Read 1 Thessalonians 4:6-8. What is Paul saying about sexual immorality?
A man who had been sexually active outside of marriage said to a pastor: “As a young man, I learned to see sex and love as one and the same thing. When I got married, however, I discovered that premarital sex destroys not only your body (I got a venereal disease) but also your mind. Although we are now Christians, my wife and I have had to struggle with the mental and emotional behaviors I brought into our marriage from the past.”
The Bible’s restrictions are not there because God wants to prevent us from enjoying ourselves. Rather, the restrictions protect us from the physical and emotional damage that occurs as a result of sexual immorality. We restrain ourselves sexually because we care about the impact of our lives on others. Every person is a soul for whom Christ died; they are not to be sexually exploited, in any way. To do so is to sin not only against that person but to sin against God, as well (see Gen. 39:9). Sex is not only about how we treat others but how we treat Christ in the person of others (see also Matt. 25:34-46).
Sex, ultimately, bears upon our relationship with God. It is the Gentiles who do not know God who live lives of passionate lust (1 Thess. 4:5). It is ignorance of God that produces immoral behavior. Those who ignore the Bible’s teachings on this subject reject not only those teachings, but they also reject the call of God and even God Himself (1 Thess. 4:8).
On the other hand, when we follow God’s design, sex becomes a beautiful illustration of the self-sacrificing love that God poured out on us in Christ (see also John 13:34, 35). It is a gift of God and, enjoyed according to God’s will for us, it can powerfully reveal the kind of love God has for humanity and the kind of closeness that He wants with His people.
We are told in 1 Thessalonians 4:7 to live a “holy life.” What is your understanding of what this means? Is this talking about more than just sexual conduct? If so, what else might it include?