THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 7-26-09
LESSON TITLE: “THE WORKS OF THE FLESH ARE…: ADULTERY, FORNICATION AND UNCLEANNESS”
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want! Who is your shepherd on this wondrous Lord’s Day? We hope and pray that it is God and that you’ve joined us today as His child - to worship before His throne.
As followers of God, how blessed we are to have opportunities like this to praise our God and to do those things according to that which He has asked of us through His will. Are you willing to do your part this morning to make this time successful in the service of God?
Now, as we begin our offering to God, will you bow with me in prayer!
When we think of the “call of God,” we generally focus on the fact that Jesus calls all men to repent and serve Him. However, we also read of another call from God in this life. Someday, if we are found faithful, we will be called home by God to an eternal paradise. What a wondrous promise this is from God. So, as we consider these thoughts, won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing, “Jesus Is Tenderly Calling?”
(SONG # 1)
You know, we all have so much to be thankful for in this great country in which we live. All the more reason we should believe in God and desire to follow in His precepts. I love what Paul said in Philippians 4:4, there we read, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”
Let me remind us today that we have every reason to rejoice in the Lord, for what He has done for each and every one of us. However, also consider all our God continues to do on a daily basis for those whom He loves. We have our brethren, our families, our health, our jobs and all the things that we need in this life - but Why? Because of our loving and caring God. Isn’t this what James was talking about in chapter 1:17, of his book? There we read, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights,….
Furthermore, notice what Paul adds concerning this topic in Romans 8:28. There we read, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Isn’t this a wondrous promise for those of God? And doesn’t it show us just how much God does for those who follow Him?
Thanks be to God for all that He has done, all that He is doing, and all that He has promised to do in our lives and even thereafter! We truly do serve a glorious, wondrous and marvelous God!
Today we will be continuing our new series entitled, “The Works Of The Flesh Are…!” Our specific lesson this morning will deal with, “Adultery, Fornication, and Uncleanness!” So stay with us and after our next song together, our guest speaker will lead us in these thoughts from God’s Word.
As far as our guest speaker, we are happy to have brother Darin Chappell with us. Brother Darin is the minister for the Mountain Grove Church of Christ. He also helps as one of the instructors at the Bible Institute of Missouri. We thank this good brother for again being with us. But for now let’s join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, “Kneel At The Cross.”
(SONG # 2)
By Darin Chappell
Good morning and welcome to our continued study concerning “The Works of the Flesh.”
There in Galatians chapter 5 and verse 19, the apostle Paul writes that, “The works of the flesh which are manifest are these,” and he begins the list with “adultery, fornication and uncleanness.”
Now the interesting thing for us to understand in our study this morning is that each one of these terms has a specific meaning behind them and that specific meaning is one that we have to understand if we’re going to be able to make proper application to our lives as we live day by day for the Lord. One of the great blessings that we have in the New Testament is that it was actually written in the Koine Greek language some 2,000 years ago. The reason why that is such a blessing is because it was a very, very precise language. For example in English, I can say I love my children, but I also love chocolate. Well, we use the same word and have to make our distinction based solely upon the context of the statement that is being made whereas in the original Koine Greek that the New Testament was written in, there are different words for love, each one of them with a very specific connotation, and each one with a very specific definition so that the individual who was writing could communicate most effectively to the individual who was reading that written word.
What we have here in these three terms of adultery, fornication and uncleanness are specific terminologies with very precise definitions so that we can understand exactly what it is that our God is telling us that we must not allow ourselves to fall prey to. We’re going to take a look at each one of them and talk a little bit about the specific definitions of the term but also some passages in which they are used so that we can make a proper application, a three dimensional view, if you will, of what it is that our God is telling us that we must not allow into our lives.
First of all, let’s take a look at the word “adultery.” Now we use the term “adultery” in our modern every day speech and English, but very often we use it improperly. The word “adultery” or at least the Greek word from which the English term “adultery” is translated, that word was very specific in that it referred to “a sexual sin within the context of a marriage being involved.” In other words, an individual who is married to another, a man married to his wife or a woman married to her husband commits a sexual sin outside of that marriage. That is adultery! But it need not be a sexual sin that has physical contact involved. There in Matthew chapter 5 and verse 28, we are told that, “A man who looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” In other words, his purpose for looking at her would be to be lustful, that is to have an impure desire for her. If he is looking upon her for that purpose, he has already committed a sexually based sin in his mind, in his heart, as the New Testament says even though he may never even speak to that woman, certainly never touch her and certainly never perform any of the sexual activity that we often think of when we just hear the English term “adultery.” It is a very broad term, but it is one that is very condemnatory when we allow that to get into our lives. People say, “Now wait a second. There are all kinds of temptations around us.” And the sad reality of it is especially during the warmer months of the year, people don’t wear a lot of clothes sometimes and depending on where you are in our society, they wear even less. There’s a difference between being tempted and giving in to that temptation.
