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Devotional

(From Scripture Union)

Pray

To You, Lord, I bring my praise. I anticipate the challenge Your Word will bring to me today.

Read

1 THESSALONIANS 4:1–12
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. 9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.

Meditate

Consider

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…he chose us in him… that we should be holy and blameless before him in love" (Eph. 1:3,4, ESV, italics added).

Think Further

Dionysius (Bacchus) and Aphrodite were popular in Thessalonica. Dionysius promoted drunkenness and Aphrodite sexual pleasure. The male genital was an important sacred object in the city. Sexual immorality was therefore a particular issue for these new converts. It is no surprise then that Paul addresses sexual immorality directly. Reminding them of earlier teaching, Paul urges the Thessalonians to renounce their old pagan ways and live to please God, to be holy, to abstain from sexual immorality, to control their bodies and not to sinagainst each other sexually. He warns of God’s vengeance for such acts; a strong warning of God’s judgment for the sexually immoral. Such teachings are consistent with Jewish ethics but not with Greco-Roman culture. Paul would not compromise the Gospel where sexual ethics are concerned. Christian ethics are also increasingly out of touch with contemporary western society. Some Christians are drawn toward accommodating the biblical ethic to our "sexually liberated" culture. This passage urges us not to do so. That said, the final verses remind us that, while we are to stand strong with a Christian ethic that endorses sexual activity within a heterosexual marriage, believers are to do so with deep love for one another, including those who struggle sexually. Thus we have one of the great challenges of early and contemporary western Christianity—how do we hold firm to God’s sexual ethic, yet at the same time show agape love to all? This is a challenge the church must not avoid. The Gospel spread radically through the sexually immoral Roman world over three centuries. If we remain faithful to God, he will grow his church despite the shifting world around us. In the meantime, let us walk in holiness and love.

Apply

Take time for self-reflection. How are you doing in holiness? In love? What needs to change? Pray that the church can embrace holiness and love in a changing world.

Pray

Gracious, Loving Father, the pull of sexual temptation is so powerful. It is placarded before me every day. I need the protection of Your armor on a moment-by- moment basis, and I pray for victory in this arena of my life.


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