GOD wants us to be PURE & HOLY: before & after MARRIAGE: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” (1 Thess. 4:3-5, 7)
One of the greatest attributes of God is His holiness. God is holy from the very core of His being, and even His name is ‘Holy’ (Isa. 57:15). This is what Jehovah God had commanded the Israelites: "You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy" (Lev. 11:45). God reiterated this multiple times: “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy’” (Lev. 19:2; see also Exo. 22:31; Lev. 20:7, 26). The New Testament describes three kinds of holiness: positional holiness (1 Cor. 6:11); progressive holiness (Rom. 6:12–23); and perfected holiness (1 Thess. 3:13). The reason why God wants us to pursue holiness is because without holiness we cannot see God (Heb. 12:14).
The prophet Isaiah saw the glory of God through his heavenly vision when he heard seraphims crying aloud to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:3). The immediate response from the prophet after seeing this vision was a perception of his own lack of holiness as he remarked: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5). It is God’s will that we should be always sanctified and be always pure and holy (v. 3) since God has called us in holiness (v. 7). In particular, God wants us to be pure and holy - both before and after marriage!
How can we remain pure and holy before marriage? Apostle Paul has addressed this subject in great detail in both his letters to the church in Corinth, when he categorized our bodies to be “members of Christ” (1 Cor. 6:15) and “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19). The solution that Paul has provided is that we should "flee sexual immorality" (1 Cor. 6:18). Before marriage, it is good that a man to not even “touch a woman” (1 Cor. 7:1), and if a couple "cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (1 Cor. 7:9). Our Lord Jesus has categorically declared that if a man even “looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). So, according to God’s Word, the only solution for us to remain pure and holy before marriage is through marriage!
How can we remain pure and holy after marriage? Marriage is only permitted between believers as per the following directive from Apostle Paul to believers: "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Cor. 6:14). After a believing couple (man and woman) gets married, Paul has also instructed that a husband should render the love and affection that is due to her, and likewise also the wife to her husband (1 Cor. 7:3). In fact, after marriage since the husband and wife become one flesh being joined by God Himself (Matt. 19:5-6), each husband and wife has authority over the body of his/her spouse (1 Cor. 7:4). Due to this fact, Paul advises each husband and wife not to deprive each other of sexual pleasure except when they have separated themselves for a brief time during fasting and prayer (1 Cor. 7:5). The writer of Hebrews makes this clearer with the following statement: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled” (Heb. 13:4). However, to those married individuals who break the sanctity of their marriage vows, God’s judgment is guaranteed as it is written: upon “fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4b).
It is therefore clear that God wants us to be pure and holy – before and after marriage! We should separate ourselves from all forms of sin and defilement. Our bodies should be honored as created by God and should be sanctified in keeping with its holy purpose. Our holy God wants to dwell in us, and walk among us as He has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (2 Cor. 6:16). If we are still associating with unbelievers, this is what God tells us: “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:17-18). God wants to make us more and more like Himself every day. Our lives being set apart from sin unto God, our sexual purity, our moral self-control and our daily holy living is God’s desire and will for our lives.