3. A Plea for Morality

Sanctity of Life by Chuck Swindoll 1990

Every person reading these words is married. You have a companion who will be with you for life. Every morning, as sure as the rising of the sun, your partner is there. Every evening, immutable as the arrival of darkness, your companion is still by your side. This companion will never leave you because of lack of support or incompatibility . . . and a divorce is impossible. You and your partner are married forever, till death do you part.

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Your partner, your lifelong companion, is temptation.

There is no escape, no immunity, no exemption, and no relief. Even if you entered into the role of the priesthood and lived the balance of your life behind the thick walls of a monastery, your battle would go on; your companion would be there, taunting you and haunting you almost on a daily basis.

This is nothing new; it’s been going on for centuries. Because temptation feeds on our curiosity, it continues to tell us what we don’t have and what we ought to have. Because it depends upon comparison, it keeps whispering the age-old lie that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. It never runs out of carrots, telling you that something or someone is better than what you have and it is worth the risk; yield, and you will find satisfaction. This is nothing new. This is not a late century-twenty malady.

An Ancient Scene with a Relevant Ring

Step into the time tunnel with me and travel back 3,000 years ago. The nation is Israel. The city is Jerusalem. The season is spring. The time is evening. The the hour is early. The place is the roof of the king’s palace. It is a quiet evening. A soft breeze blows across the city. And in a rare moment of unaccountable privacy and relaxation, the king is walking on the roof to find some solitude in the cool evening breeze.

Beyond the palace lives a young married woman. No children. Her husband is away in military service.

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She is the daughter of Eliam . . . the wife of Uriah. In unguarded innocence, she is taking an evening bath. She is not a sultry, cheap streetwalker, or a sexually frustrated woman. She is a faithful wife. And the man who stops to watch her? He is around forty years of age . . . a dignified, respected monarch. He’s a gallant warrior, handsome and gifted, not a sex-starved peeping Tom. He has at least seven wives, not to mention several concubines. He has fathered seventeen children. Clearly, he is not some kind of prowling human animal in heat. He had two dangerous possessions, however — time on his hands and an evening of unaccountable privacy. No question, he is attracted. He cannot take his eyes off her.

In her novel “David and Bathsheba,” Roberta Dorr portrays it vividly.

Bathsheba pulled off her shift and stepped into the alabaster bowl her servant Sarah had filled will fresh water. She stood naked in the bowl while her servant dipped water with a gourd and poured it over her. Bathsheba stood without embarrassment even though she had nothing to cover her nakedness. Unknown to her, a man’s eyes had been observing and . . . ordinarily he would have turned away, but it was all so unexpected and lovely that he continued to watch. With growing admiration, he studied her loveliness as only half-seen through the dried palm branches. Her hair clung in damp curls to her full breasts and her tiny waist accentuated the pleasing roundness of her hips. As he watched, she stepped out of the bowl and tossed her

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hair back, making the curve of her back visible. He thought he’d never seen anything so beautiful or so graceful in his life. 14

A quiet rap on her door later that evening changed her plans not only for the rest of the night but for the rest of her life.

Understand that up until this encounter David and Bathsheba had never met. If he had met her, she was one among many in the streets of Jerusalem who had bowed before the king. He didn’t even know her name. But before that night was over, she would have his child within her.

Let’s understand right away that illicit sex is neither novel nor new. It is not something that has grown out of today’s society. Sexual temptation has been a part of humanity throughout time. As I stated at the beginning of the chapter, it is a marriage from which there is no escape. Chapter 1 of the New Testament letter of James describes in clear and brief terms a downward cycle that is taken by all who taste of temptation’s forbidden fruit:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt any one. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust (James 1:13-14).

An Analysis of Lust’s Allurement

Since it is fairly easy to analyze sexual temptation in a safe place such as that in which we find ourselves

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at this moment — a book open in your lap, lights are bright . . . no soft music . . . no sultry temptress in front of you — let’s do so. So let’s get real objective. This is a splendid opportunity to analyze how it all happens, how the secret, smoldering fire can burst into a destructive blaze that ruins a reputation, a career, a home, and finally a life.

