I Thess. 4:6-7. “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. “
It is important to go back and read the verses that come just before this one, to help us keep it all in context. Keeping one’s fleshly lusts under control, abstaining from fornication, is to be done as unto God. It is also to be done in order not to defraud anyone else.
Sanctification results in honor toward both God and man. No man is to “go beyond” the boundaries of sanctification and honor in order to have more than what is truly his own. To do so is to risk defrauding a brother. One translation of this verse is “not overstepping the rights of and wronging the brother.”
Defraud is “to have more, to take advantage of, to cheat a person of what is rightfully his.” The idea of self-seeking and selfish fraud is very clear in the original language of this verse. And the person being defrauded is a brother; a fellow-believer, perhaps even a blood brother. Some translators see it as “any fellow human being.”
The specific “matter” in this verse is fornication–illicit sexual behavior, concupiscence, which is the strong desire for that which is forbidden. This covers both premarital and extra-marital sexual sin. Premarital sex robs (defrauds) the couple of the holiness and purity that comes with waiting until marriage. If they do not marry, then the future partners are defrauded. Sexual sin after marriage defrauds both those who participate and those who are victimized by the sin. I know that great throngs of people would argue this matter, saying that if both people agree, then it’s okay to do whatever you want as long as no one is hurt.
I contend that there is no such thing as illicit sexual behavior in which no one is hurt. God created us in His image and likeness. Sex and sexuality outside of the marriage vows are offenses to the body, soul and spirit. It is an offense to a holy God. It is an offense to the innocent people who are hurt when their spouses, sons, daughters, brothers or sisters sin in this matter. It is especially an offense to children who are affected by sexual sin. It changes a person’s spirit, and sometimes even pollutes the body with sexually transmitted diseases. There is no such thing as harmless sexual sin.
Paul states three reasons for obeying God’s command to abstain from fornication. First, to disobey will bring God’s vengeance. “The Lord is an avenger in all these things.” I am convinced that most of us do not take seriously enough the promise of God’s judgment on our behaviors. We sin with impunity.
Second, to obey is to recognize that it is His divine will. God tells us clearly what His will is: Abstain from fornication. Immorality is inconsistent with God’s grace and love toward us. Verse seven says, “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”
Third, to disobey God is to reject Him and His great love. It is to take God’s clear command very lightly, to make it null and void in our minds. It certainly shows how little regard we have for Him when we choose to ignore His clearly stated command in this matter.
To choose to continue to live in impurity, whether it be of the mind only, or of both mind and body, is a direct insult to the divine Giver of the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us to help us to live a life of holiness, sanctification, and honor. We are indeed ignoring all promptings of the Spirit when we continually choose to live in sexual sin.