February 5, 2023
Not Even a Hint
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Ephesians 5: 1 - 7

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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.

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We invite you to take your Bible. We’re going to marinate in Ephesians 5:1-7. Message I’ve called, Not Even A Hint. Not Even A Hint. And we’re talking about sexual sin and sexual temptation. That’s where we’re at in Ephesians 5:1-7. “Stand in honor of God’s word.” We don’t worship the Bible, we worship God. But God wrote the Bible, it’s His authoritative word and out of respect for Him, we respect it, just as they did in Nehemiah 8 in the days of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the temple so we will stand also. Ephesians 5:1, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children and walk in love as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you.”

You may have a translation, “Let there not even be a hint of it among you, as fitting for saints. Neither filthiness nor foolish talking, nor corse jesting, which are not fitting but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person nor covetous man who is an idolater has any inheritance in the kingdom of God and Christ. 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.” So reads God’s word. And you may be seated.

In his book, Seven Snares of the Enemy, Erwin Lutzer tells a certain little animal in Switzerland called the ermine. And this little animal takes great pride in its white fur coat and hunters take cruel advantage of this trait. If they go hunting for the ermine, they tend to pour oil and leave garbage around the hole where the animal lives. So then when the ermine is hunted and it heads for home and safety, it comes to the hole and it finds oil and grease and garbage and it refuses to go inside its home for safety because it doesn’t want to get its white fur coat grimy or greasy or dirty. In fact, the ermine would rather face death in the presence of their enemies than sully or besmudge their white fur coat. That’s something, isn’t it?

And I would suggest to you that the story of the ermine should stir within every one of us who professes faith in Jesus Christ a renewed and holy desire to give that same kind of commitment to our moral cleanliness and our sexual purity in a world of sexual sin, in a world of gender confusion, in a world of marital ambiguity, in a world of idolatrous individual freedom with regards to sexual behavior, our desire and our commitment ought to be as one who wants to remain unspotted from the world.

Isn’t that what James says in James 1:27, “Pure religion is to take care of the widow and the orphan and remain unsullied and unspotted and unstained by the surrounding world which lives in rebellion against God.” You see, in a world where nothing is fixed and everything is fluid, even our gender, the Christian is anchored to the truth and reality that God did not call us to uncleanness but to holiness. Sexual holiness. That’s what we’re told in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8. In fact, we’re told there, “This is the will of God for you, avoid sexual immorality.”

And so to that end, I want to turn to Ephesians 5:1-7 because here Paul writes to the church at Ephesus and he calls them to pursue the protection of their purity. Know what he advocates here? A zero tolerance of sexual sin. It’s not even to be named among them. Sexual scandal must not visit the church assembly at Ephesus. It’s not to be named among them. Here Paul contrasts lust with love/ and when lust dominates, God is misrepresented, one’s holy calling in Jesus Christ is contradicted, in gratitude is manifest and the result is God’s judgment.

So let’s come and look at these verses. Let’s just put the text in its context ever so briefly, this is the third use of walk since 4:1, look at verse two of our verses, “And walk in love as Christ also has loved us.” That’s the third mention of walk. If you go back to 4:17, they’re told to, “No longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk in the futility of their mind.” If you go back to 4:1, they’re told to, “Walk worthy of the calling with which they were called.” So a worthy walk, when you add those three mentions together, a worthy walk shows itself in partnership and oneness with God’s people, in shedding the old life apart from Christ, and a pure love that’s the opposite of selfish lust.

He calls them to a chaste life and a pure mind. He’s drawing another contrast. I mean we just spent three weeks looking at the preceding verses where Paul says, “Look, don’t steal, work.” There’s a contrast. “Don’t speak falsely. Don’t let corrupt communication come from your mouth. Speak truth and speak words that bring grace to the hearers.” There’s a contrast. Don’t be bitter, be forgiving. Be kind. There’s a contrast. And here, don’t lust, love. After the pattern of the cross. Now remember these verses and the call to a chaste life and a pure mind, these verses are written to Christians who are living out their Christian life in a very impure culture. Their context is our context.

