“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
God warns against five sins. Of the five, the fifth (“covetousness”) can go to church and is somewhat fashionable.
Mark the first of these five sins– “fornication.” The Greek word for “fornication” is porneia from which we get the English “pornography.” It means to engage in sexual immorality of any kind, often with the implication of prostitution — to engage in illicit sex, to commit fornication, sexual immorality. It means any sexually evil activity. This term includes both fornication and adultery. “Fornication” is both an attitude and an overt sin.
The heathen temples of Colosse were filled with illicit sexual activity of all kinds. They committed illicit sex in the name of religion. They would worship Ishtar (fertility deity, goddess of love) or Aphrodite, the same god with another name.
On another holiday, they would worship Demeter (goddess of the harvest and fertility). The Phallic cult revolved around the worship of sex. You can see why the whole city was just about 100% in favor of this! Before they received Christ, all the Christians did this on each holiday. This permissiveness is the way they worshipped their gods. It is not surprising that the Colossian church was pulled in this direction.
The New Testament uses “fornication” in several shades of meaning.
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles — that a man has his father’s wife!” (2 Cor. 5:1).
This young man was having sex with his stepmother. Corinth was the Paris of antiquity, notorious for its wickedness. Yet here was a case in the church that even offended the lax standards of Corinth — “that one should have his father’s wife.” This man was living in sin with his stepmother, and the church treated him indifferently! The situation was too touchy. He may have had relatives in the church. Or, maybe they had too much money. When word got to Paul, he exposed the whole thing.
“Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Cor. 6:13).
Our body belongs to the Lord (Rom. 12:1), not ourselves. God wants us to have a clean, healthy body. The Holy Spirit does not want to live in a dirty house. Our Heavenly Guest likes clean accommodations (1 Co 6:16; 6:18,19).
“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 Cor. 6:18).
“Flee” means to become a fugitive. The word “flee” is a warning to the saints. Run away from fornication. Don’t play with it.
It is not a debatable issue in the Bible. The Bible plainly declares that immorality is sinful. No extenuating circumstances make it right (Gal 5:19; Eph 5:3; 1 Thes 4:3). There are no two sides to the question.
“Fornication” occurs 34 times in the Bible and 26 times in the New Testament. Of the eight times it appears in the Old Testament, it is invariably figurative, referring to Israel’s apostasy. Jehovah was the husband of Israel. Whenever Israel worshipped idols, they committed fornication.
There are 82 warnings in the New Testament against immorality of one kind or another. The New Testament uses “fornication” and “adultery” 6 times in the same verse; 20 times, “fornication” stands by itself.
Victory over fornication comes by fleeing from it.
“Fornication” is a plague in High Schools, Universities, and other parts of our society. Immorality does not begin in High School anymore; it starts in Grade School.
The church is not exempt either. Immorality is so common in society that it also finds its way into the church.
Immorality appeals to people regardless of their language, educational background, or economic status. It is rampant on every continent, as seen in the AIDS epidemic and other indications.
It is not necessary to take lessons to be immoral. All we need to do is do what comes naturally. Barnyard morality is the standard for our day. It is debatable whether there is such a thing as morality at all. Is it right to have premarital sexual intercourse? This sin is not debatable in the Bible. God has spoken; it is a closed issue.
The sin of fornication is so powerful that we cannot conquer it by willpower. The only way we can gain victory over it is not to put ourselves in situations where Satan will tempt us.