Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1123 MP3 Audio File Video File

Yahweh Judges Porneia

(1 Thess. 4:4-8)

Delivered 07/10/22

Good morning, Bereans. We began looking at chapter 4 of 1 Thessalonians last week. We saw that it is God's moral will that believers live a holy life and Paul defined holy in this context as "that you abstain from sexual immorality."

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 1 Thessalonians 4:3 ESV

There is no ambiguity here: God wants believers to be morally pure. The Greek word used here for "sexual immorality" is porneia.Porneia referred to any kind of sexual relationship outside of heterosexual marriage, whether it was fornication, adultery, homosexuality, incest, prostitution, or bestiality.

Sexual sin (porneia) in Thessalonica might have been worse than it is in our culture for two reasons. First, the Thessalonians saw it as worship. Pagan temples encouraged every kind of immoral sexual behavior including prostitution, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, fornication, sodomy, and the sexual abuse of children. Second, there was absolutely no Christian influence on morality anywhere in Thessalonica because Christianity had just arrived with Paul and his missionary team. And so, it just may be possible that porneia was worse in Thessalonica than it is today in America. So, their culture was a mess.

I ended last week with questions about how we are to deal with this? How do we avoid porneia? I'll get to that in a minute, but first let me address a problem within the preterist community. There are those within the sphere of Preterism who are saying that sin ended in A.D. 70 so, therefore, we do not sin today. They would say that this verse in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 does not apply to us, so we don't need to avoid porneia. This is a destructive teaching that simply excuses an immoral lifestyle.

In A.D. 70. Christ came and put an end to "the sin" and "the death," but only for those who are in Him.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Yeshua. Romans 8:1 ESV

The Greek word that Paul uses here for "condemnation" is katakrima. It is in a passive formation in the Greek, and it is not likely a reference to the sentence as an edict from the judge but rather to the punishment. Adam's sin is imputed to all; this is condemnation. It is spiritual death, separation from God. For those who trust Christ, the punishment of Adam's sin, spiritual death, is removed. "The sin" of Adam that brought death is removed in Christ. We are no longer subject to spiritual death. In Christ we have life everlasting. But beyond A.D. 70 men still sin and hang onto this—Christians still sin.

A misunderstanding of what Scripture is saying has caused many believers to doubt and question their salvation. The mistranslation of the following verse is case in point.

For one who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:7 ESV

A misunderstanding of this verse can cause a Christian much guilt and doubt. Paul has taught that all who have trusted Christ have died in union with Christ. And now this verse says that the one who died is free from sin. But you still sin! What does this mean? Are you not a Christian after all? No, no, no! This verse is not teaching that Christians are free from sin. Not at all. What Paul says here is that the one who died in Christ is justified from "the" sin. The sin of Adam. The Greek word here translated "freed" is dikaioo and should be translated "justified."

Although many believers today vehemently argue against the view that sin was done away with in A.D. 70 and that we no longer sin, they live as if this false teaching were actually true. They behave as though Christian conduct is totally insignificant. Their lives are full of sin.

Is it important how we live? Many believe that as long as our theology is straight, we can live however we want. But doesn't it matter how we live? Is sanctification for us today? Yes. Yahweh is holy and he wants his children to be holy also.

Let's see if we can answer the question that I asked last week. How do we (21st- century American Christians) avoid porneia? I think we avoid it the same way the Thessalonians were to avoid it. And that is in following the teaching in the following verses.

that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 1 Thessalonians 4:4 ESV

A great deal of debate exists regarding the meaning of verse 4 with two interpretations being prominent. The interpretive problem centers around the verb ktaomai ("to control" or "to acquire") and the noun skeuos ("body" or "wife"). Does this verse say that the Thessalonians should exercise control over their own bodies or that, in order to avoid sexual immorality, the single men should acquire wives?

that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 1 Thessalonians 4:4 ESV
Each of you should know that finding a husband or wife for yourself is to be done in a holy and honorable way, 1 Thessalonians 4:4 GW
that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor, 1 Thessalonians 4:4 RSV

The most common view is that "body" refers to a person's body and that "control" has the meaning of "controlling, gaining mastery over, or keeping." This view sees Paul as exhorting not only the men but both men and women to control their bodies by restricting sexual activity to one's marriage partner. This view is in line with what Paul teaches elsewhere.

Let's dissect these verses and see what we can come up with.

"That each one of you"—indicates that the demand being made applies to each individual member of the church, although it appears that Paul principally has in mind all the male members of the congregation.

"Know"—is an infinitive of oida in Greek which may refer to knowledge learned from the Word or the revelation of God.

