Friday, March 22, 2013

A Word For the American Church: Flee Sexual Immorality

Paul wrote a letter (or two) to the Thessalonian church. They were dear to his heart. He was experiencing the joy of seeing this fledgling work, a church for which he labored diligently, grow in the grace of the Lord. His letters reflect this pleasure.

But in this First Letter, he makes clear, without a doubt, the need to live a holy life. And he gives some interesting insight into what appears to be a primary contribution to sanctification.

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.     1 Thess. 4
I must say, I have been enjoying the directness of these Holy men of God. They knew their God and they spoke boldly, without apology, knowing that He is Love itself. Who needs to apologize for Love? And why on earth would one compromise Love? After all - Love is what the world desperately needs.

And so, in love, he speaks clearly this word: make a clean cut with sexual immorality. DON'T GO THERE! Don't dabble, don't dilly-dally, don't peruse, don't tinker. Scram, run, high tail it. Get away and leave all traces behind.

Don't entertain passion of lust and self-gratification. Don't do it. Don't mull it over, or you will be trapped. And once your flesh tastes self-gratification, it demands more and more. Maybe that is why this sin is listed as the primary course to sanctification for these dear people. If we indulge our flesh in this consuming sin, we will need greater measure of indulgence. It is like a black hole.

The American church is dallying. Dabbling. We have entertained compromise. We have practiced tolerance. And we shouldn't.

Why? Because, as J.B. Phillips puts it, "The calling of God is not to impurity but to the most thorough purity..."

The most thorough purity.

Not even the eyes should be indulging. If you have read the gospels, you already know and understand that. 

This temptation is far from new to our generation, to our time, to our church. But thanks be to God, His grace is far from old. And His mercies? They are new every morning. 

Rise up, oh men of God! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of Kings!