But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints (Ephesians 5:3, NKJV)
The rise in cohabitation without marriage in America over the past 30 years is obvious. Reflective of a society that has cast off moral restraints, it is but one indicator of self-defined morality. The annual Gallup Values and Beliefs Survey (May 1-10, 2018) reports that 69% of those surveyed believe sexual activity before marriage is morally acceptable, while 42% said it is morally acceptable for teenagers to practice it. The morality of having a baby outside of marriage was approved by 65% of those polled, while 67% said gay and lesbian relationships are morally acceptable. In stark contrast, the Holy Spirit inspired apostle drew a red line in the sand that all sexual activity, before and in addition to marriage, is not to be professed among Christians. It is against who we are. We are saints (“holy ones”), called to be sanctified or set apart from such sins. We are not to participate in them or endorse them. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Christians must rise above the world’s definition of what is moral and refuse the allurements of the flesh (1 John 2:15-17).
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, NKJV)
The Word (eternal deity who created the world) became human and lived on the earth He created (John 1:3). He did not relinquish His deity when He came to earth, but He did empty Himself of its form (its glory) to take upon Himself flesh (Philippians 2:6-7). He became a man and lived among men. But, He was unique, “the only begotten of the Father,” because “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). His divine nature was revealed to the world by His words and by His miracles, then recorded by eyewitnesses who beheld His glory (John 20:30-31; 1 John 1:1-4). The Word brought the fullness of grace and truth to the world. He is our one and only true source of grace and truth. God’s grace is completely available in the truth, the word of God (John 17:17). And, God’s truth is always consistent with His grace (Galatians 1:6-7). What wonderful comfort it is to know God’s grace and truth are available to us in the Word, the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. (Romans 8:5–7, NKJV)
Many people are trying to be spiritual. To do so, they turn to gurus who tell them the key to being spiritual is a quest for enlightenment that connects with one’s inner-self and with the world. They become convinced the meaning of life is within themselves as they yearn for spiritual fulfillment. This humanistic approach to spirituality vividly contrasts to what the Spirit of God says it means to be spiritual. To be spiritual is to set one’s mind on the things the Spirit of God has revealed, and then “live according to the Spirit” (see Romans 8:1-2). The things of the Spirit comprise His revelation of God’s mind (1 Corinthians 2:10-13). The carnal mind refuses to subject itself to God’s law; it thinks the way of man is in himself (Jeremiah 10:23). The spiritual person submits to the law of God precisely because his mind is set on the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13-16). This leads to life and peace. What the world calls being spiritual is in fact, carnal. And, what Christ calls spiritual is rejected by human enlightenment. Which will you be today; carnal or spiritual?
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24, NKJV)
The apostle has contrasted walking in the Spirit with fulfilling the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17). He has pointed out the kind of life the flesh prompts men to pursue (the works of the flesh), with its fatal result (“those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven,” Galatians 5:19-21). The character and conduct formed by the Spirit’s instruction and guidance is fruitful and robust, free from law’s condemnation (Galatians 5:22-23). Those who belong to Christ extinguish the flesh as the controlling factor of their lives (Galatians 2:20). Christians deliberately and methodically eliminate the influences and cravings of the flesh, so the fruit of the Spirit can thrive in their hearts and lives (Colossians 3:5). It is no accident that Christians bear the fruit of the Spirit. Through repentance, the heart has been conditioned to serve a new Master, Christ Jesus. The heart that is humble, repentant and responsive to the gospel is the perfect soil for bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Luke 8:15).
5 Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. 6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.” (Jeremiah 17:5–6, NKJV)
The philosophy of secular humanism believes humans are the center of all things, and that from human beings will come the answers to our survival. The Humanist Manifesto II (1973) says, “As nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity.” They are materialists, who deny we have immortal souls. Humanists believe “No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.” The humanist rejects God and trusts in himself and the strength of human reason and intelligence to save and sustain humanity. Such hearts have departed far from the Lord God. The secular humanist, who “makes flesh his strength,” is like a desert scrub brush, inhabiting a parched landscape of denial, doubt and death. Life becomes a spiritual wasteland when one rejects God, the Giver and Sustainer of life. Jesus refreshes the soul with truth and eternal life. We put our trust in Him and His power to save (John 7:37-39; 14:6).
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; For dust you are, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19, NKJV)
Adam’s mortality would become evident as he labored to eat and to survive on this earth. Eventually, Adam would die (Genesis 5:5). God’s creative purpose was for human beings to forever dwell with Him in the close fellowship of holiness. But, Adam and Eve’s sin separated them from their fellowship with God (Genesis 3:22-23; Isaiah 59:2). And, so it is that our sins separate us from God, too (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Adam’s flesh was created from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). Because of sin’s intrusion into this world, back to the dust Adam’s body (along with those of all his descendants), would return (Ecclesiastes 12:7). But, God also gave Adam a spirit, made in His image, that continues to exist beyond the grave (Genesis 1:27; Ecclesiastes 12:7). God’s plan of redemption in His Son, Jesus Christ, redeems both the body and the spirit (John 11:23-26). The gospel of Christ is the good news of how God defeats sin and death, giving the redeemed eternal access to the tree of life in the garden of God – forever freed from sin and its curse of death (Revelation 22:1-5).
20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:20–23, NKJV)
Billions of people do not regard sin as sin. That word has been all but stricken from the lexicons of languages around the world. What Jesus said here reminds us that we are dual beings, made of both flesh and spirit; both mortal and immortal. The inner person – the person possessing identity, volition, conscience, intelligence and emotions – is identified as the heart, from which comes our words and actions. Jesus identified sexual immorality of all sorts (including adultery, homosexuality and premarital sex) as sin that comes from the heart. Oppression of one’s neighbor, whether by murder, thievery, covetousness or deceit, is also sinful. See how pride is considered evil along with all the rest. Sin is real, and we must define sin the way Jesus does. If not, we will likely call evil good, and good evil (Isa. 5:20). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).