I can't tell you how many times I've heard people asking, begging, pleading, "How can I know the will of God for my life?" In truth, any genuine disciple of Christ would want that, but I just think it's not as hard as we try to make it. I always want to ask, "Did you ask Him?" Because it seems to me that His Word is full of "the will of God for my life." Take this passage, for instance:
1Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-7).
It's right there in black and white. "This is the will of God." No ambiguity. No interpretation. "Is He saying this is His will for my life?" Not a question. "This is the will of God." Okay, good! Something clear, concise, straightforward! What is the will of God? "Your sanctification." "Ummm, well ... you see, that's kind of vague, general, not entirely to the point. We know He generally wants our sanctification. But what specifically does He have in mind there?" Don't worry. It's not vague. It is precise, explicit, very clear. "Abstain from sexual immorality."
Seriously, it's as clear as that. He starts with, "Do you want to know the will of God for your life?" followed by the vague, "Your sanctification" and ending with, "I am speaking specifically here about sexual immorality." Lest you think Paul and I are being reductionists here, he goes on about this. He wants each of us to know how to control his own body in holiness and honor. We are not to operate on the basis of passion, of lust. (That ought to put a crimp in the whole "Go with what you're passionate about, son" concept.).
The King James says, "the lust of concupiscence". I like that word, concupiscence. Sure, it rolls trippingly off the tongue, but its meaning is so ... to the point. The word refers to strong desire. It is most often but not solely used in terms of sexual desire. So the idea is very clear. We are to control our bodies in holiness and honor, not operating on our passions.
But back up a moment, because I suspect this whole "contain your lust" idea might have derailed the train. We are nottalking here about sexual sin. We are talking about sanctification which is the will of God for your life. What is God's will for your life? That you be sanctified. How is that obtained? Abstain from sexual immorality. And how is thatobtained? Don't operate on passion and desire, but control yourself in holiness and honor.
Do you begin to see how big this is? This isn't a small item on the "be good" checklist. It isn't a side issue when people in your church are cohabiting. I know. The rest of our society sees living together before marriage as not only wise, but mandatory. No intelligent person would do otherwise. Except, of course, God's will for you is to "abstain from sexual immorality." No small deal. It's not like we're beating this whole "homosexual behavior is a sin" drum because we don't like gays. No! It's because God's will for you is to "abstain from sexual immorality." It's not small; it's central. "Yes, sure, I wrestle with porn. Doesn't just about everyone?" Not a wrestle, a primary problem. A direct contradiction to God's will. A direct assault on sanctification. A serious malady.
Isn't it odd that Paul doesn't expand further on this? I mean, what about the other sins? What about the other issues? Look, Paul, didn't Jesus talk about taking care of the poor and sharing the Gospel and loving your neighbor (oh, look out, close to a real problem there with our world's current definition of "loving your neighbor" as a sexual thing)? Why this whole "abstain from sexual immorality" as the only issue of sanctification as God's will for you? Well, I suppose it is first that it is by far the most common problem. In our culture everything has sexual immorality in it. Our commercials, our TV shows, our conversations, our Internet, our entertainment, our dress, our aims ... it is at the core of what our society thinks about. Our society, even among those that call themselves Christians, does not consider "sexual immorality" to be an issue. Sometimes not even a real thing. It's "normal" and "good" and only Puritanical, Victorian-era morality would think otherwise. So, secondly, it would stand to reason that if sanctification means "each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor" and sexual immorality is everywhere, then abstaining from sexual immorality would be at the core of learning to control your body. Learning to control yourself on the basis of holiness and honor rather than passions would be foundational to sanctification.
What is the will of God for you? Oh, that's easy. Abstain from sexual immorality. All types. Because it's everywhere and it's always a problem. Because God's will for you is the sanctification of controlling your body in holiness and honor. Look, I know ... there are lots of questions that begin with "What is God's will for me in regards to ...?" And maybe some of them will be more difficult to answer. But why not work on the easy answers first? I don't suspect that this one will be as easy as it sounds, but it is certainly clear. And what disciple of Christ does not want to do what God clearly says is His will?
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