Statements by Protestant clergymen condoning sexual immorality have given a new license to people everywhere. One teenager frankly told me some time ago, “My pastor says sex is all right if it is meaningful to me.” Many church leaders now advocate a so-called new morality.
What they propose is a standard in which the ultimate criterion for right and wrong is not the command of God, but individuals’ subjective perception of what is good for them and their neighbor in each situation.
This is not a new morality—this is the old immorality.
When more than 900 clergymen and students gathered some time back at Harvard Divinity School to ponder the new morality and its significance for the church, some of the statements made by clergymen were almost unbelievable. Time magazine reported that the clergymen agreed generally that in some respects the new morality is a healthy advance.
Very little was said by these clergymen about the terrible price paid for sexual immorality—venereal diseases, deep emotional disturbances, guilt complexes and suicides.
The moral problem threatens the very security of the nation. Nearly every nation of the past fell because of immorality and corruption. And the most disturbing fact about it is that even church people have become so calloused to these things that we are no longer appalled at what is happening.
We are becoming hardened to sin. As Jeremiah the prophet said, we have lost our ability to blush (Jeremiah 6:15). We have become so accustomed to immorality that it no longer seems to us to be immoral.
Instead of church leaders thundering forth as prophets of God to warn people about the penalty of their sins, we are taken up in so much social planning that we have no time for the Bible. Would to God that the church would go back to preaching the Bible and quit watering down the Gospel! Would to God that we would lift the standards high and call people to cross-bearing and self-denial!
We in the church have watered down the message and made it so meaningless to be a Christian that many rebel against the church and turn away in disgust.
Who is to blame for this deteriorating moral situation? Don’t point an accusing finger at young people. It is the older generation that has failed. The school, the church and the home have failed to communicate God’s standards.
The Seventh Commandment plainly says, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Nowhere does the Bible teach that sex in itself is a sin. But from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible condemns the wrong use of sex. Men and women in their sinful natures have taken what was intended to be a glorious and complete act of love between two people and have made it something low, cheap and dirty.
The Bible is one of the world’s most outspoken books on the subject of sex, and the Bible condemns sex outside the bonds of matrimony. The fact that immorality is rampant doesn’t make it right; the fact that some clergymen may condone it doesn’t make it right.
The Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25). Under the Jewish law, adultery was punishable by death. Under God’s law today, it also results in spiritual death. The Bible says, “She who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives” (1 Timothy 5:6). The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).
There are many ways that you can commit immorality. First, you can commit immorality by evil imaginations. In Genesis 6:5 we read, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Solomon said, “As [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
If your thoughts are evil, then your acts will be evil. If your thoughts are godly, then your life will be godly. If God destroyed the world once for its continual evil imaginations, it is reasonable to believe that all the sin, lust and immorality in the world today grieves His heart just as much as they did in that day.
Many people dream of sin and imagine sin—and if granted the opportunity, they would sin. All they lack is the occasion to sin. So in the sight of God they are sinners as much as though they had actually committed immorality.
Second, you can commit immorality by a look. The Bible places “the lust of the eyes” (1 John 2:16) right along with other major sins. Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Peter spoke of “eyes full of adultery” (2 Peter 2:14). No wonder Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” (31:1).
Third, immorality can be committed in the way you dress and in the way you act. If women deliberately dress to entice a man to sin, then they are guilty whether the act is committed or not.
Several years ago a girl said, “I came forward in a meeting and accepted Christ. A few nights later I was going to a party. When I put on my dress and looked in the mirror, it seemed as though Jesus were looking at me. I went to my wardrobe and changed my dress, and now I dress as though Jesus were my escort each evening.”
Fourth, immorality can be committed by reading and looking at pornographic literature. Our newsstands are filled with the most vile literature the world has ever known. Many books are written with the deliberate idea of arousing sexual passion. Those who write and distribute such books are going to have a terrible price to pay on the day of judgment, and those who buy and read such material are also going to have to give an account to Almighty God.
Perhaps you have broken God’s Seventh Commandment. Maybe you have been unfaithful to your wife or husband. Maybe you have yielded to sexual immorality. There is hope for you.
For anyone who is guilty, I have good news. Christ Jesus died upon the cross for you. He shed His blood for you, and the Bible teaches that “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Today you can come to the cross and be forgiven of every sin that you have ever committed.
When you come to know Christ, there dwells within you the Holy Spirit, who gives you supernatural strength to overcome temptation and evil, so that when you face it, you don’t face it alone. The Spirit of God gives you the power to say, “No.”
All of us are tempted. If you have not been tempted, you are the only one in the world. Even Christ was tempted. But the Bible teaches that temptation is not a sin. The sin comes only when we yield to the temptation.
“Ah,” you say, “but I can’t resist the temptation.” Yes, you can! God will never allow you to be tempted beyond your ability to resist the temptation. He will make a way of escape for you (1 Corinthians 10:13).
If Christ lives in your heart, you don’t have to yield to any temptation. For the true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a way to escape. The Holy Spirit makes that way.
Make sure that your heart is consecrated to God. The word means “set apart.” It requires that you present your body to God. We cannot be dedicated to Christ without giving Him our bodies.
And don’t be conformed to this world. The Scripture says that we are to yield all of our body to the Spirit, to righteousness, so that the Holy Spirit can dominate us every moment of the day. Then, the Bible says, sin shall no longer have dominion over you, but you will be renewed in your mind by the mind that was in Christ.
How do you renew the mind? By reading the Word of God every day. It fills your mind with God’s thoughts for the day, and you will find that those thoughts will drive out the evil.
Watch your thinking, for in the battle between the imagination and the will, the imagination usually wins. Watch your reading. Be discriminating about what you see. Be careful where you go. If you deliberately put yourself in the place of sin, you will likely yield. You cannot take fire into your bosom without getting burned (Proverbs 6:27).
Desire is expelled only by a higher desire. Let the love of Christ be the fire that eats up those sinful things.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.