Ephesus came only second to Corinth in terms of a culture that was sex-crazed. In fact, the Ephesian culture was dominated by the worship of Artemis or the temple of Diana. She was the goddess of fertility and temple prostitution was part of the act of worship. In fact, this culture would’ve reflected Roman culture at large. There’s a famous statement by Plutarch about the Roman culture. He said, this mistresses we keep for the sake of pleasure, concubines for the daily care of our persons, but wives to bear our legitimate children and to be faithful guardians of our house. Anything goes in the Roman culture. And Paul writes with that background in mind and calls them to live out a chaste life with a pure mind and he reminds the church that sexual scandal, there shouldn’t even be a hint of it among those who are called saints.

Now there’s three things here, if time allows us. He calls them to imitation, he calls them to insulation and he calls them to illumination. I’ll make that clear as we work along. Look at verses one and two, the call to imitation. “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children and walk in love as Christ also loved us.” There’s the call to imitation. You and I are called to mimic God. That’s the Greek word where we get our word mimic. We’re to mimic the Almighty. We’re to echo His eternal words, we’re to reveal His heart of love. We’re to model His holy character. We’re to reveal His kingdom rule.

See, just as children mimic their parents, so we the dear children of the Heavenly Father will want to mimic Him. We want to be like Him. We want to reflect His character and His conduct and His commitments. That’s something, isn’t it, to be called to mimic God? The implication of that is that when people leave you and me, whatever interaction they have with us, short or long, passing or permanent, their conclusion should be, “Well that’s what God looks like.” That’s sobering, isn’t it? “That’s what God looks like.” See, you and I in our marriages, in our workplace, in our recreation, all aspects of our life, we’re to mimic God. We’re to be imitators of God. We’re not just to be good people. That’s not enough. We’re to be copies of God, facsimiles of the Heavenly Father. That’s a great challenge.

I haven’t been to the Alamo and I hope to go someday. And when you go there, I’m told that in the main entrance there’s a portrait with the following inscription. James Butler Bonham, no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It’s placed there by this family so that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom. So when you look at his uncle, you see him. And that’s what Paul’s saying to some degree, when people see you, they should see God. Now we’ve got to qualify that. There’s two aspects to God’s attributes and character. There’s what’s called the incommunicable attributes of God and the non-communicable attributes of God. Those things that are particular to Him that cannot be reproduced in us. That would be a self existence, it’s self-sufficiency, internality, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, majesty. We cannot be like God in any of that. That’s non-communicable.

But there are the communicable attributes of God aren’t there? That would be goodness, generosity, love, righteousness, justice, mercy, compassion, wisdom. And people should be able to find that in us as a reflection of God’s work through us. In fact, Paul gets specific. He picks up one of the communicable attributes of God, God’s love. So he says, “Be imitators of God, mimics of the Almighty, facsimiles of the Father in Heaven and walk in love as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us.”

God is love and He’s expressed that love supremely in the giving of His son, John 3:16, 1 John 4:7-11. And that love in Christ was freely given, sacrificial, costly, disruptive to God, other centered and beneficial. That’s what’s true of God’s love. That’s what the cross communicates and that’s what we have come to experience, right? Love of God has been shared abroad in our hearts. And you know what? We need to show others the love that God has shown us. I love that. In fact, there’s an implication to that, isn’t there? Imitating God means looking like Jesus. Imitating God then means looking like Jesus.

One of the commentators says, “What is true about God is within limits set by the incarnation true of Jesus.” And John 1:18 tells us that. “He has declared the Father.” The word declared as said is the word we get acts of Jesus from. Jesus explained the Father. Jesus’ life was a sermon regarding God’s character and attributes. Jesus is the invisible God made visible. Jesus is the transcendent God made eminent. Jesus is the glory of God beheld. And so you and I need to mimic God, which means taking on the likeness of Jesus Christ.

In his fantastic book on holiness, A Hole in Your Holiness by Kevin DeYoung, he says this, “We see all the virtues of holiness perfectly aligned in Christ. He was always gentle but never soft. He was bold but never brash. He was pure but never prudish. He was full of mercy but not at the expense of justice. He was full of truth but not at the expense of grace. In everything, He was submissive to His Heavenly Father and He gave everything for His sheep. He obeyed His parents. He kept the law of God. He forgive His enemies. He never lusted, never coveted, never lied. And all that Jesus did during His whole life and especially as His life came to an end, He loved God with his whole being and loved His neighbor as himself. If somewhere down the road you forget the Ten Commandments or you can’t recall the fruit of the spirit or you don’t seem to remember any particular attribute of God, you can still remember what holiness is by simply remembering His name.”

