|MARRIAGE IS TO BE HELD IN HONOR AMONG ALL: Timios o gamos en pasin: (Genesis 1:27,28; 2:21,24; Lev 21:13, 14, 15; 2Ki 22:14; Pr 5:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23; Is 8:3; 1Co 7:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16; 9:5; 1Ti 3:2,4,12; 5:14; Titus 1:6)
LET LOVE OF THE
BY HONORING MARRIAGE
Don't forget the context of this paragraph which begins with let love of the brethren continue. This charge is the overarching command for the entire chapter and is especially relevant to our present passage. How better to let love of the brethren continue, then to let it continue in marriage between believers!
Covenant: As It Relates to Marriage
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary - recommended article on marriage
Most authorities feel that this exhortation represents a response and a refutation of the practice of asceticism which downgraded the high value God has placed on the institution of marriage. Paul warned against this practice in his letter to Timothy…
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from (purposeful, deliberate departure from a former position) the faith (pistis), (note the source of their "new spirituality"!) paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars (pseudologos = False speakers - Expresses the notion of definite false statements) seared (kauteriazo = branded with a hot iron, English cauterize!) in their own consciences as with a branding iron (The demonic teacher's consciences were so branded by evil that they lost all moral sensitivity and were no longer able to distinguish between right and wrong!), men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods (~asceticism), which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good (including marriage), and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. (1Ti 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
The other dangerous extreme in the early church was libertinism, which describes one who is unrestrained by conventional (Biblical) morality (the Bible is the only true source of what is moral before a Holy God) leading to personal dissolution (utter lack of moral restraint) and decay of a society that engages in such profane practices.
Some first-century Christian ascetics practiced strict self-denial (from sexual activity) as a "spiritual discipline" and even considered (to quote one source) “virginity as necessary to Christian perfection.” This later developed in the second century into what became known as the Montanist movement, which spawned celibate monasticism. These individuals falsely concluded that those who choose marriage choose inferior spirituality. Wrong! I have been married for 43 years and the greatest sanctifying "tool" in my life is my wife! I am far more "spiritual" with her than I ever would have been without her. The logic (illogic) of these celibates dishonors the God ordained institution of marriage. The ascetics were bad, but the real assault on the integrity and honor of marriage came from the libertines who saw marriage as irrelevant thus pursued unbridled sexual fulfillment. Also wrong! Very wrong!
GOING FROM BAD TO WORSE!
Does modern church need this exhortation to honor the marriage bed? Here's a comment from pollster George Barna that speaks to the morality crisis in America and even in the church (from a report in 2003)…
The data trends indicate that the moral perspectives of Americans are likely to continue to deteriorate. Compared to surveys we conducted just two years ago, significantly more adults are depicting such behaviors as morally acceptable. For instance, there have been increases in the percentages that condone sexual activity with someone of the opposite gender other than a spouse, abortion (up by 25%), and a 20% jump in people’s acceptance of ‘gay sex.’… Most of the people we interviewed believe that they are highly moral individuals and identify other people as responsible for the nation’s moral decline.
This is reflective of a nation where morality is generally defined according to one’s feelings. In a postmodern society, where people do not acknowledge any moral absolutes, if a person feels justified in engaging in a specific behavior then they do not make a connection with the immoral nature of that action.
Yet, deep inside, they sense that something is wrong in our society. They simply have not been able to put two and two together to recognize their personal liability regarding the moral condition of our nation. Until people recognize that there are moral absolutes and attempt to live in harmony with them, we are likely to see a continued decay of our moral foundations. The generational data patterns make a compelling case for this on-going slide.
Even most people associated with the Christian faith do not seem to have embraced Biblical moral standards.
Things are likely to get worse before they get better - and they are not likely to get better unless strong and appealing moral leadership emerges to challenge and redirect people’s thoughts and behavior. At the moment, such leadership is absent. (Read The Barna Report = Morality Continues to Decay)
CONCLUSION: The modern church desperately needs to hear and heed Hebrews 13:4!
Marriage (1062) (gamos) described a public ceremony in which a man and a woman entered into a marital relationship and so speaks of a wedding or wedding feast (Jn 2:1). Here in Hebrews 13:4 gamos describes the actual state of being married. Eschatologically (prophetic, future) gamos refers to the wedding ceremony of the Bridegroom, Christ, with His Bride, the Church, at the outset of the Messianic (Millennial) Kingdom. (Rev 19:7-note, Rev 19:9-note). By metonymy gamos is used for wedding hall, the place where the wedding takes place (Mt 22:10)
Gamos = 16x in 16v in NAS - Mt 22:2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; 25:10; Lk 12:36; 14:8; Jn 2:1, 2; Heb 13:4; Rev 19:7, 9. NAS = marriage(3), wedding(5), wedding feast(7).
Gamos - 4x in 4v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (Lxx) - Ge 29:22; Esther 1:5; 2:18; 9:22;
Gamos - 21x in 20v in the Apocrypha - Tobit 6:13; 8:19, 20; 9:2, 6; 10:7; 11:19; Tbs. 6:13; 9:2, 5f; 10:8; 12:1; 1Macc 9:37, 41; 10:58; 3Macc 4:8; Wis 13:17; 14:24, 26;
Marriage is to be held in honor among all - The words "is to be held" are added to make the reading more fluid. More literally this reads "honorable the marriage in all". Note also that honor (precious) is the first word in the Greek for emphasis. This tells you the high and holy value God Himself places on His institution of marriage.
Young's gives us a more literal rendering…
honorable is the marriage in all, and the bed undefiled, and whoremongers and adulterers God shall judge.
Regard for marriage and for the physical intimacy of marriage is an essential aspect of the pursuit of holiness he has just discussed in the previous chapter (Heb 12:14-note).
Honor - The literal rendering is "Precious the marriage in all"
Honor (5093) (timios - see study of related verb timao) literally speaks of things which are costly, precious or valuable (Re 17:4-note) or of persons who are "precious" and thus are highly regarded, esteemed or honored (Acts 5:34, 17:34). Timios describes that which possesses exceptional value (costly, of great worth). Timios was used to refer to precious metals and stones.
There are 13 uses of timios in the NT - Acts 5:34; 20:24; 1Co 3:12 (referring to works that endure eternally for they are built upon or with "gold, silver and precious stones"); Heb 13:4-note; James 5:7; 1Pe 1:19-note (referring to the "precious blood" of Jesus); 2Pe 1:4-note (the "precious and magnificent promises" of God); Re 17:4-note; Re 18:12-note, Re 18:16-note; Re 21:11-note, Re 21:19-note - observe the striking contrast between the two "women" in the last part of Revelation). The NAS translates it - dear(1), honor(1), precious(8), respected(1), very costly(2). The KJV translates it - precious 8, most precious 2, more precious 1, dear 1, honourable 1, had in reputation 1
There are 33 uses of timios in the Septuagint - 1Sa 3:1; 2Sa 12:30; 1Ki. 5:17; 7:9, 10, 11; 10:2, 10, 11; 1Chr. 20:2; 29:2; 2Chr. 3:6; 9:1, 9, 10; 32:27; Ezra 4:10; Job 28:16; Ps 19:10; 21:3; 116:15; Pr 3:15; 6:26; 8:11, 19; 12:27; 20:6; 24:4; 31:10; Eccl 10:1; Je 15:19; Lam 4:2; Da 11:38; Ho 11:7
Marriage is honored when the husband is the head (1Co 11:3, Ep 5:23-note), the wife submits (1Pe 3:1-note, 1Pe 3:6-note), there is mutual love and respect (1Pe 3:7-note). Marriage vows must not be taken lightly. Marriage means fidelity and commitment to one's spouse. Only as partners honor marriage can sexual union bring its intended fulfillment. (See Pr 5:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23; 1Co 7:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.)
Kent Hughes writes that…
Today radical secular wisdom claims that marriage impedes self-actualization—an unforgivable "sin". The main attacks today are mostly libertine. For many, “marriage” is at best a provisional arrangement between two people (sexual orientation is irrelevant) that can be dissolved whenever one wishes, for any reason. To be sure, not all conventional attitudes toward marriage are as extreme, though there is a growing skepticism regarding love and marriage. As one person sarcastically put it, “Love: temporary insanity curable by marriage.”
