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  • Writer's pictureDr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.

Avoiding Sexual Sin

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual

immorality sins against his own body. —1 Corinthians 6:18


Today we complete our examination of Question 139 of the Larger Catechism, which asks,

“What are the sins forbidden in the Seventh Commandment?” The final part of the answer

states, “The sins forbidden in the Seventh Commandment, besides the neglect of the

duties required, are… idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company, lascivious songs,

books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness,

either in ourselves or others.” Last time we looked at biblical marriage and divorce. Today

we consider how we are to avoid all temptations to sexual sin.

The verse at the head of this article commands Christians to flee from sexual immorality.

In another passage of Scripture we are commanded to abstain from it (1 The. 4:3). Sexual

immorality is the phrase usually used to translate the Greek word porneia, which is a broad

term, covering all forms of sexual sin. As with all sin, the duty of the Christian regarding

sexual immorality is to repent of it and avoid all temptations to it. We know that real

Christians are never perfect and continue to sin in all areas of life, but the important thing

is that we continue to fight against sin, never condoning or excusing it, never giving

ourselves over to it. According to Jude 1:7, it was when the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah

had “given themselves over to sexual immorality” that they “went after” the sin of

homosexuality bringing God’s judgment upon them.

Temptation can be subtle, especially sexual temptation. Therefore, in order to fight against

sinful sexual temptation we need to keep our wits about us. We need to guard against

“occasions of sin.” Occasions of sin refer to any and all circumstances that allow

temptation to come to us in a more powerful way. Some occasions of sin are personal or

subjective. That is to say, one person’s occasion of sin may not be another’s. So, for

example, that second white cream-filled donut might not tempt you to break your diet,

but I would rather not want to find myself in a room alone with it! White cream-filled

donuts are my weakness. Perhaps yours is chocolate sprinkled, or Oreo cookies. Likewise,

the Steelers are particularly weak on offense this year. The Chiefs are not. The point is we all

have our weaknesses, with respect to food, football, and with respect to sin. Personal

weaknesses to sin are addressed in the Catechism’s injunction against “all other

provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or in others.” In our

relationships, love demands I look out for your weaknesses as you look out for mine.

However, because we are all human beings with the same ways of thinking and feeling, we

need to especially be on guard against those objective occasions of sin, which time and

experience have revealed to be dangerous. The Catechism lists idleness first. Surely, our

nation will go down in history as a nation ruined in a large part by idleness. When our

government pays people not to work, who are able to, it contributes to the destruction of

their souls. Idle thoughts truly are the devil’s playground. America is living (dying) proof of

it. Listed next are gluttony and drunkenness. Once again, we only have to look at the

history of nations to see that whenever people begin to sinfully indulge in one kind of

physical pleasure, others become easier as well. So also, intoxication, whether from alcohol

or drugs, lowers one’s inhibitions to the point where we are open to doing things we would

not do if we were in our right minds. Finally unchaste company refers to the infectious

nature of sin. The morals of a group almost always descend to the lowest common

denominator. As Paul warned in 1 Cor. 15:33: “Do not be deceived, evil company corrupts

good morals.” You have been deceived if you think you are the exception.

Finally, the remaining items: “lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays” all

refer to what our culture has excelled in like no other: pornography. We mass produce

pornography of every kind: perverse or suggestive words, pictures, videos, live shows, etc.

These all stoke the fires of sexual sin, break the law of God, and lead to greater acts of

wickness. They are dragging our country into ruin. May God deliver us from these and all

occasions of sexual sin!

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