God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 NLT.
We typically reduce thoughts of God’s will to the direction of our lives; What vocation should I choose? Who should I marry? Where should I go to school? And indeed, God cares for every detail of our lives. He knows the number of hairs on our head and exactly how many were washed down the shower drain this morning – He understands and cares more for each of us than we ever could for ourselves. He hears your heartfelt cry for His direction—and, He has a way that is best.
However, we don’t always discern His perfect will. Personal bias and selfishness in our hearts compete greedily to influence our decisions. It is common to make decisions we believe are of the Lord, but that are, at the same time, colored by selfishness. Misinterpreting God’s will doesn’t happen all the time, but I can think of about a million times in my life when it did…
God loves you so much, though, dear one, that even wrong-minded choices are redeemed by Jesus and serve His purposes in our lives by building character and greater dependence and trust in His voice. So while our path is rarely straight, when it comes to His will, He is faithful to bring us around to where we’re supposed to be if we practice repentance and humility, walking before Him in obedience to His commands.
But in this passage, Apostle Paul spells out God’s will for His followers. His will is for us to be holy. To control our body and live in holiness and honor. God has called us to live holy lives. This applies foremost to sexual sin because he states it so clearly. Harboring and pursuing sexual sin—adultery, perversion, pornography, or secretly loitering in sexual thoughts and dreams, is wrong. It is the opposite of the pursuit of holiness. Sexual union is reserved for the marriage bed, where it is righteous and beautiful.
To possess our body in holiness refers to other passions as well, for we cannot be set apart and pure if we are preoccupied with worldly pursuits of wealth, luxury, idleness, or sloth, greed, envy, gossip, or any impurities of the soul.
To pursue holiness means consciously praying with introspection, rooting out and repenting from the passions that distract and darken our lives. As we cultivate holiness, discerning His will for direction becomes clearer as there are less competing voices distracting us from His heart.