New Morality Or Ancient Foolishness?
A daily devotion for March 21st
3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people (Ephesians 5:3).
That charge to Christians must have seemed even more unrealistic and incapable of fulfillment to the pagans of Ephesus than it does to Americans today. Why is it there? Not because Christianity is negative and prudish. The whole of Scripture is written for the welfare of humanity. God's purpose in telling us the truth is that we might fully enter into life. Jesus said,
I have come that they may have life, and to have it to the full (John 10:10).
Why is this passage here? It is because, as Paul says, even the hint of sexual immorality, impurity, or greed is improper among saints. The word he chooses is a word that means
refreshing. Who of us has not had the experience of being exposed to something filthy, obscene, or improper in sexual matters and coming from that experience feeling dirty and unclean? What a refreshing thing it has been to come into a company of people who talk about wholesome matters, whose time and talk is filled with that which is healthy. That is what the apostle means. By implication, to indulge in improper talk is unwholesome, unfitting, uglifying, debasing, defiling.
We are being told today that all sex is beautiful and natural, that it is in the same class as any of our bodily desires or urges, and therefore, we should feel free to satisfy it as openly as we do any other of our bodily needs, without shame or apology.
This idea that all sex, any sex, is natural and beautiful is a lie. Like all powerful lies, it derives its strength from being based upon a partial truth. It is true that sex is related to our physical body like hunger or thirst or the need to sleep or any other physical urge. But what is never said is that these other urges also require regulation and control. They are not indulged in at will, any time, any place.
Like these other natural urges, sex requires regulation and restraint. And the intended regulation of sex is marriage! Marriage is the way to regulate sex so that it is right and wholesome and beneficial. Anything else becomes a violation, not only of propriety in Christian society but of elementary humanity as well. One thing is clearly true: Sex is obviously much more complicated that any other of our natural urges. It requires a partner, which no other urge does. And it is not only a physical union but a psychological union as well. In fact, and this is what is so often forgotten, it is the psychological union that is the more important of the two.
Sex is intended to be a total union of two beings, and only in marriage is such a total union possible. It is the giving of two people to each other totally—body, soul, and spirit—with all their possessions, their name, everything they own. Only in marriage is that kind of a union possible.
Father, I pray that I may heed these important words and take them to heart, not to read them lightly or to forget them and give myself to improper practices and improper thoughts.
Life Application: Lies derive their strength from partial truth. When lies are heard often enough they become truth for many. What powerful lie about sex we are constantly exposed to?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.