Before we started following Jesus, our lives were caught up in so much. We were all about satisfying our flesh. We saw someone that we wanted, we got that person. Oh, and did we ever try to satisfy our flesh!
Over the years we supported the pornography market. We would rent porn videos. We would stop by the gas station on the way home and pick up the monthly porn magazine. Then there was all of the porn we viewed on our office computers. But that wouldn’t satisfy us completely.
As teenagers and young adults, we would date. After jumping in the backseat of the car with the date for the night or joining each other in the bedroom when the parents weren’t home, we would move onto new conquests. As we grew older and lived on our own, we would live with that woman or that man. When things got rough, as they do in any relationship, we would move onto the next person. When we found Jesus, we realize this sort of behavior is not good for us.
Or have we found that satisfying our flesh with sexual exploits ends when we start following Jesus? As Christians we realize that we still are faced with the same temptations that we were before we became Christian. Now as Christians we realize that we don’t have to give into the same temptations. Before we were on our own. Now we are joined to Jesus and other believers. Before we could be as selfish as we wanted to be. Now that we have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires we have the Holy Spirit working in us, in the church.
Yes, we have heard about Christian couples getting divorced because one of them had an affair. Yes, we have heard about churches being hurt because a pastor had an affair. Yes, we have heard about churches that closed because the church members were heavily involved in pornography. Yet we know that as followers of Jesus we do not have to give into these selfish desires.
Paul mentions three works of the flesh that the church in Galatia had to overcome. He called them fornication, impurity, and licentiousness. Fornication is any sexual immorality, including adultery. The Greek word is “porneia.” Yes, that would include pornography and being unfaithful to your spouse. Impurity is any immorality, including physical or moral uncleanness. This would include making someone else sexually messed up. Licentiousness is defined as sensuality, indecency, wantonness, or unrestrained sexually. In other words, it is an “anything goes” sort of lifestyle, including having sexual affairs.
Once we are following Jesus Christ, we make our minds up to not be involved in these sort of activities. For we realize that as followers of Jesus, we can disqualify ourselves from entering God’s kingdom. That’s right. As we continue to engage in fornication, impurity, and licentiousness, we can miss out on being with Jesus in the kingdom of God!
What can we do as followers of Jesus? As part of crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires, we continually turn to Jesus. This turning to Jesus is not so that we can continue to apologize for continuing our old ways of fornication, impurity, and licentiousness. No, this turning to Jesus is us asking the Holy Spirit to strengthen our resolve. For the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us, we walk with the Spirit of Christ. For the fruit of the Spirit to grow in this church, we learn to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
As Christians, when we see another follower of Jesus being involved in fornication, impurity, and licentiousness, we speak to them. We remind them who we are, that we belong to God through the blood of Jesus Christ. We do this goodness so other followers of Jesus won’t miss their inheritance. We want all followers of Jesus to know God’s generous ways and to have this goodness in their lives.
As Christians, when we are married we stay faithful to our husband or wife. Gentlemen, just because that pretty woman bats her eyes at you, it does not give you permission to bed her. Ladies, just because that handsome man understands your feelings, it does not give you permission to bed him. We speak a covenant of faithfulness to our husband or wife when we get married. We have also told God we would remain faithful, through the good, the bad, and the ugly, when we marry.
For those who are outside the church, those who are not following Jesus, we cannot directly confront them in regards to fornication, impurity, and licentiousness. However, we do show the fruit of the Spirit to them. That’s right. The goodness, the generosity, which we have learned from Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit is what we show to those outside the church.
Generosity is what God has shown us. God has good for us. God has given us freedom through Jesus Christ. This freedom is not a freedom to continue to live how we used to live. In Galatians 5:13 Paul wrote, “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.”
When we realize the freedom that comes from not having to sneak around trying to get satisfied sexually, we realize that God has good for us to do. As we are guided by the Spirit, we discover time to help others in need. It was Martin Luther who said, “A person is good when he is willing to help others in their needs.” Which means we find that as God satisfies our needs, we are able to help others in their needs. It turns out those men and women who get married find their sexual needs fulfilled by their husband or wife. For those men and women who do not get married, then God supplies all they need, even corralling the sexual need so that they can help others in need.
What does this mean for us today? If we are involved in fornication, impurity, and licentiousness, we crucify the flesh. If we know other Christians who are involved in fornication, impurity, and licentiousness, then we gently point them back to Christ and the church. May all of us find all of our needs satisfied through Christ Jesus!