Notes on 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

4:1 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.
4:2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

As Paul heads toward the close of his letter, he urges the Thessalonians to "excel still more" in pleasing God.

Pleasing God is the relational context within which Paul wants the Thess. to view what he is about to say. I.e., here is further information about how to excel in pleasing God.

4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;

God want us to be "sanctified" -- Paul further defines this sanctification in terms of separation from sexual immorality.

The one word definition of 'sanctification' is separation. To be sanctified or holy is to be separated from immoral behavior to moral behavior, from the impure to the pure, from the unclean to the clean.

The term translated sexual immorality (porneia) denotes any type of sexual behavior forbidden by God. This is not merely premarital immorality.

To be separated unto God involves having nothing to do with sexual sin.

Young people often want to know "how far can I go" when I'm dating. Let's notice a few things about this question.
1. Notice that the question itself assumes that one is going "somewhere." That somewhere is sexual intimacy.
2. The question is asking in essence, how close can I come to sexual intimacy and still be within the bounds of the "ok."
3. In Matt. 5:28 Jesus tells us that merely looking upon a woman (or a man) to lust after them is, in God's eyes, an act of adultery. In other words, you can't even "go there" (sexual intimacy) in your mind.

Sanctification in the area of sexuality is not simply a matter what one does not do with the body. It is also a matter of what one does with the mind.

Rom. 14:13 tells us to make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. Notice it does not say, "Avoid fulfilling the lusts of the flesh." Nor does it say you should not have fleshly desires. It says you must not do anything that sets up an opportunity for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.
The issue is not just avoiding sin. The issue is also avoiding the actions, thoughts, and places that make it possible for sin to take place.

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Elizabeth said…
Something that I have learned recently is that there are two parts in overcoming a temptation.

The first one involves running away from temptation when it comes along. Using Scripture, prayer, encouragement from others, to not commit sin.

The second is training your mind to focus on good things, like memorizing or mediating on Scripture. Your mind is like a muscle and the more you focus on good things, the easier it is to keep bad things out. Then, when you are tempted, you have already been preparing your mind and heart to do right.

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