And that’s what Paul has done here for us. I want you to mimic God and that means walking in love, manifesting love, the love that Christ showed for us. Adoniram Judson and his wife Anne were pioneer missionaries in Burma. Adoniram was characterized by a sweet spirit and a deep commitment to God. And one day, Anne reported a newspaper clipping of their work and she read the statement in the article, which compared Judson to one of the apostles. High praise. But he was not amused. And he said to his wife, “I do not want to be like the apostles, I want to be like Jesus.” That’s the spirit that’s being addressed here. So Paul calls them to imitation.

Let me go back over what I just said a minute ago. As we leave sometime today and go back out into this world and we encounter people in all kinds of situations, remind yourself, meditate on this thought, that you know what, “They need to see God in me.” I think it was DL Moody who said, “There’s the gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and the gospel according to you.” And some of us need revising. And people’s encounter with us should leave them with that idea, “So that’s what God looks like.” It’s challenging. Verses 1-2. The call to insulation, verses 3-4.

The opposite of walking in love is walking in lust. The opposite of walking in love is walking in lust. Walking in love is the mark of the church. Walking in lust is the mark of the world. See, the old man is marked by deceitful lusts. Ephesians 4:17 following. And so Paul calls the church to reject sexual lust, which marks the surrounding culture. Put that off and put on love modeled after the cross. As we’ve said, this is another one of his contrasts, the putting off and the putting on.

Let me draw a contrast for a moment or two. Love gives, lust takes. Love is patient, lust can’t wait. Love begins with the other and what’s good for them. Lust begins with self and never stops there. Love benefits another, while lust defrauds another. Love abides and is loyal, lust discards once used. Love is an act of the will, lust is simply an unbridled emotion. So Paul contrasts that and calls this church to insulate itself, to protect itself against a sex-crazed culture out of which they came, back into which they must go, but they must be there now as saints set apart for God’s glory.

Let’s move through these verses as quickly as possible. There’s four things, here as time allows us. Let’s call it the sanction. Paul is first giving them a sanction. He’s forbidding certain behavior and he’s reminding that that forbidden behavior has punishment attached to it. He sanctions sexual sin. Look at verse three, “But fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, we don’t even want to hint of it among the saints at Aphesis, neither filthiness foolish talk, coarse joking, that’s not fitting. Spend your time giving thanks.”

So the sanction, Paul’s introducing a new sexual ethic to those who have come out of a gentile background. He does that in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8. And he does that in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 also. He forbids certain actions and speech. Notice one, fornication. This is the Greek word porneia from which we get the English term porn or pornography. It’s an umbrella term, it’s a catchall word. It vacuums up all sexual sin outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage.

See, that’s where sex is meant to take place. Sex is a gift from God. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s part of our human makeup and it’s to be expressed with the right person in the right way at the right time. And the right person is your married partner who’s heterosexual, the opposite sex. You and that person have committed to a monogamous relationship for the glory of God. And any sex before that and any sex outside of that, any sex that undermines that, forbidden. That’s what the word fornication means, premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexuality, bestiality, the use of pornography. It’s all forbidden. Not to be mentioned once among us. Not even a hint. We’re to live beyond that and above that.

Uncleanness is sexual perversion, defiling practices. It’s a graphic word by the way. It’s a word that speaks of puss around an infected wound. Disgusting. It’s ugly. And Paul says, but hold on a minute, it’s not just physical wounds. There’s emotional wounds and moral wounds. And when you and I give ourselves to a life of sexual perversity and a pursuit of that which God has forbidden, God finds that disgusting and it contaminates you and the person you’re with and your testimony. It’s repulsive.

