1Th 4:3-6 “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.”
We often hear people wondering about what the will of God is for their lives. Certainly there are paths and choices set before us in this life that cause us concern. Our prayer to the Father is “What would You have me to do?” In our walk of faith this is certainly a legitimate concern. Yet, not everything we encounter should require us to ask God concerning His will; if we are reading His word He plainly tells us His will in some circumstances.
One aspect of the will of God is clearly stated here; “…ye should abstain from fornication.” Sexual misconduct is not new as we can see from scripture and from history. It existed in the past and it exists today, but it should not be a part of the Christian life. To truly be followers of God, we are called on to be holy (Lev 11:44-45, 1Pe 1:16). Being sanctified is another way of saying that we are holy. If we are to be holy, then we must keep ourselves from fornication. Since it is the will of God that we should abstain from fornication, we must conclude that He has given us the grace to do so. If we do not do so, then we have received that grace in vain (2Co 6:1).
We also see that it is the will of God that every one of us in the church should know (understand) how to possess our vessel in purity and dignity. The term “possess his vessel” seems to carry a two-fold meaning here. We should know how to conduct ourselves in purity and dignity, and we should know how to hold our wives (see Strong’s definition of “vessel”) in purity and precious esteem. We should never let ourselves be carried away of our lusts as though that do not know God, and we should hold our brother in sufficient esteem that we would not take advantage of him in any way. Again, we must conclude that since it is His will that we know how to possess our vessel He has given us the means to do so.
There is a sure promise given us here: the Lord will carry out justice (see Strong’s definition of “avenger) in every instance described here. Being called into His service comes with the witness that these things are true. This truth is witnessed to us in the study of God’s word, the preaching of His gospel, and the conviction of our own conscience. However, I see more than just a physical application to this admonishment.
As chosen servants of the Living God, we should be obedient to the truth. When we begin to teach for the doctrines of God the ideas of men, we become fornicators in a spiritual sense. If we handle the word of God in a way to seek personal gain, then we have sold ourselves to the lust of our flesh. We have failed to possess our vessels in sanctification and honor. Our behavior is as one who does not know God. Further, our actions may become a stumbling block to our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Be sure that God is not mocked. If we are guilty of this in a spiritual sense, the Lord will avenge this just as He will when we are guilty from a physical standpoint. We have a witness and we have been forewarned. God will not overlook our disobedience in these things (Act 17:30). Remember that in these things He has made His will plain to the church.
May we, in faith, seek His will in those things we do not clearly see and may we with dedication do His will in those things that He has plainly set before us!