It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality. (1 Thess. 4:3)

There’s an empty lot where my neighbors once lived. Fire started in the garage and torched the vehicles inside. The whole house suffered extensive damage. Thankfully the couple got out safely, but their home was ruined.

Fire has its benefits. From the beginning, humans have used it for cooking food, warming homes, lighting the dark, and forging tools. Fire also has its dangers. Every year it carries off thousands of people and burns down buildings and forests. What makes fire life-giving or death-dealing? It’s the presence or absence of control.

Sexual desire is like fire. Properly kindled, fed, and enclosed on the hearth of one’s marriage vows, it brings emotional warmth, delight, and even new lives into the home. For the unmarried, the energy of sexual desire can be redirected toward serving God faithfully, just as people learned to use flame’s heat to make hot-air balloons fly and steam engines run.

Apostle Paul called his converts to a lifestyle of sanctification (that is, holiness) through sexual self-control. Don’t play with matches. Stamp out stray sparks. Install smoke detectors on the walls of your soul. Wandering eyes and thoughts, flirty and dirty talk, a quick fling or inappropriate relationship—these all ignite destruction. God is the fire marshal: ask for his help now or answer to him later. Don’t leave your life an empty lot.

Ask for God’s help to honor him by being sexually self-controlled.

Jerome Van Kuiken grew up in the Philippines as the child of missionaries. He teaches Bible, theology, and apologetics at Oklahoma Wesleyan University and serves in the children’s ministry at his local church.

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.