An example that I have used before and it is kind of a funny one I guess, but it brings home the point. You know if an individual is driving down the road and he says a billboard with a skimpily clad lady on there and an impure thought crosses his mind and he tells himself, “No, I’m not going to give in to that,” and he keeps driving. That’s temptation. He goes around the block three or four times to get himself a really good look. Now that is giving in. That’s an entirely different set of circumstances. An individual who dwells on that and thinks about it and runs through his mind all of the different possible activities that he would give himself over to had he the opportunity, he is lusting after that woman or a woman lusting after a man and in his or her mind has committed the sin of adultery because he has given himself over to that work of the flesh.
Secondarily, we are told there in that list that the apostle Paul has given us that the works of the flesh which are manifest or which are apparent in our lives are these, adultery, but also fornication. Now the word “fornication” is also a very specific term. The word “fornication” is one that refers to “a sexual sin that demands physical contact.” Now this can be utilized in different ways. Two individuals who engage in sexual activity, they are not married to one another, and they are not married to anyone else, just two single individuals who engage in sexual activity. They are committing fornication one with another because it is a sexual sin because sex outside of the institution of marriage is contrary to the Will of God. It is sinful and therefore it is a sexual sin and because it is an actual physical connection that they are making with one another and physical contact is involved, it is fornication. If they are not married to each other and that’s why it is sinful, and they are not married to anyone else… He’s not married to a wife and she is not married to a husband, it’s not adultery because there’s no marriage involved, but it is fornication because it is sexual sin involving physical contact. It is possible for an individual to engage in both adultery and fornication. A man is married to a woman, and then he has an affair outside of his relationship with his wife. He has committed adultery against his wife because he has committed a sexual sin that involves his marriage, but he has also committed fornication because he has committed a sexual sin involving physical contact with another woman to whom he has no right. So it is possible for the two sins to overlap and in fact that is what we are told there in Matthew chapter 19 and verse 9 that for an individual to be able to divorce and be eligible to marry again it can only be because of fornication. If a man puts away his wife except it be for fornication, he cannot marry again, as the Lord said to His disciples there in Matthew chapter 19 and verse 9. The idea being that if a man is putting away his wife because she has committed fornication, she has been adulterous and has committed fornication, he can put her away. He can divorce her and he is eligible to be married again, but it requires that physical contact. That is one of the difficulties quite frankly with some of the newer versions of the Bible because it oftentimes will say “sexual immorality” there. Well adultery by itself is sexual immorality but that can be completely within the mind. It is wrong and the individual needs to repent, but it is not fornication. Fornication is very specific and the Lord there was saying very specifically that sexual contact has to occur before a marriage may be rightfully dissolved and the so-called innocent party be able to be remarried. Fornication is very, very specific just as is adultery. Both of them are completely wrong because they are both works of the flesh. Now I’m going to come back to that phrase here in a moment.
Thirdly though, we are also told by the apostle Paul that he is talking about “uncleanness” being one of the works of the flesh which are manifested. Now the original Greek language that is translated as clean is the same Greek word from which we get the English term “catharsis.” If you talk about someone going through a catharsis or a cathartic period in their lives, it is talking about them all that hinders them, all that burdens them, all the impurities of their lives or of their body and completely getting it out of the way so that once they have gotten rid of all that which has dragged them down and burdened them and poisoned their lives, then what they are left with is that which is pure and clean and ready for moving forward. They have had a catharsis and they are now ready to take on the rest of their lives. That same concept of impurities is what is meant by “uncleanness.” Those things which poison. Those things which bring into our lives concepts, values, actions, words, attitudes which are unclean and impure and in fact poison us as individuals so that we are not prepared and not capable of being able to live our lives for the Lord day by day as the servants in His kingdom that we are commanded to be.
Now clearly adultery, fornication whether it is done as an adulterous relationship or an adulterous attitude in a person’s mind or the act of fornication itself where physical contact is concerned, regardless of which one of those two areas that an individual is engaged, it is an impurity. It is unclean. The sad reality is that our society has become all too accepting of it. All we have to do is turn on any television or go to the movies or pick up any book of newspaper or any kind of a magazine there on the shelf at the supermarket and we can see entertainment, we can see news, we can see actors and actresses, we can see public officials and they act as if it is of absolutely no consequence whatsoever for them to be unfaithful to their wives or husbands. Absolutely no consequences whatsoever should come upon them because they are out running around with this person or that person, doing this or that as if it is just no problem whatsoever. Well God through the apostle Paul says that it is an uncleanness. It is an impurity. It is a poisoning effect that damages us as individuals and by extinction damages us as a society. We begin to fall apart. The home crumbles around us and by extinction the society begins to fall apart because we absolutely have accepted the concept that, “Well everybody does it. Now after all you remember when you were kids, don’t you? You remember what it was like to have those temptations. Everybody does it. Oh yeah you know, he is running around on his wife, but men will be men.” Now folks that is not the way it is supposed to be. We are not supposed to be just giving up to our base instincts. We are not supposed to be giving up to those temptations that are all around us. We recognize that we live in this world, but not of this world and as Christians it is our God-given responsibility, our duty to rise above those things and to put away those works of the flesh which are manifest. They are all around us. Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, we have to get rid of all those things if we are going to be living for the Lord.
