This is the last message in my series on sin. We continue last week’s message on Colossians 3:5-7 with turning away from temptation and putting to death the things of our flesh (denying our flesh of its desires).
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
Last week, I talked about turning away from and denying our flesh of greed (covetous). This week we focus on turning away from and denying our flesh of sexual immorality.
The Bible says:
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
When talking about sexual immorality above, Paul expressed that we should not wrong or take advantage of our brothers and sisters. I don’t think we realize that when we give into sexual temptation, we don’t just hurt ourselves. I heard a story once about a young man who was saving himself for marriage. The girl he was dating at the time didn’t want to wait for marriage, but he refused to wrong her by giving into that temptation. Years later, his best friend ended up marrying the girl. His friend expressed how grateful he was that he saved her for him.
The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:13-20
When I was a baby Christian, still very carnal, I volunteered for a Christian activity and was teamed up to work with another married man. As we continued working together, I became more and more uncomfortable around him. We were talking one day and he complimented me on how good I looked. I was flattered by his compliment, and instead of kindly rebuking him and fleeing from that temptation, I continued talking to him and flirting with him. After we parted, God convicted and warned me that I wouldn’t like it if a woman complimented and flirted with my husband. God must have convicted him as well, because next time we saw each other he fled passed me without saying a word.
The Amplified version for 1 Corinthians 6:18 says to shun immorality and all sexual looseness, and flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed. We need to flee from sexual immorality in every way because we can’t stand against it. Our flesh is too weak.
Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29). In other words, we need to get rid of and run from anything that causes us to stumble, anything that feeds that temptation and causes it to grow.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13
God will always give us warnings and provide a way out of temptations. It’s when we continually ignore those warnings, and feed those desires, that we fall into sin. It’s not a sin to feel tempted. It’s a sin to ignore God’s warning and give into temptation.
In our society today, we are constantly bombarded with sexual temptations. But God hasn’t left us here to stand up against it without help. He’s provided a way out.
- For the unmarried and widows, Paul exhorts:
“It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
… Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
…An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.
… I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
1 Corinthians 7:8-9, 27-35
Many single Christians fall into sexual immorality by seeking a spouse. In their pursuit to find the right one, they often get involved in the wrong relationships. If their pursuit takes longer than they’d like, they often compromise their values and marry someone that isn’t God’s first choice for them. God’s way out is to stop seeking a spouse and start seeking Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. When your heart is in Him, He will bring your spouse to you at the right time, unless He’s placed a desire in you to remain single as He did in Paul.
- For the engaged, Paul expresses:
“If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.
1 Corinthians 7:36-38
A Christian woman once told me that she was living with her fiancée. She said she felt convicted. She knew God didn’t approve of her situation, but she couldn’t stop sleeping with him. I encouraged her that she could stop. I told her that God’s given her a way out to endure that temptation. She could either move out or get married to him right away.
- For the married, Paul exhorts:
“But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
… Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. … What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; … For this world in its present form is passing away.
1 Corinthians 7:2-5, 27-31
Do you notice how single people long to be married, while married people long to be single? Our flesh will always desire what we don’t have. Our flesh can never be satisfied. No matter how much we give it, it will continue wanting something more. Satan knows that. As I shared in the post on envy, he takes what we can’t have (what is harmful to us) and makes it appealing in order to trap us. I’ve seen him lure many husbands and wives away from their spouses and families only to trap them and leave them with deep regret. God’s way out of this temptation is to be content and enjoy our spouses and not withhold intimacy from them.
The Bible shares many more teachings on sexual immorality. I didn’t have time to list everything in this post. If you struggle with sexual temptation, I encourage you to pray and study all the Scriptures you can find on it. God is faithful to help you and provide a way out during temptation. If you have fallen into sin, God is right there ready to lift you up. Just hold onto Him.
Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.
Psalm 37:24, AMP
We praise You for ministering to us through this series on sin. We know that Your divine power have given us everything we need to live a godly life in Christ. We submit our soul to You; our mind, will, and emotions. Help us to follow Your Holy Spirit so we do not gratify the desires of our sinful flesh. We praise You that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Sin has no power over us because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!
*If you know a brother or sister in Christ who has fallen into sin, I recommend Pastor Greg Baker’s ebook Restoring a Fallen Christian “Rebuilding Lives for the Cause of Christ.” I started reading it shortly before this series and I found it very inspiring and helpful.