While thinking about this in these recent days, I have come up with some simple terms that describe how and why this kind of thing happens.

As I think through the whole nine yards of sensual temptations, I find that there are several steps downward. First, there is an innocent attraction. Nothing wrong with that. Almost without exception, it is nothing more than a spontaneous observation. God has given us bodies. One person notices another. Some people have beautiful bodies, wonderful shapes and figures, and they keep themselves well attired. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is commendable. Furthermore, the enjoyment of the beauty of another individual is not in itself sin. It occurs every day without evil intentions. We even compliment others who are not our marriage partners because we think they look nice. It is a courteous expression meant in sincerity and interpreted the same way. It is nothing more than an innocent attraction, but it’s a start.

Second, this innocent attraction leads to what we might call curiosity. Webster defines it, “a desire to know, interest leading to inquiry.” There is a desire to know more about the other person, which prompts

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further inquiry. At this point, mental comparisons usually take place. While getting to know another individual of the opposite sex, it is a great temptation to compare that person to someone else, often the one we’re married to. And invariably we find things that are missing in our partner. Men are especially vulnerable at this point. Our expectations are often unrealistic. As I heard one woman say recently, “I’m expected today to be Mother Teresa, Margaret Thatcher, Chris Evert, and Cheryl Ladd all wrapped up in one. And all I really am is Betty Crocker.”

The fire of comparison is fueled by increased curiosity. The one whom we do not know intimately is secretly compared to the one we know extremely well, and we see something lacking . . . invariably something is lacking.

Third, the door of curiosity opens the way to guarded imagination. I don’t believe sin has occurred at this point. Temptation happens all the time. But it is at this juncture that our imagination is triggered as it begins to play a vital role. By the time the next step is taken, sin has occurred.

The fourth step downward is fantasy. Fantasy is the free play of one’s creative and uninhibited imagination. Fantasy is mixing desires and wishes with dreams that are usually held in restraint. If unrestrained, the fantasy playground of the mind is capable of picturing the most intimate sexual activity with a person who was once nothing more than an attractive acquaintance.

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Finally, this leads to a full-scale lust. Lust is an overpowering desire to enter into the actual fulfillment of one’s fantasy. When lust takes charge, normal restraints are removed. I can think of four restraints that are blown to the winds at this point.

1. Ignoring one’s personal reputation, commitment, and moral standard. Lust cancels out those personal things. All of us have certain things that serve to encourage personal purity. It is those things that lust removes from our minds.

A man who had had a marvelous ministry for many years told me that when he fell into an affair with another woman, it got to where he could hardly remember he was married and was occasionally unable to name his own children. Another said it got to where he was so addicted to the other woman that when he was sexually intimate with his wife he felt he was unfaithful to his mistress. That is how twisted things get.

2. Blindness to the consequences. You don’t think about this tearing up your career. You don’t consider how some will find out and how the thing will bring heartbreak to your children and grandchildren. Again, lust cancels out all those consequences.

3. Not surprisingly, wrong is rationalized. You begin to tell yourself lies. Dark becomes light. The questionable becomes acceptable. Rationalization breaks down clear-thinking logic.

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4. There is a burning excitement to proceed, no matter what. Whoever reaches that point of no return cannot stop. The excitement reaches such a fever pitch, all restraint is tossed to the winds.

I had an interesting experience in January of 1990. I had been invited to speak in New Orleans at the Super Bowl breakfast sponsored by Athletes in Action. En route from Los Angeles to New Orleans, I had to change planes in another city. The connecting flight was packed, naturally, and there was a festive spirit on board since everyone was headed for Super Bowl XXIV. I noticed an empty seat behind mine . . . the only empty seat on the plane. Only minutes before we backed away from the terminal, one final passenger hurried on board. Her plane had been late arriving, making it questionable if she could make her New Orleans connection. She did. As she hurried on, a bit harried, she immediately broke into a broad smile as her eyes met those of the man sitting next to the seat she would occupy. She didn’t simply sit down — she fell into his arms as they kissed, giggled, and embraced for the next ten minutes.