But what does this have to do with the survival of the church? Everything! I can think of no more efficient way to sink that ship than through adultery and sexual immorality. The reasons are elementary. Immorality perverts theology. I have seen this time and time again with preachers—famous and unknown. They become involved in a secret affair (perhaps several) and yet keep on preaching. But over time an amazing phenomenon takes place—they unconsciously detach themselves from truth. Like the ancient Averroists, they divide truth, so that there is a truth for them and another truth for others. They may not articulate this, but they become practical relativists, and their relativism so eats away at their belief that many, after the trauma of discovery, leave the faith. Tragic shipwreck!
The damage to the church is immense. Preachers caught in such sins suffer a reduction in spiritual ethos. They increasingly sound like old-time railroad conductors who loudly invite people to embark to destinations they themselves have never visited and to which they are incapable of traveling. Powerlessness becomes the hallmark of their rhetoric.
And, of course, they discredit the Word. I can think of no better way to damn the soul of a junior-higher who is just beginning to experience spiritual stirrings than through the fall of a pastor, Sunday school teacher, or other spiritual leader. There can be no more efficient way to dampen the spiritual aspiration of a young family man than adulterous leaders. Because such sin is a particularly lethal sin against the church, I have at times prayed this with my ministerial colleagues: “Lord, if adultery would lie in the future for any of us should we continue to live—then take us home now.” Better dead than damage the church! (Hughes, R. K. Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul. Volume 1. Crossway Books; Volume 2)
Ralph Alexander emphasizes the effect of the fall of man on God's institution of marriage…
The fall made human hearts hard toward God and toward each other. The relational aspect of God's image became marred. Rebellion against submission to male leadership was Satan's initial temptation (Ge 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 17; contra Ep 5:33; 1Pe 3:1). Male domination and harshness crept into leadership (cf. Col 3:19; 1Pe 3:7). Sin caused polygamy, concubinage, incest, adultery, rape, prostitution, and all kinds of immorality (cf. Lev. 18, 20; Ro 1:26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32) to damage or destroy the marriage relationship. Marriage commitments are violated. Divorce, premarital sex, and couples living together out of wedlock would never have occurred had not sin entered the world. The fall severely damaged the marriage relationship.
For marriage to function now according to God's ideal, believers in Christ need to marry only believers. Whenever God directly brought a man and woman together in marriage, both were believers. Although pagan customs encouraged marriage with anyone (cf. Gen 16), Israel was given explicit commands not to marry foreigners who would lead them to worship foreign deities (Dt 7:1, 2, 3, 4; 13:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11; 17:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7; 20:17; 23:2). New Testament believers are also not to be "unequally yoked" with unbelievers (2Cor 6:14), meaning any action causing the union of believer with nonbeliever, or non-believing ways, must be avoided. (Baker's Evangelical Dictionary - excellent, recommended article on marriage)
Study Torrey's Topical collection of Scriptures for an excellent summary of what God says about marriage.
This would make a great Sunday School series or Sermon series -- simply walking through the Scriptures and allowing God to say what He says about the honorable institution of marriage. Is there a desperate need? Did the sun rise this morning! The post-Christian society in American is rapidly and radically jettisoning all Biblical truth related to the divine institution of marriage and in so doing is removing one of the foundational pillars of our society. It is time for the Church of Jesus Christ to take a radical stand for righteousness and holiness!
1. Divinely instituted. Ge 2:24.
2. A covenant relationship. Mal 2:4.
3. Designed for
a. The happiness of man. Ge 2:18.
b. Increasing the human population. Ge 1:28; 9:1.
c. Raising up godly seed. Mal 2:15.
d. Preventing fornication. 1Co 7:2.
4. The expectation of the promised seed of the woman an incentive to, in the early age. Ge 3:15; 4:1.
5. Lawful in all. 1Co 7:2,28; 1Ti 5:14.
6. Honorable for all. Heb 13:4.
7. Should be only in the Lord. 1Co 7:39.
8. Expressed by
a. Joining together. Mt 19:6.
b. Making affinity. 1Ki 3:1.
c. Taking to wife. Ex 2:1.
d. Giving daughters to sons, and sons to daughters. Deut 7:3; Ezr 9:12.
9. Indissoluble during the joint lives of the parties. Mt 19:6; Ro 7:2,3; 1Co 7:39.
10. Early introduction of polygamy. Ge 4:19.
11. Contracted in patriarchal age with near relations. Ge 20:12; 24:24; 28:2.
12. Often contracted by parents for children. Ge 24:49-51; 34:6,8.
13. Should be with consent of parents. Ge 28:8; Jdg14:2,3.
14. Consent of the parties necessary to. Ge 24:57,58; 1Sa 18:20; 25:41.
15. Parents might refuse to give their children in. Ex 22:17; Deut 7:3.
16. The Jews
a. Forbidden to contract, with their near relations. Le 18:6.
b. Forbidden to contract with idolaters. Deut 7:3,4; Jos 23:12; Ezr 9:11,12.
c. Often contracted with foreigners. 1Ki 11:1; Ne 13:23.
d. Sometimes guilty of polygamy. 1Ki 11:1,3.
e. Careful in contracting for their children. Ge 24:2,3; 28:1,2.
f. Betrothed themselves some time before. Deut 20:7; Jdg14:5,7,8; Mt 1:18.
g. Contracted when young. Pr 2:17; Joe 1:8.
h. Often contracted, in their own tribe. Ex 2:1; Nu 36:6-13; Lk 1:5,27.
i. Obliged to contract with a brother’s wife who died without seed. Deut 25:5; Mt 22:24.
j. Considered being debarred from, a reproach. Is 4:1.
k. Considered being debarred from, a cause of grief. Jdg11:38.
l. Often punished by being debarred from. Jer 7:34; 16:9; 25:10.
m. Were allowed divorce from, because of hardness of their hearts. Deut 24:1; Mt 19:7,8.
n. Exempted from going to war immediately after. Deut 20:7
17. Priest not to contract, with divorced or improper persons. Le 21:7.
18. The high priest not to contract, with a widow or a divorced or profane person. Le 21:14.
19. Contracted at the gate and before witnesses. Ru 4:1,10,11.
20. Modes of demanding women in. Ge 24:3,4; 34:6,8; 1Sa 25:39,40.
21. Elder daughters usually given in, before the younger. Ge 29:26.
22. A dowry given to the woman’s parents before. Ge 29:18; 34:12; 1Sa 18:27,28; Ho 3:2.
a. With great rejoicing. Jer 33:11; Jn 3:29.
b. With feasting. Ge 29:22; Jdg14:10; Mt 22:2,3; Jn 2:1-10.
c. For seven days. Jdg14:12.
24. A benediction pronounced after. Ge 24:60; Ru 4:11,12.
25. The bride
a. Received presents before. Ge 24:53.
b. Given a handmaid at. Ge 24:59; 29:24,29.
c. Adorned with jewels for. Is 49:18; 61:10.
d. Gorgeously apparelled. Ps 45:13,14.
e. Attended by bridesmaids. Ps 45:9.
f. Stood on the right of bridegroom. Ps 45:9.
g. Called to forget her father’s house. Ps 45:10.
26. The bridegroom
a. Adorned with ornaments. Is 61:10.
b. Attended by many friends. Jdg14:11; Jn 3:29.
c. Presented with gifts. Ps 45:12.
d. Crowned with garlands. Song 3:11.
e. Rejoiced over the bride. Is 62:5.
f. Returned with the bride to his house at night. Mt 25:1-6.
27. Garments provided for guests at. Mt 22:12.
28. Infidelity of those contracted in, punished as if married. Deut 22:23,24; Mt 1:19.
29. Illustrative of
a. God’s union with the Jewish nation. Is 54:5; Jer 3:14; Ho 2:19,20.
b. Christ’s union with his church. Eph 5:23,24,32.
AND THE MARRIAGE BED BE UNDEFILED : kai e koite amianto: (Heb 12:16; 1Co 6:9; Ga 5:19,21; Ep 5:5; Col 3:5,6; Re 22:15)
THE BATTLE FOR
Marriage bed… be - The word "marriage" is added but literally it simply reads "bed". Similarly the verb "be" is not present in the Greek but added to give flow to the sentence.
