Right and Wrong
February 7, 2024
God wants you to be holy and to stay away from sexual sins. He wants each of you to learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 NCV
I’ve been a pastor for a long time. Over these years, a most frequent question I receive continues to be, “Does the Bible say ________________ is a sin?” Sometimes it’s asked anonymously, sometimes in person, but it is almost always prompted by someone wanting to know just how far they can go without getting in trouble with God.
That’s not ever an effective way to make a decision. And actually, that’s not the reason we have the Bible, either. The Bible is not intended to be a rule book. It is intended to help us grow a living and active relationship with God where we trust Him and know that His ways are the ways that lead to our best. It’s not a resource to find out what will cause us to get punished. It’s the place to learn to make wise choices that will lead to our best lives.
Here we learn that God wants us to be holy and stay away from sexual sins. “Holy” means set apart for God. Sin is anything that hinders my relationship with God or harms me or another person. When we get that straight, the wise choices become much easier to recognize, and the unwise ones do as well.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians as a human to humans. He spoke not as a person who arrived in this world with it all together, but as a person with real emotions and temptations and weaknesses as we all have. He told us that controlling our bodies is not a natural skill. We have to learn. As Jesus-followers we need his help and our own commitment.
What does controlling our bodies sexually look like? Controlling our bodies with holiness means we use our bodies in a way that represents God’s purity and faithfulness well. We put our relationship with Him before our relationship with anyone else. Sex within God’s design is never something shameful—it is always holy, received as a gift from Him. Controlling our bodies in honor means I show complete respect and value to others, recognizing their exceptional worth and value. It means I will never serve myself at another person’s expense or pain. I will not take advantage of another person’s weakness or fear. My behavior will never be driven by lust. Lust means to be “consumed with.” Whenever any desire becomes so strong that I can’t or won’t consider the consequences, I will be certain to dishonor myself and someone else.
Being holy and honorable in our sexual behavior will set us apart from the world around us and will be uncomfortable at times. It will certainly be a challenge. But the reward is amazing.
- Lord, help me live with holiness and honor, for You and everyone You love.