How do you deal with the constant temptation of pornography? Pornography is a very present danger today for men and women. No longer a hidden type of activity available in brown-covered covered magazines and darkened venues, it is more mainstream due to the advances of technology and a coarsening culture. The sexual ethic of feeding unrestrained desires is all around us due to billboards, music, radio, and social media. TV shows and movies portray elicit relationships and sexual liaisons as normal behavior.
Modern culture appears remarkably close to ancient and first century settings. Greeks and Romans considered sexual immorality as normal behavior, even among adults and children. Adultery was common and chastity was seen as unnecessary. Early first century followers of Jesus found themselves immersed in a very lewd and lascivious setting.
The temptations then were real and alluring. But the immoral attractions of a sexually expressive lifestyle outside of marriage were addressed by the apostle Paul. He held up the clear standard of Christ-like holiness as the standard for disciples of King Jesus. Virginity was to be applauded, faithfulness in marriage between a man and woman was to be honored, and adherence to the God-given boundaries of walking in the Spirit and not yielding to the desires of the flesh lived out, all with the spiritual empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.
Paul did not give any flexibility to believers in the area of sexual desire. Sexual purity is a discipline for men and women to be learned (see verse 4). Sexual sins like adultery, sex outside of marriage, and personal sexual satisfaction harmed individuals, spouses, friends, and family, and brought not only bad consequences, but punishment as well (see v 6). The writer of Proverbs adds that rejecting God’s standards is unwise, shows the person is a fool, and worse, means the person is saying no to God’s authority, and is a slap to His face. Paul wrote in verse 7 that followers of Jesus are called to be holy, something the Holy Spirit helps us with (see Romans 8).
What does 1 Thessalonians 4:3 tells us about God’s will for our sexuality? Does He know what He is talking about? As our Creator, does He know something about us that we might miss? We are not alone in facing temptation, regardless of its type, but especially sexual temptation. The Holy Spirit, who lives within a Christian, calls and equips us to turn away from, turn the page on, and change the channel from the enticements that can captivate our eyes and minds and lead us toward harmful behavior. Remember the adage, “garbage in, and garbage out.”
Paul wrote in verse 4 that we can learn to control our own bodies in a way that is holy and honorable, not like those around us who are giving into sexual lust, or in the way we may have lived before we met Jesus. God has provided the resources for us to live a clean and Spirit empowered life that honors Him. One resource is Himself, (see verses 7-8), the second is Scripture, third are examples like Joseph in Genesis 39, and last, are brothers and sisters in Christ we know who can aid us in living well.
How can you read and follow God’s instruction in passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4, intentionally listen to the Holy Spirit, and live like God intended you to? Do not forget other passages such as 1 Corinthians 10:13, that reminds us of God’s power and His promise to His people.
The rewards of purity are healthy and whole men and women, great and strong marriages, mutually supportive relationships, the discipline of delayed gratification, and the pleasure of enjoying God’s favor and blessing. The secret to combatting temptation is to listen and look for the promptings of the Holy Spirit, realize there is a way out, remember the rewards, and know that God is pleased when His children do well by living in His Light.
Live communally. Live God’s way, use His resources, lean on your friends for help, and realize that purity is an offering of worship to God. Walking in purity is possible in God’s Kingdom.
Love is a verb,
©2019 by Mike Olejarz