Refusing Sin

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After an introduction, we have began discussing strategies for waging war on sin: (1) Recognising Sin and (2) Replacing Sin.

In this post we come to the third strategy: Refusing Sin. The apostle Paul spoke these words in his letter to the Thessalonians, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” (). The word abstain” literally means “to hold oneself off” or “to stay completely away from.” It is used again in where Paul said, “abstain from every form of evil.” This is a deliberate act in which the believer refuses to associate with sin.

What is Paul exactly addressing here? What are believers to abstain from? The answer is sexual immorality“. In the New Testament this term is often translated “fornication” or “immorality.” It is actually a very general and broad term that refers to any sexual sin. So when it comes to “sexual immorality” the believer must abstain. An excellent example of someone who removes himself from the presence of sexual immorality and refuses it was Joseph. In , Potiphar’s wife offered herself to Joseph; he reacted in a way that was honoring to God by fleeing from the scene. He refused the sin.

It is important to consider what the source of sexual immorality is in our lives, and the source of any sin for that matter. According to the teaching of the Lord Jesus, any act of sin originates within the individual (). It is clear that such sins originate within the individual, but it is also important to understand that this is still sinful if this sin doesn’t manifest itself to the public eye. Jesus said, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (). It is the duty of the believer to be sexually pure in thought and deed. This means that you are to stand clear of all sexual immorality including things in your thought-life. If you desire to refuse impurity and pursue purity, it is critical that you abstain from sexual immorality.

Of course, this doesn’t only apply to sexual immorality. As it was said earlier in this post, we are also commanded to “abstain from every form of evil” (). With the help of the Lord’s empowering, we are to refuse sin in the midst of this intense battle. I conclude with the words of Steve Lawson,

“In the battle with sin, common to all believers, sin must be refused, even put to death, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” [1]


[1] Lawson, Steven. The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards. Reformation Trust Publishing, 2008, pp. 89-90

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

22 Abstain from every form of evil.

And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.

20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

22 Abstain from every form of evil.

Published by

Andrew Courtis

Andrew Courtis

ANDREW - Serves as Pastor of Hills Bible Church. I am married to Dianne and we have three children (Kate, Emma and Jack). I was born and raised in Melbourne, moved to Adelaide to undertake theological studies (BMin.), and have completed additional studies with the Australian College of Theology (MATh.). I have served in pastoral ministry in both Melbourne and Sydney and am a qualified school teacher. I am committed to expository preaching and making the word of God known and understood.