“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Sanctified. Holy. Honorable. These are weighty words. These summarize your calling as a disciple of Jesus, and how you use your body is a central part of living up to them. Your Master created that body you have, He purchased it through His blood on the cross, His Spirit was poured out to abide in it, and He desires to see it used in ways that honor Him and demonstrate His nature to the world.
For so long before giving our allegiance to Jesus, we were all ruled by our fleshly nature. Now we have been set free from its tyranny so that we can rule our flesh as our Master rules us. We don’t have to do things simply because we want to. We can have a desire and simply tell our appetite, ‘No!’ This seems a very simple and obvious thing, but I’m betting you’ve had those moments in which it seemed like you simply had to do that thing that would bring you pleasure. What a liberating realization it was for me that I simply don’t have to do those things any more. Jesus offers his disciples desire and power to do other things – sanctified, holy, and honorable things.
One thing to keep in mind as you are trained by Jesus to train your flesh: temptation is not failure. Your flesh still has influence, though that influence should be steadily weakening. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). Crucifixion is a slow death, and our fleshly passions won’t vanish overnight. Their power to enslave us is broken, though, so when we feel their pull, we can cling to our Master’s wisdom and power. We can stand fast instead of being dragged away and enticed (James 1:14). Rather than losing freedom, we have gained it, for we can now refuse to do what we once did without a second thought.
Live a holy and honorable life today, Disciple. Call on the power that your Master has made available to you. Draw on the life that He has already provided to you. When you feel overwhelmed by temptation, rehearse the loving and powerful Word of your Master. He will punish fleshly living, as the apostle said, but He desires to richly reward holy living. Choose Him over your competing desires each time, and know the joyful peace of His praise. That will last forever, while the pleasures of the flesh last only a moment.
Mastering our flesh because He masters us,