Fornication, uncleanness. Covetousness. Now normally when we think of the word covet, we think of the obsession with material things, the buying of that special car, the purchase of that beautiful home in that nice neighborhood, so on and so forth. And the Bible warns us not to live a life of covetousness. Jesus says in Luke 12, “Life doesn’t consist in the things that you possess, so don’t let them possess you.” But here I think it’s used in the term of lusting for more, not just material things but people, sexual objects. I mean we can take that from the context and it’s certainly no stretch because when you go back to the 10th commandment, Exodus 20:17, “Don’t covet your neighbor’s animal or stuff and don’t covet your neighbor’s wife.” So adultery is a form of covetousness and this all forbidden here. And we’ve got the sordid and sod story of David and Bathsheba.

And certainly this would include the scourge of pornography, wouldn’t it? Because pornography almost more than anything else breeds an insatiable appetite for someone else’s body. We just said their culture is our culture. But I think any pastor with their head screwed on, any man or woman aware of the generation in which they live would have to agree that pornography is a scourge. It’s a terrible thing and it’s destroying marriages and families. And if it’s pursued in an unrepentant manner, it will damn a man’s soul in hell forever. Because pornography, it’s a scourge because it’s accessible, it’s affordable, and it offers anonymity. Terrible. And Paul warns the church here. And while the accessibility and the anonymity may be something unique to our time, if you go back to the Roman culture and some of the excavations of Pompeii and other Roman sites, you’ll find pornographic images etched into the walls of their homes. It was a real problem then and it’s a massive problem now.

Now Paul goes on, having warned him about sexual acts, he says, “We’re not going to stop there. I’m forbidding and the law of God forbids and the holiness of God demands that we don’t even talk or think about that kind of stuff.” And so he goes on to talk about filthiness, foolish talking, coarse jesting. Let me unpack that for a few minutes. What’s filthiness? It’s probably tied into uncleanliness, coming at it from another angle. But it kind of speaks of shameful talk, filthy, dirty talk. It speaks of obscene words and behavior. Have you noticed the word obscenity has dropped out of American vocabulary? Nothing’s obscene anymore. I mean just scroll on a newsfeed of all places. Fox or anywhere else and you’ll get salacious, obscene stories of people’s private lives and their depraved actions. Filthiness. It’s a disrespect for standards. It’s the opposite of decency. It’s all that Hugh Hefner and Larry Flint proposed and promoted so many years ago.

Foolish talk. Foolish talk, believe it or not, it’s a strong term. It’s two Greek words, moron and words. It’s moronic words, it’s foolish words, it’s stupid speech. But hold on a minute, we’re not talking about intelligence. The person being addressed here is not someone who lacks IQ. It’s someone who lacks holiness, a moral compass. You see in the Bible, in the book of Proverbs, a fool is not someone who is intellectually or mentally deficient. It’s someone that’s morally deficient, who’s got no biblical worldview, who’s got no fear of God, who says, “There is no God”, right? The fool says in his heart, “There is no God, which means there is no judgment, which means there is no hell, which means there is no consequence, which means I can do whatever I darn well want to do as much or as little as I want to.” That’s where we’re at. Someone who lives with no regard to God, His existence or His biblical commandments.

In fact, I was thinking about this. Foolish talk today might show up just in the very fact of redefining sexual sin. Isn’t that what we’re all about today? I mean redefining sexual sin, sexual behavior. Tony Merida, who’s been in this pulpit and a good brother, says this in his commentary on Ephesians, “We must resist the temptation to rename sin. Popular illustrations of this abound. ‘It’s for mature audiences.’ ‘The gentleman’s club.’ ‘If it feels good, it must be good.'” He said he was on a flight and he was reading an in-flight magazine that proposed a certain club with these words, “It’s just the right amount of wrong.” Foolish talk, lacking in moral wisdom.

In 1859, the American Medical Association here in the United States described abortion, “As wanton destruction and murderous destruction.” Well, we’ve come a long way since then. 1967, “It’s an interruption of an unwanted pregnancy.” Just an interruption. It’s called a medical procedure. Today we have affairs and meaningful relationships. No, you have adulterous relationships that God will judge. Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage is honorable among all men. The bed is undefiled and the adulterer God will judge.” Call it whatever you want, it remains to same in God’s eyes. It’s not clean, it’s unclean. It’s not acceptable, it’s unacceptable. It’s a violation of God’s law. “Well, you know what? I’ve embraced the alternative lifestyle.” What do you mean? You mean homosexuality, a perversion of God’s marriage orders? Is that what you mean? Is that not just an expression of foolish talk?