"Know how to control"this is a present middle (deponent) infinitive. It is literally "to continually acquire or possess." Ktaomai in every occurrence in the New Testament, is used in the sense of "acquire, purchase for oneself, or gain." Compare Matthew 10:9; Luke 18:12; 21:19; Acts 1:18; 8:20; 22:28. In none of these passages is this word used in the sense of "get control over or mastery over."

 The verb ktaomai was frequently used of courtship and contracting a marriage, (i.e., acquiring a wife). A few texts exist in which the verb means "to acquire" a wife, (Sirach 36:24; Xenophon, Symposium 2.10, the LXX uses kataomai in Ruth 4:5,10).

Then Boaz said, "The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance."  Ruth 4:5 ESV

The word "acquire" is ktaomai is the LXX. Ktaomai is also used in Ruth 4:10.

Also, Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day."  Ruth 4:10 ESV

Because of this, Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich chose "acquire a wife" as the most probable meaning, and the NET Bible and the RSV translate it accordingly.

"His own body"—the noun translated body is skeuos which was understood as any type of instrument that one could use to accomplish some work, including both furniture and implements. It could mean "vessel" or, metaphorically, the human body or the human person.

The literature of the era also shows us that skeuos could refer metaphorically to a man's wife. In 1 Peter 3:7 the wife is called a skeuos.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 ESV

Vessel here is skeuos. In a number of references in rabbinic literature the woman is referred to as a type of "skeuos" and at times it has sexual connotations. So, we do have a biblical basis for using "skeuos" for a marriage partner and for using kataomai in the sense of contracting a marriage.

Clearly, one way to avoid sexual impurity is through marriage and a proper understanding of sex and marriage as God designed it. To the Corinthians Paul writes.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 ESV

"For it is better to marry than to burn with passion"—the Greek word burn is puroo (to kindle, to be ignited, glow [lit.], or [fig.] to be inflamed [with anger, grief, lust]). It's to have constant thoughts and desires for sexual expression. The verb is in the present infinitive, indicating a man or woman being constantly plagued by such unclean desires. How are they to fix this burning passion? Get married!

Yarbrough argues that the same exhortation appears at two points in Jewish literature. Tobit 4:12 exhorts, "Beware, my son, of every kind of fornication (porneias). First of all, marry a woman from among the descendants of your ancestors." In the same way, the Testament of Levi 9:9–10 urges, "Be on guard against the spirit of promiscuity (porneias).…Therefore take for yourself a wife while you are still young." These texts suggest that the traditional Jewish teaching, which then seems to be embraced by Paul, was that one way to avoid sexual immorality (porneia) was to marry.

Some have observed that in 1 Corinthians 7:2, Paul presents what appears to be a teaching that is strikingly similar to 1 Thessalonians 4:3–4,

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote:"It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. b1 Corinthians 7:1-4 ESV

Paul here encouraged Christians to get married and express their sexuality in marriage instead of immorally. Let's examine this text for a minute.

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman."  1 Corinthians 7:1 ESV

I don't think that this is a very good translation. Young's Translation renders it as follows:

And concerning the things of which ye wrote to me: good it is for a man not to touch a woman, 1 Corinthians 7:1 YLT

The phrase "not to touch a woman" does not refer to the holding of hands or putting your arms around a woman, nor does it mean "not to have sexual relations" as the ESV puts it. Touch is the Greek word "haptomai" which means "to attach oneself to, to apply oneself to." It directly relates to the sexual relationship within marriage. So "to touch a woman" is a euphemism for a sexual relationship, which Paul uses here as a metonymy for marriage.

So what Paul is saying contextually is this: Considering your present circumstances and considering the responsibilities within marriage, it is good not to marry....

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 1 Corinthians 7:2 ESV

This verse makes it clear that God does not approve of either polygamy or homosexual marriages. I'll come back to the polygamy issue in a minute.

"Temptation to sexual immorality" is porneia. Because of porneia,Paul says that it is good to marry and that every man is to have his own wife, and every woman is to have her own husband. Is this why a person marries? It is one reason. To avoid porneia is not the only reason for marriage, but it is one reason.

Paul is not giving us here his doctrine of marriage. He is speaking of the danger of sexual sin for those who are single. What Paul is doing here is answering a specific problem that was given in a specific question in relation to a specific situation existing in Corinth at that time. The situation was this: Fornication was rampant in the city. Temptation abounded on every turn. A man could not walk down the streets of Corinth without being propositioned. What Paul is saying in this passage is that the real solution to the situation in Corinth is: Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. God has instituted marriage as the safeguard against such evil. Marriage is not the lesser of two evils; it is the God-ordained safeguard against the immorality that is existing in Corinth.

