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)
I’m going to begin a series this week on moral purity. This subject has been far and away the most requested topic I am asked to write about. It is one of the most frequent email inquiries that I receive from people needing help or advice, or as a question on the Serious Answers page.
A few things to clarify up front: the series will NOT contain anything explicit about sex, so it will be appropriate for teens and singles to read the series. Also, please don’t be naive and think this is primarily a series of lessons directed at males. The problem of lust, impurity and immorality is equally an issue with either gender today. More on that as the series progresses.
One other thing to preface and disclose as we get started. The Internet has been unique in both it’s 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”.
I will be featuring a link and note about these products with each lesson. SeriousFaith.com DOES receive a commission on the sale of these products. I WOULD RECOMMEND THEM EVEN IF WE DID NOT. The purpose of the series is NOT to generate sales income. The purpose of the series is to teach about moral purity. I have used these two products and they are great for helping with the Internet problems. On the page where I tell you about these programs, there are links that take you DIRECTLY to these product sites. If you have any objection to SeriousFaith.com receiving a commission on these products, please purchase them directly from the sellors site.
- “Covenant Eyes” monitors your Internet activity and reports its 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).
If we only had access to one verse in Scripture, the following is enough to completely clarify God’s command on the issue of purity (emphasis mine):
- Ephesians 5:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; (NKJV)
- Ephesians 5:3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. (NLT)
- Ephesians 5:3 Since you are God’s people, it is not right that any matters of sexual immorality or indecency or greed should even be mentioned among you. (GNB)
- Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints; (ASV)
It is not a matter of degrees or amounts; the Apostle Paul writes under inspiration that NO immorality should be named among Christians – it should be mentioned and should have no place in our lives. This doesn’t mean that we don’t talk about it or teach the subject in the context of learning about purity – it means that we should give no place in our hearts, minds, homes or churches for immorality as something we enjoy or participate in. We shouldn’t be comfortable with it. We shouldn’t tolerate it. We shouldn’t accept it.
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, no, 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'”. I can only speak for American Christianity since that is my experience – but do you think we even TRY to obey this? Do you think we even begin to BELIEVE we can obey it? Or have we succumbed to our culture that not declares this impossible, but unnecessary, old-fashioned and “extreme”?
Given the depth and breadth of Paul’s command, do we send out the “morality police” like some Islamic countries and pummel someone on a sidewalk who’s elbow or ankle is showing? No. As I teach frequently, external standards are good and have their place, but they will never succeed if the heart is not changed.
True morality and purity comes from learning God’s Word,
humbly submitting our lives to it and making plans to
deal with the reality of impurity in our culture.
Does that mean that we should have no standards, no external boundaries or personal rules? Of course not. However, anything done externally will only have lasting effect if it originates by a Holy Spirit led decision of the heart. An external constraint or rule forced on you may have some short term benefit, but it will not change the you for the long term if it is not accompanied with a heart change which only comes from God..
So the purpose of these lessons will be to 1) teach about moral purity according to God, and 2) give some practical ideas on how to work towards moral purity on a daily basis.
The first order of business however is to determine in your own mind that moral purity is necessary, commanded and possible. If Ephesians 5.3 doesn’t convince you, here are some other verses to consider before continue on tomorrow with our series (emphasis mine):
- Exodus 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery. (NKJV)
- Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (NKJV)
- Acts 15:29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. (NKJV)
- Romans 13:13-14 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (NKJV)
- 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (NKJV)
- 1 Corinthians 10:8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; (NKJV)
- Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, (NKJV)
- Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (NKJV)
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 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; (NKJV)
- Jude 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (NKJV)
- Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (NKJV)
God’s word is clear on the matter. It is only our culture, churches, communities, media and individual standards that have strayed from God’s Word. Let me say again here, in preparation to continue tomorrow, I do not believe that rigid external standards (and subsequent punishments/consequences) are the long term answer. External conformity only has short term benefit at best. Of course parents who enforce moral standards for their children is a good thing; and churches encouraging moral standards and acting appropriately according the dictates of “church discipline” is also good. But…
If moral purity is to be long term and effective, then the heart must be changed responding in faith to the hearing of God’s Word. And so it is my intent to share God’s word with you on this issue, and make it real by suggesting tools, ideas and practical ways to help you become and stay morally pure.
Our Heavenly Father, Help us to understand that moral purity is a “must” in our Christian life. It is not a suggestion or an option. We pray that You will begin to teach us and empower us towards the purity you command. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you think about moral purity? Do you think that the Bible really means that there is to be NO HINT of immorality in our lives? Do you think this is possible? Do you think it is necessary? Isn’t a LITTLE bit of “fun” okay? Isn’t a little bit of “naughtiness” okay? What does it hurt to tolerate just a little immorality as long as we’re not hurting someone else? Have you ever thought about what “a hint” of immorality even amounts to?
Application: Moral purity has become a boat-rocking, almost-taboo subject in our churches and teaching. The first word about it results in clarion pronouncements of “judgmentalism” and “intolerance”. Then comes the inevitable “why are a bunch of old white guys telling everyone else how to behave?”. Paul commands that not even a HINT of immorality should exist in our lives. If God inspired him to write it, then 1) we are to obey it, and 2) it IS possible. But first you must believe that God is serious about this issue.
- 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?