And then he goes on to talk about coarse jesting. This is worth looking at for a moment. Coarse jesting or coarse joking. Now we love humor. If you go Psalm 1:26, it says, “God has filled their mouths with laughter.” There’s a time to laugh, says Ecclesiastes 3. A merry heart’s a good medicine. Humor’s good. We thank God for it. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about something unholy, coarse joking. This is a Greek word that means to turn easily, to turn easily. One writer says that someone who can make a quick comeback using clever words with double meaning, it’s quick-wittedness that pollutes conversation. It’s turning innocent things into impure things. It’s turning sacred things into smutty things. It’s vulgar comedy. It’s bathroom talk. It’s sleazy repartee. It’s the stuff PG-13 romantic comedies are made of. They get you to laugh at the sleazy and the smutty, and the dirty and the unholy. Paul says, “Cut it out. That stains your soul, stains your soul. It’s not to be mentioned among us.”

Like the story of the pastor who went into the school. He threw down a book in the front desk of the principal. He said, “You know what? My son’s not going to read this. There’s questionable material in this. Assign him a different book. And I want to tell you this, he’s not going to get marked down for it either.” Well, the principal was a little taken back and he started to try and argue with the preacher and he got the word, “but” out, but he didn’t get very far. When the preacher came back sternly, “No ifs or buts. He will not be forced to read this book, he will be assigned another. Is that clear?” The principal looked at the pastor and said, “Well, all right, I really don’t understand the fuss. I don’t know where you’re coming from. After all, the language in this book is not much worse than what’s written in the bathroom walls.” To which the pastor replied, “Yes. And when that becomes required reading, I’ll be back.”

That’s kind of where we need to be about this kind of smutty talk about body parts and sex and that which is filthy. Gutter speech. Swindoll says this, “It plays too near the edge of what can degenerate in the grossly inappropriate words and actions. It breaks down our resistance to things that hinder our intimacy with God.” Do you realize the enemy loves to use comedy? Look at all the sitcoms, all the comedic sitcoms, they break down biblical norms. They get you laughing at things that are no laughing matter and things that break the heart of God and cause Christ to cry from the cross. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He’s right. It breaks down our resistance to things that hinder our intimacy with God. It promotes a warped and degrading view of sex and marriage, which is so beautiful in God’s will. It promotes mental habits of sensuality that disrespects the opposite sex. It silences our opportunity for Christ to be made and known.

So that’s the sanction. Got to speed up here. The standard we’ve touched on, but I’ll drill down on it just ever so briefly. What is the standard? The standard that Paul sets before the Ephesians and a sex-crazed society is the church ought not to be scandalized by this once. See, God has not called us to uncleanness but to holiness and He not only calls us to that, He gives us the power to do it through the indwelling Holy Spirit. And so Paul says, “No, here’s the standard, not even a hint of this depraved, debouched lifestyle. These sins cannot be ever justified among the justified. And neither should they ever be tolerated.”

I mean go to Paul’s writing on this in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11&18 and the surrounding verses. He says, “Look, this actually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God and such were some of you.” Notice past tense? “But the cross has broken that cycle and the spirit of God is developing within you a new lifestyle. You’re putting off the old man and you’re putting on the new man, such where some of you, but now you’re washed and you’re sanctified and you’re justified. So keep fleeing immorality and remember your body’s the temple of the Holy Spirit.” That’s quite a standard, isn’t it? Not named, not found, not tolerated.

Now to be realistic, sadly, you take the church in Corinth as an example, it has been named. You had a scandal in the church of Corinth regarding a sexual sin that wasn’t even common among unbelievers. And Paul says, “That’s leaven and it’s going to spoil the whole lump. You got to put that brother out and we’ll find out if he’s a true believer, if he repents.” It was named. But this verse isn’t saying it can’t be named. If it’s committed, it must be addressed, named and dealt with. What it’s saying is it must be dealt with and put out of the church because it ought not to be named, shouldn’t be part of the church’s walk in the world.

