3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 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. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. (1 Thess. 4:3-8, NIV)
The biggest issue in discipleship is moving away from what we think God prohibits to understanding that what God wants is our best. That means we may not get all of what we “wanted” from our old life, or what our culture may be offering up. God doesn’t have our misery in mind. He has our best in mind.
But we battle. And it’s not just cultural norms or what we perceive to be “legalism” within the church. Sometimes we forget we really do battle against principalities and powers.
As I study and pray, what I find is it’s not “cultural wars” we battle. There are strongholds within every culture and those strongholds guard the territory, so to speak. There are a few beasts who jealously guard our culture and make sure we stay in bondage.
One is consumerism/materialism. The other is sex. (Of course, we could talk about more.)
So, for me, the “cultural war” issues are not the real issues. They are symptoms of the larger beasts who jealously guard this territory. Their job may not be to make us utterly “pagan,” but their job IS to make sure we don’t see God’s best for our lives.
We have settled in our lives when we have statements like, “I don’t see what’s wrong with it.” Or, “God wants me happy.” And we have no idea what God’s best for us really is in our lives. I refer to Christians in that context, of course.
Friends, we need to move past what feeds the beasts of this culture and realize we are called to please God. NOT because he is a demanding ogre like the beasts that guard our culture, but because he has our best in view.
God’s will is holy living. His best for us needs be in full view.