"THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT" Sins Of Moral Impurity INTRODUCTION 1. In Ro 1:18-32 , we find a description of moral decay that sounds similar to today... a. While we have enjoyed great advances in technology, we are still in the "dark ages" as far as morality is concerned b. The challenge for Christians to live holy lives is not much different today, than in the First Century A.D. 2. But passages like 1 Co 6:9-11 remind us that there is hope... a. People in the first century were able to make remarkable changes in their lives b. Today the same Power is available to change us as well! 1) We too can be "washed", "sanctified", and "justified in the name of Jesus" 2) How? Note that Paul says it is "...by the Spirit of our God"! 3. In our previous lesson, we saw that by "walking in the Spirit" it is possible to overcome the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit a. By setting our minds on the things of the Spirit (via the Word of God)... b. And obtaining the aid of the Spirit (via prayer)... ...we can produce the "fruit of the Spirit" in our lives, instead of the "works of the flesh" 4. But we also noted that one step in "Overcoming The Conflict" was through an awareness of the enemy... a. Otherwise we might be succumbing to the enemy, and not even know it! b. Fortunately, Paul has provided a list of such things that comprise the "works of the flesh" - Ga 5:19-21 [With this lesson, we begin a careful examination of the words used to describe the "works of the flesh". We start with a look at those sins that might be classed together as "Sins Of Moral Impurity". The KJV and NKJV begin with a word ("adultery") that is not found in some of the oldest manuscripts. But it is certainly covered by the next word, which we shall focus upon first...] I. PORNEIA (fornication, immorality, sexual vice) A. A GENERIC WORD FOR UNLAWFUL SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS... 1. Originally, it meant "to act the harlot" and then "to indulge unlawful lust" 2. As used in the New Testament, we find it having at least four different meanings... a. Pre-marital sex - 1 Co 7:1-2 b. A synonym for adultery - Mt 19:9 c. A generic sense referring to all forms of unchastity - 1 Co 6:13 ,18 d. A specific sense referring to harlotry and prostitution - Re 2:20-21 3. It therefore includes any sort of sexual intercourse between partners who are not married to each other (pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, incest) 4. God's disdain for such immorality is seen in the fact... a. There are seven lists of evil in the writings of Paul b. Fornication is listed in five of them, and is the first in each of them B. THIS WORD BECAME SYNONYMOUS WITH FIRST CENTURY LIFE... 1. As it truly reflected... a. Their attitude toward "adultery": "We keep mistresses for pleasure, concubines for day-to-day needs of the body, but we have wives in order to produce children legitimately and to have a trustworthy guardian of our homes" (Demosthenes) b. Their attitude toward "divorce": "Roman women were married to be divorced and were divorced to be married. Some of them distinguished the years, not by the names of the consuls, but by the names of their husbands." (Seneca) c. Their attitude toward "family": "Caligula lived in incest with his sister Drusilla, and the lust of Nero did not even spare his mother Agrippina." (Suetonius) d. Their attitude toward "those of the same sex": 1) "It were better not to need marriage, but to follow Plato and Socrates and to be content with the love of boys." (Lucian) 2) "Of the first fifteen emperors, Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct." (Gibbons) 2. Does it require much insight to see that this word has come to reflect life in the twentieth century as well? a. Adultery is considered inevitable, even acceptable by many b. Divorce has been made "no-fault" c. Families have been torn asunder by incest d. Homosexuality has become an "acceptable alternative lifestyle" [Indeed, the works of the flesh are as rampant today as they were in the first century. As we continue, we see other words that remind us of the times in which we live...] II. AKATHARSIA (uncleanness, impurity) A. THE ETYMOLOGY OF THE WORD... 1. It originally had reference to dirt or dirtiness in a physical sense 2. In the Greek OT, it is used to denote ritual and ceremonial impurity which made it impossible for the worshipper to approach God - cf. Lev 22:3-9 3. It then came to be used in a moral sense, of that moral depravity which disgusts the person who sees it B. THREE IDEAS ARE THEREFORE INHERENT IN THE WORD... 1. The quality of that which is soiled and dirty; some minds are like that 2. An impurity where there is a repulsive quality that awakens disgust in those persons who are decent 3. That which separates man from God; in contrast, compare Mt 5:8 ; Re 3:4 [There appears to be a progression of thought in the order of these words used by Paul. While "porneia" indicates sin within a specific area of life (that of sexual relation), "akatharsia" indicates a general defilement of personality, tainting every sphere of life. The next word indicates a love of sin so reckless and audacious that one has ceased to care what God or man thinks of their actions...] III. ASELGIA (lasciviousness, licentiousness, sensuality) A. THE BASIC MEANING OF THE WORD... 1. In the NT it seems to be linked with sexual excess in a public way 2. Barclay distinguishes three characteristics of this sin: a. It is wanton and undisciplined action b. It has no respect for the persons or rights of anyone else c. It is completely indifferent to public opinion and to public decency B. THE GENERAL IDEA IS ONE OF SHAMELESS BEHAVIOR... 1. Thayer defines this word by giving these examples: a. "filthy words" b. "indecent bodily movements" c. "unchaste handling of males and females" 2. This word is one that best describes... a. What is often seen in much of modern dance, music, and theater b. What goes on at many concerts, and on many talk shows 3. The context in which it is often found in the Scriptures helps to understand this word - cf. Ro 13:11-14 ; Ep 4:17-19 ; 1 Pe 4:1-4 CONCLUSION 1. With these three words (porneia, aktharsia, aselgeia), we learn that the "works of the flesh" involve "Sins Of Moral Impurity" 2. It has been said that "chastity" (the condition of being morally pure or chaste) was the one completely new virtue which Christianity introduced into the pagan world 3. Three reasons made this introduction difficult... a. Immorality in sexual matters was not immorality to Grecian society; it was established custom and practice b. Certain philosophies separated the actions of the body from the spirit c. In many cases, prostitution was connected with religion -- It should not be surprising, then, to find Paul having to deal with this problem - cf. 2 Co 12:20-21 4. Today, we find ourselves facing similar problems... a. We live in a culture that calls immorality "The New Morality" b. We are influenced by philosophies (evolution and secular humanism) that downplay the need for the spirit to control the flesh c. More and more religions are giving their stamp of approval to various forms of sexual immorality 5. In response to the culture in which we live... a. We must first proclaim Jesus' diagnosis of the problem: that sinful conduct exists, and it comes from within man - cf. Mk 7: 21-23 b. We can then offer the gospel's solution to the problem: forgiveness of sin, and the power to live holy lives! - cf. 1 Co 6:9-11 Have you been "washed", "sanctified", and "justified" in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God? Paul explains how this is done in Ti 3:4-7 (cf. Ac 2:38 ; 22:16)... NOTE: In defining the words in this study, I depended heavily upon William Barclay's "Flesh And Spirit - An Examination of Galatians 5:19-23 " (Baker Book House), and Ferrell Jenkins' "Flesh And Spirit - A Word Study" (Guardian Of Truth Foundation). The same will be true in the following outlines in this study.