The Apostle Paul begins this next set of instructions to the believers at Thessalonica with the admonition, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification ... " The will of God is clearly set forth in many places in the Bible. Even though we may have difficulty applying His will in every-day decision making, it is clear that God's will includes a holiness of heart and life for the believer.
There is probably no other book in the Bible that more clearly outlines the degree of holiness to which we are to obtain than the Old Testament book of Leviticus. It=s a book that so many of us seek to speed-read through in our Bible reading because it is devoted to the minutia of laws governing the life of Israel. One commentator describes it as Digest of Divine Laws. It defines how God desires for His people to live their lives. The two key words of this book are Access and Holiness. Access to God comes through sacrifice and offering. The book of Hebrews reminds us that "without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin." In chapters 12‑20 God lists laws which are to govern the civil, religious and personal conduct of the people. They are laws which emphasize purity of life as a condition of divine favor. God desires a holy people for His people. God is very clear about the need for holiness in the lives of His people. "Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you." (Le 20:7-8, ESV)
If there is one thing that all of us should be deeply concerned about it is our practical holiness of heart and life; our sanctification of character and conduct. Other things may have their due and relative importance, but according to the repeated word of Scripture, this is priority #1 for the believer. God has called us to and insists upon holiness in the midst of His people. It is God Himself who develops this holiness in us through the process of sanctification.
"Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, ... " (1 Th 5:23, ESV)
" ... that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;" (1 Th 4:3-5, ESV)
"Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more," (1 Th 4:9-10, ESV)
"and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, ... " (1 Th 4:11, ESV)
" ... and to work with your hands, as we instructed you," (1 Th 4:11, ESV)
It's personal—it's private—and for the most part in the pulpits of America it's ignored. Young people mess around, married people play around, relationships are broken, lives are changed, marriages are dissolved and the church stands back and for the most part wonders why.
The truth is—it's a beautiful gift from God—it's like cheesecake. You can do things to make cheesecake better, i.e. add cherries, and you can sprinkle it with chocolate. When you apply worldly wisdom to this beautiful gift from God—it's like adding artichokes to cheesecake. It's just not good. The Bible makes it clear that God=s will for marriage is between a man and a woman. The Bible makes it clear that until you enter into a marriage relationship, you should be sexual pure; after you get married you should be faithful to your spouse. It's really that simple. But the fallen world we live in "muddles this up" handing Christians a paint brush more gray than black or white.