This radical standard requires radical holiness. Maybe that’s why Jesus told us, right, when it comes to both physical adultery and mental adultery through lust and looking at a woman and undressing her and imagining things that are unholy, Jesus said, “We’ve got to deal with that. And so I’m encouraging now, if your eye offends, pull it out. If your hand offends, cut it off.” Now some took that literally. It was never meant to be taken literally. And some men in the early church castrated themselves in their fight against lust. But Jesus is not teaching self-mutilation. Because you can sin with one eye and pull it out and you have another eye to sin with. And should you pull both eyes out, blind men can lust. It’s not the point. It’s do what you need to do. Get serious about sexual sin and sexual temptation. It’s the mark of the unregenerate.

Yes, believers can commit it, believers can lapse into it, but it must never be a pattern, a lifestyle. So get serious about it. Show that you’re saved. Prove that Christ is at work in you in breaking the dominion of sin in your life. And so hey, if it means pulling the plug on your electronics and your technology, do it. If it means stopping a subscription, do it. If it means not hanging out with a certain person, do it. Whatever it takes, do it. Making yourself accountable and vulnerable to others concerning this, do it. Get serious about it. That’s the standard.

In fact, I quoted Erwin Lutzer earlier, let me quote him again. He says this, “Somewhere I read, when you’re going to jump across a chasm, it’s much better to do it in one long jump than two short ones.” So just when we deal with sin in our lives, it’s better that we deal with it thoroughly, completely without making it easy to retrace your steps. See, that’s what it means. Run from immorality, flee it. No looking back like Lot’s wife. You and sin should never part as friends looking for each other in the future. That’s the standard. That’s the sanction. What about the status? I’d love to develop this, but we’ll come back to this in verses 8-14, they’re saints, they’re saints. That’s a word that kind of scares us.

The Roman Catholic tradition has taken that word and turned it into a special category of Christian, some elite corpse of Christian, but it’s not. The saint was an everyday Christian who understood that since Jesus got ahold of them, they were now set apart for God’s glory and God’s special use. Do you understand that? Do you desire a saintly life? We use that word a lot more. I don’t hear Christians talking about that as much, “I’m going to meet with the saints of God, the set apart ones, the holy ones, those who are marching to a different drum beat, those who are out of step with the world. Not odd for God, you’ll find them where you’ll find everybody else, unless it’s flagrant sin. They raise their kids among us. They work in our factories among us, but they’re different. Their speech is different, their dress is different, their conduct is different, their marriages are different, their kids are different.”

That’s where we’re at with the word saint. It’s a distinct people within the city limits of any city. It’s what Peter calls the Holy Nation, right, in 1 Peter 2:9-10, and I hope that you bare that in mind. If you go back into the Old Testament before we leave this thought, what do we have, the Holy Sabbath, which means what? A day set apart for special use. Unlike the other six days. We’ve got holy vestments that the priest would wear, which were clothes set apart, designated for religious activity and special use. The temple was a holy temple, a location, a space, a place dedicated for the worship of God for special use. And you and I need to realize that wherever we put our feet is holy ground because we’re bringing the distinct lifestyle to that moment and distinct values and commitments to that event.

So we need to set ourselves apart and especially when it comes to sexual purity, we’re to live in a way that’s fitting for saints. If you go to 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul says, “God has not called us to uncleanness but to holiness.” Paul says, “This is the will of God for you, abstain from sexual immorality. And part of that is possessing your own body and honor.” As I thought about that, I wrote a few things down to myself, and I hope to your benefit. As we think about our bodies, with regards to our eyes, why don’t we set them apart and watch what we watch? Job did that. Job 31:1, where he made a covenant with his eyes not to look upon the virgins of Israel, the young attractive women. With regard to our feet, why don’t we set our feet apart? Why don’t we watch where we go and whose example we follow? Proverbs 7:8 tells us about a naive young man in Israel who walked towards the harlot’s house. He’s gone in the wrong direction. You’re making yourself a sitting duck. Don’t go there. Bad things happen there, right?

