It is God’s will that you . . . avoid sexual immorality . . . God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
1 Thessalonians 4:3,7
Imagine the apostle Paul transports from the first century to the twenty-first century. It falls upon you to bring him up to speed on all the sexual temptations that face a Christian in the present day. You swallow hard, clear your throat, and then proceed. You try to be thorough and hold nothing back. When you are done, you await Paul’s reaction. You may be surprised to find that Paul is not rattled. In fact, he may even remark that in comparison to his own century, the temptations seem a bit mild.
The culture of Paul’s day had taken God’s wedding gift of sexuality and twisted and monetized it in virtually every way possible. In addition, the culture of Paul’s day was not particularly delicate with what was displayed for all to see.
This is helpful for us to keep in mind when we hear Paul speaking pretty pointedly to the Christians living in the Greek city of Thessalonica. He was well aware of the culture that surrounded them and the temptations they faced. Nevertheless, Paul did not flinch from telling them what God’s goodwill for them was. Paul concluded what he had to say by telling them, “God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”
No one needs to bring us up to speed on our own culture, of course. We know what surrounds us. We know the temptations and the ways we can stumble. And we know those ways are legion. But that’s why we have Jesus.
Are you troubled? Haunted? Burdened? Jesus came to this earth with you in mind. On your behalf, he lived a holy life. At the cross, he washed you clean. And now he lives. Be refreshed in his forgiveness and restored. And when you are, his Spirit will empower you to begin again. For as Paul says, “God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”
Lord Jesus, thank you for cleansing me in your blood. Empower me to live a holy life for you. Amen.