Holiness and Honor

Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. (v. 7)

In today’s text, Paul pivots from pastoral joy over the Thessalonians’ faith and love to urging a lifestyle that pleases God. This is “sanctification” (v. 3), the process of becoming more holy. Christians seek to live holy lives, not in order to earn salvation, but as a way of responding to the gift of salvation and enjoying God’s design for our lives. Chapter 4 takes up practical areas specific for the Thessalonians. His first concern is about sexual practices.

Why start a section on Christian living with sex? Because the culture in which the Thessalonians lived involved following pagan gods that promoted promiscuity and sexual pleasure. Paul was concerned that the constant temptation around them would lure new believers away from faith and into brokenness. In contrast to the sexual hedonism of the Greeks and Romans, Paul taught them to “abstain from sexual immorality” (v. 3). The place for sex is in the context of marriage (v. 4).

This is an important teaching for us. Popular culture is saturated with all varieties of pleasure-seeking options. Living in God’s design is a stark contrast to our own world and bears its own witness. By abstaining from the sexual immorality in the culture, we find our greatest joy in God’s design for marriage at creation and avoid the brokenness that comes from our selfish pursuits. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife” (Gen. 2:24). —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask God to help you grow in holiness.

About the Author

jon opgenorth

Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.