Bed (2845) (koite) literally refers to a place for lying down and rest and thus refers to a bed or bedroom. Koite was used also of the den of an animal or the nest of a bird as well as of a box or basket. In certain contexts it was used to refer to the marriage bed, a figurative way to refer to the sexual relationship between a husband and his wife. Koite is also used to describe illicit sexual promiscuity,
refers to a place or structure on which one can lie down and in this context is
Barclay writes that koite "literally means a bed and has in it the meaning of the desire for the forbidden bed. This was the typical heathen sin. The word brings to mind the man who sets no value on fidelity and who takes his pleasure when and where he will. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)
Koite - 4x in 4v - Here are the other 3 NT uses…
Luke 11:7 and from inside he answers and says, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.'
Romans 9:10-note And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac;
Romans 13:13-note Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.
Undefiled (283) (amiantos from a = negates what follows + miaino = to defile by staining, as with color) means without contamination, unpolluted, untainted, unstained (stainless), unsoiled, without uncleanness or impurity. The idea is free from that by which the nature of a thing is deformed or debased, or its force or vigor is impaired. In secular Greek writings amiantos was used to describe things such as unstained hands, heart, flesh or body. Aeschylus calls the sea simply "the undefiled".
Amiantos - 4x in 4v in NT -- Heb 7:26-note; Heb 13:4; James 1:27-note; 1Pe 1:4-note.
The idea is that our marriage bed should be in perfect condition, free from any spot of moral dirt or ethical pollution, free from any influence that might defile it. We should allow nothing to cheapen the marriage bed in any way.
Just as our future inheritance in heaven is pure and free from anything that would deform it or cause it to lose its vigor, so too should the Christian couple's marriage bed be untainted by moral/ethical impurity.
Matthew Henry adds that "sin and misery, the two grand defilements that spoil this world, and mar its beauty, have no place there.
The undefiled Christian marriage is in marked contrast to an earthly inheritance, all of which is corrupted and defiled (2Pe1:4 [note] "the corruption that is in the world by lust.") Corruption cannot touch our inheritance or ever wear out its freshness, brightness, and beauty.
The writer of Hebrews uses amiantos to describe Jesus, writing that "it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled (amiantos - free from any moral or spiritual blemish - not even a taint of sin - Not merely ritual purity [Lev 21:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15] but real ethical cleanness), separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens. (see note Hebrews 7:26)
James says real religion is "pure and undefiled (amiantos)… in the sight of our God and Father… (and is shown to be genuine when we) visit orphans and widows in their distress, and… keep oneself unstained by the world. (Jas 1:27-note)
Trench aptly remarks that "it is a remarkable testimony to the reign of sin, and therefore of imperfection, of decay, of death throughout this whole fallen world, that as often as we desire to set forth the glory, purity, and perfection of that other, higher world toward which we strive, we are almost inevitably compelled to do this by the aid of negatives; by the denying to that higher order of things the leading features and characteristics of this.” (see Re 21:1-note Re 22:3-note)
To keep the marriage bed undefiled was a radical concept in the first century Greco-Roman world, and by such supernaturally enabled behavior, the first century believers proved themselves
to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world" (Php 2:15-note, Mt 5:16-note)
Kent Hughes comments that "Christian sexual morality was unique in the pagan world and a source of wonder. And it has become increasingly so today in a world that considers adultery irrelevant, purity abnormal, and sex a “right” (however and with whomever one may get it) and that has invented the egregious (Ed: conspicuously bad) term “recreational sex.” We Christians are called to be outrageously pure—to be a source of wonder and even derision to this glandular world. From the beginning to the end of Hebrews, the abiding concern of the author has been to so instruct the tiny Hebrew church that it would stay afloat on the increasingly hostile seas of first-century Roman culture. Their ship was a microscopic dot on the massive billows of the official pagan/secular enterprise—and eminently vulnerable. It appeared to outside eyes that the external forces could sink it at will. But the author knew that the internal threat to the church was far more deadly. In fact, he knew that it could ride out any storm if things were right on the inside. He knows that nothing will sink a church faster than moral wavering in respect to sex, materialism, or mental outlook. Here is intimate advice regarding how to keep our ship afloat. It is so essential that any church that ignores it will founder and possibly even sink. (Ibid)
Spurgeon - And terrible will be their doom when God does judge them. They may think that, because they sin in secret, therefore they shall escape punishment; but it shall not be so. Whether men judge them or not, God will judge them.
David Guzik writes that…
Perhaps through a past of sexual sin, many people have a difficult time really believing that the marriage bed is undefiled. Guilt and sexual hang-ups are appropriate to extra-marital sex, but not in marital sex. But this is where the guilt and sexual hang-ups often exist, and where they most frequently cause trouble.
The enemy of our souls wants to do everything he can to encourage sex outside of the marriage bed, and he wants to do everything he can to discourage sex inside the marriage bed. We need to recognize this strategy and not give it a foothold among us.
Though God allows real freedom in the variety of sexual expression in marriage, all must be done with a concern for the other's needs and in love (1Corinthians 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Eph 5:21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33). (Commentary)
FOR FORNICATORS AND ADULTERERS GOD WILL JUDGE: pornous gar kai moichous krinei (3SFAI) o theos: (1Co 6:9 Ga 5:19,21 Ep 5:5) (Ps 50:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22; Malachi 3:5; 1Co 5:13; 2Co 5:10)
FIGHT TO KEEP THE
MARRIAGE BED UNDEFILED!
For (gar) is a pithy term of explanation explaining why we must fight the good fight of faith to keep the marriage bed undefiled. Our joy in both time and eternity are at stake as explained below.
John MacArthur writes that…
The world today is obsessed with sex as never before. Sexual activity apart from marriage is considered acceptable and normal by more and more people.
Fornicators (4205) (pornos from from pernáo = sell in turn from peráō = to pass thru, as a merchant would do, passing thru and then coming to mean to sell) (see also study of related word porneia) means a fornicator, one who is sexually immoral or who commits sexual immorality. Pornos originally meant a "male prostitute" but came to be used in the universal meaning of "fornicator" or one who engages in sexual immorality, whether a man or a woman. A pornos in secular Greece was a person who prostituted themselves for gain.
Fornicate is from Late Latin fornicatus, past participle of fornicare to have intercourse with prostitutes, from Latin fornic-, fornix = arch, vault, brothel. The 1828 Webster's says fornicate means to commit lewdness, as an unmarried man or woman, or as a married man with an unmarried woman.
1828 Webster's defines fornication as "The incontinence or lewdness of unmarried persons, male or female; also, the criminal conversation of a married man with an unmarried woman."
The KJV translates pornos as “whoremonger”, which describes one who consorts with whores (a lecher). One can carry on the life of a "whoremonger" in "private" on the internet's plethora of sleazy porn sites, in filthy magazines at the newsstand (or even at the checkout stand at the grocery store!), or at the movies (unfortunately even PG Rated can be contaminated with pornos). In our local cable listings in Austin, Texas (Summer, 2008) there are some 5-10 channels devoted solely to pornography (I don't subscribe to any of them by the way). America is in very serious trouble beloved. Let us pray for revival (2Chr 7:13,14, 6:37, 38, 39)
Pornos - 10x in 10v in the NT - 1Cor 5:9, 10, 11; 6:9; Eph. 5:5-note; 1Ti 1:10; describing Esau = Heb 12:16-note; describing those who defile the marriage bed = Heb 13:4-note; describing those who will not be in heaven = Rev 21:8-note; Re 22:15-note.
The NAS translates pornos as fornicators(2), immoral(2), immoral men(1), immoral people(2), immoral person(1), immoral persons(2). The KJV as noted translates pornos with the word whoremonger (5 times).
Pornos is not found in the non-apocryphal Septuagint.
NIDNTT has this note on the classical Greek uses of this word group…
porneuo from pernemi (to sell) (Hdt. onwards), means trans. to prostitute. It is usually in the pass. of the woman: to prostitute oneself, become a prostitute. But it is also used of the man, to whore, to fornicate. Derivations include (a) porne (Aristot. onwards), a woman who is for sale, a prostitute, courtesan; (b) pornos (likewise Aristot. onwards), the fornicator who has sexual intercourse with prostitutes, but then also an immoral man, i.e. one who allows himself to be misused for immoral purposes for money, a male prostitute; and (c) porneia (Dem. onwards, rare in cl. Gk) harlotry, unchastity (also of a homosexual nature).
