Each week my friend and I study the Bible together. We’re currently in First Corinthians and we just wrapped up chapter 6. In the last half of chapter 6, Paul issues a pretty powerful argument against keeping company with prostitutes specifically, and against sexual immorality in general. This is a footnote from the notes on 1Co 6:12-20. I thought it may be helpful to some.
What is included in this sin that Paul describes in 1Co 6:12-20?
There is a specific sin that Paul describes in this passage—having sex with a prostitute—and a general sin that is much more broad: Flee sexual immorality.
Sexual immorality can be described as any sexual activity of the mind or body that occurs outside biblical marital bounds. A married couple (biblically described as a couple in a heterosexual, monogamous, lifelong, covenant relationship) is free and encouraged to engage in sexual activity; any other sexual activity falls under the prohibitions of Scripture as sexual immorality.
And to state it plainly, this includes not only sexual acts, but also the viewing or reading of pornography in any of its forms, whether blatant and obvious Internet or print pornography, or the more subtle forms on TV, the movie screen, or in print. There is no TV, movie, or printed sex scene that is short enough to be considered OK for a Christian to view or read.
Here are a few of the many passages in Scripture about sexual immorality.
- Mt 5:27-28. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
- 1Co 6:9-10. Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
- Gal 5:19-21. The works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- Eph 5:3-6. Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
- Heb 13:4. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
- 1Th 4:3-5. This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.
- Jude 7. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
It would also be helpful to read Proverbs chapters 5 and 7 which speak directly to the temptation of engaging in the sin of sexual immorality and how to avoid it.
Due to the addictive nature of sexual sin, many believers, men and women, are caught up in it to varying degrees. Though it may sometimes feel like there is no escape from the chains of this particular type of sin, I assure you there is. Paul says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1Co 10:13).
If you or someone you know is caught up in sexual sin, I want to strongly urge you to seek help with it. Go to your pastor or a trusted and godly friend (of the same gender). Get an accountability partner (again, of the same gender as yourself) that will ask you regularly the difficult questions about your sin and whom you can call day or night in those dangerous times when the temptation is the strongest. If you aren’t already, get involved in some outreach ministry. You’re commanded to be involved in ministry anyway, and it’s a great way to keep your mind on things above instead of the things that feed your addiction to sexual sin.
There is hope in Christ and the Holy Spirit who dwells within the believer.
If you have already sinned sexually or are currently struggling with the temptation to lust, take heart! The Lord is always ready to forgive and cleanse those who turn to Him in confession and repentance (1 John 1:9), but understand that lasting holiness in your life will become a reality only as you faithfully pursue it according to the principles of God’s Word. The Lord promises, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6), but you must be a willing and eager partner in His work of sanctification.
The follower of Christ must recognize there is divine help and hope for victory over the strong passions and evil desires associated with sexual sin. Scripture tells you there are powerful resources from God that enable you to conquer sin and live a life of purity (Philippians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:2–4). The mighty working of the Holy Spirit in your heart will enable you to faithfully pursue holiness.
Grace to You: Sexual Sin and Sanctification