“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.” -1 Thess. 4.3-8
Isn’t it remarkable that Paul described those who “know God” as those who learn to control their bodies in a way that is “holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen?” He actually declares that God will “punish men for all such sins,” and he exhorts the saints to “avoid sexual immorality,” to receive the Holy Spirit, and to “live a holy life.”
I’m afraid that we have blurred the lines of sin and righteousness in modern Christendom, and it has robbed us of a corporate consciousness of the sinfulness of sin, the holiness of God, and the freeing power of God’s true mercy.
You rarely hear a man address sexual immorality and lust as sin for which “the Lord will punish men.” We hear of “struggles,” “battles,” “attacks,” almost as if we are victims of the enemy, the devil is the only instigator, and there is no guilt on the part of men. We have lost sight of the power of the flesh, the need for crucifixion, and we have thereby robbed men of the gift of repentance and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, which would enable them to actually break free from bondage and experience new life in Christ.
If we reject the clear cut call to holiness and purity, we are not rejecting a “holiness movement,” a “legalistic teacher,” or an “old-hat doctrine.” Paul stated that we are rejecting God Himself, “who gives you His Holy Spirit.”
Let us leave behind the victim mentality, the blurring of lines, and the diluting of the waters of truth. Let sin be called sin, that repentance may break in, and that mercy may be experienced as the mercy of God. So long as sin is tolerated or masked in the house of God, we will not know the full-orbed joy that He has longed to give to His people.