Fornication - It Requires the Death Penalty

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 6, 2014 1 comments

At Worldview Warriors, we seek to promote the grace, hope, and love that come with the truth of who Jesus is and what he has done for us. So, you might question why in the world I would draw attention to the death penalty in the title. Well, hopefully it got your attention so that I can now cite the Scripture from which it was drawn. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). You see, the “required death penalty” does not refer to some punishment that you and I must face for our acts of fornication, because Jesus already paid it for ALL sin. Instead, it’s the sentence we must give to that which separates us from Christ. Paul is clear in Romans 8:1 that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. But to be IN Christ Jesus, one cannot also still be IN his old self. This is why Jesus said that if anyone wanted to come after him, “he must deny himself” (Luke 9:23). Simply put, fornication is the failure to deny oneself sexually.

There’s a reason why I wrote that specifically the way that I did. Many of you are probably thinking, “Wait a minute, I don’t have to deny myself sexually within my marriage”. Well, it’s true that you don’t have to FULLY deny yourself. Within marriage, God has given you a way to explore and enjoy the gift of intimacy and sexuality. However, I would argue that some denial of self is still required. What if your partner doesn’t want to do things the way you do or simply isn’t interested at the same time you are? Should you demand it or try to fulfill your desires apart from your spouse? Of course not! Is there a married man or woman out there who has never even had so much as a thought about another person sexually? I doubt it. Is pornography an acceptable substitution because the romantic flame between you and your spouse has burnt out? Looking lustfully is the same as doing, according to the very words of Jesus in Matthew 5:28. So as you can see, the denial of self regarding sexual desires (or even “needs” as some foolishly call them to avoid responsibility) is still needed within a marriage.

In addition to needing to deny oneself within a marriage, we also must practice this denial before marriage. No matter how early you got married in your life, I don’t think it’s possible that anyone reading this had their very first thought or desire for sexuality AFTER they were already married. When I was in high school, the big campaign for Christian purity was called “True Love Waits”. We signed pledges to remain abstinent until we were married, but none of us really had a clue just how hard that would be. I will be 33 years old this August and am still not married. Had I known in high school that the youth group pledge would be for 16 years and counting if I chose to keep the commitment, I probably wouldn’t have given it a passing thought. It’s not just as simple as saying it or willing yourself to do it. Denying oneself, especially sexually, requires intentionality that goes beyond the moment a decision is needed.

You can almost hear the passion in the Apostle Paul’s voice as he urges Christians not to merely abstain from sexual immorality, but to “put it to death”! Monday’s post by Katie listed another place in 1 Corinthians 6:18 where believers are told to “flee” it. Do you think maybe Paul realized how difficult it was and how prevalent of a problem it was even in the church? Guess what? Paul wasn’t the first one to see this problem threatening the church.

In Matthew 15, Jesus is addressing both Pharisees and his disciples after they bring to his attention some that were breaking the traditions of the elders by not washing their hands before they eat (v. 2). Jesus goes on to tell the two groups separately in verse 11 and then in verse 18 that the things that “come out of the mouth” are what make a man “unclean” rather than what goes into the mouth. As he further explains it to his disciples, he lists things that come out of the heart as “evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander” (v. 19), and then declares, “These are what make a man unclean” (v. 20). Evidently, the religious leaders AND Jesus’ disciples were more worried about silly, non-biblical traditions regarding cleanliness than eradicating the sins of their hearts, which included sexual immorality. In my opinion, this was out of convenience. What’s easier, dealing with dirty hands or addressing the issues of the heart? Fast-forward it to today and things are quite similar. Is it easier to worry about styles of music, the color of the carpet, and church politics than it is to aggressively end sin in our lives? You better believe it is, and the lack of commitment to battling sin in many churches is evidence that we’ve tried to take a seemingly easier path.

The times in my life where I have personally failed in the area of fornication have been when I was not intentional about fleeing it or putting it to death. Conversely, the times I’ve experienced victory have been when I made other intentional decisions regarding denying myself what the flesh wanted. If you are reading this and are struggling with sexual immorality of any kind, know that you certainly aren’t alone. Abraham, Jacob, Samson, and David were just some of the many followers of God in the Old Testament who committed sins of sexual immorality. Yet, Hebrews 11 lists them among the “faithful”. That means they were not defined by their sins, but instead by their forward-looking belief in the One who never failed and who saved them from their sins. This faith was not purely emotional, but was shown through action. The same can be true for you. If your computer or TV is what leads you to immorality, get rid of it. If you’re in a relationship where you are being pressured by your partner to commit acts of fornication, it’s time to break the chain that binds you. I personally have an accountability group where we ask each other the tough questions, pray for each other, and discuss ways to eradicate the sins in our lives. We know we don’t need to be perfect for Christ to love us, but he has set the mark of holiness for us and we will not stop striving to hit it no matter how many times we miss. Will you join us in “putting to death” your immorality? Know that the battle has already been won, and we need only to walk in victory!


Anonymous said...

Perhaps denying ones self sexually makes for an unattractive possible mate. When I was college, our quarterback was dating a very smart attractive young lady but he did not believe in hugging or kissing before marriage. After a year dating she gave up & quickly dated and married the running back who knew how to kiss a lady good nite.