Jack Graham - A Life that Pleases God - Part 2
Pleasing God is the purpose for every believer, and God has a plan. There was a Gospel tract years ago, still active, the four spiritual laws, and law number one is God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. He does. God loves you; He has a will, a purpose, a plan that is fulfilling, it's satisfying, it's God's plan for a meaningful life. We know it is God's will and God's purpose that every person come to faith in Jesus Christ. He said, "God is not willing that any should perish". God is not willing, that's His will! And if you do not know Christ as your Savior, I can tell you where to start: Start by repenting of your sins, receiving Christ into your life, trusting Him as your Lord and Savior. It is God's will that you come to Him, and that you do it today. But once you become a believer, God's will also becomes clear as we walk with Him and live to please Him.
And the Apostle Paul who gave us these words under the authority of the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, is speaking with us as though he is a pastoral counselor. It's as though we're having a conversation with the great Apostle Paul, as he talks with us as to how we are to pursue life and to live to please God. And so in verse 3 he says: "For this is the will of God (here it is), your sanctification; that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in (watch this) in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles (that is the unbelievers) who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger (He gives justice) in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives the Holy Spirit to you".
It is God's will that we be sanctified. What does that mean? Well Paul gives us the example here when he talks to us about personal sexual purity. Morality! And I want to show you in this passage today not only the mandate for our sexual purity, the must for our sexual purity, but I want to show you the means for our sexual purity, and the motivation for this purity.
First, the must or the mandate for sexual purity. When you look at our text, verse 3, chapter 4, 1 Thessalonians, "This is the will of God: your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality". Abstain means abstain! Not avoid; abstain! Not accept; abstain! It is abstinence! God has given sex as a gift. He has blessed within the beauties of Christian marriage and family, and He has told us clearly again and again in scripture, that God has given us this gift; it was His idea, but it not to be abused; it is not to be taken outside the borders of home and family and marriage. It's like a garden. If you have a beautiful garden with flowers and dirt and everything that you put in a garden, it's beautiful in the garden. But you take several buckets full of dirt and you pour it in your living room, not good!
So within the parameters of God's purpose for sex and marriage He has said, "Enjoy". But beyond that - sex before marriage, sex during marriage outside of the marriage relationship - God says don't do it! You're not smarter than God! And if you live God's way and love God's way, He will give you great joy and happiness. But if you don't there are consequences. This is a commandment, not a suggestion! That's why the Scripture says here if you disregard this in verse 8, you are disregarding not man, not what Jack Graham thinks, "but God, who gives the Holy Spirit to you". That is if you are a believer, you have the Holy Spirit! You know what is right, you know what God's Word says!
Paul expands on this just a page over in 1 Thessalonians 5: 22 and 23. Look at it. It says, "Abstain from every form of evil". This is 1 Thessalonians 5:22 and 23: "Abstain from every form of evil". Every form of it. Not only the act, the physical act, the sexual act, but every form of impurity. "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely", think of holiness as being wholeness, "that your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless (not perfect but) blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ". Abstain! Abstain. I like what the Apostle Paul also said, don't miss this, Ephesians 5, verse 1. We'll put it on the screen for you.
Here's what the Scripture says: "Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God". This is what we are to do. "But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness, may it not even be named among you, as is proper among saints". Are you a saint? Are you a child of God? Don't let it be names among you! Verse 4:"Let there be", he expands the idea, "Let there be no filthiness, no foolish talk, no crude joking", that is, nasty filthy joking, "which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure", that is, living this lifestyle, "or who is covetous", that is, an idolater, "has no inheritance in the kingdom of God and Christ".
That word there, or verse 3 when it says "Let not sexual immorality or any impurity even be names among you". I like the way the ESV, the English Standard gives that phrase. It says, "Let there not be a a hint of immorality or impurity about you, around you, on you". Not a hint! Not a scent! Not even the smell of sin! Don't let the filth of this world get into your life. We are in the world but we don't want to the world to be in us! Unfortunately we are becoming more and more like the world and less and less like Jesus!
