Sex & Sanctification
False Assumption #2: We say sex is for procreation first and then pleasure. God says sex is for our sanctification first.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor … (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 ESV)
God’s will is that we overcome sexual temptation by acquiring a wife or by learning to live with our wife. What happens when we acquire a wife or learn to live with our wife? God says we can then move forward in a life pleasing to him (v1), for our “sanctification”.
Sanctification simply means to be “set apart for God’s purpose”. It also has the idea of “growing in grace” or maturing in Christ. Paul says the first step in “walking in the Spirit”, another way of describing sanctification, is to deal with the 800 pound animal in the room – sexual temptation.
“That each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.”
Paul lays out the only two options for overcoming sexual temptation. He uses a common idiom that covers both single and married persons, literally “possess your own vessel”. Paul is saying that if you are single then “learn to acquire a wife” (alternate reading); and if you are married then, “learn to live with your own wife”, (alternate reading). see 1 Thess 4:4 notes.
Paul is addressing men but the principles are the same for women – marriage and only marriage is God’s solution to overcoming sexual temptation. We saw in our last post that Paul addresses both men and women. In our passage today, Paul includes the idea that overcoming sexual temptation is the first, and perhaps the hardest, of all temptations.
Why is Paul addressing men primarily? Men are more inclined to make a mess of things as we’ve seen in the news lately although women are not immune.
This answer raises additional questions.
What does it mean to “acquire a wife”? This is the easy one: If you’re single and struggling with sexual temptation then get married. We understand that it’s easier said than done. So pray and get started!
What does Paul mean by “learn to live with your own wife”? This is a little more complicated. We will get into this in our next post. Stay tuned!
But the clear indication is that husbands and wives do not automatically know how to live with one another to help each other overcome sexual temptation. It has to be learned and that’s exactly why we wrote our book, “Radical Sex: God’s Manna for a Holy Marriage”. We pray God will use it to help couples learn to live with each other in a life pleasing to God.
Bible Thought: God’s wants us to learn how to help one another overcome sexual temptation.
Prayer: Father, sex is amazing but complicated. You made it simple but we complicate it. Help me to grow in your grace in my marriage. Amen.
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