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Read Introduction to 1 Thessalonians


For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality…“


that you should abstain from sexual immorality

Three times in verses three to six, Paul uses the word “that.” The first “that” expresses God’s purpose concerning sexual purity.

The word “abstain” literally means to hold oneself off from, be distant. The idea is that Christians must avoid sexual temptations. They should put a lot of distance between themselves and temptation. If there is an area where Christians need to know their limits, it is this one. We should not try to come as close to the fire as we can without being burned. Interestingly, the Bible’s solution to sexual sin is to “flee.”

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18).

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

The words “you should” indicate that it is our responsibility to do the abstaining.

“Sexual immorality” means prostitution, fornication, and every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse or sexual lust. This term can refer to any form of sexual sins such as adultery, premarital and extramarital intercourse, homosexuality, sex with animals, pornography, or any other kind of sexual sin. We cannot practice sexual indiscretion and become more holy.

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. “These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man” (Matthew 15:19-20).

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!” (1 Corinthians 5:1).

“Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:13-18).

Sex in itself is not sin. On the contrary, God gave sex for His creatures to enjoy (Proverbs 5; 1 Corinthians 7:1-9). Sex outside the bounds of marriage is sin.


The onus is upon believers to not put themselves in situations where they might be tempted sexually.


The Bible is obvious in how God wants us to behave sexually. He sets forth unmistakable ground rules for living. There is such a thing as “fouling out” sexually. If Christians enter sexual sin, they disqualify themselves from fellowship with God. They disqualify themselves from God’s service (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). God put the rules of the game in His Word. There is no debate about the will of God when it comes to sexual sin.

It is never too late to walk with God. Many of you have already sinned sexually. It is God’s will that you move on. He will welcome you into His fellowship. God makes it clear that He will restore us to fellowship. As we trusted the finished work of Christ for salvation, so we trust His finished work on the cross for daily sin (1 John 1:9-2:2).

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).