It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (NIV)
Purity is a battle. It always has been and it always will be.
Living in this culture, we are exposed to temptation through television, the Internet, casual sexual standards, and general conversations at school or at work. It would be easy for us to feel defeated, and to start feeling sorry for ourselves as if other Christians had never faced our battles.
That’s why it is so helpful for us to learn about the background and culture of the first century Christians in Thessalonica. John Stott says Paul “was writing from Corinth to Thessalonica, and both cities were famed for their immorality… It was widely accepted that men either could not or would not limit themselves to their wife as their only sexual partner.”
Stott quotes F. F. Bruce as follows: “A man might have a mistress who could provide him also with intellectual companionship; the institution of slavery made it easy for him to have a concubine, while casual gratification was readily available from a harlot. The function of the wife was to manage his household and to be the mother of his legitimate children and heirs.”
Think about the effect of that culture on the men. Think about the effect on the women. That’s the background from which every one of these Christians came. Not one of them had been brought up in a nice Christian home. Most of them had turned to God from idols.
So these young Christians were sexually scarred. Most of them carried baggage from their past. And Paul says to them, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified!” If these folks with all the baggage of their past could be sanctified, then so can you.
Are you engaged in the battle today? How so?