Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Holy Calling

1 Thessalonians 4:7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

7 οὐ γὰρ ἐκάλεσεν ἡμᾶς ὁ θεὸς ἐπὶ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ ἀλλ᾽ ἐν ἁγιασμῷ.

This concludes a passage where Paul tells the Thessalonians to abstain from sexual impurity.  The word translated "sexual impurity" in verse 3 is τῆς πορνείας (in the genitive).  This is where we get our word "pornography."  He then goes on to tell them that they need to be in control of their bodies.

This stands in stark contrast with how our society operates.  Men, are you feeling hungry sexually?  Just look at some porn and gratify yourselves.  Women, are you feeling depressed?  Have something to eat or buy something.  Of course, these temptations go for both sexes, but these are two of the big ones that our culture propagates.  In verse 5 Paul talks about not being like τὰ ἔθνη τὰ μὴ εἰδότα τὸν θεόν.  The word τὰ ἔθνη has a fairly wide semantic range in that it can mean a group of people, a nation, or the Gentiles as it is translated in the ESV.  The point is that Paul uses it pejoratively.  You don't want to act like those people.

Just as in that day there are believers and unbelievers.  Here in verse 7 Paul makes a very important statement.  We were not called to behave like everyone else.  Our lives should be different.  Put another way, if Christianity became illegal under American law would there be enough evidence to convict you of being one?  I don't mean the holy hardware you can buy at Lifeway, but would there be enough evidence in your life?  Do you consume media differently than unbelievers?  Do you eat differently?  Do you exercise differently?  Do you guard your eyes differently?  Do you spend your money differently?

My call is not one of legalism.  Anyone can change their behavior for a time.  My call is to examine your heart.  If you cannot answer yes to my questions then perhaps you need to examine your own salvation.  None of us is perfect and I don't want to imply that the saved all have this nailed down perfectly.  What do you see when you ask yourself these questions and then look at your heart?

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