I Thess. 4:5. “Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God;”
This verse, of course, is a continuation of verse 4, which teaches that each of us is to know how to gain mastery over the lusts of our own bodies in sanctification and honor.
We are not to indulge in the lust of concupiscence. Okay, that word sent me straight to my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance as well as to my Webster’s Dictionary. I think I know what it means, but you never know. . . .
So, Strong’s says the word comes from epithumia. The root of epithumia is epithumeo, which is “to set the heart upon, long for (rightfully or otherwise); covet, desire, lust after.
Epithumia carries the added connotation of a longing for what is forbidden. So, putting it together with the previous verses, Paul is teaching that fornication, which is forbidden, is not to be sought after or desired; rather, believers are to gain control over their own bodies in the matter of sexual behaviors. We are not to be like the unbelieving world. Not knowing God or godliness, they indeed worship the flesh and find any way they can to satisfy their sexual desires.
We are to be different. We are to live in a way that is a stark contrast to what our sex-saturated society has declared is “normal.”
Going off on a little rant here. I’ve been on this one before. You may know, or not, that I work as a therapist in a Christian counseling office. Doing this work brings me into daily contact with people who have messed up their lives (or been messed up against their will by a sexual predator, when they were children) with unrestrained sexual behavior. Every week, I talk with kids who think they have to know whether they are straight, gay, or bi-sexual by the time they enter middle school. They fully expect to have sexual relationships very early in their teens. They’ve been taught how to do so in their sex ed classes, having seen demonstrations of how to use condoms when they are too young to have any wish to do so.
You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to understand what a mess we’re in.
I see couples who have both had affairs but feel it’s not important because “It was while we were separated.” I talk to men who use pornography as “a harmless way to relieve sexual tension,” not caring or believing that doing so is an offense to their wives and to a holy God.
Saddest of all, many of these situations involve people who claim to be born-again, Bible-believing Christians. They sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” on Sunday and then go home and watch porn in the afternoon. Why, I have to wonder, is their daily walk not affected and influenced by what they say they believe? Does the Word of God have no influence? Do they read it at all? As a society, have we become so inured to the prompting of the Holy Spirit that even those who say they love God are beyond the reach of His Word?
How can we watch violent, sexually explicit movies and TV programs, read books and magazines that take us into places that we should avoid, and still think that we are pleasing God?
There are times during my work week when I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or run screaming from the room. God help us. We are losing our spiritual sensitivity, allowing our boys and girls to dress in ways that are explicitly sexual in the name of being “in style,” and behaving as if God never said “Be ye holy.”
God help us.