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Bible Study: God’s standards for intimacy

NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Bible Studies For Life curriculum.

Bible Passage: 1 Thessalonians 4:3-12

Discussion Question: What’s your favorite friendship from TV or movies?

Food for Thought by Noe Garcia*:

We have no statistical evidence to prove this, but some of our most enjoyable relationships just may be those we had as small children. No drama. No demands on each other. We were just kids, simply playing together — and enjoying having someone to play with.

As we grow older, though, our tendency toward self-centeredness often seeps into our friendships. We make a friendship about ourselves and what the other person can do for us. We try to mold the other person into the person we want them to be. If they won’t cooperate, we find new friends. A simple friendship becomes complicated.

It would be nice to get back to the simplicity of our childhood relationships, and that’s not as unrealistic or naïve as some people might think. Pursuing simplicity in our lives includes our relationships, and in his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul gave us insights into what such an uncomplicated relationship looks like. It’s all driven by love — not a love for ourselves, but a love for God that carries over into how we love others.

As we dig into this passage in 1 Thessalonians 4, we’ll see principles that apply to all types of relationships. But Paul began with a specific focus on relationships that might involve or lead to sexual immorality. The world today has attempted to redefine what constitutes sexual immorality; some people refuse to call immoral anything two consenting adults agree to do.

God has a different standard. Sexual intimacy is to be experienced only between one man and one woman within a marriage relationship. Clearly then, anything outside or beyond that boundary constitutes sexual immorality. God’s will is also clear in this. We His people are to have nothing to do with sexual immorality. As Paul wrote, we are to “keep away from sexual immorality.”

Following God’s will regarding sanctification and purity in relationships requires us to keep away from sexual immorality, and to know how to control our bodies.

We must rid ourselves of all things that lead us to think or act inappropriately toward others. We won’t keep immoral or inappropriate thoughts and actions away simply by “hiding” them in the closet. We must remove them completely from our lives and in their place, we surround ourselves with relationships that encourage our purity and walk with Christ. We control our bodies even as we give our thoughts to Christ. The same principles of self-control and godliness are true in other areas of our relationships as well.

Things may seem to have become more complicated in our relationships since we were kids. But if we will apply the principles of God’s love, we’ll see a simplicity in all things that flow through Him, including our relationships.

Bible Studies for Life
Bible Studies for Life connects the Bible to life for adults, students and kids. Bible Studies for Life helps individuals and groups know God’s Word through trustworthy content, creates biblical community through engaging and conversational group studies, and helps people engage the culture missionally by unpacking what the Bible says about real-life issues. More information can be found on the Internet at www.biblestudiesforlife.com.

Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool or ordered at LifeWay Christian Stores.