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 1 Corinthians 7:3 ESV

The words "conjugal rights" are the Greek word opheilē, which according to Strong's means "indebtedness, that is, (concretely) a sum owed; figuratively obligation, that is, (conjugal) duty: - debt, due." Paul is saying that when you get married, you become obligated to meet the physical needs of your spouse. Marriage is no place for celibacy.

The general obligation is that I am to pay to my spouse what I owe him/her. I am to fulfill my duty as a spouse. Now there is a specific obligation, and it is found in verses 4-5.

For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:4-5 ESV

It can be stated very simply; it is given to us in the first phrase of verse 5."Do not deprive one another." The word deprive is the Greek word apostereo which is a compound verb that comes from "apo" ("from") and "stereo" ("to deprive, or keep back"). The compound word means "to deprive another of what belongs to him or her." The object is the body, which belongs to the spouse in the marital union. What Paul is saying is that you do not have the right to deprive your marriage partner of their conjugal rights. You do not have the right to deprive them of their rights within a physical relationship in marriage. It is not enough for us to say that sex is a marital privilege. It is that, but it is also a sacred responsibility; it is a debt that we owe.

Where do you think that Paul got the idea that sex in marriage is a sacred responsibility?

To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass:  Acts 26:22 ESV

Notice carefully what Paul is saying here. He said that He was "stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place." Paul is saying that everything he is preaching comes from the Hebrew Scriptures. So, if you want to understand Paul or any New Testament writer, you MUST understand the Hebrew Scriptures—the first three quarters of our Bible.

If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. Exodus 21:10 ESV

Here we are told that food, clothing, and marital rights are the obligations a man has to his wife. And the text goes on to say the following:

And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money. Exodus 21:11 ESV

She is free from that marriage. Even though she came as a slave, she is absolutely free and there's nothing to pay. In other words, those are legitimate grounds for divorce. And this goes both ways. A man could say that the woman is not cooking the food and she's not taking care of the house and she's not reciprocating marital rights.

So, here we have three grounds for divorce to which the Lord added porneia.

And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery."  Matthew 19:9 ESV

So, biblically you can only get divorced for these four things, which are stipulated in Scripture: porneia, lack of food, lack of clothing/shelter, lack of conjugal rights.

David Instone-Brewer writes, "In the first-century marriage contracts that we have found on Masada and in the Judean caves along with the Dead Sea Scrolls and things, in every marriage certificate which this part of it is preserved, you find this verse being quoted. And it says, 'You must not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights.' It was written into a piece of paper that every Jewish bride owned and kept safe."

So, Paul is saying to the Thessalonians and to the Corinthians and to us, conjugal rights in marriage are a sacred responsibility; a debt that we owe. Paul is saying that one of the ways to avoid porneia is to get married.

So, if one of the ways to avoid porneia is to get married, what happens when you get married, and your spouse won't have sex with you? You have grounds for divorce. God made men and women very different. The man's sex drive is usually much stronger than the woman's is. Because of this, the woman must understand that sex is a sacred duty in marriage.

Women, just to show you the power of sexual attraction that men have to women, look with me at Genesis 6.

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Genesis 6:1-2 ESV

What is happening here? Divine beings from God's heavenly host, also called "Watchers," left heaven and came to earth to for "attractive" women. These gods married women of the human race, violating the heavenly/earthly division that Yahweh established. And because of this Yahweh punished them.

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day — just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Jude 1:6-7 ESV

These angels left heaven and came to earth because of beautiful women. And because of this they were judged. This is a powerful example of the power that the female sex has on men. Let me show you one other text.

That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 1 Corinthians 11:10 ESV

Since a woman's long hair was a symbol of her sexuality, covering her hair keeps angels from being tempted—not just men. This is a real concern for Paul because of incidents like Genesis 6:1–4 (compare 2 Pet 2:4–7; Jude 6–7). Today Paul would teach that women should dress modestly so men don't burn with passion for them.

Several of our extended Berean family contacted me this past week and asked me if I was going to deal with certain issues in this message. One of the questions was about polygamy. Well, I hadn't planned on talking about polygamy, but since it was brought up, let's talk about it. Maybe someone wondering whether marriage is the solution to porneia. The thinking is that because the wife is obligated to provide sex, then having several wives would be even better. I have heard several brothers try to defend polygamy as biblically permissible today. So, is it? I don't think so. Paul said each man should have his own wife and each woman should have her own husband.

