Refusing Sin

Refusing Sin

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After an introduction, we have began discussing strategies for waging war on sin: (1) Recognising Sin and (2) Replacing Sin.

In this post we come to the third strategy: Refusing Sin. The apostle Paul spoke these words in his letter to the Thessalonians, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thess. 4:3). The word abstain” literally means “to hold oneself off” or “to stay completely away from.” It is used again in 1 Thess. 5:22 where Paul said, “abstain from every form of evil.” This is a deliberate act in which the believer refuses to associate with sin.

What is Paul exactly addressing here? What are believers to abstain from? The answer is sexual immorality“. In the New Testament this term is often translated “fornication” or “immorality.” It is actually a very general and broad term that refers to any sexual sin. So when it comes to “sexual immorality” the believer must abstain. An excellent example of someone who removes himself from the presence of sexual immorality and refuses it was Joseph. In Genesis 39:7-12, Potiphar’s wife offered herself to Joseph; he reacted in a way that was honoring to God by fleeing from the scene. He refused the sin.

It is important to consider what the source of sexual immorality is in our lives, and the source of any sin for that matter. According to the teaching of the Lord Jesus, any act of sin originates within the individual (Mark 7:20-23). It is clear that such sins originate within the individual, but it is also important to understand that this is still sinful if this sin doesn’t manifest itself to the public eye. Jesus said, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). It is the duty of the believer to be sexually pure in thought and deed. This means that you are to stand clear of all sexual immorality including things in your thought-life. If you desire to refuse impurity and pursue purity, it is critical that you abstain from sexual immorality.

Of course, this doesn’t only apply to sexual immorality. As it was said earlier in this post, we are also commanded to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). With the help of the Lord’s empowering, we are to refuse sin in the midst of this intense battle. I conclude with the words of Steve Lawson,

“In the battle with sin, common to all believers, sin must be refused, even put to death, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” [1]


[1] Lawson, Steven. The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards. Reformation Trust Publishing, 2008, pp. 89-90

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