POSSESSING OUR BODY IN SANCTIFICATION AND HONOR
As Paul was writing chapter three of 1 Thessalonians, he must have had the intention to go from the inner being, the heart, to the outer being, the body. This is the reason he gives the charge concerning abstaining from fornication and concerning possessing our body in sanctification and honor.
Fornication is a gross sin. According to the Bible, Satan’s purpose is to use sin to defile the man God created for Himself. Any kind of vessel is defiled when it becomes dirty. Furthermore, the function of a dirty and defiled vessel is annulled. For example, we do not use a cup that is dirty. Before a dirty cup can be used, it must first be cleansed. God created man as a pure vessel, but Satan injected sin into man with the intention of defiling him and spoiling him. The most defiling sin is fornication. Stealing is sinful and unclean, but it is not as defiling as fornication. Fornication damages God’s purpose, it damages the human body, and it damages the family and society. Nothing else damages humanity as seriously as fornication does. Therefore, after speaking concerning the sanctification of the heart, the inward being, Paul could not forget to speak concerning the outward being.
Fornication always comes from a changing heart, a heart that has not been established. If your heart has been established, it will be difficult for Satan to seduce you to commit fornication. But it is easy for those who are changeable and fickle to fall into the snare of fornication.
As Paul was writing chapter three, he probably had the thought of going on to write concerning the believers’ outward being. He may have said to himself, “Paul, you are speaking concerning the inward being. Faith is a matter of the heart, and love is a matter of the emotion. Both are related to the inward being. But what about the body outwardly?” Paul was an excellent writer. When he writes about a matter, he writes about it to the uttermost. Thus, when he comes to the matter of outward sanctification, he deals with the most defiling sin, the sin of fornication.
Stay away from fornication. If you become involved in fornication, you will open the door wide to all kinds of corruption. Believers and unbelievers have been damaged by the gross sin of fornication. Therefore, Paul commands the believers to abstain from fornication. He tells them that sanctification is God’s will. Because God’s will is to keep us always in sanctification, we should abstain from everything that is unclean so that the body may be preserved.
At this point I would like to say a word to the young people. As Christians, we may need to read the newspapers to know the world situation. I read a newspaper nearly every day, but certain pages I would never read, for they are defiling. Once your mind has been defiled by looking at a certain picture, it will be very difficult for you to remove this defiling element. Furthermore, we should not listen to certain kinds of conversations or touch things that are unclean. But most important we should abstain from fornication. We must keep, preserve, safeguard, our vessel clean in sanctification before God. It must be holy, separated, and saturated with God and also kept in honor before man.
Man was created by God with honor, for man was made in God’s image. Therefore, we are to express God and represent Him. We have been assigned a most honorable position. Marriage is a holy and honorable matter, and it is for the fulfillment of God’s purpose. This is the reason the Bible tells us to honor marriage. But fornication destroys mankind and causes the one who falls into it to lose his honor. Therefore, we must preserve our body clean in sanctification and honor.
A HOLY LIFE FOR THE CHURCH LIFE
I believe we have touched the burden in Paul’s spirit as he was writing chapters three and four of 1 Thessalonians. First he dealt with the inward being represented by the heart and then with the outward being represented by the body. Inwardly, our heart must be established in holiness; outwardly, our body must be preserved in sanctification and honor. This is to have a holy life, and this holy life is for the church life. If we have a heart established blameless in holiness and a body preserved clean in sanctification and honor, then, in a practical way, we shall have a holy life for the church life.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 22, by Witness Lee)