According to G. van der Leeuw,
“the instincts of sex and hunger are the two great impelling factors whereby the will climbs to power and even rises to heaven; in the face of these the consciousness of impotence collapses. Food and drink on the one hand, and on the other sexual intercourse, are therefore not merely the two outstanding symbols of community with the god, but are also the means wherewith human potency sets to work” (Religion in its Essence and Manifestation, 19642, 230).
For this the most varied religious actions and rites are required. These include cultic prostitution as part of the ancient fertility rites. It was believed that performance of sexual intercourse in the sanctuary (!) would ensure the fertility of everything living in the land and prevent the loss of the procreative and generative faculties. Evidence of cultic prostitution is first found in Babylon. Herodotus recounts that once in her life every Babylonian woman had to “sacrifice” herself to the goddess Mylitta by giving her body to a stranger in the temple precincts (1, 199). Similar customs are attested in other areas, including Cyprus.
In the Greek world cultic prostitution gained acceptance primarily in the great sanctuaries of Corinth, Eryx and Athens. According to the historian Strabo (8, 378), over a thousand courtesans consecrated to Venus lived in Corinth alone… Religious prostitution played a particular role for Israel in the Baal cult. (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)
Vine in commenting on the use of pornos in the description of Esau in Hebrews 12:16 says that "the word pornos, fornicator, is not to be limited to the idea of spiritual fornication, it includes the actual sin and all such sensual and lustful practices. Esau’s profanity consisted not merely in his satisfying his immediate desires and abandoning his birthright, but in treating the holy privileges of the patriarchal family, the priesthood, and the title to the land, and the ancestorship of the Messiah, as of no value compared with the satisfaction of a natural hunger of the moment (“one mess of meat”). The warning is against renouncing our privileges and duty and “the recompense of the inheritance” in order to enjoy an indulgence of the flesh or the pleasures of the world. That is profanity as here described.
Wuest adds that pornos is "a man who prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire, a male prostitute, a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator. (Hebrews - Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament)
Jon Courson makes a strong statement declaring that "Paul says your heart tells you and your spirit confirms that if you are a whoremonger—if you are delighted by and caught up in pornography—you are not part of the kingdom. You can come to church every time we meet; you can show up every time the doors are open. But if you are involved in this stuff—if this is your idol, if this is what you’re living for—you’re not saved. (Courson, J. Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson) (Bolding added)
FIRST - AGAINST GOD
THEN - AGAINST SELF
Remember that sexual sin is first of all a sin against a Holy God (Joseph running from sin with Potiphar's wife = Ge 39:9, David after sin with Bathsheba = 2Sa 12:13, Ps 51:4-note) Who is obligated by His very nature to judge sin (see Nu 32:23).
Paul explains that sexual sin is also against self in his command to the saints at Corinth to…
Flee (present imperative = Keep on fleeing! We will never reach a point in our life when we can stand in the presence of immorality and be victorious. We must flee now and forevermore! cp 1Co 10:14 - idolatry and sexual immorality are common evil bedfellows) immorality (porneia). Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral (porneuo in the present tense = continually immoral) man sins against his own body (Because sexual intimacy is the deepest uniting of two persons, its misuse corrupts on the deepest human level). Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For (term of explanation = The reason that the believer can no longer claim free choices is that he is now the personal property of another) you have been bought with a price (1Pe 1:19-note): therefore (term of conclusion) glorify (aorist imperative = Do this now! Don't put it off! Just do it!) God in your body. (1Co 6:18-note, 1Co 6:19-note, 1Co 6:20-note)
Comment: Passion is not rational or sensible, and sexually dangerous situations should be avoided or fled, not debated. Sexual immorality is far more destructive than alcohol, far more destructive than drugs, far more destructive than crime. "Sexual immorality" has a peculiar effect upon the body. The sole purpose of this sin is the gratification of the strong desires (lust) inherent in the flesh (Old Man) and, therefore, it is probably the most selfish of all sins. The internal spiritual sensitivities are wrecked by this sin.
J C Ryle: The violation of the seventh commandment is the sin above all others, that, as Hosea says, "takes away the understanding" (Hosea 4:11). It is the sin that leaves deeper scars upon the soul than any other sin that a man can commit. It is a sin that destroys thousands of young men in every age, and has even overthrown a few of the saints of God in the past. Samson and David are fearful proofs. It is the sin that man dares to smile at, and smooths over using the terms: thrills, love, uncontrollable passions, and natural desires. But it is the sin that the devil rejoices over, for he is the "unclean spirit;" and it is the sin that God abhors, and declares He "will judge" (Heb13:4). Young men, "Flee from sexual immorality" (1Co 6:18) if you love life. "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient" (Ep 5:6). Flee from the opportunity of it--from the company of those who might draw you into it--from the places where you might be tempted to do it. Read what our Lord says about it in (Mt 5:28). Be like the holy servant Job (who feared God and as a result turned away from evil Job 1:1): (Job 31:1). Flee from talking about it. It is one of the things that ought not even be hinted about in conversation. You cannot even touch black grease without getting your hands dirty. Flee from the thoughts of it; resist them, destroy them, pray against them--make any sacrifice rather than give way to them. Imagination is the hotbed where this sin is too often hatched. Guard your thoughts (Pr 4:23), and there will be little fear about your actions.
C. T. Studd: I had known about Jesus dying for me, but I never understood that if He died for me, then I didn't belong to myself… If I belong to Him, either I had to be a thief and keep what wasn't mine, or else I had to give up everything to God. When I came to see that Jesus Christ had died for me, it didn't seem hard to give up all for Him.
Perhaps this passage in Hebrews 13:4 is difficult to read because you have fallen into the snare of sexual sin via a work or counseling situation (with a person of the opposite sex) or become enticed and ensnared by the internet (pornographic images, lewd videos on youtube, iphones giving internet access anywhere, anytime [including face time phone calls]!, chat rooms leading to inappropriate liaisons, social networks like facebook, twitter being abused and misused, etc, etc - when these "tools" which can be used for good become perverted Romans labels those who pervert them as "inventors of evil"! Ro 1:30-note), which is tragically becoming a soul deadening, joy killing, rest and peace stealing "epidemic" even among genuine followers of Christ! These things ought not to be beloved!
Read the warning and the promise of Solomon…
He who conceals (Hebrew verb is intentional/intensive - It means to intentionally, actively cover over so as to keep secret - contrast Ps 32:1-note) his transgressions will not prosper (will not experience victory from the Lord, spiritual prosperity, thrive spiritually, accomplish satisfactorily what God intended), But (contrast) he who confesses and forsakes them (Did you catch that? Not just confession but repentance a God given desire and power to turn away from the sin that so easily entangles) will find compassion. (Pr 28:13)
Comment: Hiding sin does not pay off. Solomon’s father David knew this from experience (Ps 32:3, 4-note). It is far better to deal with sin by confessing and renouncing it. As David found out, confession results in God’s mercy and forgiveness (Ps 34:5-note; Ps 51:1-12-note).
Don't sweep sin under the rug.
Instead put it under the blood!
There are two kinds of forgiveness, judicial and parental. When we trust Christ as Lord and Savior, we receive forgiveness from the penalty of sins which is judicial forgiveness. When we now as believers confess our sins, we receive parental forgiveness (1Jn 1:9) which maintains fellowship with God our Father. Anyone who confesses and forsakes his sins has the assurance that God not only forgives but forgets (Heb 10:17-note). We too need to forget (Php 3:13-note) and press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Php 3:14-note). Amen
The sins that would entangle us
Must never be ignored;
For if we try to cover them
They'll pierce us like a sword.
J Vernon McGee: This is a great proverb. It seems a common practice today for Christians to try to cover their sins. You will find in the average church that there is a Band-Aid of silence wrapped over the cancer of sin. People don’t like to talk about it; in fact, they don’t admit its existence. They like to think they are very good.
To summarize, these two sexually related sins are distinguished as follows and thus leave no reader relieved of the obligation to follow the charge in Hebrews 13:4…
Pornos = Unmarried & impure
Moichos = Married & impure
Bruce - Fornication and adultery are not synonymous in the New Testament: adultery implies unfaithfulness by either party to the marriage vow, while the word translated "fornication" covers a wide range of sexual irregularities.
Adulterers (3432)(moichos cp study of related word moichalis = adulteress) describes one who is unfaithful to a spouse. Figuratively, moichos describes one who is faithless toward God.
