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Living Pure in an Impure World

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Sunday morning sermon:
1 Thessalonians 4


Welcome to February, the love month! Have you noticed, much of what passes for love in our world is actually devoid of true love altogether.

Usually what’s passed off as love is nothing more than lust. 
        <Lust doesn’t build a strong marriage. 
        <Lust doesn’t strengthen the church of Jesus Christ. 
        <Lust weakens society and erodes communities. 

So all this month we are going to turn our hearts towards the idea of biblical purity. 

How do we live pure in an increasingly impure world? CAN we live pure in an impure world?

It’s clear that purity is vitally important to God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

One of the greatest hindrances to seeing God is sexual immorality; it jams our spiritual airways, it makes God seem like a enemy in our mind.

What is sexual purity all about – 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 NKJV?

#1 Sexual Purity IS God’s Will
Verse 3: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;”

Sanctification may not be a word you use frequently (tell about our kids screaming as 2 year olds/I'd pray 'can u say sanctification'!) 

Let’s modernize the word sanctification and use the word sanitize.

God’s will is to sanitize us = to make something free from dirt, infection, disease by cleaning it; to make something more pleasant and acceptable by taking things that are unpleasant or offensive out of it.

It IS God’s will to sanitize our souls, and if it’s His will the He has a PLAN for that to happen. 

God never asks us to do something that's impossible. He always gives us the power to do it! But it is NOT possible apart from Him. 

That’s what I hope to lay out for you in the coming weeks; God’s plan for sexual purity.
I want to inspire you to believe God’s grace is enough to set you free.
I want to provide resources that you can begin to access yourself and start moving towards purity in mind and in action. 

The purpose of this series is not to get us to admit that sexual sin is wrong—we already know that. It’s to get us to BELIEVE biblical truth about our sexuality and then by faith begin to live it out daily.

Verse #3 says it IS the will of God that “we should abstain from sexual immorality” (Screen) = {porneia} to indulge in lust, an obsession with sex to the point of idolatry, all manner of sexual sin.

sexual immorality – includes all sex outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman. 

You can easily see from the Greek ‘porneia’ that that is how we formed the English word ‘porn.’

It is God's will that we should abstain from all PORNEIA! 

We find ourselves living in a sexually saturated society. 

It is increasingly more difficult to keep our minds pure because of the daily, almost hourly exposure to sexualized images and messages. 

Many of our commercials are borderline soft porn, and tonight's Super Bowl game will bear that out. We live in a GO DADDY world!
In the last 10 years sexualized scenes on network television have doubled. 70% of all TV shows include sexual content and on average we see 5 scenes per hour.
There are more strip clubs in America than in any other country in the world
Worldwide, more women are employed in the sex industry than at any other time in human history (this includes human slaves/sex trafficking)
The internet has opened a super highway to sexual immorality unprecedented in human history
Something as useful and helpful as Craigslist has become a ‘virtual madam’ for every sexual desire
Pornography has left the bookshelves and invaded the internet. The numbers are staggering: (Screen)
12% of all sites are porn (4.2 million)
25% of every internet search is sex related: Google says 338m searches every month on word ‘sex’ and 227m on ‘porn’ = 565m. Justin B=30m and God=20m
The average age of first exposure to internet porn = 11 years old
90% of all teenagers have accessed internet porn
30% of ALL porn is accessed by women
40% of pastors admit they go to porn sites at least once a week
70% of all parishioners admit the same


IT IS THE WILL OF GOD THAT WE ABSTAIN FROM PORNEIA, from sexual immorality of every kind. 

#2 Self-Control IS The Plan of God

Verse #4 in NIrV: “God wants all of you to learn to control your own bodies. You must live in a way that is holy. You must live with honor.”

As long as we excuse our sin we will never gain control over it. As long as we try to manage our sin we will never gain control over it.

Victory over the flesh is not about management, it's about GRACE!

God has PROMISED victory if we will diligently seek His help, if we lean into His amazing grace, and if we reach out for help from others.

But shame and self recrimination keep us from doing that. 

Let me be very clear. There is so much shame and self-condemnation associated with sexual sin that the only conclusion we draw is; 
        #1: I must keep this to myself and, 
        #2: I will defeat this on my own.

Both of those thoughts will only lead to failure!

Hear my heart today. We are FOR YOU! This church is FOR YOU! God is FOR YOU! We are all in this together. 

The truth is we all fight the battle of the world, the flesh, and the devil and we fight it every day.

The victory is found in GRACE not WORKS. 

The contrast between works/grace is seen in Romans 7 & 8.
Romans 7 WORKS: the things I say I won’t do again….I do again. The things I say I will begin doing….I don’t do. Who will deliver me from this wretched body of death?
Romans 8 GRACE: There is NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in Christ….crucified the flesh…died to sin….etc.

