Warning!

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1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally, brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God (as, in fact, you are doing), you should do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; 4 that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honor, 5 not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one wrong or exploit a brother or sister in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we have already told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness.

What caught my attention in this passage is in verse 6 where Paul describes God as the “avenger in all these things”. In other words, God will hold us to account for “impurity” (v.7). I expect that accountability is not limited to sexual sin, but all kinds of sin. To describe God as an “avenger” sounds kind of extreme to me, but I checked several other bible translations and that same word is used in more than a few.

There is a tension present in scripture, particularly the New Testament. On the one hand there is great emphasis on our God who offers mercy and compassion, who is “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love”. Then there are passages like this to remind us that God does not take sin lightly, hence we would be foolish to do so. The word “avenger” is here for a reason. It has my attention.

Lord God, give me ears to hear the warning Paul offers in our passage. Show me the places where I am taking a cavalier attitude toward sin and disobedience that I might embrace repentance and renewal. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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