My immediate thought was, “Now there’s a happily married couple!” How wrong I was. They were both married . . . but not to each other. Because they sat right behind me, I got the full scoop. I must confess to some eavesdropping. Their carefully arranged plan was to rendezvous on the plane, then spend the weekend together in New Orleans. Their conversation, mixed with frequent kisses, included

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all kinds of comments about the fun they had in front of them, intimate ecstasy of being together for a couple of nights, along with attending the Super Bowl. Both laughed and joked together as they talked about how each other’s mate knew nothing of it. I might add here that neither made any mention of the possible consequences — the loss of reputation, of the depression that was sure to follow, the possibility of an unexpected pregnancy, the embarrassing humiliation when their mates (not if, but when) would find out. Why, of course not! This couple was on fire. Their full focus turned to the delightful time they would have together. They just couldn’t talk about anything else.

All the while I’m sitting there in front of them, working on this chapter on sexual temptation, thirty-six inches behind me is a living illustration of lust in action. There flashed through my mind these words Solomon once wrote: “Stolen waters are sweet” (Proverbs 9:17). No doubt about it. Unbridled, blinding lust is running over with the sweet-tasting ecstasy of sensual pleasure — at least for a weekend. Laughter, creativity, and excitement abound in such sexual escapades. It is not until later that the fog lifts and reality returns with its Monday-morning depression.

Strangely, an affair seldom stops with one encounter. More often than not, it is followed by another . . . and another. Frequently, babies are conceived who aren’t wanted. Once lust has taken charge, a defense mechanism goes into action: protect yourself, blame others or circumstances, and

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eliminate the evidence . . . which, being interpreted, means “get an abortion.”

Back in the days of David’s affair, that wasn’t an option. Such an abortion was, in fact, out of the question. When Bathsheba informed the king of her pregnancy, his defense mechanism led to deception, hypocrisy, and finally murder. All this culminated in an unending series of family heartaches and tragedies brought on by divine judgment. Today it is easier: just kill the baby and go on. It’s a quick ‘n’ dirty birth control method — if you don’t mind killing babies.

It’s exactly as James 1:15 describes the final scene: “death.” Lust gives birth to sin. When sin is accomplished, there is a strange kind of aborted ecstasy that leaves you with a twisted mind, a broken relationship in the bond you once had in your marriage, and the beginning of the seeds dropped for a sexual addiction that you won’t be able to stop. In short, it is living death.

Three Significant Scriptures with Practical Warnings

Because temptations such as I have been describing will never go away, it is essential to be prepared. One of the most effective methods of preparation is an awareness of what the Bible teaches, followed by a direct and personal application of those truths. Inevitably, there will come other unaccountable times of personal privacy, times of temptation when you are alone, when you are in a place that you

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thought was safe, like David on his roof. It was true of the king. In reality, it could prove to be the most dangerous place of your life. Perhaps these three significant scriptures will be helpful in keeping you morally pure.

First Thessalonians 4. Of all Paul’s writings, this is perhaps his most explicit statement regarding moral purity. As you will see, the information is not complicated. The explanation is not deep and mysterious. And the ultimate command, for sure, is not impossible.

The first two verses seem to be saying, “In your walk, please God by excelling.”

Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instructions as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus (1 Thess. 4:1-2).

God would have us go further and further in our walk with Him. Each day it pleases him to make sure our goals are high, our desires are great, our objective is clear. He says, “Excel in that. As you walk, please God by excelling. Don’t be satisfied with just a mediocre lifestyle as a Christian. Work on personal holiness. Cultivate habits of discipline that are good for you and honoring to God.” And then Paul gets very specific:

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For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thess 4:3).