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 1 Corinthians 7:2 ESV

As I said earlier, this verse makes it clear that God does not approve of either polygamy or homosexual marriages.

Let's look at what Yeshua has to say about polygamy in response to the Pharisees' question on divorce.

He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So, they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." Matthew 19:4-6 ESV

Yeshua's argument here fits with what was being taught at Qumran in His day. At Qumran in the Damascus document, there is a series of proof texts to show that polygamy is wrong. They thought that a man should have only one wife. And they supported this with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve get married, "male and female" it says. And then when you look at exactly that same phrase later in the story of the Flood, it says, "They went into the ark two by two, male and female." Therefore, male and female, are the only two involved. One man, one wife. Not lots of wives. And Yeshua quotes their proof texts about the male and female in these verses in Matthew 19.

Yeshua also uses an argument that's used by the Diaspora Jews. All the translations of the Tanakh from Hebrew (the one into Syriac and into old Greek and the early ones into Latin)—all the old translations add a word to the Genesis quote. When Yeshua quoted, "And the two shall become one flesh," he added a word to the text. The Genesis text says,

Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 ESV

Yeshua quoting this text adds a word.

And said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?  Matthew 19:5 ESV

What word does Yeshua add? He adds the word "two." Two isn't in any Hebrew manuscripts. But Yeshua adds it so that we will understand that marriage is between one man and one woman. Two become one, not three or four. Marriage is between one male and one female. That should be clear enough. So, Yeshua was fully onboard with other Jews who were saying that there shouldn't be polygamy.

that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 1 Thessalonians 4:4 ESV

"In holiness and honor"—a man's decision to marry someone should not be controlled by sexual desire but honor for his wife as a Christian sister. "Honor" is time which means "a valuing, a price paid or received," then "esteem, preciousness, respect." Marriage must be entered into and maintained in an atmosphere of respect because it is a special and holy creation and institution of God.

Let me just add here that to acquire a wife in holiness and honor would be to follow the biblical mandate that you marry a believer.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 ESV

That is a basic principle of God's plan for marriage. Believing people marry believing people. To marry an unbeliever is to sin against God.

A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:39 ESV

Paul tells the widows two things. First, they are free to remarry. A widow is at liberty to be married to whomever she wishes. But Paul also gives one restriction. It must be only in the Lord. A Christian is only to marry another believer. This strongly implies that they should only date believers.

Whatever the true interpretation of this verse, we can assume that the Thessalonians knew what Paul was talking about.

not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 1 Thessalonians 4:5 ESV

This plainly means that the sexual conduct of the Christian should be different from the prevailing permissiveness of the day. Believers shouldn't be living like those who don't know God.

"Not in the passion of lust"—Paul said to the Roman believers.

But put on the Lord Yeshua the Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14 ESV

"Put on" is enduo, an aorist imperative middle. An aorist imperative calls for a specific, definite, decisive choice: "Do this now, at once, once for all." The middle voice indicates the subject performs an action upon himself or herself. So, believers are called to once and for all put Christ on as a garment, to play the part of Yeshua. Paul is saying, "Become like Yeshua Christ, act like Him. Put on Yeshua when you get up in the morning. Make Him a part of your life that day."

"Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires"—as believers, we are to make no provision for the flesh. This means be careful what you look at, where you go, who your friends are.

"Like the Gentiles who do not know God"—this is literally "the nations." Here, however, it does not refer to non-Jews but to all non-Christians.

Some have suggested that Paul changes his theme at this point and addresses the problem of commercial exploitation of other members of the church (implied in the translation "defraud" in the KJV and NASB). But the topic of this section is still "sexual immorality."

that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 1 Thessalonians 4:6 ESV

"That no one transgress and wrong his brother"—the word "transgress" means "to go beyond bounds." The word "wrong" is pleonekteō which means "to take advantage of." It is to take advantage of people by wrongly taking something from them through deceptive means.

Sexual relationships are reserved only for marriage so that such relationships outside of marriage entail taking sexual possessions reserved for another. The adulterer defrauds his spouse and children. The fornicator defrauds his future mate and children, and both defraud their illicit partner.

"In this matter"—this has the definite article and therefore refers to verses 3-5 and sexual purity.

First Reason for Sexual Purity—God's Punishment

"Because the Lord is an avenger in all these things"— This is the first of four reasons for sexual purity. We can trust that God will punish sexual immorality.

Avenger is from the Greek word ekdikos which means "one who carries out a legal sentence." This word is only used one other time in the New Testament.

for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Romans 13:4 ESV

It seems to me that our government brings wrath on anyone who disagrees with its practices. I do not think Paul is talking about government in these verses.

