Ephesians 5:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
The problem of lust, impurity and immorality is a major issue with both genders today. Our society is plagued with sexual immorality and the church is no less affected.
The Internet has been unique in both its blessing, and its curse. Immorality in every form imaginable is at your fingertips via the Internet. Because of this fact, I have investigated, tested and used many programs for monitoring and accountability for computers and the Internet. The two best that I have found are “Covenant Eyes” and “I Am Big Brother”.
- “Covenant Eyes” monitors your Internet activity and reports it to accountability partners of your choice. Find out more by clicking here (http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp).
- “I Am Big Brother” allows you to monitor all activity on any given computer including instant messaging, email, etc. Find out more here (http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp).
I keep repeating this opening with each lesson so that the foundational idea remains clear. From our main Bible verse (Ephesians 5.3), notice the breakdown of the words in Greek:
- “immorality” (porneia) – illicit sex, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, all forms of deviant sexual activity, sex with a divorced man or woman
- “any” (pas) – all things, every, whosoever, everyone, whole, all manner of, every thing, whatsoever, always
- “impurity” (akatharsia) – uncleanness; lustful, luxurious, profligate living; impure motives
- “named” (onomazo) – call, to utter, to make mention of
Studying the original meaning helps us to understand how deep and encompassing this imperative from Paul is. He is saying, “let NO form of sexual impurity or lust or uncleanness be mentioned, uttered or named about any person who calls themselves ‘Christian'”.
At this point in our series, we have learned (view the all series here) that:
- The command for sexual purity is clear and all encompassing (Exodus 20:14; Matthew 5:28; Acts 15:29; Romans 13:13-14; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; 1 Corinthians 10:8; Galatians 5:19; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; Jude 7; Romans 12:1)
- Sexual sin does not just happen “by accident”; it is a series of steps that lead us closer and closer to edge of the “cliff” where a stumble or gust of wind can blow us off into tragedy.
- We are to flee sexual immorality; run from it; get as far away as possible rather than stand and put up a “fight” (1Cor 6.18)
Sometimes we’re tempted to think that the Biblical writers are out-of-touch because they just can’t understand how things “really are” today. My teenagers often tell me that I “can’t understand” their circumstances or feelings, as if what they are experiencing is somehow unique to the entire history of the world. It’s not.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. (NKJV)
There is nothing new about the sexual immorality we face today either. When the Apostle Paul wrote the following, he wrote it to a grossly immoral culture saturated in sexual bad habits, deviancy and permissiveness:
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 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; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul was saying, “despite the lifestyle you have lived, despite the culture around you that approves of sexual sin, despite your old habits, the Lord does not tolerate sexual sin in the lives of His children”. These were not the Puritan words of an out-of-touch, sexually-frustrated, old white man who didn’t understand what “real” people face. Paul lived in a time and culture very much like ours today where sex runs the spectrum of “what’s the big deal” to “anything goes”.
We have a “safe driving distance”
mentality about sexual immorality.
Purity is NOT relative.
Paul did not give a command that was impossible to follow. God never asks anything of us that He does not graciously empower us to live up to. Nor is Paul’s command relative. We are not to simply be a little better than the world. Today’s Christian community typically has a “safe distance” mentality about morality. What does that mean? Consider the safe distance rule about driving…
When driving, they teach the “two second rule” about following a “safe distance” behind the next car. You pick out a stationary object on or beside the road. As the car in front of you passes that object, you begin to count, “thousand one, thousand two”. As long as you have not passed that same object before counting “two”, then you are a “safe distance” behind the car in front of you.
It doesn’t matter if you are going 10 miles an hour, or 90. The distance changes between you and the car in front of you; but it’s all relative. They speed up, you speed up. They slow down, you slow down. As long as you keep your safe distance of “two seconds”.
This works great for driving safely, but it’s a catastrophic approach to sexual purity. The world is going “90 mph” down the road of immorality. The typical Christian appears to be pretty “good” because they are a “safe distance” behind the world. But compared to God’s Word, we are driving recklessly. (Thank you to Dr. John Barnett for teaching me this valuable illustration! www.dbtm.org)
Paul emphasizes the nature of his warning by proclaiming the consequences: “Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit“. So just to make sure that we don’t say, “that’s just Paul’s opinion based on his experience in his culture”, he clarifies his intent by saying, “you’re not rejecting me if you ignore this command; you are rejecting God and the Holy Spirit”. Very, very strong words.
Our sex crazed and permissive society does not give us an excuse for lesser standards of purity. Oh, make no mistake, it certainly makes it easier and more comfortable for us to tolerate “hints” of sexual impurity in our lives. But no matter what our culture approves of, we have our standard clearly defined as Christians. We are not to simply be “better” than our culture, we are to uphold God’s standard no matter what the culture approves of.
Our Heavenly Father, Help us to realize that culture does not define our standards; You do. Help us to recognize where we have trangressed Your standards because we are measuring against the world’s standards. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Clothes, movies, relationships… in what ways do you loosen up your standards about sex because you are “much better” than the world? Or maybe you are even better than the typical person at your church; is that an appropriate standard? Compared to others, how do you measure up regarding sexual purity? Compared to Ephesians 5.3 and 1Thess 4.3, how do you measure up?
Application: Any standard except God’s is subject to change and become victim to rationalization and desensitization. If you don’t believe me, take a moment to evaluate the level of sexual immorality we allow via the TV, movies and music – compared to what our parents or grandparents would have tolerated. We don’t even blink at many things that would have been a bonified SCANDAL and SHAME ten, fifteen or twenty years ago. So don’t fool yourself about how our culture affects our Christian standards. They have been significantly loosened up but remain a “safe driving distance” from the world – giving us a false sense of obedience in many cases.
- If you are having trouble with immorality and the Internet, Covenant Eyes is my recommended service for helping you in this area. This service tracks your activity, and send a report or the accountability partner(s) you choose. Find out more here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp
- If you need to monitor and record the activity on a computer including email and instant messaging, my recommended program is “I Am Big Brother”. It cannot be uninstalled without security privileges and can run secretly in the background. Find out more here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?