Understand, most of the ancient Thessalonian Christians were new in the faith, some of them not more than a week or two old in the Lord. They were fresh out of a sex-saturated society. Furthermore, there was never an age in all of history where marriage was taken so lightly and when divorce was so easy. In ancient Greece, these things were at their all-time low.

Long ago Demosthenes had written: “We keep prostitutes for pleasure; we keep mistresses for the day to day needs of the body; we keep wives for the begetting of children and for the faithful guardianship of our homes. So long as a man supported his wife and family there was no shame whatsoever in extra-marital affairs.” 15

And yet, in spite of their culture, Paul says to them, “In your morals, obey God by abstaining.” He begins: “This is the will of God.” You don’t even have to pray about it, asking God how He would have you live regarding sexual purity. It is clear: “. . . abstain from sexual immorality.” Apekomai is the Greek word translated “abstain.” It means “to go away from, to depart, to be distant, to keep hands off.” I call that emphatic. The word “abstain” is rarely used in Scripture, but when it is, it means just that. In one place, “abstain

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from meats.” In another place, “abstain from fleshly lusts.” In yet another place, “abstain from every form of evil.” Each time, apekomai.

In the Christian faith, unlike the pagan faith, Paul taught them that sexual purity is significant. It is tied in directly with pleasing and obeying God. Morality and the worship of the living God go together. How? The answer is a total abstaining from sexual immorality. Hands off, no contact! It is the Greek term porneia (“pornography”), which includes homosexuality, incestuous relationships, unnatural acts with beast and animals, premarital sexual relationships, and extramarital sex. It covers it all.

The answer to one’s inability to refrain from lust, of course, is marriage. And if not marriage, then what? Abstain, plain and simple. If single, hands off! If divorced and not remarried? Hands off! Stay out of bed with anybody else, same or opposite sex . . . abstain. Among many other benfits, it is the safest route to take.

Several years ago I saw a cartoon that communicated this fact rather clearly. A grandson asks his grandfather, “Gee Granddad, your generation didn’t have all these social diseases. What did you wear to have safe sex? Unhesitatingly, the old fellow responded, “A wedding ring.”

This fourth verse of 1 Thessalonians 4 includes the statement that: “Each of you know how to possess his own vessel.” New Testament authorities disagree whether “vessel” refers to one’s wife or to

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one’s body. Perhaps for the sake of illustration, we will use “body.” It’s this idea: That each of you know how to maintain control over your own body in sanctification and honor.

I love the way Paul emphasizes “know how to do it.” He’s being practical.

Verse 5 talks about being in control of our body when we are alone, and verse 6 addresses being in control when we are with others.

When alone . . . not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God (v.5).

When it has to do with anything that stimulates the path toward porneia, I repeat, abstain! May I get specific? It would include X-rated films and pornographic literature that prompt lurid mental pictures, stimulating sexual desires. Abstain! Conversations and discussions that arouse the same . . . parties and pastimes, along with sensual activities that seduce us and weaken our resistance. Abstain! Certain friends who are bad for us and weaken our moral standards . . . drugs . . . alcohol . . . sexually stimulating music . . . anything that externally adds to the breakdown of your moral fiber. Abstain!

If you cannot handle the movies on cable television, get rid of it! If you are in a hotel room where sexually explicit films are available, don’t turn it on! “Don’t be a fool; leave it off!” It’s a matter of saying a loud “No!” to yourself.

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When with others . . . And that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.

This has reference to deceiving others or drawing them into the practice that we are engaged in, or for that matter, falling into seductive traps. Biting the bait. It would include any kind of indecent practices carried on secretly and promiscuously . . . with another man’s wife or another woman’s husband. I must also add, with one’s own child or stepchild. With one’s stepmother or stepfather. In the blended families of our day, incest is an increasing problem. And if you are engaged in it, you need to know it is not only an illicit, indecent practice, it is a criminal act, which should be reported. Whatever it takes, it is to be stopped! And if you are a mother tolerating it with a daughter or a stepdaughter, such passivity cannot continue. These things are not to be tolerated.