Self control IS the plan of God and it's experienced through the grace of God. 

The third thing we'll learn about purity is that…..

#3 Knowing God IS The Key To Victory
Verse 5 “not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;”

Lust is highly valued in our culture today. We are encouraged to follow our lust where ever it leads. Lust is what drives the entire sex industry.

Let me give you a biblical definition of lust = to greatly covet or long for something that’s forbidden, an uncontrolled desire.

In verse #5 Paul is giving us a clue to victory: “Don’t live in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD.”

One reason they don't have any control over their passion is because they don't have a PASSION FOR GOD! 

Literally the key to victory over lust is to fall IN LOVE with God! It’s to make God the lover of our soul. It’s to funnel our desire towards Him.

Listen to the words of David: Psalms 63:1 “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” Also: Ps 27:4

Jonathan Butler sings one of my favorite songs: Falling in love with Jesus, Falling in love with Jesus, Falling in love with Jesus. Was the best thing I've ever done.
In His arms, I feel protected, In His arms, never disconnected, In His arms, I feel protected, there's no place I'd rather.

When a person comes to know God intimately not only do their attitudes towards sex change, but God gives them the ability to live in victory over sexual temptation like never before. 

Knowing God is basic to living a holy life, this is why a daily walk with God is essential to having a pure heart.
Book: “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith” by Rosaria Butterfield

#4 Sexual Sin IS Always Damaging To Relationships
Verse 6 “that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.”

Notice the words Paul used: “taking advantage of….defrauding.”

There’s a side to sexual sins that is extremely damaging.

Sexual sin always damages the people involved. But they also damage the people not involved. It damages the people who love the ones who are involved! 

There's a lot of collateral damage associated with lust and we see the effects of it in our broken world every day. 

Sometimes people say that porn and the sex industry is a victimless crime, but we know that is not the case. People involved in this lifestyle are not healthy, they are not happy, they are not fulfilled.

Paul actually adds a warning with this admonition: “The Lord is the avenger of all such activity, as we also forewarned you.”

If we initiate and perpetrate our own lusts on others we pull them down, and God does not take that lightly. God is all about people, He’s all about life, peace and joy. He wants us to be about that too.

Walking in sexual sin cannot accomplish that. In verse 7 Paul reiterates; “God did not call us to sexual uncleanness, but to holiness.”

That’s God’s plan and He’s given us the power to live in victory!

#5 Habitual Sexual Sin IS a Rejection of God 
Verse 8 “Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.”


The idea of sexual purity is not something the church devised to control people. 

It came from God, and not because He wanted to punish us and make our life joyless, but because He wanted to protect us from our own unbridled lust that He knew would ultimately destroys our happiness and health.

God has called us to purity and He has given us everything we need to live pure and holy lives.

In my research for this series I came across a young author who has written extensively on the subject, and she writes out of personal experience. Jessica Harris (google) is the founder of Beggar’s Daughter ministry and she said:

Remember these four words (Jessica Harris) (Screen)
1. Flee
Scripture never encourages us to tango with sexual temptation, to analyze it or to stare it down. We are told to flee, to run as fast and as far as we can from temptation.
2. Walk
We are a very impatient people. We want instant fixes. We tend to avoid process. We seek formulas. We want a one-two-three plan that makes us wake up on January 2 completely porn free, madly in love with our spouses, and never tempted again. That is not how this works. You walk it out daily. There is no fast track to freedom. There is only the choice to walk daily in the Spirit.
3. Admit
You are a work in progress. One day of freedom does not mean you have it all together. Admit your sin. Sin thrives in secrecy. The quickest way back to where you came from is to lie about how tempted you are to go back there. Admit.
4. Commit
….to your wife, to your husband, to your parents that you will be in relationships, you will invest in those around you. You will know them, love them, and pursue them.

Stay in the fight and take it one day at a time.

SONG: “Break Every Chain”



1. Jessica Harris is the founder of  Beggar’s Daughter , a ministry dedicated to walking with women who have an addiction to pornography. Jessica seeks to help other women find the same hope, healing, and grace that she found. She writes the Beggar’s Daughter blog and is the author of the book, Love Done Right: Devos – A Journey From Lust into the Love of God.

2. Covenant Eyes –

3. Freedom Begins Here

4. Vicki Tiede: “When Your Husband Is Addicted To Porn”

5. Samson Society –

         MY CLASS: Samson and the Pirate Monks

6. David Kyle Foster – highly recommended YouTube video testimony. Founder of Mastering Life



About Ron Bontrager

Lead Pastor of Lakeview Church in Indianapolis.

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