Know Your Bible

VOL. 5                           December 3, 2006                           NO. 46

Avoiding The Deadly Descent Of Sexual Temptation

    God created sexual desires. These, like water and fire, were a part of what He called good. But, like water and fire, sexual desires cease to be good and become exceedingly destructive when uncontrolled. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Heb. 13:4).

    Fornication, in the Bible, translates a Greek word that includes all illicit sexual intercourse, including adultery (Matt. 19:9). For this reason modern translations often use the generic expression, sexual immorality.

    The first step in avoiding sexual sin is an absolute determination to avoid it regardless of the cost. "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, unclean-ness, passion, evil desire..." (Col. 3:5). Jesus said, "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you..." (Matt. 5:28,29). One who has but a shallow commitment to purity will never succeed in resisting the enticements of our sex-saturated society.

Fear Fornication: -- Television and movies portray fornication as something pleasurable, and modern entertainers sing its praises. Companions may assure us that there is nothing to fear in a casual relationship, but in fact fornication is altogether destructive. Fear of AIDS has deterred a few, but disease is only one of many consequences. Broken families, sullied reputations, unwanted pregnancies and lost innocence are penalties all too common. Satan's ministers, even in religious garb, sometimes try to convince us that fornication is a natural appetite, that sexual release is essential to a happy life and that God really wants us to be happy. Even in New Testament times a woman in the church at Thyatira taught and seduced God's servants to "commit fornication" (Rev. 2: 20). But more than once the Holy Spirit warns, "Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites...will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9,10; Eph. 5:5,6).

Fight Fornication: -- "A good offense is the best defense." Call sexual sin what it is. Call it what Joseph called it: "this great wickedness and sin against God" (Gen. 39:9). Call it what Job called it: "a heinous crime" (Job 31:11, KJV). Never leave the impression that you take it lightly. Never make jokes about fornication; fornication is not funny. Be so firm in your condemnation of it that only the most depraved would ever think of you as a candidate for seduction. Trench says that the world for shamefastness in 1 Tim. 2:9 implies conduct and appearance indicating that one would not even consider the shameful act of sexual immorality. Perhaps this is the "breastplate of righteousness" in the Christian armor (Eph. 6:14).

    In dealing with the woman taken in adultery Jesus taught us that fighting immorality does not require unkindness. However, Jude warns: "...others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" (Jude 21,22). Elders and preachers need to take such warning very seriously. Being alone with troubled persons of the opposite sex can be dangerous. Even with those not troubled it can prove tempting or open the door for false accusations.

"Flee Fornication" (1 Cor. 6:18). Fleeing clearly implies running in the opposite direction. This brings to mind pictures of people fleeing the World Trade Towers or the recent tsunami in Asia. It is the opposite of getting just as close to sin as possible. One who delights in lustful movies, lascivious stage productions, lurid television shows, sensuous music or Internet pornography and sexually oriented chat rooms is hardly fleeing fornication. Intimate touching and kissing between two unmarried individuals is not fleeing from fornication but advancing toward it. Dressing revealingly or talking intimately about private matters only increases the temptation. "We couldn't help it," many say, and that is probably true once they have gone that far. The did not flee, they pursued. One who prays, "Lead us not into temptation" will not willingly go there.

    "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13). Sometimes that way of escape is "two good feet" such as Joseph used. Or it may be breaking an engagement, writing a letter of resignation, or even calling a moving van. Whatever it takes, regardless of how drastic, it is not too much if one is determined to "flee fornication."

    Sexual immorality requires providing time, a place, a companion or simply something sexually stimulating. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Rom. 13:14).

---Sewell Hall

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"Most Of The Time"

    One day a preacher was talking to a man who was supposed to be a Christian. The man told the preacher that he went to church services "most of the time" and seemed to think this put him in good relationship with God.

    I personally know of many people who fall into that same category. They "go to church" every now and then and expect that to fulfill their religious responsibilities and consider themselves faithful to God. But think about a few things that we might put into that same perspective and then see what conclusions we might draw.

- What if a husband was faithful to his wife or a wife faithful to her husband most of the time?

- What if your car started most of the time?

- What if your heart beat most of the time?

- What if you received your paycheck most of the time?

- What if your water heater worked most of the time?

    What are your conclusions about these things? Would that husband or wife be considered faithful? Would you be satisfied with that car? Would you worry about your heart? Would you conclude that these represent examples of being faithful?

    I know I may sound like a preacher when I make this next statement but I hope you will consider it. If we wouldn't place those questions I gave as examples of being faithful, then why should one think he could please God by being "faithful" only part of the time?

    Jesus calls for commitment. (Matthew 16.24) Christianity is not just part time or even most of the time. (Luke 9.23) He asks us to count the cost and follow Him. (Luke 14.26-33) He said that if we put our hand to the plow we are not to look back (Luke 9.62). Let us be faithful in assembling to worship with the saints.

---Tony Lalli

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