Verse 7 puts the capstone on all this:

For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.

In other words, God has called us to be people of moral purity. Why? Because He has our good at heart. This high standard of sexual conduct is not judgment, it is needed assistance. This is great coaching — counsel on how to stay free of disease and emotionally healthy. Furthermore, whoever

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heeds these warnings will not have to face the decision of whether or not to get an abortion. “Stay morally pure” is the best advice you could give your child, your teenager, the young adult who still lives in your home, yes, even yourself. This is straight talk from the Book.

The lingering warning is clear: In obedience to God’s command against immorality . . . RESIST!

Before moving on to the next significant scripture, let me share with you how seriously I apply these warnings. I counsel pastors of churches not to go out to lunch with their secretaries alone. Don’t sit alone with them in a car. Take your wife along. I counsel businessmen to do the same. Don’t travel with your other-sex partner in the business. Bring someone else along. Refrain even from the appearance of evil. Play it smart! Don’t give the devil an opportunity. One more time: abstain! The good news is this: Because you’ve played it smart, you’ve played it safe, and you’ve walked in obedience, chances are good you won’t get in a jam where lust takes charge.

First Corinthians 6. This is a different scripture, but we’re still in the same era. It’s the same writer, another city. But don’t think because we’ve left Thessalonica that we’ve come to “prudish Corinth.” On the contrary! You know what the other word for fornication was in the days of Paul? Corinthianize. If you had a wild night . . . if you engaged in some kind of sexual orgy, or went to a drinking bash with a bunch of your buddies . . . you Corinthianized. Those ancient Greeks were the early playboys who

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gave themselves to lust, even in the worship of their pagan gods. There were priestesses who stayed at the temple strictly for the sexual pleasures of men. As we’ve already seen, this was no puritanical society back in the first century.

Between 1 Corinthians 6:15 and 20, the same word is used six times. Read the following very carefully:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO WILL BECOME ONE FLESH.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body [emphasis mine].

The apostle’s concern here is directly related to one’s physical body. The general context is the inappropriate connection of the body to that which is specifically described as porneia, the same term we found in the previous scripture.

Let me put it this way. When someone comes to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, there is a bonding that takes place, like the meshing of gears with

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one another, like glue between two blocks of wood. You are linked together in a bond. Such linking results in becoming members of one another. A major problem occurs, however, when there is sexual involvement outside the bonds of monogamy. What occurs is a fracture in that spiritual bonding. Because the divine mystical union is violated, the bond is broken. As you become a member with another sexual partner, outside marriage, you break this mystical bond between you and the Lord. Such promiscuity takes a devastating toll on your life. It opens the door to all kinds of other violations. And sometimes this leaves you irreparably damaged and scarred.

I think this is what Paul has in mind when he writes with such passion at the end of chapter 9 of this same letter:

But I buffet my body [it’s the word for beating oneself black and blue] and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified [adokimos . . . disapproved].

It seems as if he’s saying, “Due to the fracturing of that mystical bond, due to that violation, I forfeit the right to minister as I once ministered.”

This has led me to adopt what some have called an extreme position, but I think it makes sense. When there is repeated sexual failure among ministers, they should relinquish the responsibility of high profile public leadership. Once there is recovery following full repentance, they can minister in

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various capacities. I find nothing wrong with that. But I have strong reservations with an individual who has fallen repeatedly still being granted a platform to preach as he once preached. I think one in that category forfeits such rights. There has been too great a violation, a break of the mystical bond. There are tragic consequences that follow this failure, and this is one of them.

Now we can understand why the statement found in 1 Corinthians 6:18 is so terribly important:

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

In this case, and only in this case, “the body is the instrument of sin and becomes the subject of the damage wrought,” says A.T. Robertson. 16

In gluttony, food is taken into the body but the sin of gluttony is from without, outside the body. In armed robbery, a crime is committed against another; the body, of course, holds the weapon, but the body isn’t the instrument of the sin. Only in sexual immorality is it actually and literally the instrument of sin, and thereby creates a damage in the psyche, the soulish, mystical part of one’s being. Sexual sins are considered unique by the Lord.

