Commentary on "Living Holy Lives (1 Thess. 4:112)"
Day 4: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - Not Like the Gentiles (1 Thess. 4:4, 5)
This lesson discusses Paul’s assertion that believers are not to live like the gentiles, expressing their lusts in self-indulgent abandon. The day’s lesson ends with the question, who hasn’t seen how destructive the gift of sex is when used outside of God’s intended venue inside marriage?
This week’s discussion of sexual impurity and the need for proper morality fails to examine the underlying framework by which we understand marriage and sex: the relationship between the Lord Jesus and the church. Ephesians 5 gives us added insight into the phenomenon that Christ is the head of the church, and the church is His Bride whom He is cleansing and preparing to be His spotless church.
The proper relationship between husbands and wives as described in Ephesians 5 is patterned after the eternal, timeless relationship between Jesus and His bride. God has not used marriage to describe Christ and the church because we understand marriage. Instead, God gave humans marriage because He wanted us to have a way to begin to understand Christ’s marriage to His people. In other words, the reality is Christ and the church, and marriage was given as a shadow of the eternal reality of God becoming one with us.
Sexual purity and commitment is important not just because people are hurt if sex is misused. Rather, sexual commitment and purity if God’s gift to us to help us understand His intimate and eternal commitment to us.
Husbands are to love their wives unconditionally, as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her. Wives are to respect their husbands and submit to them as to the Lord, unconditionally.
This sort of unconditional love and submission and respect is simply impossible unless we have been made alive with God’s life. Marriage and sexual intimacy are God’s gifts—but they do not begin to be experienced as safe and nourishing unless we have received the identity and eternal security of knowing Jesus. Only the heart that has been made alive to God and has died to its natural self can live in a pure commitment to another, because this sort of commitment requires God’s own love.
Sexual purity and loyalty are not independent requirements, laws given to humans because God knows best. The reality is that sexual commitment is a gift from God that He gives those who are His. It is one of the most profound ways god draws us into His own life and eternal love; He places His Spirit not only into each person who trusts Him, but He dwells in the marriages of His people as well. His presence in the marriages of those who are born again makes those relationship places of security, growth, and life that surpass the marriages of natural hearts.
He gives us the ability to love and stay committed to the flawed people that we married. He reveals Himself as we submit to Him to love our spouses for Him.
Marriages are the joining of two individuals who are alike (both human) and very different (male and female). This sameness but profound difference shows us how our bond to the Lord Jesus is also possible: He is the same as we are yet completely different. He is human as we are, but He is also God.
It is not possible to discuss sexual purity properly without seeing how Christ’s marriage to His bride, those of us who have been born of the Spirit, is the pattern into which God brings us when we commit to another in marriage.
Copyright 2012 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised August 11, 2012. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Camp Verde, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
The Sabbath School Bible Study Guide and the corresponding E.G. White Notes are published by Pacific Press Publishing Association, which is owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist church. The current quarter's editions are pictured above.
Official Adventist Resources
Please Support This Project