You say, "Okay, pastor, I get it. I'm a teenager. My hormones are raging. You're telling me to abstain. How am I supposed to do that? I'm tempted. There are triggers. I'm addicted to certain behaviors in my life. How do I live differently than the world"? It's interesting that back to 1 Thessalonians 4, verse 4 it says that each of you know how. I think it's also written learn how "to control his own body in holiness and honor". Control your own body. How? We learn how to be pure, how to live a godly life in an ungodly world, a pure life in an impure world, a moral life in an immoral world. How? P-U-R-E pure. And with these words I've got a little acrostic for you today to give you a plan.
And the first word is "P" is prepare for spiritual attack. You say, "Well, you know, this message isn't really for me, you know. I'm beyond all this now. I'm sanctified beyond all this. You tell those teenagers, Pastor". The Scripture says, "Let him who stands take heed, lest he fall". David, the great king, was a man after God's own heart when he sinned his great sin of adultery with Bathsheba! You're not better than David. You're not better than Paul, who himself confronted "the lust of the flesh and the pride of life". So we're all in, and therefore, we have to prepare for spiritual attack. Put on the full armor of God! "Satan is like a roaring lion, prowling and provoking whom he may devour"!
We have to discipline our minds and our bodies like an athlete. Paul did the same thing. First Corinthians 9. "Every athlete exercises self control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we, an imperishable", so Paul said. I love the fact that Paul loved athletics, loved the game, the races, the boxing. And he said, "I don't run aimlessly. I do not box as one beating the air". He said, "I'm not playing here. I'm fighting a real fight". And he went on to say, "I discipline (I buffet) my body so that I having preached to others might not become a castaway (might be set on the bench)".
So every Christian ought to run a little bit scared that somehow you could take a sucker punch and go down, because you weren't ready, you weren't disciplined. So prepare yourself for spiritual attack. Paul said, "What, do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you"? This is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Don't desecrate the temple. Paul says, "Take the temple", your body and live with holiness and honor! You are the created of God and redeemed by Christ! You're not an animal! You're not the byproduct of evolution! You are handmade by God! You are the temple of God! Don't desecrate the temple, don't desecrate what God has made! You are created! Don't cheapen what God has made! That's what he's saying.
And then "U" - pure. Undo defiling associations. Remove, listen very carefully, remove from yourself any friendship, any association, any person, place, thing, activity, entertainment, amusement. Get rid of anything in your life that brings you down. Pleasures, people, places, things, activities, entertainment, get rid of that stuff. Anything that would weaken your ability to abstain from sexual sin. Run! Flee! That's what Joseph did! When Joseph was accosted, seduced, attempted to be seduced by Potiphar's wife, he didn't stay around and talk about it and discuss it. He put on his P.F. Fliers and ran like crazy! She grabbed his coat. He lost his coat but he kept his character! Right? Because he ran!
The Bible says, "Flee fornication". Run from it. When evil shows up, get out! You know why Joseph got out and refused to compromise his convictions? Because God had given him a dream bigger than that. God's given you, students, teenagers, boys and girls, all of us. He's given us a dream bigger than the world can give you. Don't sell your dream for something cheap. Don't sell your life out for something that won't last! Joseph had a dream that God would elevate him in due season, so he kept his dream alive by saying no. He said, "How could I do this great wickedness in the sight of God"? You got to resist it and get yourself out of it! Get yourself out of. Don't give the devil a stick to hit you with! Find your way through. The Holy Spirit is in you. "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world". That's why Paul ends this passage by saying who gives us the Holy Spirit, "who the Holy Spirit to you".
"R" - Remember the consequences. In verse 6 he says: "Let no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter". In other words, don't cheat your brother. There's no such thing as silent sin, solitude in sin, or casual sin. There are consequences to sin. It affects other people. You can't say, "Well, it's just between me and her, me and him or whatever". You can't say that, because no one sins alone in this matter, certainly not a Christian. He says you're defrauding your brother in this. You know what that means? You're cheating on your brother. You're cheating on your wife. You're cheating on your kids. You're cheating on your church. You're cheating on your friends. Don't defraud your brother.
