The Ripple Effect of Sexual Impurity
- 2005 17 Aug
It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.
— 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6
In the above verses, Paul tells us we should learn to control our bodies in a way that is holy and honorable. Notice the phrase "learn to control." Sanctification is a process. This side of heaven, we will never reach perfection. In fact, those who expect or think that sanctification is intstant will be disappointed and perhaps will give in to temptation after losing a few battles. Instead, sanctification always moves forward – sometimes even after a fall and quick repentenance. The falls are never acceptable in God's sight, but quick repentance puts us back on the path of sanctification.
Once way to minimize our falls is to consider verse 6: "That in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him." At first glance, these words seem out of place given their context, but of course, they are exactly where God wants them. Sexual sin never affects only the one who sins. It takes advantage of the weaknesses in the other party. Even if the sin is untamed lust, when we give in to it, we degrade the person we lust after by thinking about him or her as simply an object for our pleasure.
We need to think of people in their entirety. Nearly everybody has an extended family or friends who love him or her. Everybody has emotions. Everybody has a soul. Let's reject the lie that our sexual sin doesn't hurt anyone but ourselves. And in doing so we learn to control our bodies by never forgetting that the object of our desires is not an object but a living, breathing human being whom God created to bring himself glory.
Digging Deeper Into 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6
1. How often do you feel like giving up the fight because you continue to struggle with your physical desires?
2. How quickly do you normally repent of lust?
3. When you struggle with lust, how often do you think about the entirety of the person you are lusting after?
4. How have these verses from 1 Thessalonians changed or solidified your belief that sexual sin always affects those beyond yourself?
5. How can viewing the people you lust after as complete people – with families, emotions, and souls – motivate you to learn to control your body?
Used by permission of Fleming H. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright © 2005. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.
Lee Warren has been the singles columnist for Christianity Online and has also written articles for Decision, Victory, Light and Life, Cross and Quill and Live Wire.