There is further application here. We are seeing in our day a growing threat with AIDS directly linked (in most cases) to homosexual and extramarital sexual relations. God’s Word says it boldly: “Flee

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immorality!” The lingering warning is clear: For the sake of bodily health and remaining bonded to Christ, RUN! Strong words, I realize, but not impossible. You can do it. God can give you that kind of power and grace. Not only would it enable us to take a giant step to curbing the AIDS dilemma, certainly the ever-increasing number of abortions would be greatly reduced.

Second Corinthians 12. Again we are reading the words of the same era, actually only a few months later. And they are written to the same people in the same church, on the same subject. Paul is thinking about returning to Corinth for a visit but he admits that he is afraid. In fact, the last two verses of 2 Corinthians 12 begin, “I am afraid . . . I am afraid.”

For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances.

He is saying in effect: “I’m afraid of finding the same schism that’s been there much too long, and I want you to get it cleaned up.”

But he digs deeper in verse 21:

I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not

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repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.

Because I am a pastor, I want to be a man of the Word. I would wish the same for you. I want the Bible to guide us. I don’t want to give you just good human counsel with helpful psychological techniques or merely practical ways to solve your moral struggles. I want you to see from Scripture what God has said about that problem and how you can handle it. Again and again I have found that there is nothing like God’s Word to solve long-standing struggles and to bring cleansing and healing.

Three words are used in verse 21 — three distinct words that describe disgraceful practices. The first one is translated “impurity,” akatharsia. We get the word “cathartic” from it. It is a generic term for “uncleanness.” Akatharsia would include covetousness, greed, wrong motives, even idolatry and sex sins. He writes, “I am afraid that when I come I will find some of you still engaged in an unrepented lifestyle of akatharsia.”

There’s a second factor that concerns him, so he adds, “I’m afraid I’ll find porneia still there as well.” He wrote of it earlier (we examined it in 1 Corinthians 6). “I’m afraid when I come I will discover that there are sexual acts going on that are impure and weakening to monogamous relationships, and I will be humiliated. I will be ashamed.”

Third, he states, “I may find sensuality.” This third term is the tough one. Aselgeia is an unusual

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Greek term. Problem is there is no translatable English equivalent for it. In general, it means “a wanton defiance of public decency.” One scholar declares:

There was uncleanness (aselgeia). Here is an untranslatable word. It does not only mean sexual uncleanness. It is sheer wanton insolence. As Basil defined it, “It is that attitude of the soul which has never borne and never will bear the pain of discipline.” It is the wanton insolence that knows no restraint, that has no sense of the decencies of things, that will dare anything that wanton caprice demands, which is careless of public opinion and its own good name so long as it gets what it wants. Josephus ascribes it to Jezebel who built a temple to Baal in the very city of God itself. The basic Greek sin was hubris, and hubris is that proud insolence which gives neither God nor man his place. Aselgeia is the insolently selfish spirit, which is lost to honour and lost to shame, and which will take what it wants where it wants it in shameless disregard of God and man. 17

Clearly, the apostle is concerned about sexual addiction . . . an addiction to sexual indecency.

Do you detect the downward trend? Akatharsia comes first, which leads to porneia, and finally aselgeia — a wanton defiance of public shame, leaving one without a feeling of embarrassment.

The lingering warning? To be free from the bondage of sexual misconduct, REPENT! As we saw so clearly in chapter 2, I’m talking about more than

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confession. Repentance is beyond confession. Remember? To confess is to admit, to agree with God that something is wrong and displeases Him, claiming His forgiveness. Repentance is more. It is a deliberate turning away from wrong, changing one’s mind, removing all traces, relinquishing all connections, so that the bond is no longer broken and Christ reigns supreme, without a rival.

