by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5 November 16, 2014 Dayton, Texas
7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
1901 ASV Translation:
7 For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification.
8 Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God, who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you.
I. Paul's Rationale For Confronting Sexual Immorality.
A. The "call" of God.
1. Paul's references to God's "call" in 1 Thessalonians
a. 2:12 -- He called His people unto His kingdom and glory.
b. 4:7 -- our current text.
b. 5:24 -- His calling is a matter of God's "faithfulness".
2. Paul's use of parakaleo in 1 Thessalonians
a. Eight times in five chapters is an abundance of uses (Acts and 2 Corinthians are the only books that use the word more often, and they are both very long in comparison). Additionally there is one use of the noun paraklesis that is used to identify the Gospel itself.
b. The point is that Paul saw the Gospel as a summons from God to the Thessalonians to come to His side. There is no element of this summons that allows one to "believe" a truth that allows the "believer" to remain at a distance from God.
1) The problematic issue is the flawed behavior of those who "believe". Has the "call" been reduced in its effectiveness so that people may become heirs of eternal life without a significant change of essence, identity, and practice?
2) The question of this text is this: what would Paul conclude about a person who gave evidence of being "the elect of God", but then became an active practitioner of sexual immorality? Paul clearly saw his labor as being in danger of "becoming vain" if the Thessalonians were effectively tempted by Satan (3:5). Does this danger exist if the Thessalonians become sexually immoral?
B. Sexual immorality as "uncleanness".
1. When a thing/person/spirit is "unclean", it is reprehensible before God and is not to even be "touched" (2 Corinthians 6:17) because God will not "touch" it. Its destination is rejection by God.
2. "Unclean" is a term used widely in the narrative literature of the New Testament to be the most common descriptor of "demons" as "unclean spirits".
3. The choice to use "uncleanness" as the summary word for sexual immorality is most likely tied to its physical-world reality as a metaphor of something that is essentially destructive with the ability to communicate that destructive character to whatever "touches" it. In the terms of modern medicine, it carries a potent germ/virus that can be transferred by touch. In many cases, the problem is lethal; in all cases it is destructive of the quality of life. In David's prayer, a "clean" heart is one that is free of guilt (Psalm 51:10). Sexual immorality is "unclean" because it introduces "death" at every level of man's identity (spirit, soul, body).
C. "Holiness" as the summary word for the intention of God in His "call".
1. As a developed thesis from the physical world, "sanctification" (translated "holiness" here by the AV) is the condition of a thing after it has been "washed" (David's term in Psalm 51:2, 7) so that all of the filthiness is gone; no residue, no stains.
2. As an elemental part of "salvation", the "sanctification" that is wholly "in Christ" (the fiat declaration of God that he who "believes" has the perfection of Christ "imputed" to him/her) becomes the main illustration of His goal for the "sanctification" that is wholly "by the Spirit of Christ within"; a "faith" production that grows as that "faith" is purged of all of its ignorances and inconsistencies and contradictions as gold that is purified by extreme heat. The outcome of such "Spiritual" sanctification is, as Paul said in 3:12, an all-encompassing "love" for one another and, indeed, for all men.
3. When defined by this all-encompassing "love", "sanctification" is the call of God.
II. Paul's Somber Conclusion.
A. Anyone "therefore" (toi+gar+oun; only found in Hebrews 12:1 besides this text) who "sets aside so as to negate the impact" is not aiming his/her action at some "man". Rather, he/she is setting "the God" aside as the One Who gives His Holy Spirit to us.
B. At issue: "setting aside" and "the Giving God".
1. Sexual pleasure, as the most potent pleasure of the physical realm, is clearly posited as the chief competitor of God's desire for our "cleanliness".
2. The "Giving God" is cast as such in direct terms respecting whence this "cleanliness" arises: His Own Holy Spirit as the Representative of the Power of God as in Ephesians 3:20.