Moichos - 3x in NAS - here in Hebrews 13:4 and in…
Luke 18:11 The (self-righteous) Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
Comment: This Pharisee was self-deceived by his self-righteousness which was like filthy rags in the sight of God to Whom the only acceptable righteousness is the perfect righteousness of His sinless Son Jesus Christ and the only way to obtain that acceptable righteousness is by grace through faith, believing you are a sinner destined for hell but accepting and receiving and believing the "price paid in full" for your eternal redemption in Christ!
1Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (cp Jn 3:3 = Paul is referring to those who give no evidence of having been born again or regenerated by the Holy Spirit)? Do not be deceived (present imperative with a negative means "Stop being deceived" implying they being deceived - this deception is especially deadly and dangerous because it can deceive the one deceived all the way into the reality of an eternal torment in hell! Woe!); neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,
Moichos - 3x in non-apocryphal Septuagint (Lxx)- Ps 50:18; Pr 6:32; Job 24:15; Isa 57:3
See related resource = on site commentary dealing with sexual sins in Proverbs:
Proverbs 5:1-14 Commentary
Proverbs 5:15-23 Commentary
Proverbs 6:20-35 Commentary
Proverbs 7:1-27 Commentary
Moichos - 2x in Apocrypha - Wis 3:16; Sir 25:2;
The Lord's purpose for His creation of Adam and Eve was that it was to be a permanent, monogamous marriage (Ge 2:21, 22, 23, 24; Mt 19:4, 5, 6), with children raised in the corresponding family unit. Any other type of sexual relationship is wrong (NO MATTER WHAT SOCIETY SAYS!), whether pre-marital, extra-marital, homosexual, incestuous or anything else. How serious is this issue?
John Piper emphasizes that…
God created us in his image, male and female, with personhood and sexual passions so that when he comes to us in this world there would be these powerful words and images to describe the promises and the pleasures of our covenant relationship with him through Christ.
God made us powerfully sexual so that he would be more deeply knowable. We were given the power to know each other sexually so that we might have some hint of what it will be like to know Christ supremely.
Therefore, all misuses of our sexuality (adultery, fornication, illicit fantasies, masturbation, pornography, homosexual behavior, rape, sexual child abuse, bestiality, exhibitionism, and so on) distort the true knowledge of God. God means for human sexual life to be a pointer and foretaste of our relationship with him. (Read or listen to the full message Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, Part 1 2004 Desiring God National Conference)
For (1Th 4:1, 2-note) this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality (cp 1Pe 2:11-note); that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God (1Th 4:3-note, 1Th 4:4, 5-note)
Comment: Notice that the will of God is not unclear in the area of sexuality. Note also that followers of Christ are to be radical in the midst of a sexually permissive society. Notice that the problem with the pagans gives us a strong clue to the solution for believers. Dear married believer, if you are having difficulty obeying Hebrews 13:4, note that the solution is first of all to "know God" because not knowing God is the root cause of lust. As John Piper explains…
Paul doesn't mean that mere head knowledge about God overcomes lust. In Mk 1:24 Jesus is about to cast a demon out of a man when the unclean spirit cries out, "I know who you are, the Holy One of God!" In other words, Satan and his hosts have some very accurate knowledge of God and Jesus, but that is not the kind of knowledge Paul has in mind here. The knowledge he has in mind here is knowledge of God described in 2Cor 4:6-note -- the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (Gal 4:8; 1Co 2:14; 2Pe 1:3, 4-note). It's the knowledge of God's greatness and worth and glory and grace and power. It's knowledge that stuns you, and humbles you. It's knowledge wins you and holds you (2Pe 3:11,12-note, 2Pe 3:14-note, 2Pe 3:17-note) It's the kind of knowledge that you don't have when you say ho-hum during the Hallelujah Chorus or grumble on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Hearing they do not hear and seeing they do not see. It's not that kind of knowledge. It comes like it did for Lydia when the Lord opened the eyes of her heart (Acts 16:14). At one moment you think you will burst with its fullness and suddenly there is a chasm of longing for more. It's the knowledge we call faith -- the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1-note).
It's a knowledge that is so real, so precious, so satisfying to your soul that any thought any attitude any emotion any addiction which threatens to hinder this knowledge will be attacked with all the spiritual zeal of a threatened life. This is the fight of faith that rages in the godly soul when lust lures the mind away from God. (Battling the Unbelief of Lust - Desiring God)
It is noteworthy that of all the exhortations in Hebrews 13, the only one associated with a judgment warning is Hebrews 13:4!
John MacArthur warns…
God is serious about sexual purity--very serious. You may fool around with illicit sex, you may fool around outside your marriage, and you may get away with it from the judgment of man standpoint, but you’ll never get away with it from the judgment of God. God will judge; somehow and someway chastisement, punishment comes…
Some of the more obvious results of such views are the heartbreaking increases in extramarital pregnancies, forcible rapes, illegitimate births (despite birth control measures and abortions), and in venereal diseases of all sorts. Billy Graham has commented that writings coming out of contemporary authors are “like the drippings of a broken sewer.” Judgment already exists in the broken homes, the venereal disease, the psychological and physical breakdowns, and the murder and other violence that is generated when passion is uncontrolled. It is not possible to live and act against the moral grain of the universe established by God and not suffer terrible consequences.
When Christians are immoral, the immediate consequences may even be worse, because the testimony of the gospel is polluted. (MacArthur, John: Hebrews. Moody Press)
When Christians commit sexual sins (believers are not immune unfortunately), God will (must) judge us because He is holy, righteous and just and He desires a holy people whose lights are not tarnished and dim and dirty but bright and pure and holy. And thus He will take us out to His "holy woodshed" and "beat the hide off of us" (no sacrilege intended - see note below), the writer of Hebrews explaining this divine judgment on believers…
You have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES (mastigoo = literally flog Mt 10:17, Jn 19:1, figuratively "whip our hide"!) EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES."…
THE GLORIOUS BENEFITS
OF DIVINE DISCIPLE
For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (right living before God and man, clean conscience, pure heart, holy devotion, etc). (Hebrews 12:5, 6-note, Heb 12:10-note, Heb 12:11-note)
Comment: Believers also do well to frequently ponder the judgment seat of Christ and let this future truth motivate our present battle against lust, for Peter warns us that this will be a life long struggle - we will continually battle against the strong desires to gratify self sexually while we are in these fallen, mortal bodies…
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers (It does us good to frequently remind ourselves that this fallen godless, God hating world is not our home. PTL!) to abstain (present tense = continually ~ continual need to hold ourselves away from snares that would tempt us - see James 1:14-note) from fleshly lusts (strong desires to gratify needs in an non-God honoring way!), which wage war (present tense = This is a continual war manifest by many battles and will not cease until we see Jesus face to face) against the soul. (1Peter 2:11-note)
Discipline (present imperative = Keep on doing this -- all of your life beloved!) yourself for the purpose of godliness for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1Timothy 4:7, 8-note)
Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire. (1Corinthians 3:12, 13, 14, 15)
Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him (eg, in the context of the current discussion - Ge 39:9). For we must all (this is for believers only) appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2Corithinians 5:9-note, 2Corinthians 5:10-note)
God will judge sexual sin in marriage. As alluded to in the previous passages there eternal consequences for believers but there are also a different genre of eternal consequences for men and women who habitually practice such sins. If sexual sins constitute one's lifestyle, then that person in plain English, is not a genuine believer and is destined for eternal torment. Paul makes this very clear in his warning in first Corinthians writing…
Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; (present imperative with a negative = Stop being deceived by your sin - see Heb 3:13-note for the power of sin to deceive.) neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God (cp Jn 3:3 for who inherits this kingdom). (1Cor 6:9, 10)
Comment: Notice that twice Paul twice states that people who practice such sins will not inherit God’s kingdom! Once should have been enough to get our attention but twice makes this doubly sobering! It is important to note that a Christian may fall into these sins and be forgiven, as was David, but no genuine follower of Christ continuously practices such sins (Read 1Jn 3:1-10 for description of a true believer).
God will judge sexual sin in marriage as Jesus sternly warned…
You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell. (Mt 5:27-note, Mt 5:28-note, Mt 5:29-note, Mt 5:30-note)
Comment: Note our Lord's definition of "adultery"! This is serious business! Take a moment and John Piper's discussion of whether a practice such masturbation. is a sin against God and self!