Don't say, "Well what I do is between me and myself and I". NO! If you are a Christian and a member of this church, what I do affects you; what you do affects me! And frankly, we've been through that a time or two around here, and some sins affect all of us like no others! It impacts everybody! And if you are thinking about cheating on yourself and cheating on your wife, and cheating on God, just remember, you're cheating on your kids, you're cheating on your church family and ultimately you're responsible to God because God says He is the avenger. You say, "Now are you trying to scare me"? Yeah. If I could I would! "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". He is the avenger. "Be sure your sin will find you out"! Galatians 6:7, "God is not mocked: whatever a man sows, that he will also reap".
So before you decide to go out and have a little fling with your secretary, before you decide to cheat on your husband, remember, there is a God in heaven who knows and sees it all! And He is the avenger. That is, He brings justice. And He will bring discipline. If you're a believer, "Whom the Lord loves, He chastens and scourges every son". You say, "Well, I've been getting away with it a long time". You know why? You're not a believer. God just let you go on. But if you're a believer in Jesus Christ, a follower of Jesus, you're not going to get away with it. I promise you, you're not going to get away with it. There's no secret sin, no solitary sin. You defraud your brother, you defraud God, you defraud the Holy Spirit. You grieve the Holy Spirit! Oh, it's really quiet in here.
To end on a positive note, "E" - Engage in positive spiritual activities. Alright, here's your game plan: Prepare for spiritual attack. Everyday put on the armor of God. Suit up, get your game face on. Go everyday in the power of Jesus Christ! Undo defiling associations of your life. Get away. Be done with the pleasures, the people, and things, and activities and entertainment and stuff. Some of you, on those premium channels, you're watching soft porn! You're bringing that filth into your house! Be done with that! Undo defiling associations! Remember the consequences of sexual sin. And then Engage in positive spiritual activities.
Fortify your faith, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God". Psalm 119 says, "Your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You". Jesus spoke of the sanctifying power of His word. "Sanctify them... ...My word is true". We talk about this all the time so I'm not going to elaborate, but you got to fortify your faith. Strengthen your faith against the enemy. And the way you do that is the filling of the Spirit by walking in the Word. Purify your thought life. "Don't be conformed to this world", Romans 12:2, "but be transformed by the renewing of your mind".
Some of you keep running the old film from the past. You got to renew your mind. And the only way to wash your mind, cleanse your mind is to fill it with God's Word. Fill it with God's truth. Purify your thought life. Don't consider lust. Don't contemplate sexual behavior outside of God's plan for your life. Purify your thought life. Identify accountability partners. Have positive influences in your life that will encourage you and challenge you and, not necessarily call you out, but call you up! Typically we get in trouble when we get isolated and alienated, alone. That's why we need each other.
And then finally, magnify the Lord Jesus. If you love Jesus then the love and the things of this world will fade away. "My Jesus, I love you, I know Thou art mine; For Thee all the follies of sin I resign". Some would say I've already got a past, I've got a history. I wish I'd have heard this. You can't imagine how many emails I got this past week after part 1 of this that said, "I wish I had heard that years ago". But here's the good news! There's no sin that God cannot forgive. There's no unpardonable sin! His grace is greater than all our sin. "Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds".
The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son cleanses us from all our sin. We can't always change the consequences. In fact, we can't change the consequences of some of the decisions that we've made in past. We can't unscramble eggs. But God can change your present, forgive your past, and give you a brand new future with Him. Jesus came not to condemn, but to save. When a woman caught in the very act of adultery was brought to Him, they said, "Stone this woman". He said, "Who among you has not sinned? Cast the first stone". None, they all walked away. Jesus looked at her with love and said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more". You can have a new beginning, a new life, a new love in Christ if you will come to Him.