and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.1 Thessalonians 4:6(NASB)
The word 'defraud' has many synonyms or words that mean exactly the same or are nearly the same in meaning. Words that come to mind are swindle, cheat, rob, and deceive. They include dupe, hoodwink, double-cross, fool, and trick.
When we consider a person who has stolen something, defrauded another person, or double-crossed them, we generally think of thieves who break in and steal. We think of rogue workmen, internet scammers, unscrupulous racketeers, or a person who engages in dishonest or fraudulent business dealings.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul cautions Christians against 'defrauding' a brother-in-Christ in one specific area, when he writes, "let no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter... because the Lord is the Avenger in all these things." Although we should eschew every form of fraudulent activity and evil passion, this verse is specifically referring to sinning against a brother through sexual immorality.
Paul makes it very clear that committing adultery, having sex with someone else's spouse or violating someone's wife, is tantamount to stealing from them. Lusting after someone else's wife mentally or actually committing fornication with them is like stealing from another brother or cheating him.
Paul explains that engaging in sexual intercourse with someone else's wife is a profane act that is no different from stealing from him, defrauding him, or coveting what belongs to him. He is exhorting the brethren in Thessalonica to walk in spirit and truth and to please God in thought as well as in deed. He reminds his congregation that sexual purity is not only God's will for all of us, but sexual infidelity is a serious sin against another brother... or sister.
Paul points out that before we were saved by grace, we did not walk in holiness but were like the pagans who walked the lust of the flesh and who used their bodies dishonourably, to satisfy their carnal passions. We who have been saved by grace should walk in spirit and truth and not succumb to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.
People may balk at the thought of murdering someone or robbing a bank, but adultery in thought or in deed is a sin against God and a total violation of His Word and His will. A man should cleave to his own spouse and not to the wife of someone else, while a wife should be joined to her own husband and not to another man.
The eyes of the LORD are in every place. He watches both the evil and the good. He sees sexual sins that are carried out behind closed doors and He sees lust in the secret place of a man's inner heart, and Paul makes it very clear that those who transgress and defraud their brother in this matter will reap a bitter reward for his sin, "because the Lord is the Avenger in all these things."
God's will for His children is set out very clearly in Scripture. We are all called to live a life that is sanctified unto God. We are instructed to eschew evil, flee sexual sin, and be set apart unto God. Our bodies are a temple in which the Holy Spirit abides. Our body should be a consecrated vessel that is holy to the Lord and should be possessed in sanctification and honourably engaged in purity of living.
The Lord does not hold sexual sin lightly for He is the Avenger of all such things. God exacts retribution on all who acts in this way. "Vengeance is mine, I will repay," is equally pertinent when a man transgresses and defrauds his brother in this matter as is it with any other sinful behaviour.
We live in a world where sexual infidelity is treated lightly by much of the populace, and even promoted by some, but let us never forget how serious it is to defraud a brother in this matter and ensure that we strive for the only standard righteous in God's eyes - as we abide in Christ and He in us.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the wake-up call that there are many ways that we can defraud one another, in thought, word, and deed. I pray that I would seek to live in purity of heart and walk in spirit and in truth for Your glory and the benefit of my neighbour. Forgive me for the times when I have not lived according to Your perfect will. Keep me from falling into sin and may I never forget that there are consequences to all wrongdoing, and that You are a God Who is the Avenger in all things. Thank You, Lord, that there is no sin that is so great that it cannot be forgiven. I confess before You my hidden sin and thank You for the forgiveness of sin and life everlasting. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.
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