornographic sites in a typical month. These young men represent something like one-fourth of all visitors to pornographic sites on the internet. The next largest group of users are young men in their 20’s and 30’s, 66% of whom report being regular users of pornography….
Today the average teenage boy is likely to have seen thousands of explicit sexual images, ranging across the spectrum of sexualities and perversions. Many of these boys and young men are driven by sexual fantasies that previous generations of young men would not have even known existed…. Today Americans rent more than 800 million pornographic videos and DVD’s every year. About 20% of all video rentals are pornographic. At least 11,000 pornographic videos are produced annually, amounting to revenue for the adult film industry estimated at between 5 and 10 billion dollars a year.
Of course, with the invention of the smartphone, those statistics are probably not nearly as high as they would be now. And if you think that Christian men are exempt from this temptation, you’re not in touch with reality. It is a huge problem in the evangelical church! And I’ve read that the problem exists among Christian women, also. So, as the Apollo 13 astronauts famously said, “Houston, we’ve got a problem!”
But, so did the Thessalonians. Granted, they didn’t have cell phones and the internet to tempt them. But they did live in a sexually promiscuous culture, where the goddess Aphrodite, who was among the most popular deities in Thessalonica, was the symbol of sexual license and the patroness of prostitutes (Gene L. Green, The Letters to the Thessalonians [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 35). Men could go to pagan temples and commit immorality with priestesses as an act of religious devotion. Various forms of extramarital sex were tolerated and even encouraged. F. F. Bruce (Word Biblical Commentary, 1 & 2 Thessalonians [Thomas Nelson], p. 82) writes,
A man might have a mistress who could provide him also with intellectual companionship; the institution of slavery made it easy for him to have a concubine, while casual gratification was readily available from a harlot. The function of his wife was to manage his household and be the mother of his legitimate children and heirs.
So Paul’s commandments for sexual purity were as countercultural in that day as they are in ours. His message is crystal clear:
God’s will is for His people to be sexually pure by knowing Him and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Tomorrow (Part 1)
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