1. Nature of this topic demands that we speak with discretion, yet directly; with care, yet clarity.
2. Bible warns against of the sins of sexual immorality - Gal. 5:19:
3. Sexual immorality was rampant in Roman empire of the 1st century & viewed as an accepted way of life.
a. Sexual purity was seen as repugnant: "Chastity is simply a proof of ugliness." (Seneca, On Benefits, 3.16.1-3; Flesh and Spirit, Barclay, p. 25).
b. Absence of shame over sexual immorality:
1) Legalized brothels, paganism incorporated fornication into its rituals, no shame seen in illicit sexual relations.
2) 1st half of 2nd century: " an age when shame seems to have vanished from the earth." (J. J. Chapman cited by Barclay, Ibid., 24)
3) "In Greece there had never been any shame in relationships before marriage or outside marriage." (Barclay, Ibid.)
c. Adultery was commonplace: "Roman women were married to be divorced and were divorced to be married. Some of them distinguished the years, not by the names of the consuls, but by the names of their husbands." (Seneca, Ibid., 25)
d. Homosexuality was widely practiced & accepted:
1) "Of the first 15 Emperors, Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct." (Gibbon, cited by Barclay, Flesh and Spirit, p. 26)
2) Julius Caesar was notoriously the lover of king Nicomedes of Bithynia, while Nero "married" a youth called Sporus & had a marriage procession through the streets of Rome! (Ibid., p. 27)
4. cf. America today: Living together w/o marriage, same-sex marriages, some churches now approve homosexuals & adulterers; Prominent people openly flaunt their sexual improprieties, etc.
5. 1 Cor. 10:6, 8 - Manifest (Gal. 5:19, plain, clear, well-known) - Today as always, Christians must beware!
a. Sexual immorality leads to unwanted pregnancies, broken homes, children w/o stable home environments, welfare dependency, STDs .
b. Fornication & adultery in the church, destroying homes, lives, reputations, influences & souls.
c. Accommodative doctrines excuse adultery & harbor sin - Rev. 2:20.
I. BIBLE WORDS DEFINE SEXUAL IMMORALITY.
A. Distinguishing Biblical Terms For Sexual Immorality - cf. Heb. 13:4.
1. General term: FORNICATION (porneia - "illicit sexual intercourse in general," Thayer, 532). Includes all forms.
2. Specific terms:
a. ADULTERY (moichao - "to have unlawful intercourse with another's wife," Thayer, 417 - cf. Rom. 7:2-3). Dishonoring of the marriage bed (Heb. 13:4). All adultery is fornication, but not all fornication is adultery (it may take other forms: pre-marital, homosexual, bestiality).
b. HOMOSEXUALITY (arsenokoites - "one who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, homosexual," Thayer, 75) - 1Cor.6:9 (1Tim.1:10)
c. BESTIALITY - Lie carnally with an animal - Lev. 18:23; Exo. 22:19.
3. These and all other forms of sexual immorality are an affront to the holy God & His holy people! - Rom. 1:24-27; Eph. 5:3
II. SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF FORNICATION.
A. Fornication Is Loveless. (NOT a "love affair", innocent pleasure, etc.!)
1. It is based on lust, not love - Col. 3:5 (impure motives, vile passions & evil cravings).
2. It begins in a lustful heart - Mk. 7:21; Prov. 6:24-29.
3. It is self-centered, base, seeking always & only its own advantage & fulfillment - Jas. 4:1-3 (Exo. 20:17).
B. Fornication Is Lawless.
1. It violates God established order of marriage's purity, propriety & permanency - Matt. 19:5; cf. 1 Cor. 7:2.
2. It violates God will for man's moral purity - 1 Pet. 1:15-16.
C. Fornication Misuses The Body - 1 Cor. 6:13, 15, 18 (defiles body, Lev. 18:20).
D. Fornication Destroys:
1. The soul - Prov. 6:32 (Gal. 5:19, 21); Hos. 3:11.
2. The home / family - Matt. 19:6.
E. Fornication Dishonors:
1. The participant - Prov. 6:26, 33.
2. One's body - 1 Ths. 4:3-5.
3. One's spouse - Heb. 13:4; Prov. 2:16-17 (forgotten); Mal. 2:14.
4. One's neighbor (defrauds, deceives) - 1 Ths. 4:6.
5. God - 1 Ths. 4:8.
6. The church - 1 Cor. 5:1.
F. Fornicators Will Be Judged & Punished By God - Heb. 13:4; 1 Ths. 4:6; Gal. 5:21; Rev. 21:8.
III. DIVINE PROTECTION FROM & REMEDY FOR FORNICATION.
A. Divine Protection From The Sin Of Fornication.
1. Marriage - 1 Cor. 7:2.
a. Render due benevolence, don't defraud each other - 1 Cor. 7:3-4.
b. Do not deprive each other - 1 Cor. 7:5.
c. Nurture its blessings with your spouse - Prov. 5:15-20 (1 Pet. 3:7).
d. Wait for marriage - Gen. 2:25 (Heb. 13:4).
2. Ways of escape (1 Cor. 10:12-13):
a. Flee fornication & its lusts - 1 Cor. 6:18 (cf. Joseph); 2 Tim. 2:22.
b. Retain the word of God - Prov. 7:1-5.
c. Guard your heart (heart-control) - Phil. 4:8.
d. Exercise wisdom & discretion - Prov. 2:10-12, 16.
e. Avoid arrogantly thinking you are too strong to commit this sin! - Prov. 7:26
B. The Divine Remedy When Fornication Has Occurred: Repent & Obey The Gospel - Acts 17:30; 1 Cor. 6:9-11 (Acts 18:8); 2 Cor. 12:21.
1. Change your heart / mind - 2 Cor. 7:10.
2. Stop your sin - Rev. 9:20-21; 1 Ths. 4:3.
3. Forgive yourself & press forward in faith, knowing God forgives when we repent - 2 Cor. 2:6-7; 7:10.
1. The flesh presents powerful desires we must bring under the control of the gospel & its righteousness.
2. Fornication is a fleeting pleasure which, unless repented of, assures eternal sorrow - Prov. 5:3-6; 9:17-18.