It’s been a problem since the beginning of time. The rise of Internet availability has made it incredibly more accessible, but lust has always been one of Satan’s most powerful tools to mar the image of God in us.
Paul was intense about this because he understood the nature of the human mind and the deadliness of this particular sin. He always tells us to abstain, flee, run, get away by any and every means. Why?
Here are eight reasons from 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 (NASB).
Reason #1: It’s God’s will.
“This is the will of God” (v. 3).
God’s will is always “good and acceptable and perfect” (see Romans 12:2). In other words, you can trust God. He’s not going to shortchange you. Following Him is better than anything the world offers.
Reason #2: It sanctifies you.
“This is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality” (v. 3).
Purity here will dramatically aid the general process of sanctification (growth in godliness, setting you apart for God’s purposes). To neglect this admonition is to sabotage your sanctification, potentially setting you back for years.
If we fail here, we add to the general ungodliness across our church, communities, and nation. To win here is to help the sanctification process not only in ourselves but in others.
Reason #3: It’s the honorable thing to do with your body.
“… that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor” (v. 4).
God has “fearfully and wonderfully” made your body for distinct purposes (Psalm 139.14). We dishonor Him and our bodies when we misuse them morally. It’s the worst kind of sideways energy.
Reason #4: It’s above what any lost man would do.
“… not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (v. 5).
Other people don’t have God in them. We can be better than this, and we must be.
One of the most powerful witnesses of the reality of the gospel is sexual purity that springs from a Spirit-controlled life. The world doesn’t know how to do this (in fact, they cannot). Your victory in this speaks to them loudly of the gospel’s validity. It’s an irresistible evidence of Christ in you.
Reason #5: It loves and protects others.
“… that no man transgress and defraud his brother” (v. 6).
Moral impurity doesn’t just affect you. It destroys others. “I’m just on the Internet, and it’s just me. It doesn’t hurt anybody.”
No, the images you see are someone’s daughter who was used to make the pornography. Your use propagates the pornography industry, and it affects millions. Your lustful thoughts are against someone’s wife.
To defraud means to “promise something you are not intending to deliver.” When we play with immorality, it gives a façade of commitment that you have no intention of fulfilling. It is not about “them” … it is always about “me”; and selfishness always has deadly effects.
Reason #6: It saves you from God’s judgment.
“The Lord is the avenger in all these things” (v. 6).
God never merely overlooks sin, in any form. There are consequences. We may hide it from some, but it cannot escape God’s notice and His response.
It is important and helpful to realize at every moment of temptation that God is right there. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and holiness (Proverbs 9:10).
Reason #7: It fulfills God’s purpose for your life.
“God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” (v. 7).
God designed plans before the foundation of the world for you to walk in. To give your time, energy, and often money to impurity means taking those resources away from what He has for you. It’s a sorry trade.
Reason #8: To reject this is to reject God.
“He who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you” (v. 8).
If you are embroiled in moral failure, confess it to God, and then find some friends who will help you. There are multiple ministries devoted to helping people overcome moral addictions. There’s no excuse for not humbling yourself and beginning the journey to purity.
If we knew the depth of God’s love for us and how He has pursued us and married us to Himself, we would see how adulterous it is to give our affections to another. It is rejection of the highest order.
All of us fail in various ways, and there is grace to find forgiveness and deliverance. It’s important, when we fail, to run to Christ and the sufficiency of His work on the cross to deliver. He will save and cleanse if we are humbly, genuinely repentant.
But we must realize that moral impurity affects us, everyone around us, and the glory of God through us. We were designed for more.
Father, thank You that Your Spirit inside us is capable of producing the fruit of self-control. We long to be more and more sanctified. We come afresh to join You in this gracious work in us. Help us to aggressively cooperate with You so the world can see Your overwhelming power. Thank You that (Romans 8:2) “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set [us] free from the law of sin and of death”!