Rome had given the synagogue the power of the sword. They had the authority to punish those who violated their laws. The synagogue was the legal center of the Jewish community and the place where punishment was meted out on those who violated its laws. Paul himself had represented such a ruling authority, brandishing the sword on behalf of the high priest (Acts 9:1-2; Gal 1:13-14). Indeed, after his conversion on the Damascus Road, he became the recipient of its judgment.

Here the "avenger who brings wrath" refers to the servant of the synagogue, the bearer of the sword of justice (inflicting capital punishment). So, the Lord "carries out a legal sentence" against those who commit porneia.

God's Word speaks out so strongly against porneia because it destroys marriage, and marriage is a divine institution. God has instituted it. He delineated its purposes or design. He has declared its permanence, and He declares that it should be held in honor. Look at what the writer of Hebrews has to say.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Hebrews 13:4 ESV

"Let marriage be held in honor among all"— I believe that the ESV has translated this correctly. The construction here should be treated as hortatory, giving the meaning of "exhorting, advising," rather than declaratory. The KJV and NKJV read:

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Hebrews 13:4 NKJV

There is no verb "is" in the Greek, so a verb has to be supplied. The NKJV understands this as an indicative and thus renders it as statement or an affirmation."Marriage is honorable among all." But since the context presents a sequence of exhortations, the imperative fits better. The sense then is: "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be held as undefiled." The hortatory sense provides the better antecedent to the ensuing warning: "but fornicators and adulterers God will judge."

"Let marriage be held in honor"—the word "honor" is the Greek word timios, which means "held as of great price, esteemed, especially dear."

In the New Testament, nearly every writer discusses marriage because a stable marriage is a building block in the structure of society. Therefore, the present decay of the family through immorality threatens the stability of our nation. In case you think I'm exaggerating the severity of this, let me tell you that historian Arnold Toynbee's research indicated that out of history's twenty-one greatest civilizations, nineteen perished from internal moral corruption and not from external enemies. Our nation is in trouble because marriage is in trouble. We are not holding it in honor.

Why do I say that the Church's immorality threatens our nation? The end of Hebrews 13:4 states: "but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." "Fornicator" is from the Greek word pornos. It designates those persons who indulge in sexual relationships outside the marriage bond, both heterosexual and homosexual. "Adulterers" is from the Greek moichos, which means "those who are unfaithful to their marriage vows."

Believers, God will judge those who dishonor marriage. There are many passages of Scripture that speak of God's judgment of adultery. Check out Proverbs 6.

The Lord will punish men for all such sins. The Lord is the Lord Yeshua in his judicial capacity. He is here called an "avenger" (ekdikos) or one who chastises those who do evil and executes the judicial decision. As David's sin with Bathsheba shows, David paid an awful price with his family and with his kingdom for a night of sinful pleasure.

"As we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you"—the Lord will judge the immoral. Apparently, Paul had taught them this when he was among them.

Second Reason for Sexual Purity—Our Call

For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 ESV

This is the second reason why Christians should be sexually pure – because of our call. The Thessalonians' calling is a primary topic that appears repeated in the Thessalonian correspondence. That call is not to impurity, but to holiness. "Impurity" is the opposite of "sanctification" or "holiness." "Impurity" is the Greek word akatharsia ("uncleanness, filthiness, impurity"). It literally meant "refuse" and was used of the contents of graves. From this it came to be used of sexual sins.

Given the repetition of wording between 4:3 and 7 (e. g., "holy"), it is most likely that they form an inclusio or "bookend" encasing the warning about immorality.

Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:8 ESV

Third Reason for Sexual Purity—Rejection of God Himself

"Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God"—this is the third reason for sexual purity. To reject God's call to sexual purity is not rejecting man but God Himself. To reject these exhortations amounted to rejecting God, not just the Apostle Paul. Lest someone think that this standard is impossibly high, Paul reminded his readers that God has given His Holy Spirit to all believers to enable them to live holy lives.

Fourth Reason for Sexual Purity—Indwelling Holy Spirit

"Who gives his Holy Spirit to you"—this is the fourth of four reasons for sexual purity given in this passage. This is a present active participle. It refers to the indwelling Spirit as both an initial and ongoing experience. We have been given the Holy Spirit who empowers the willing, trusting Christian to overcome sexual sin.

The key then to holy living is walking in the Spirit. The key to walking in the Spirit is being filled by the Spirit. The key to being filled by the Spirit (Colossians 3:16) is letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. As the Word saturates your life, the Spirit then controls you and you walk in that control.

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