Okay, maybe it's because I'm thinking about the Super Bowl. Hey, I lived for 28 years in the New York area. I spoke for New York Giants' chapels. Can't I be forgiven for my mind wandering to the upcoming Super Bowl? Of course, I can't reveal who I'm rooting for.
So football crept into my Bible study this morning. No, it wasn't about giants in the Promised Land. I was actually reading in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4. It tells us that God's will for us - this is destiny stuff, in other words - is that we "should be sanctified." Now there's one of those mystical Bible words that sometimes seem hard to grasp. But in its root meaning, "sanctified" means living like your God's and only God's. Reserved for His purposes. Set apart to be and do what He made you for.
But being "sanctified" isn't passive, like some holy blanket that magically envelopes you. No, it's defined with two action words. And here's where football meets faith today. Living like you're all God's involves offense and defense. It takes both to win the Super Bowl. It takes both to be God's man or woman.
First, let's play defense. These verses go on to say, "Avoid sexual immorality." That's a defensive step. Avoiding what's dirty, what feeds your lust and your sexual fantasies. Avoiding the "innocent" flirtations that punch a hole in your moral dam. Avoiding people and places and media that feed immoral desires.
When I saw a cute little skunk in the woods one day, I didn't see how close I could get without getting sprayed. I avoided him. I got as far as I could from him. You don't flirt with impure stuff. You flee from it. Because "desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:15). Gotta stop it at the desire level.
Then 1 Thessalonians 4 goes on to tell us how to play spiritual offense. A second power verb. First, avoid. Then, control. "Each of you should learn to control his own body, in a way that is holy and honorable." Don't let your body tell you what to do, you tell your body what to do. Only what's fitting for a temple where a holy, holy, holy God lives. Discipline your appetites. Take charge of your feelings, your passions, your appetites.
Avoid what's dirty and contaminating. Control your temple. Aggressive spiritual defense and offense. It's the way to win. It's the way to live your destiny - to be all God's.