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Scripture Reading:  1 Thessalonians 4:1-8


Part 2

Works of the Flesh:  Sins of Sensuality



1.  God’s will for His children is moral purity & holiness – 1 Pet. 1:13-16.

2.  Sexual immorality was rampant in Roman empire of the 1st century & viewed as an accepted way of life.  Legalized brothels; Paganism incorporated fornication into its rituals; Little/no shame in illicit sexual relations:

  a.  On purity:  “Chastity is simply a proof of ugliness.”  (Seneca, On Benefits, 3.16.1-3; cited in Flesh & Spirit, Barclay, p. 25).

  b.  On adultery: “Roman women were married to be divorced & 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.)

  c.  On homosexuality:  “Of the first 15 Emperors, Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct.”  (Gibbon in Flesh & Spirit, Barclay, p. 26).  [Julius Caesar was notoriously the lover of king Nicomedes of Bithynia, while Nero “married” a youth called Sporus & had a marriage              procession thru the streets of Rome!  (Ibid., p. 27)]

3.  America today:  Gay marriages; Churches accepting homosexuals & adulterers; Prominent people openly flaunt their sexual improprieties!

4.  Gal. 5:19 – “Manifest” today:  We must beware!


I.  FORNICATION - (immorality, NASV).

  A.    Definition of “porneia”… “illicit sexual intercourse in general,” (Thayer, 532).  General, inclusive term for all sexual immorality.

    1.  Wrong to say, “adultery is when you’re married; fornication is when you’re single” – cf. Matt. 19:9.

    2.  Specific kinds of fornication:
      a.  Adultery (moichao – “to have unlawful intercourse with another’s wife,” Thayer, 417; cf.
Rom. 7:2-3).  Dishonor of 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) –
1 Cor. 6:9 (1 Tim. 1:10).
      c.  Bestiality – to lie carnally with an animal (
Lev. 18:23; Exo. 22:19).
  B.    Some Characteristics of Fornication:

    1.  Lustful (heart) – Mk. 7:21; Matt. 5:28 (Prov. 6:24-29).

    2.  Loveless (not a love affair; innocent pleasures) 1 Ths. 4:6 (Heb. 13:4).

    3.  Against the body & dishonors it – 1 Cor. 6:13, 15, 18 (1 Ths. 4:3-5).

    4.  Punished by God – 1 Ths. 4:6 (Heb. 13:4).

  C.    God Provides Ways of Escape (1 Cor. 10:13):

    1.  Self-control (Gal. 5:23; 2 Pet. 1:6); Phil. 4:8.

    2.  Marriage – 1 Cor. 7:2.

    3.  Rendering of due kindness (affection), 1 Cor. 7:3-5 (Prov. 5:15-20).

    4.  Flee fornication – 1 Cor. 6:18.


II.  UNCLEANNESS - (impurity, NASV).

  A.  Definition of “akatharsia”… “in a moral sense: the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living…used of impure motives in 1 Ths. 2:3” (Thayer, 21).

  B.  “Uncleanness” is Inclusive:

    1.  Thought Gen. 6:5; Prov. 23:7 (motives, desires, etc.).

    2.  Word Eph. 5:3-4.  Impure speech (vulgarity, profanity, “dirty” jokes, swearing, etc.) is uncleanness.

    3.  Deed Eph. 4:19.  It can be worked (4:20 – But not Christians!).

    4.  Ultimately, it is a greedy & selfish act designed to gratify fleshly lusts through impure means.  cf. Matt. 5:8 (Pure in heart see God.)


III.  LEWDNESS (lasciviousness, ASV; sensuality, NASV).

  A.  Definition of “aselgeia” … “unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence…wanton (acts or) manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males & females” (Fritzsche), Rom. 13:13” (Thayer, 79f).

  B.  Lewdness (like fornication & uncleanness) Starts in the Mind.

    1.  “Unbridled lust” – Mk. 7:21-23; Jas. 1:14-15.  Craving something (or someone) you have not right to have.

    2.  Lewdness is unbridled, unrestrained lust (lasciviousness).

  C.  Lewdness is Expressed in Shameless & Unrestrained Conduct.  (Cf. definitions above)  Wanton (indecent) acts/manners…

    1.  Filthy words – Unrestrained speech.

    2.  Indecent bodily movements (dancing).

      a.  Assoc. w/unlawful desires (lust) & shameless conduct.  (Moral restraint & modesty do not characterize modern dance, Mk. 6:22)

      b.  The movements & bodily contact of the modern dance are vulgar & indecent without the accompanying music…as well as with it!

      c.  It destroys Christian influence.

    3.  Unchaste handling of males & females - cf. fondling, promiscuity, pre-marital sex; Loss of self-control & lack of self-restraint.

    4.  Immodest apparel 1 Tim. 2:9-10.  (Shamefastness:  Shame that is rooted in one’s character; Sobriety:  Sound judgment; Ability to judge between modest & immodest clothing!

    5.  Pornography, cyber-sex, etc. 

    6.  Yet, lewdness disregards shame & decency!

“The terrible thing about ‘aselgeia’ is that it is the act of a character which has lost that which ought to be its greatest defense -- its self-respect, and its sense of shame.”  (Flesh & Spirit, Barclay, p. 33)

  D.  Christians must Cease Such Thoughts & Practices1 Pet. 4:2-4.

    1.  Practice purity of heart & self-control in conduct (Gal. 5:23-24).

    2.  Maintain a sense of shame & the ability to differentiate between modest & immodest activity.



1.  All forms of sexual immorality are an affront to the holy God & His holy people! – Rom. 1:24-27; Eph. 5:3, 12

2.  God’s punishment:  Cannot enter heaven – Gal. 5:21.

3.  What is the remedy for the sensual sins of the flesh?  (Gal. 5:19)

4.  2 Cor. 12:21 (Same 3 words) – Repent & cease such sins (Col. 3:5-8).