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).
Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. (2 Samuel 11:2, NKJV)
Solitude is not necessarily conducive to godliness. Isolation can give rise to temptations of the flesh. King David should have been leading his army on the field of battle. Instead, he stayed behind in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 11:1). Restless and alone, he went to the cool of the roof and saw the beautiful wife of Uriah. This was not a mere glance; David gazed upon her, inspected and gave attention to her beauty while she bathed. He lusted after her, inquired about her, and took her into the bed of adultery, then murdered her husband (2 Samuel 11:3-17). We must never let down our guard against sin’s temptations. Sins of the flesh often begin in the secrecy of darkness (John 3:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8). Pornography and all manner of sexual immorality thrive when people are alone (or think they are alone). Private sins never escape God’s attention. God saw what David did (2 Samuel 11:27; Hebrews 4:13). If you are struggling with private sins, hold yourself accountable to someone you can call on for help. Pray for God’s help (Hebrews 4:16). Get busy doing God’s work. Don’t isolate yourself and give the devil a place to exploit. Build a wall of protection around your heart. If you have already yielded to sin, you can repent and be forgiven. David did, and God forgave him (Psalm 32:3-5).
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4, NKJV)
Whose friend are you – God’s, or the world’s? The world is the system of evil that opposes God and His will (1 John 2:15-17). A Christian cannot join hands with the world, doing and endorsing what the world does, without becoming God’s enemy. Simple as that. James uses adultery to make the point. The world celebrates adultery. When husbands and wives commit adultery, the world calls it a “love affair,” but there is nothing loving about it. The entertainment industry (movies, television, the internet, etc.) celebrates adultery. The porn industry persuades it. But, God is very clear: The sin of adultery is not a love affair, it is a lust affair (James 4:1-3; Hebrews 13:4). Jesus said, “You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). The worldly-minded do not love Jesus, because they do not obey Jesus. They are driven by selfish desires. They are God’s enemies. Do not be counted among them. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:6-7).
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:24–25, NKJV)
Mankind is under the wrath of God, and for good reason (Rom. 1:18-21). The refusal to honor and thank God plunged humanity into the darkness of pride and the foolishness of elevating human wisdom above God and His truth (Rom. 1:21-22). This led to idolatry – the corruption of true worship (Rom. 1:23). Idolatry (false worship) feeds on fleshly lusts. Impure worship opens the door to immoral living. When God is ignored and His truth is devalued, the boundaries of moral restraint (that are set by divine truth) are increasingly ignored. Just as false worship abandons truth for lies, immorality abandons the moral restraints of truth. Instead of honoring God with the body, it is used to fulfill the sinful lusts of the heart (1 Cor. 6:13, 15, 19). One must not think he is honoring God while using his body to fulfill the dishonorable lusts of immorality. When the truth of God is exchanged for the lie of idolatry, immorality follows. God allows it to happen, but His wrath is revealed against it. You cannot serve the god of self, and expect to be blessed by God our Creator.
25 Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. 26 For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. (Proverbs 6:25–26, NKJV)
Yielding to fleshly lust is a losing proposition. What appears so appealing and promising such satisfaction, invariably causes pain, sorrow, regret and loss. How many men have literally squandered a fortune on the fleeting fantasies of the flesh? The passion of lust promises pleasure but produces the spiritual bondage and death of sin. Many men and women have been led to the depths of disgrace and despair by its sordid appeal. Sin, whatever form it takes, is never a good deal. Today’s verse reminds us that even more than material poverty, lust bears fruit that brings a person spiritual shame and deprivation. Thanks be to God there is a Savior who lifts sinners out of the muck and mire of sin. Jesus Christ forgives sinners (1 Tim. 1:15)! Trust and obey Him; not the lusts of the world (1 Jno 2:15-17).
I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman? (Job 31:1, NKJV)
Sin begins in the heart. For example, Jesus said “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). We must guard and condition our hearts to refuse sin immediately. To do so, Job made an agreement with his eyes (himself) not to gaze intently upon a young woman. He pledged not to look lustfully upon a woman. Job’s protection against the lust of the eyes was to refuse to closely examination a woman’s form. We must fix our eyes on Jesus in order to be pure in heart (Heb. 12:2). We live in a provocative world that is intent on drawing our eyes away from Jesus. Make an agreement with your eyes not to indulge in lustful looking, for such is of the world and not of God (1 Jno. 2:16).
Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22, NKJV)
The best way to avoid the lusts of youth is to run away from them. Young people often think they are bulletproof – invincible. But, wisdom teaches us that youth is tempted by curiosity and pride; a dangerous combination for any age when the temptation is to fulfill lust. Keep your heart pure by running after such things as “righteousness, faith, love, peace”. These fortify you against the lust of the flesh. Honorable conduct, driven by your faith and love for God, will lead you to fear God and obey Him by abstaining from every form of evil (1 Thess. 5:22). Then you will have genuine peace of mind, body and soul. Do not say a young person cannot flee lust; they can and they must (1 Cor. 10:13; Psa. 119:9). “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” is still God’s assurance, regardless of your age (Jas. 4:7).
2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:2–4)
The devil tempted Jesus to set fleshly desires as His priority when he urged Jesus to use His power to feed Himself. After all, the Son of God had not eaten in forty days. And, He certainly had the power to command food into existence (as He did when He fed the multitude, Matt. 14:13-21). But, the flesh was not Jesus’ priority; doing the will of God was what sustained Him. He would live by every word of God, and since God did not approve such a selfish use of His power, He would not yield. He refused to choose the flesh over the Father’s will. Likewise, the devil tempts us to live for the flesh. The tempter says, “The desires of the flesh are natural, so why deprive yourself of satisfaction?” But, God says to feed on His word and not upon fleshly lust. To yield is to make the flesh your priority instead of God. Children of God must love the Father, not the flesh. Resist the temptations of the flesh and live by faith (1 Jno. 2:15-17).