Immorality, Impurity, and Fornication
I recently received a letter from an inmate requesting information regarding the topics of immorality, impurity, and fornication. This article is written in response to this this request.
We live in a society where wrong seems right and right seems wrong. Everywhere you look there are depictions of sexual innuendos, drugs and all manner of sin. As you read this article please do so with the mindset that that the Bible considers us (the church) the bride of Christ, as seen in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church.”
Let us take two primary texts that were noted in the letter I received and begin to break them down. The first text is Galatians 5:19-21.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
This is an excellent text in understanding a relationship with God. In context this is referring to the works of the flesh versus the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, this text directly precedes the fruit of the Spirit “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23). Therefore we can understand Galatians 5:19-21 as the fruit of a sinful person and Galatians 5:22-23 as the fruit or evidence in one’s life that he or she belongs to Christ. After all, Jesus said “By their fruit you shall know them” (Matthew 7:16).
Let’s begin to understand Galatians 5:19-21. Paul, who is writing to the church in Galatia, says the works of the flesh are manifest (vs 19), in other words our actions reveal what is in our hearts. Then he lists these works or evidences of an unconverted heart. This is qualified by the way he closes the list by saying “As I have told you in time past that they which do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (vs 21):
Adultery – This includes the obvious, being involved in a relationship outside the parameters ordained by God at creation, one man and one woman under one roof.
Fornication – This includes the physical act of defiling the marriage vows or partaking of the marital privileges (sex) outside of a consecrated relationship under the legal rights of a marriage. The original word for fornication, in the Greek, is porneia. Yes, you guessed it this is where we get the word pornography from. The definition of porneia includes adultery and incest.
Uncleanness – The use of this word simply refers to impurity. Not only does God desire us to have a pure heart but He promises to purify our hearts. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins”, now don’t miss this next part, “and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Lasciviousness – This word means unbridled (not restrained or controlled) lust. It is important to note that when we lose control of ourselves and our emotions the devil takes the control for us. It is so important for us to yield to Christ who can give us self-control.
Idolatry – Anything that takes the place of God can become an idol to us. Heathen worship commonly included immoral practices and encouraged its devotees to engage in them.
Witchcraft – Interestingly enough, the word for witchcraft comes from the Greek word pharmakeia, which is poison, magic potion, the administering of drugs. You guessed it, this is where we get the word pharmacy or pharmaceutical from. In the ancient past, which has collided with the present, the use of drugs was prevalent in many systems of false worship. Largely because of how drugs cause us to lose control of our mental faculties and ultimately self.
Hatred – Self-explanatory
Variance – Meaning hostility or enmity.
Emulations – Envy or jealousy
Wrath – Fierce anger
Strife – Contention, anger
Seditions – Dissension or division. One who is divisive or seeks to cause disunion
Heresies – Contradicting the orthodox beliefs or tenants of a religion.
Envyings – Jealousy
Murders – Self-explanatory
Drunkenness – Self-explanatory. Please note that Jesus, even when He was in excruciating pain on the cross, refused to drink alcohol. He only tasted it then rejected it. Jesus did not want anything to cloud the communication with His Father. The devil seeks to use this wicked brew to, not only get us to make bad decisions, but to inhibit our communion with God.
Revellings – Carousing, today we would call it partying
Now, before you throw in the towel and say “Well I’ve done some or even all of those things, what hope do I have?” You MUST REMEMBER, Jesus can take a wicked heart that made/makes bad decisions and turn us into something beautiful. Remember the beautiful promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
The rebuke that Paul gives is not to those who have committed these sins in the past, after all “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but to those who refuse to repent of the past sins and continue in them.
Now let us consider the second text in in question from the letter I received. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Here, Paul lists some characteristics of an unrighteous person. We will, again, list the characteristics out with and explanation.
Fornicators – See above
Idolaters – See above
Adulterers – See above
Effeminate – The word effeminate simply means soft of nature, delicate, or tender. However, given the context here, it is used to refer to one who takes part in the act of homosexuality, particularly one who yields themselves to be used for such immoral purposes. In other words this would be one who is on the receiving end of the homosexual act.
Abusers of themselves with mankind – This is a reference to a sodomite. This could be seen as one who is on the giving end of the homosexual act. In other words both terms, effeminate and abuser, refers to homosexuals.
One does not have to stay in this type of lifestyle though. The common misconception, that one is born like this and cannot change, is simply not a Biblical idea. Continue reading below for an explanation.
Thieves – Self-explanatory
Covetous – Meaning eager to gain. Appreciating something is different than wanting something to the point that the object becomes an idol which could tempt you to break the Commandments of God.
Drunkards – See above
Revilers – Abusive, a railer, or a slanderer. This would be one that seeks to willfully harm or attack someone.
Extortioners – The crime of obtaining money or some other thing of value by the abuse of one’s office or authority.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21 is a list of the most common sins of the flesh. There is hope. Let us carefully consider the next verse in this text. 1 Corinthians 6:11 says; “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Did you catch that good news? Such WERE some of you. That means change is still an option. If you still have breath in your body you can still be forgiven of your past sins.
Yes, it’s true, continuing in these sins will most definitely bar you from Heaven. Yes, it’s true, these sins do come with consequences and we may reap those consequences for a while, in some cases for life.
The list of sins here do not only apply to our relationship with our fellow man but our relationship with God as well. It is possible to commit adultery on God by stepping outside of the relationship He wants to have with us. Christ loved us so much that He gave Himself for us. Will you give yourself for Him?
The point is, dear brother or sister, God can take a sinful heart and transform it. It really is simple to follow God’s formula for salvation.
1 – Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life.
2 – Confess your sins to our God who loves us so much He died for us.
3 – Repent, in other words express and experience genuine sorrow for the hurt that we have caused. Turn from that sin and walk away from it.
4 – Make restitution where possible for the sins you have committed.
5 – Maintain a regular prayer and devotional life.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
March 1, 2016