John Piper adds: I have learned again and again from first hand experience that there are many professing Christians who have a view of salvation that disconnects it from real life, and that nullifies the warnings of the Bible and puts the sinning person who claims to be a Christian beyond the reach of Biblical threats. And this doctrine is comforting thousands on the way to hell. Jesus said, if you don't fight lust, you won't go to heaven. The stakes are much higher than whether the world is blown up by a thousand bombs. If you don't fight lust, your won't go to heaven (1Pe 2:11-note; Col 3:6-note; Gal 5:21-note; 1Co 6:10; Heb 12:14-note) Are we not then saved by faith -- by believing in Jesus Christ? We are indeed! Those who persevere in Faith shall be saved (Mt 24:13; 10:22; 1Co 15:2-note; Col 1:23-note).
How do you lay hold on eternal life? Paul gives the answer in 1Ti 6:12 -- "Fight the good fight of faith: lay hold on eternal life. the fight against lust is a battle against unbelief. And the fight for sexual purity is the fight of faith.
The great error that I am trying to explode in these messages is the error that says, faith in God is one thing and the fight for holiness is another thing. Faith gets you to heaven and holiness gets you rewards.
You get your justification by faith, and you get your sanctification by works. You start the Christian life in the power of the Spirit, you press on in the efforts of the flesh. This is the great evangelical error of our day. (Ed: 1988!) The battle for obedience is optional, they say, because only faith is necessary for salvation (Ed: See Obedience of faith and Relationship of faith and obedience). Our response: the battle for obedience is absolutely necessary for salvation because it IS the fight of faith. The battle against lust is absolutely necessary for salvation because it is the battle against unbelief. Faith alone delivers from hell and the faith that delivers from hell delivers from lust. I hope you can see that this is a greater gospel than the other one. It's the gospel of God's victory over sin, not just his tolerance of sin. It is the gospel of Romans 6:14 (note): "Sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." Almighty grace! Sovereign grace! (Read the entire message Battling the Unbelief of Lust)
He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
Will judge (2919)(krino) primarily signifies to distinguish, separate or discriminate; then, to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, without necessarily passing an adverse sentence, though this is usually involved.
Krino - 114x in 98v - Mt 5:40; 7:1 2; 19:28; Lk 6:37; 7:43; 12:57; 19:22; 22:30; Jn 3:17 18; 5:22, 30; 7:24, 51; 8:15 16, 26, 50; 12:47 48; 16:11; 18:31; Acts 3:13; 4:19; 7:7; 13:27, 46; 15:19; 16:4, 15; 17:31; 20:16; 21:25; 23:3, 6; 24:21; 25:9 10, 20, 25; 26:6, 8; 27:1; Ro 2:1, 3, 12, 16, 27; 3:4, 6 7; 14:3 4 5, 10, 13, 22; 1Co 2:2; 4:5; 5:3, 12 13; 6:1 2 3, 6; 7:37; 10:15, 29; 11:13, 31 32; 2Co 2:1; 5:14; Col 2:16; 2Th 2:12; 2Ti 4:1; Titus 3:12; Heb 10:30; 13:4; Jas 2:12; 4:11 12; 5:9; 1Pe 1:17; 2:23; 4:5 6; Rev 6:10; 11:18; 16:5; 18:8, 20; 19:2, 11; 20:12 13
Krino is translated in NAS as - act as… judge(1), concluded(1), condemn(1), condemning(1), considered(1), decided(8), determine(1), determined(2), go to law(1), goes to law(1), judge(42), judged(25), judges(10), judging(5), judgment(1), pass judgment(1), passes judgment(1), passing judgment(1), pronounced(1), regards(2), stand trial(2), sue(1), trial(3), tried(1), try(1).
W E Vine speaks of the judgment of God regarding sexual sins noting that…
God has appointed retributive effects of these evils in this life. The certainty of divine judgment hereafter is declared in Rev 21:8-note; Rev 22:15-note. Cp. 1Th 4:6-note.
And terrible will be their doom when God does judge them. They may think that, because they sin in secret, therefore they shall escape punishment; but it shall not be so. Whether men judge them or not, God will judge them.
As Ray Stedman reminds us…
Nonconformity to the world must certainly involve these areas. The loose sexual standards of our generation and the intense materialistic spirit of this age constitute a constant peril to our hearts, and we must beware of them. We must realize that God has undertaken to sustain the sacredness of marriage and that He unceasingly, unrelentingly judges violations of it. Therefore, we dare not heed the fine sounding declarations being made today about a "new morality," as though we had passed beyond the ancient standards and they no longer had significance.
As this writer reminds us, God judges the immoral and adulterous. He does not mean that God looses lightning bolts from heaven against them, or that he causes terrible diseases to come upon them; these are not the forms of judgment. But we can see the judgment of God in the terrible tempest of mental pressures and crackups which sweep like a plague across this land. They are due to the breakdown of moral standards. The certain deterioration of life is the judgment of God when sex standards are violated. It is the brutalization of humanity, so men become like animals and live on the level of animals. This is so apparent in our day. (Hebrews 13:1-6: THE INTENDED LIFE)
Those who have taken up adulterous lifestyles (emphasis on lifestyle) and remain unrepentant (exhibit no repentance and no evidence of repentance > cp Mt 3:8, 4:17,11:20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 12:41, Mk 1:15, 6:12, Lk 3:3, 8, 5:32, rich man in Sheol = Lk 16:29, 30, 31, Lk 24:47, Acts 3:19, 11:18, 13:24, 17:30, 19:4, Acts 20:21 Acts 26:20 Ro 2:4-note Study especially 2Cor 7:9 and 2Cor 7:10. 2Cor 12:21 2Pet 3:9-note Re 2:21, 22-note, Re 9:20-note, "of their immorality" = Re 9:21-note, Rev 16:9-note, Re 16:11-note) will suffer the ultimate judgment of God with eternal separation from God. Despite their insistence that they are “Christians,” they are self-deceived (See 1Co 6:9, 10, 1Co 15:33, Gal 6:7-note, Ep 5:5, 6-note, Ep 5:7-note, Titus 3:3, 1Jn 3:7, Mt 7:21-note, Mt 7:22, 23-note). God’s Word is clear that all who live a life (habitually) of adultery or fornication and are unrepentant are under God’s wrath and ultimate judgment regardless of what they assert about their salvation experience.
God's judgment on sexual immorality in marriage is not just future but is also seen in the present. Physical disease is an ever present threat (herpes, Chlamydia, AIDS). In addition their is mental anguish with guilt, self-hatred and ego disintegration. Couples become alienated, estranged, hateful and occasionally even commit murder. And then there is the toll on society with the problem of a plethora of illegitimate children without fathers and the plight of abortion. Unrepentant adultery and sexual immorality will not go unpunished as all these various aspects of present judgment attest. In addition a terrible judgment awaits for all unrepentant sinners will stand before God, who is a “consuming fire” (cf. Heb 12:29-note; Heb 10:27-note, Heb 10:31-note).
Kent Hughes writes that…
I will never forget a young coed who came to my office, obviously shaken. She said she was a new Christian and that soon after her conversion she started attending a church youth group. The president of the group asked her for a date, and she was flattered and thrilled to be going out with a Christian. “How different it will be from what I’m used to,” she thought. But before the night was over, he had destroyed her purity, shattered her faith, and ruined his own testimony. The last I heard from the girl her life was still a shambles.
Within marriage, sex is beautiful, fulfilling, creative but outside of marriage, sex is evil, ugly (contrary to the "Hollywood commentaries"), destructive, and damning.
The pithy nineteenth century bishop J C Ryle wrote that…
The violation of the seventh commandment is the sin above all others, that, as Hosea says, "takes away the understanding" (Ho 4:11). It is the sin that leaves deeper scars upon the soul than any other sin that a man can commit. It is a sin that destroys thousands of young men in every age, and has even overthrown a few of the saints of God in the past. Samson and David are fearful proofs. It is the sin that man dares to smile at, and smooths over using the terms:thrills, love, uncontrollable passions, and natural desires. But it is the sin that the devil rejoices over, for he is the "unclean spirit;" and it is the sin that God abhors, and declares He "will judge" (Heb 13:4). Young men, "Flee from sexual immorality" (1Co 6:18) if you love life. "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient" (Ep 5:6-note). Flee from the opportunity of it--from the company of those who might draw you into it--from the places where you might be tempted to do it. Read what our Lord says about it in (Mt 5:28-note). Be like the holy servant Job: (Job 31:1). Flee from talking about it. It is one of the things that ought not even be hinted about in conversation. You cannot even touch black grease without getting your hands dirty. Flee from the thoughts of it; resist them, destroy them, pray against them--make any sacrifice rather than give way to them. Imagination is the hotbed where this sin is too often hatched. Guard your thoughts (cp Pr 4:23-note), and there will be little fear about your actions.