I mean, let’s be honest, there are certain places, there are certain sides of town you don’t go as a Christian. Just don’t go there. You don’t take your feet there. It’s madness to do that. With regard to our bodies, we should watch what we wear. In fact, the young woman or the woman that propositions the young man in Proverbs 7:10, it says in the verse, “She was dressed like a harlot.” There’s an interesting thought. You can dress like a harlot. You add that more positively to 1 Timothy 4:9 where the Christian woman is encouraged to wear modest clothing. Certainly those passages talk about beauty and physical attraction and there’s nothing unholy about that. But you know what? You need to be careful about what parts of your body you put on public display because that can be troublesome. You need to be holy in your dress. That’s a tough one in California and I think needs to be thought out a little bit more.

With regards to our tongues, we’re to be careful what we say. If you go to Proverbs 5:3, it talks about the harlot and how her lips are like honey. He engages her in conversation in 6:24 and 7:21. You need to be careful with your words. Don’t get involved in intimate conversations with the opposite sex. It’s dangerous. Leads to sin. With regards to our ears, we’ve got to be careful what we hear. There’s all kinds of lies out there. If it feels good, it must be good. If it doesn’t harm anybody, surely it’s right. And the world will propagandize us, if that’s a word, all the time. And we’ve got to be careful of what we’re listening to.

Proverbs 5:1, the father says, “Give me your ear. Got to talk to you about sexual things. I want to bring the wisdom of God’s word and what I’ve seen and what I’ve learned.” Finally, with regard to our hand, why don’t we set it apart and be careful what we touch and when we touch it? Because 1 Corinthians 7:1, Paul says, “I want you to stay single. I prefer that you don’t touch a woman.” That’s a euphemism for sexual contact. Within marriage, touch. It’s a beautiful thing in its time and in its place. It’s a bad thing out of place. And there is such a thing as a sexual touch which arouses. And Paul’s saying, “Hey, be careful with your eyes, your feet, your bodies, your tongues, your ears, your hand. Don’t do anything that’s not fitting for the saints of God called to purity.”

Let’s move on. The solution? Amazingly, one of the weapons in the fight for purity is thanksgiving. Look at verse four, “Neither filthiness nor foolishness, coarse jesting, it’s not fitting but rather giving of thanks.” This seems out of place, doesn’t it? Here we are talking about sexual sin and temptation and the battle to stay pure. And Paul’s saying, “Hey, do you want to fight that? Do it with Thanksgiving.” It doesn’t seem right. It seems kind of disjointed, but the more you think about it, it is right. Because at the heart of every sin, including sexual sin, is ingratitude to God. Go back to Romans 1:21-25. It says that they stopped worshiping and with God they were unthankful. And considering themselves wise, they became fools. At the heart of sin is an ingratitude. It’s a lifestyle of no thanks to God. And it’s a belief that there’s a greater pleasure outside of God.

Listen to this. Thanksgiving is an antidote for sin, for it is difficult to give thanks to God for His goodness and proceed to act badly. Love for God expels love for sin. Thankfulness, thanksgiving is an antidote for sin, for it has us focused on the generosity of God and the fact that He has joyfully given us all things that we need and that will protect us from pursuing substitute gods that promise pleasure and joy. Thanksgiving focuses us on the real gifts, not the phony and empty promises of sin. Heck, if you think about it, if you and I spend more time being grateful and thankful for what God is and what God has done in our lives and what God has given us, it’d be so much harder to sin. Every time we sin and betray God, it’s an act of ingratitude. “Lord, what you’ve given is not enough. I need something more.” Terrible.

In fact, as I thought about that, I thought about the story of Polycarp, second century bishop in Smyrna. When he was being led to his death as a martyr for Jesus Christ, they asked him to swear against Christ and be set free and he refused. And here’s what he said, “86 years have I served Him and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my king?” See, he lived in an attitude of gratitude. “He’s done me no wrongs and He done me good. How can I betray Him?” Thanksgiving helps us fight lust.

