Monday, July 22, 2019

NTDS (68): Sanctification and Sexual Immorality

1 Thess 4:3 It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; NIV

Uh oh, not a subject you think is devotional in nature? I believe you will find that it is. Look at the first half of the verse. Everything that follows, goes back to that first statement. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified! Since that is true, we need to make sure that we understand what sanctification means.

The root word in Greek (hagiazo) means to make holy, purify or consecrate. Sanctification is the process of being purified, made more holy. It is God’s way of refining us and making us more like Jesus. Since this is God’s will, should it not be the desire of our hearts? We should welcome this process, but it seems that we don’t always welcome it. We often may even fight against it because it goes against the selfish nature that remains in us. (Ro 7:24).

Why does Paul connect sanctification so strongly here with one particular sin? I believe there are a couple of reasons. One is, that in the culture that the Thessalonians lived in, as well as most of the churches Paul wrote to, sexual immorality was often part of their pagan worship. It must have been difficult to for these people to divorce themselves from these practices.

More importantly, I believe that Paul is emphasizing a sin that he knows every person can easily fall into. When you read through the whole Bible, you will see that sexual sin has always contributed to the downfall of people. It has always affected us in negative ways as individuals and to societies as a whole.

Let’s make it perfectly clear; any sexual activity outside of marriage, which the Bible clearly states is between one man and one woman (Gen 2), is sin. No matter what any culture decides is acceptable; God will not change His mind on the matter.

In verse 4 Paul says that we should learn to control our own bodies. This is part of the sanctification process, but Jesus took it even farther than that. Matt 5:27-28 "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

That tells us that sanctification is more than just changes in behavior. It is a change of mind and heart. Jer 17:9 says,“the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Only God can understand it and only God can change it.

 Our role in sanctification is to allow Him to do just that, change our hearts and thus change our behavior. When the desire of our heart is to do everything the way God would have us do it, He will purify us. Paul emphasizes one area of sin here, but the application is the same for every area that we may struggle in.

We must be willing to go through the refining process. Just as precious metals are put into the fire to remove impurities, we must go through our own “trials by fire.” It will be difficult at times, but the end result is worth it! Not only is the Lord pleased with our willingness to allow His will to be done in us, but you will find immeasurable joy in how He changes you.

Look at what it says in Heb 1:9,“you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy."
The further you are in your sanctification, the more you love righteousness, hate wickedness and are filled with joy. Will you accept the challenge and let God sanctify you in every area of your life? Just surrender your heart and will to Him now and He will begin that process and bring it to completion!

God bless you


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