Pastor Steven Cole (all of his messages are highly recommended - see all his sermons by book - Pdf and some audio) has the following excellent message on…
The Right and Wrong Place for Sex
Perhaps you’re wondering why I would spend an entire message on a single verse that is fairly easy to understand, a verse that most churchgoers would agree with. Let me explain.
Over the past 40 years, our culture has taken a U-turn away from the Christian view of marriage and sexual morality that was prevalent before that time. While divorce and sexual immorality are not new, they used to be frowned upon and marital faithfulness was viewed as desirable. But beginning in the 1960’s, our culture threw off Christian standards and openly embraced “free” sex and easy divorce. Openness toward homosexuality began to make in-roads, so that now it is widely promoted as a way of life that should not only not be condemned, but be accepted as normal.
It would be naïve to think that the church is insulated from these powerful cultural trends. Frances Schaeffer observed,
People drift along from generation to generation, and the morally unthinkable becomes thinkable as the years move on (cited by Erwin Lutzer, The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage [Moody Press], p. 57).
It is a commonly known fact that the divorce rate among evangelical Christians is no different than that of our culture at large.
Also, evangelicals are not doing well in the area of sexual purity. Leadership ([Winter, 1988], pp. 12-13, 24), a journal for pastors, commissioned a poll to determine how common is pastoral indiscretion. They found that since entering local church ministry, 23 percent of pastors had done something with someone other than their spouse that they considered sexually inappropriate. Twelve percent admitted to having extra-marital intercourse. Among those who were not pastors, the figures doubled! Also, 20 percent of pastors admitted to looking at sexually oriented media at least once a month, and that was before the internet! I assume that the numbers have not gotten better in the ensuing years.
Because of the importance of godly marriages as the foundation of our church and society, our text is extremely important.
The connection with the preceding context is that love of the brethren (Heb 13:1-note) must start in the home, between Christian couples. To practice biblical love, husbands and wives must guard themselves against sexual infidelity. To restrict sex to marriage was a novel idea to many in the first century. Men often had mistresses or could go to temple prostitutes. To call people to lifelong fidelity to a single spouse was radically counter-cultural. It has become so again in our culture. We have an opportunity, through moral purity and godly marriages, to shine in the darkness around us for Jesus Christ (cp Mt 5:16-note, Phil 2:15-note).
We can sum up our text:
Since God ordained marriage and sex within marriage, He will judge those who practice sex outside of marriage.
Before we look at the verse, note that Satan tries to get us to go to extremes on one side or the other. If he can’t get us to move towards sexual promiscuity, he tempts us with asceticism. Asceticism is the idea that you attain godliness by denying yourself certain things that are not prohibited in Scripture, whether food, certain comforts, or sexual pleasure in marriage. The apostle Paul strongly condemns asceticism in Colossians 2:16-note, Col 2:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 (see notes Col 2:17; 18; 19; 20; 21; 22) where he concludes (Col 2:23-note)
These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
In 1Timothy 4:3, he warns against
men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.
So we need the balance of Scripture to avoid extremes.
1. Marriage, including the sexual relationship in marriage, is to be held in honor among all.
The word honor means precious or valuable. Paul uses it of “precious stones” (1Co 3:12). Peter uses the word to describe the “precious blood” of Christ (1Pe 1:19-note) and God’s “precious and magnificent promises” (2Pe 1:4-note). Marriage bed is a euphemism for sex in marriage.
A. We should honor marriage because God ordained it at creation.
Marriage is honorable or precious because God instituted it in the Garden, before sin entered this world. Before that, He concluded that it was not good for man to be alone (Ge 2:18), and so He created Eve for Adam (Ge 2:21, 22, 23). Since marriage comes from God and was begun with the first man and woman, it should be held in honor among all. (Ge 2:24)
(1) All three persons of the Trinity honor marriage.
God the Father honored marriage by instituting it in the Gar-den. God the Son honored marriage by performing His first miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11). He also con-fronted the loose divorce practices that had evolved in Jewish society and reaffirmed God’s original intent in marriage (Mt 19:1-9). God the Holy Spirit honored marriage by inspiring the apostle Paul to write that marriage is an earthly picture of Christ and His church (Eph 5:25-33 -note; see also Rev 21:9-note).
(2) Honorable marriage as ordained by God is a covenant between a man and a woman for life.
God created one woman for Adam, not many women and not a man! While God tolerated polygamy in the Old Testament, you can-not find a single example of a harmonious polygamous marriage. It always created problems. Also, while God tolerates divorce under certain conditions, it always reflects the hardness of the human heart (Mt 19:8) and God states plainly that He hates it (Mal 2:16). As for the idea of homosexual “marriage,” there is no biblical basis for it, in spite of the attempts of some to justify it. Homosexuality is uniformly condemned in the Bible as sin (Lev 18:22; Ro 1:26-note; Ro 1:27-note; 1Co 6:9; 1Ti 1:10).
It is important to affirm that biblical marriage is a lifelong covenant relationship (Mal. 2:14). The sexual union is to be restricted within the bounds of that covenant relationship. To engage in sex outside of marriage is sin.
I want to mention several ways that we dishonor marriage and then some ways that we can honor marriage.
B. We dishonor marriage…
(1) By viewing celibacy as more spiritual.
Paul makes it clear that celibacy is a special gift from God that enables a person to remain single and control sexual desires so that he or she has more time to be devoted to the Lord. But he readily acknowledges that not all have this gift (1Cor 7:1, 2, 8, 9, 32, 33, 34, 35). As we’ve already seen, he specifically condemns those who forbid marriage (1Ti 4:3).
But in spite of Paul’s warning against those who forbid marriage, the early church developed the view that it is more spiritual to be celibate. Origen, an early church father, had himself castrated so that he could be free of sexual temptation. Augustine, who had a concubine and a son with her, thought that he had to give her up and devote himself to celibacy to follow Christ. I think it’s sad that he did not marry her. He viewed sex in marriage as a necessary evil to procreate children, but not as God’s gift to be enjoyed. The Roman Catholic requirement that priests be celibate furthers the view that celibacy is more spiritual. Martin Luther broke with that unbiblical view when he married a former nun and extolled the blessings of marital love.
(2) By saying that homosexual “marriage” is valid.
I’ve already commented on this, but let me add that we do not hate homosexuals by proclaiming God’s holy standards. Sin of any kind always damages those who engage in it. If I saw someone blindly running toward a cliff, the loving thing to do is to yell, “Stop!” We do not love people if we do not warn about the dangers of all sexual sin. Paul wrote (1Co 6:18),
“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.”
We dishonor God’s institution of marriage and we do not practice biblical love if we do not proclaim His standards of sexual purity.
(3) By following our culture’s no-fault divorce practices.
I realize that many Christians have been divorced, and that if you could, you would turn back the clock and do many things differently. I do not want to add to your grief and pain. But I must set the biblical standard back where it belongs. As God’s people, we must reverse the trend of the past 40 years. People should be able to look at Christian marriages and marvel that we have stayed together and worked through difficulties because of the covenant that we entered into before God. (see Covenant: As It Relates to Marriage)
(4) By marrying an unbeliever.
Many Christians do not even consider it a sin to marry an unbeliever, and yet God calls it an abomination (Malachi 2:11). Paul makes it clear that we are not to be bound together with unbelievers and that we are only free to marry in the Lord (2Co 6:14; 1Co 7:39). Since marriage is to be a picture of Christ and the church, it destroys that picture to enter into marriage with an unbeliever.
I’ve had professing Christian young women tell me that they’ve prayed about marrying an unbeliever, and “feel a peace” about doing so. But it is never peace from God, because He does not give His peace when we sin. You and your children will suffer the consequences if you enter into such a marriage.
If you are already married to an unbeliever, Paul instructs you to remain in that marriage, if possible (1Co 7:12, 13, 14, 15, 16). Perhaps God will be gracious in converting your mate. But stories of how God worked to convert an unbelieving mate never justify sinning by entering such a mixed marriage in the first place (Ro 6:1, 2).
