Have you been baptized for the remission of your sins? If so,
good. That, however, is only the beginning. Too many act as though
they are good on the basis of baptism alone. Too many parents act
as though they have fulfilled their duties because their teenager
was baptized. The Bible presents many aspects of Christian growth.
Thessalonians 4:1-8 says we are called for sanctification
and must now grow in morality, modesty and mental purity.
God has called us for sanctification, not impurity.
Paul wrote that our goal is sanctification or holiness
three times (vs.
3, 4, 7). Sanctification means being set apart for God’s
service. This calls to mind the Old Testament sanctification of
8 reveals the rite of sanctification the priests went
21 established stricter laws for the priests to maintain
holiness. While the laws regarding the priests are not our, the
principle applies. We are God’s royal priesthood (I
Peter 2:9) and He expects us to be holy, consecrated and
Relying on a repeated statement in Leviticus,
Peter explained our standard of holiness in I
Peter 1:15-16—God. When God is our standard, Paul told
Timothy, we become useful to God prepared for every good work (II
Timothy 2:20-21). Regrettably, however, Satan is
constantly trying to pull us from this path of sanctification. He
wants us to be impure. In the New Testament times and, seemingly,
even more so today he has one amazing weapon that tugs on most of
us—sexual sin. Therefore, Paul in I
Thessalonians 4:1-8, drives home the absolute need for
sexual purity and all it includes if we are going to be
Abstain from sexual immorality.
According to Galatians
5:19, immorality is a work of the flesh. We are to follow
the Spirit. There is one rule for maintaining sexual
13:4 says, “Marriage
is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and
adulterers God will judge” (NKJV).
Society makes this increasingly difficult to preach about.
There was a time when everyone understood what was condemned as
part of sexual immorality. However, politicians and the media have
blurred the lines. It is almost impossible to teach on these
issues in the way they need to be taught without crossing over the
bounds of morality in speech. We may try to preach this issue in
veiled language and tact that we hope all will understand, but our
society and even Christians have too often demonstrated that the
only way to get the message across is explicit bluntness. I will
try not to be too explicit, but I will be blunt. While everyone
needs to hear this, I especially want the men, the teenagers and
the parents in this assembly to listen carefully.
Sexual activity is any activity which expresses or arouses
sexual desire. Certainly, sex itself is included. Regrettably too
many think that is where the line is draw—it is not. Anything
that is part of leading up to sex is involved. Allow me to read
the Lord’s word in Proverbs
5:15-20. I hope you can understand the extents of
sexuality allowed and condemned in that passage.
We add one more issue to our list. We must remember that homosexuality, whether our society calls it marriage or not, is
immoral. I am not sure how God could have been clearer than He was
1:26-27. Homosexual behavior is sinful. God has called us
Possess vessel with honor and sanctification.
Sexual purity goes a step further than simply being
involved in sexual activity. It involves how we possess our
vessel; that is, how we use our bodies. In I
Thessalonians 4:4, Paul said we must own our bodies in
sanctification and honor. Our bodies are temples of the Holy
Spirit. They have been bought with Jesus’ blood. They belong to
God. Therefore, we must glorify God with our body (I
Corinthians 6:19-20). Our body must be used in such a way
that God is glorified.
Peter demonstrated this in I
Peter 3:3-4. He addressed wives specifically, but the
principle is universal. The way we present ourselves must
demonstrate spirituality, not sexuality. We live in a sexually
charged society. As such, we may lose sight of how our dress,
speech and conduct affect purity. Because we see and hear blatant
lasciviousness on a daily basis we can become desensitized, not
recognizing when we conduct ourselves in an unholy way. Look at
the standard Paul places on how we use our bodies: sanctification
and honor. He goes back to that idea of being set apart. We must
not be like the Gentiles who conduct themselves in passion and
lust. Our dress, our manner and our speech should set us apart
from the world as holy vessels for honor. Then we are fit for the
Master’s use (II
We need to examine the clothes we
wear, the words we say,
the stories we tell and the jokes we laugh about. We need to
examine how we walk, how we stand, how we sit. We need to make
sure our conduct is not about fleshly desires, whether sexual or
otherwise. Our conduct must set us apart as instruments for
righteousness. We must be honest. How tight are our clothes? How
short are our skirts and shorts? How much flesh are we revealing?
What kind of movements are we making? I am amazed that many
Christians have accepted the sexually explicit dancing that takes
place at school dances as morally pure and allow their children to
go. I am also amazed at some of the things I have seen Christian
cheerleaders do and wear in the name of supporting their school.
The Beach Boys once sang we should be true to our school, but
first and foremost we must be true to our God. Examine yourself
honestly. Do your conduct, speech and dress reflect modesty and
sexual purity? God has called us to holiness.
Avoid lustful passion.
Not only are we to avoid sexual activity; not only are we
to possess our vessels in honor; we must control our eyes and
Thessalonians 4:5 said we must not allow lustful passion.
Jesus made this point in Matthew
5:27-30. Guys, are you listening? That old line, “Just
‘cause I’m on a diet doesn’t mean I can’t look at the
menu” doesn’t work. You are not allowed to look at the menu,
you are allowed to look at your wife and that is it. Wives, the
same applies to you.
is a great passage to remember. Job said, “I have made a
covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” We
need to make covenants with our eyes, not to look on anyone with
sexual desire except our spouse. By the way, men, this rules out
pornographic magazines and web sites. It rules out Sports
Illustrated swimsuit editions. It rules out taking those quick
peaks at the Victoria’s Secret posters while you walk through
the mall. Paul explained our warfare in II
Corinthians 10:3-6. We are to take every thought captive
to the obedience of Christ. We are not to be like the Pharisees
who tried to clean the outside of their cup without cleaning the
23:25-27). We must keep the inside clean as well.
We must make a covenant with our eyes and control our
minds. God has called us to holiness.
Excel still more and do not reject God.
Thessalonians 4:1, Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to
excel still more. That was a blanket statement to all Christians
no matter where they were on purity’s path. We must do better.
Too often we are satisfied with doing better than others,
justifying ourselves, “At least I am not doing what so and so is
doing.” In I
Thessalonians 4:7, Paul said we are called to
sanctification, not to impurity. Something is impure not because
it is wholly bad, but because it has an impurity in it. Until we
are completely free from impurities, we still have work to do. It
is a growth process. We will not be condemned because we still
have room to grow. However, we had better be growing or we will be
Further, note Paul’s statement that concludes this
section in I
Thessalonians 4:8. “He who rejects this is not rejecting
man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.” That is
strong language. It is not my language; it is the Bible’s
language. When it comes to rejecting God we think about people who
refuse baptism or worship God incorrectly or deny God’s order
for the church. But Paul says if we reject his teaching on
morality, modesty and mental purity we are rejecting God. This is
important. This is salvation stuff. Brethren, too many have given
up these fights. We must not because people will lose their souls
over these very issues.
Baptism is not the end. It is only the beginning. We must
remember our call to be sanctified. We must remember that we are
to be different from the world, set apart for our Master’s holy
use. We must remove impurities. Especially within our society
today, we must fight the battle against sexual impurity, standing
up for morality, modesty and mental purity. Please, do not reject
God. Instead, excel still more.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