Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sexuality God’s Way

"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 Thessalonians 4:3-8

We often wonder what God's will is for our lives. In our search for His will, we often overlook the part of His will clearly stated in the Bible and we don't realize the far-reaching impact it has on us. The above passage was written to a church in a community plagued by sexual immorality much like our own culture. The passage says we are to be sanctified and avoid sexual immorality--that would include pornography, movies, books, or music that stimulate lust or promote premarital and extramarital sex. It is God's will we learn how to control our bodies in holy and honorable ways and it is sometimes difficult if we put the world’s garbage in our minds. It also means we need to be honest with ourselves about the things that trigger lust and avoid them. There are four reasons we should desire to walk in holiness.      
First, Christ's sacrifice should motivate us to want to please God. Paul says in I Thessalonians 2:4,  "Even so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who tries our hearts." Just as Jesus lived to please His heavenly Father, it should be our desire to please Him. Ephesians 6:6 says, "not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart."  This indicates our hearts should be in the right place so we don't just have an outward show of obedience.  
Second, to obey Christ is to express our love to Him. "If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15) When we trust God's commands concerning sexual purity, we recognize God's love and protection. When we obey Him, we show Him love and we will have joy flowing from a deeper intimacy with Him. 
Third, we are to glorify Him by a lifestyle that reflects Him. We can give up the tendency towards perfectionism when we understand God is more glorified by the changes He makes in our lives than the self-righteousness we try to achieve. As we choose to walk in obedience, relying on His strength, He changes us. He calls us to live pure lives because sex, outside of marriage, is not love. It doesn't honor the other person and it doesn't honor us. It’s selfish, exhibiting rebellion toward God. To possess our own body requires that we recognize how our bodies are wired and be willing to give up or avoid whatever causes us to stumble.    
Fourth, we want to obey God because we love Him and want to live a pure life. We want to obey to escape discipline. God promises to discipline those He loves. God desires purity from His children and He exposes sin and leaves us in its consequences. When we understand we have a love relationship with Him, we will not want to grieve Him or dishonor Him. God has provided His Holy Spirit who will strengthen us, putting holy desires in us, enabling us to carry them out.   
We might want to poss and figure out where we are in the realm of personal holiness? God has made each of us with sexual desires so that He can bless our marriages. Anything outside of that is self-destructive as it separates us from His blessings. When I was a volunteer youth worker, young girls often asked me, "How far is too far?" I didn’t know what that would be for each girl, but I did know that they would never look back and regret holiness and purity. Some of the girls took ownership of their bodies and set godly boundaries, some bounced back and forth between godliness and sinfulness, and some chose to be promiscuous thinking they would feel loved, and some stated boundaries and said "no," only to give in and do “more” than they wanted to do. We need to teach our young women to have a sense of ownership of their bodies and have a truthful perception of how she is made. When a man asks for sex outside of marriage he is asking for something that is not ours to give--"What? Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have of God, and you are not your own?  For you are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." It is not only okay to tell men, “No!” It is good! God set our boundaries for us as a protection of our hearts that can be deeply wounded when we allow guys to use us and discard us. We live in a culture where men push and even demand sex, believing it is their right. Women’s boundaries need to be really strong as we remember godly love does not want us to dishonor us or God. Anyone that rejects us for godly standards is rejecting the Lord's will for his life and ours. We have a loving God and we can always rest in His love and His protection.    
Prayer:  Father, it is wonderful to know You have given us Your spirit to enable us to live holy lives set apart to You.  Help us to be God-pleasers in the way we handle our sexuality. Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!