God’s Will For Us - 1 Thess. 4

God’s Will For Us - 1 Thess. 4

As Paul writes chapter 4 of his letter to the Thessalonians, he begins by affirming that what is being taught is a revelation from God. Earlier he had stated that his teaching was “approved of God” (1:3-4), the gospel of God (1:8), the word of God (1:13).

Now he states that his instruction were commandments given by the authority of the Lord Jesus. As such they were instructions on how one ought to walk (live) and please God. Thus, he says ‘this is the will of God’. He warns that “he who rejects this is not rejecting man but God”.

Specifically, it is your sanctification (holiness). In particular, such holiness pertained to their sexual purity in a world obsessed by sex. Our current sexually-overcharged generation really has nothing on the first-century world! Believers then and NOW are to be DIFFERENT!

Here Paul states simply: For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). That this was a major problem in the first century, just note how often it gets mentioned in the NT writings: Matt. 15:19; Acts 15:20; Romans 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 5:9-11; 6:9-11, 13-18; 7:2; 2Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3-5; Col. 3:5; Hebrews 12:16; 13:4; Rev. 21:8; 22:15). (I have included the quotes below so you can read them one after another without interruption!)

Several things are important for our understanding:

  • Sex WITHIN the prescribed marriage relationship is to be held in HONOR – by all! (Heb. 13:4).
  • Sex WITHIN the prescribed marriage relationship is the way to avoid fornication and sexual impurity. (1Cor. 7:2)
  • All such impurity comes from the heart. (Matt. 15:20).
  • NO ONE can be right with God while living a life that includes such sexual impurity.

We would add that one CAN be forgiven of such. To the woman caught in adultery, Jesus not only forgave her but also instructed her to ‘go, and sin NO MORE’. (cp. John 8) As Paul said of the Corinthians: “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

The joy, pleasure, satisfaction, and wholeness are all lost in such sexual impurity. What God has designed to be part of the special lives of His people has been degraded, twisted, and perverted beyond recognition. We must live in a world that is trying to drown believers with the lie of this impurity, be we must rise above this. We must not only teach and proclaim it, we must live it. We must pursue holiness, for without it we will not see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).    

Hugh DeLong


"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. Matthew 15:19

but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. Acts 15:20

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. Romans 1:24-27

9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 1 Corinthians 5:9-11

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, "The two shall become one flesh." 1 Corinthians 6:16

But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 1 Corinthians 7:2

I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced. 2 Corinthians 12:21

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, Galatians 5:19

3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Ephesians 5:3-5

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. Colossians 3:5

that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. Hebrews 12:16

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Hebrews 13:4

"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Revelation 21:8

Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. Revelation 22:15

Add to this Peter’s admonish to wives and husbands (1Peter 3:1-7), his exhortation to moral excellence and self-control (2Pet. 1:5-7), the danger of the proclamation of sensuality by false teachers (2Pet. 2:1), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for their sensual conduct (2Pet. 2:6-7), the warning against those who ‘indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires (2Pet. 2:10), those false teachers that carouse and have eyes full of adultery (2Pet. 3:13-14), who entice by fleshly desires and sensuality (2Pet. 2:18). Much of this was also referenced by Jude.