Now I said earlier that I wanted to get back to the concept of the works of the flesh. Now let me just very quickly just get back to what that is talking about. The flesh is a reference to not only the body itself, the flesh of the form of our body, skin, muscles, sinew, bone, blood, not just that, but the whole of the earth around us, the physical realm in which we live. Those works are things that we are doing which are of the physical realm. In other words, they are centered upon the physical realm. The concern is with the physical realm. And when you think about it, adultery, fornication, spiritual impurity in your life, that is all brought about because we are too heavily focused, too firmly, too deeply engrained in the physical realm in which we live. We have given ourselves over to being more like everyone around us. We don’t want to have to stand out in the crowd. We don’t want to be thought of to be unusual or one of those goody two shoe peoples or we don’t want to be one of those religious fanatics. Well it is that thought process which allows us to get caught up or wrapped up in the things of this world that allows this impure attitudes and actions to enter into our lives so that an individual may be guilty of adultery or fornication or maintaining uncleanness in his or her life. It takes a complete and total conversion of the mind, of the heart, of the attitude to rid yourselves of those things and to rise above the temptations that are all around us.
Well, how is that even possible? Well it requires repentance. The word in the original language that is translated as “repent” is one that literally means “to change the mind.” There is a saying among individuals who try to help people who are incarcerated in prison and that is, “if you free your mind, your body will follow.” Now while you may be in chains in prison in your physical body, if you will change your mind so that you no longer think like a criminal that one day given the opportunity when you have served your sentence, if your mind is free from that pattern or lifestyle, then your body will be free from it as well and you don’t have to ever come back. The individuals who continue to be released from jail and they come back have never changed their mind. They are still criminals in their minds. They still look for opportunities to steal or rob or to break the law in some way. They have to change their mind before their actions will change. When it comes to sin in a Christian’s life or in an individual who is becoming a Christian, when it comes to sin it is the same thing. We have to change our minds about what is acceptable. We have to change our minds about what is pleasant or desirable. We see the temptations around us. We see some individuals, as a man, you know some young lady and she is dressed very seductively or she speaks in such a way that I find her very attractive. Those temptations are out there. But it is one thing to recognize temptation, and it is another thing to give yourself over to it and the difference between the two is the mindset of the individual. The person who has a mind to be looking for opportunities to do wrong will find them. The individual who has a mind to be looking for opportunities to overcome those temptations will find those opportunities as well.
When my children were little, you know it was interesting because they would be fussing with one another and they would hurt one another’s feelings and then there would be tears and one sister would say to the other something that was just terrible and the other would run off to her room and cry and slam the door and the other sister would look at me and say, “You know, Dad, I didn’t mean to hurt her feelings.” And I always said the same thing, “You know what honey, I know, but you didn’t mean not to either.” You weren’t looking for the opportunity to help. You were only worried about yourself and then you get caught up in the moment and the next thing you know, you did something you regretted. Sin is the same way. If we’re going to be able to rise above these temptations of adultery or fornication or uncleanness, we have to be looking not to, looking not to give in to those things. That requires that mindset which leads to repentance.
There in Acts chapter 17 and verse 30 the apostle Paul talking to those individuals there who had given themselves over to idolatry, he said, “In the times of ignorance, God winked at, but now commanded all men everywhere to repent,” to set their minds right, change their minds so that they no longer lived the ways of the world but they lived for the Lord and looked not to give into temptation, looked for ways to rise above it. If we can do that, we can set those works of the flesh, those things of this life aside and live for the Lord and then the works of the flesh which are manifest all around it, they don’t have to be in our lives.
Now in order for that to be true, we first must be a child of God. In order to do that we must be obedient to the gospel that He set before us. We must hear the Word of God (Romans 10:17). We must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John chapter 8 verse 24). We must be willing to confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God before others (Matthew 10:32). Repent of our sins (Acts chapter 17 verse 30). And be baptized for the remission of our sins so that we can be added to the church (Acts chapter 2:38, and Acts chapter 8 verse 12).
If you have not done those things, if you have not left the works of the flesh aside, I would encourage you to change your mind, to repent, to submit yourself to your God according to His Will and to live for Him and Him alone. I thank you for your time.
(SONG # 3 - “Just Over In The Glory Land!”)
What a blessing it has been to join together in the things of God this morning. Thank you for doing your part in making all these things to be according to His Will. As always, we invite you back every Lord’s Day morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God!
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May we ever be aware of the fact that sin separates us from God? Furthermore, of the reality that if we do not repent of sin we will be lost eternally. So let me ask you, have you exchanged the pleasure of this life for the wondrous promises and rewards of eternal life?