How far do I believe one should go to break sexual addiction? I’d suggest the burning of all pornographic literature. Not just discarding it, but burning it. And what about friendships that pull you into questionable areas? Get rid of those so-called friendships! Actually, they are not friendships; they are destructive and disruptive relationships. And if you are living with someone outside of wedlock, move out! It will result in terrible consequences if you don’t. Perhaps the worst of all is the continuation of sexual addiction for you and your partner. There is a downward cycle of sensuality that doesn’t get better; it always degenerates. By and by it will destroy your life. And if you don’t? Rest assured, “God is the avenger.” Again I say these are strong words, but like radical surgery, they will make it possible for you to survive.

Several Helpful Solutions with Personal Benefits

There are times in my life when it helps to spell things out in an oversimplified fashion. Somehow it enables me to get a handle on things. Perhaps this is one of those times. I realize we’ve covered an

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enormous amount of serious ground. Responding correctly is very important. So allow me to suggest several helpful ideas that have worked for others. I hope they will work for you as well. Here’s an A-B-C-D plan of correction:

A. Acknowledge. Hold nothing back as you acknowledge the impurity. The benefit of a full-on acknowledgment is that it will heal the distance between you and your Lord. Acknowledge the bondage. Acknowledge the involvement. Say it to your God. Then say it to somebody who can help you, not just to yourself. Acknowledge it to someone you respect. No struggle just quietly dissolves. The first step to victory is an admission of the battle.

B. Break. I mean by this, break all connections. The benefit of this is that it stops the cycle. Unless connections are broken, the addiction won’t cease. The flesh dies hard. Get rid of the stacks of Playboy. Stay away from the pornography. If you have longstanding connections at distant places where you travel, break those ties. Toss out the little black book. Unless you make a break like this, the battle will continue to rage and you will become another casualty.

C. Communicate. Express your need for others’ strength. The benefit is it will make you accountable. If you’ve never been accountable before, I suggest you make every effort to become part of a small group of people (of the same sex) where you can talk openly about the battle and the difficulties you live with. Perhaps your church offers adult fellowships

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or accountability groups. They are the lifeline to recovery and full restoration.

D. Determine. Determine to abstain. You may have a past which is littered with incredible things that you would find embarrassing to admit even to a close friend. There is absolutely no reason to continue. Stop it today! The benefit is that it will free you to be all God meant you to be. Furthermore, it could save you from sure tragedy that could be just around the corner.

And in case you need a boost to get started . . . an unforgettable reminder that God means business, I close with a true story. The names are fictitious, but the story is true.

Clara and Chester’s twenty-eight-year-old marriage was a good one. Not the most idyllic, but good. By now they had three grown children who loved them dearly. They were also blessed with sufficient financial security to allow them room to dream about a retirement home, so they began looking for one. A widower we’ll call Sam was selling his place. They liked it a lot and they returned home to talk and to make their plans. Months passed.

Last fall Clara told Chester she wanted a divorce. He went numb. After all these years, why? How could she deceive him? How could she have been nursing such a scheme while they were looking at a retirement home? She said she hadn’t been . . . not for that long. Actually, this was a rather recent decision now that she had found another man. Who? Clara admitted it was Sam, the owner of the house

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they were considering. She had inadvertently run into him several weeks after they had discussed the sale. They had a cup of coffee together; later the next week they went out to dinner. For several weeks they had been seeing each other privately and were now sexually involved. Since they were “in love,” there was no turning back. Not even the kids, who hated the idea, could dissuade their mother.

On the day Clara was to leave, Chester walked through the kitchen toward the garage. Realizing Clara would be gone when he returned, he hesitated, “Well hon, I guess this is the last time . . .” and his voice dissolved as he broke into sobs. She felt awkward, so she hurriedly got her things together, backed out of the driveway, and never looked back. She drove north to meet Sam. Less than two weeks after she moved in with her new lover, Sam was seized with a heart attack and lingered a few hours. The following morning Sam died.

When it comes to morality, God is serious . . . as serious as a heart attack.

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