(5) By having sexual relations outside of the marriage covenant.
This is the main point of our text. Note that the two parts of the second half of the verse correspond to the two parts of the first half of the verse.
“Fornicators” (single people who have sex) dishonor the institution of marriage.
“Adulterers” (married people who have sex with someone other than their spouse) defile the marriage bed. (For some strange reason, the NIV reverses the commands at the end of the verse and adds the word “all” before “sexually immoral.” This confuses the symmetrical structure of the verse.) The Greek text omits the verb, which must be supplied from the context. Some versions take it as indicative (“Marriage is honorable…”). But in light of the commands in the context, it should probably be understood as exhortation, as in the NASB.
We’ve seen that we should honor marriage because God ordained it at creation. We dishonor marriage by saying that celibacy is more spiritual; by saying that homosexual “marriage” is valid; by following our culture’s no-fault divorce practices; by marrying an unbeliever; and, by having sexual relations outside of marriage.
C. We honor marriage:
Here, we could go through the same list as in the previous point and state the opposite. We honor and affirm marriage by viewing it as just as spiritually fulfilling as celibacy, depending on one’s spiritual gift. We honor it by holding firmly to heterosexual marriage as God’s only option. We honor it by staying committed to our mate and working through difficulties, rather than bailing out. We honor marriage by entering into it only with a committed believer, so that we can raise our children in the Lord. And, we honor marriage by abstaining from sexual immorality. But I want to focus on two things:
(1) By guarding ourselves from sexual sin.
No Christian deliberately jumps into sexual sin, but as Leadership ([ibid., p. 12) reported (in 1988), among subscribers of Christianity Today magazine who are not pastors, “45 percent indicated having done something they considered sexually inappropriate, 23 percent said they had had extramarital intercourse, and 28 percent said they had engaged in other forms of extramarital sexual con-tact.” Clearly, this is a major area where Satan hits believers! It is not enough to sit here and agree with God’s standards for sexual purity. We must have a strategy to guard ourselves from falling (cp 1Pe 2:11-note).
The major element in this strategy is to maintain a close daily walk with Christ and a close relationship with your mate. If we drift from the Lord and are not spending consistent time in the Word and prayer, we become vulnerable to temptation. If we grow distant from our mate, we are more open to temptation. In the Leadership survey, 78 percent of the pastors who failed morally said that the main factor was physical and emotional attraction. Forty-one per-cent listed marital dissatisfaction.
As I’ve repeatedly emphasized, all sin begins in the mind. This means that to guard ourselves from sexual sin, we must judge it and turn from it the moment it enters our minds. Jesus made this point graphically when He said (Matt. 5:27, 28-notes, Mt 5:29, 30-note):
You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.
Jesus did not mean literally to maim yourself, but He did mean to underscore the serious nature of mental lust. If you do not cut it off, Jesus says that you’re going to hell! To obey Jesus’ words, you need to avoid watching TV programs, movies, or videos that tempt you to lust. Devise ways to block pornography from the internet. Be accountable to another brother in Christ.
Also, to guard yourself from sexual sin, memorize Scripture, which transforms your mind. Psalm 119:9-note Ps 119:11-note states,
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word…. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”
Another piece of the strategy is to put a fence around your marriage. If you go to the Grand Canyon and don’t want to fall over the edge, either stay behind the railing or don’t go near an edge where there is no railing. Putting a fence around your marriage means that you do not enter into a close friendship with a member of the opposite sex. These relationships often start innocently enough. “We are able to talk as brother and sister.” Beware! If you find yourself as a married person attracted to a member of the opposite sex, cut off any contact and avoid any situation that could lead to temptation. Don’t go near the edge!
Let me add one other way to honor marriage that is implied by our text:
(2) By enjoying the totality of the marriage relationship, including the physical relationship.
“Marriage bed” refers to sex in marriage, and it is not dirty.
D. H. Field writes (The New Dictionary of Theology [IVP], ed. by Sinclair Ferguson, David Wright, and J. I. Packer, p. 638),
“The history of the church betrays a far less positive attitude to sexuality than the Bible’s.”
He goes on to talk about the early influence of ascetic idealism. Then he says,
“With very few exceptions, patristic and medieval writers condemned the sensual pleasure of intercourse as sinful. Their attitude to marriage, too, was at best ambivalent.”
But the Bible affirms the pleasure of the sexual relationship in marriage, both for men and women. Solomon instructs his son to let his wife’s breasts satisfy him at all times, and to be exhilarated with her love (Pr 5:19). The Song of Solomon extols the joys of sex in marriage for both partners. Paul tells both husbands and wives that they do not have authority over their own bodies, but their spouse does, and that they have a responsibility to meet the sexual needs of their mate as a preventative to immorality (1Co 7:2, 3, 4, 5). Sarah refers to sexual relations with her husband as having pleasure with him (Ge 18:12).
Sex in marriage is directly related to the interpersonal relationship. God designed it that way. There must be mutual sensitivity, caring, and respect in the relationship between husband and wife as the foundation for the enjoyment of the sexual aspect. But I am emphasizing what Paul states, that it is a God-given preventative against sexual sin (1Cor 7:2).
I once counseled a couple where the husband had fallen into adultery. He and his wife had not had sexual relations in over ten years and she assumed that everything was just fine! He was really angry about this, but he hadn’t said anything. When a neighbor woman became friendly, he fell. Sadly, the couple eventually divorced. It all could have been avoided if they had followed the clear teaching of Scripture:
“Stop depriving one another” (1Co 7:5)
Our text issues a strong warning:
2. God will judge those who practice sexual immorality. Many Scriptures hammer home this warning:
1Cor 6:9, 10: Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
Eph. 5:5, 6-note: For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Rev 21:8-note: But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Many other Scriptures give the same warning (Mt 5:27, 28, 29, 30-see notes; Gal. 5:19, 20, 21-notes; Col. 3:5-note; 1Th 4:4-note, 1Th 4:6, 7-note; Re 22:15-note). While believers do not need to fear God’s eternal judgment, Scripture is clear that if you habitually practice sexual immorality, you may not be a genuine Christian (1John 3:7, 8, 9, 10 - note that the verbs for "practice" and "sin" are present tense = habitual action). If you are a genuine Christian, God will discipline you severely if you engage in sexual sin (Heb 12:5-note, Heb 12:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Heb 12:11-note).
While He forgives us when we repent, He does not necessarily remove the consequences of our sin (see the life of David, 2Sa 12:10, 11, 12, 13, 14). He may forgive your sin, but you contracted a sexual disease that could be untreatable or fatal.
Some will protest, “But we’re under grace!” But the book that was written to explain God’s grace also warns (Gal 6:7-note, Gal 6:8-note),
“Do not be deceived (present imperative + a negative = stop an action already in process), God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
But I want to end with this good news:
3. God will forgive those who repent of their sin and trust in the blood of Christ.
Immediately following Paul’s warning against God’s judgment on sexual immorality, he adds these wonderful words,
“And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1Co 6:11).
Neither homosexuality, adultery, nor any kind of sexual perversion are beyond God’s forgiveness. First John 1:9 graciously promises,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Paul calls himself the chief of sinners, and yet he found mercy at the cross (1Ti 1:15, 16). You can experience God’s forgiveness and gift of eternal life if you will turn from your sin and trust in Jesus Christ.
Conclusion - The late comedian, George Burns, used to say that he could remember the time when the air was clean and sex was dirty. Biblically speaking, sex has never been dirty in the context that God ordained for it: in lifelong covenant marriage between a man and a woman. That’s the right place for sex. The wrong place is outside of such covenant marriage, where it incurs God’s judgment.
If God’s Word is true, our culture is in moral darkness. But when the darkness is greatest, the light shines the brightest. If we will maintain God’s standards of moral purity, He will use us to shine in this dark world with the good news of God’s forgiveness and with the news that sex is clean in God-ordained marriages.
How can we demonstrate God’s love for homosexuals and yet His wrath against their sin? Do you start with love or wrath?
What are some other ways (than those in the message) that Christians can plan not to fall into sexual sin?
Can a true believer be “addicted” (enslaved is the biblical word) to sexual sin? (Mt 5:27, 28, 29, 30-note; Ro 6:17, 18-note; 1John 3:7, 8, 9, 10.)
How would you counsel a single person who wants to be married, but cannot find a suitable mate? (Hebrews 13:4 The Right and Wrong Place for Sex)