Okay, time’s gone. So the last thought would’ve been calls them to illumination. And I’ll touch on the most important part of this would be verses 5, 6, and 7, “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person or covetous man who is an idolater has an inheritance in the kingdom of God. God does not tolerate sin. And a perverted, counterfeit love called lust. He will punish it and it will end in His judgment and domination.” That kind of lifestyle, someone given to that. See, Christians can lapse into sin but they won’t wallow in it. They won’t be like a pig in mud.

Remember how Peter warned us, you want to see a false professor and a false teacher, they’ll kind of clean their lives up and then you’ll see them go back like a pig goes back to the mire. So they’ll go back to their old dirty life, again and again and again without that being broken. And that’s the mark of the undegenerate and that’s where we’re at here. We’re not talking about Christians who lapse into sin, but Christians don’t go on practicing sin. They break its dominion in their life. But those who don’t, those who pursue this, the sexually liberated, will not escape God’s coming judgment. God’s judgment is like dark clouds on the horizon coming.

And Paul says, “Hey, you need to be aware of that. You know that no fornicator will inherit the kingdom of God.” And remember that and stick by that because the culture will try and deceive you with empty words. Try and talk you out of this idea of judgment and domination and hell. Paul warns about deceptive and empty words that will seek to pour cold water on the idea of God’s white-hot wrath. Paul says, “You know what? There’ll be Libertines and Antinomians in the church who will say, “We’re under grace, not under law, so you can do whatever you want, it’s forgiven.” There’ll be false prophets who’ll say peace, peace, safety, no judgment, no hell, no damnation. There’ll be gnostics who will say, “You know what? The body’s evil. So you can do anything you want with the body and won’t touch your soul.”

Paul says, there’s all kinds of empty words and deceptive words. You’re going to hear it all, but you know the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. Don’t let them sweep the ashes of Sodom and Gomorrah under the proverbial carpet, that God still lives. And their attempt to deny the existence of hell and the holy unsettled wrath of God against sin, it flies in the face of scripture. It contradicts the teaching of Jesus because He talked more about hell than He did about heaven. It’s an attack upon the holiness of God. It’s a belittling of the gospel because you see, God’s wrath was visited on Jesus because God’s wrath against sin is real. And you’ve got to put your faith in Jesus where God indeed judged your sin. He’s either going to judge it in you or He is going to forgive you because He judged it in Christ and you believe that to be true.

Just this past couple of days, I discovered an amazing story that in 1997, Chinese firefighters succeeded in putting out a fire that had been raging for 400 years. You can look that up. It’s a true story. In a place in China Baiyanghe, there was a coal field that started to go on fire in 1560. It consumed 127 million tons of coal before it was extinguished. 400 years is a long time, but it’s nothing in the light of eternity. And on the authority of God’s word, hell is a fire that will never go out. And men may pour water on it with their empty words, their lying deceits. But that fire will never go out. And the man or woman who’s given to a pattern of sensualism and sex outside of God’s boundaries is destined for that place. And if that’s you, I want you to know that there is hope.

There was a woman caught in adultery in John 8, and met Jesus and she confessed her sin and repented of it. And Jesus said, “Okay, I forgive you. Now go and sin no more.” My friend, God can make you clean this morning. God can give you a new start this morning. God, by His grace, can help you live a holy life for His glory this morning. And I trust that you’ll pursue that and you’ll embrace that. Father, we thank you for this passage, stern. We feel its weight even in preaching it. It’s such a challenge to a contemporary church that’s struggling to be a prophetic voice, that’s got so many of its own scandals, whose members are justifying cohabitation and sex before marriage, and the fact that their children may have gone down the path of homosexuality. And we’ve got so far removed from this passage, it’s scary.

Leaders falling into sin and scandal. We’ve got so far away from not even a hint. We’re embracing license. We’re seeing only the grace of God and forgetting the holiness of God. We’re forgetting that Christians do not go on practicing sin. And so Lord, take this word. Help us to hide it in our hearts so we may not sin against you. For hell is a fire that will never go out. The immoral person and the fornicator will not inherit the kingdom of God. And so help us to be an imitator of you. And may the love of Christ and the grace of God be reason for thankfulness and gratitude and a desire to love you more and to hate what you hate, and to overcome the pleasure of sin with a greater pleasure, the joy of knowing God and pleasing Him and keeping His bride pure, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.