A Weak Christian

“The weak Christian also, hath a faith that is divine, as caused by God, and resting on his word and truth. And he so far liveth by this faith, as that it commandeth and guideth the scope and drift of his heart and life. But he believeth with a great deal of staggering and unbelief; and therefore his hopes are interrupted by his troublesome doubts and fears; and the dimness and languor of his faith is seen in the faintness of his desires, and the many blemishes of his heart and life. And sight and sensual objects are so much the more powerful with him, by how much the light and life of faith is dark and weak.”

Richard Baxter and William Orme, The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, vol. 8 (London: James Duncan, 1830), 384.

A Christian Indeed

baxter

1. A Christian indeed (by which I still mean, a sound, confirmed Christian), is one that contents not himself to have a seed, or habit of faith, but he lives by faith, as the sensualist by sight or sense. Not putting out the eye of sense, nor living as if he had no body, or lived not in a world of sensible objects; but as he is a reasonable creature, which exalts him above the sensitive nature, so faith is the true information of his reason, about those high and excellent things, which must take him up above things sensible. He hath so firm a belief of the life to come, as procured by Christ, and promised in the Gospel, as that it serveth him for the government of his soul, as his bodily sight doth for the conduct of his body. I say not, that he is assaulted with no temptations, nor that his faith is perfect in degree, nor that believing moves him as passionately as sight or sense would do: but it doth effectually move him through the course and tenour of his life, to do those things for the life to come, which he would do if he saw the glory of heaven; and to shun those things for the avoiding of damnation, which he would shun if he saw the flames of hell. Whether he do these things so fervently or not, his belief is powerful, effectual, and victorious. Let sight and sense invite him to their objects, and entice him to sin, and forsake his God, the objects of faith shall prevail against them, in the bent of an even, a constant, and resolved life. It is things unseen which he takes for his treasure, and which have his heart and hope, and chiefest labours. All things else which he hath to do, are but subservient to his faith and heavenly interest, as his sensitive faculties are ruled by his reason. His faith is not only his opinion, which teaches him to choose what church or party he will be of; but it is his intellectual light, by which he lives, and in the confidence and comfort of which he dies. “For we walk by faith, not by sight. We groan to be clothed upon with our heavenly house. Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him;” 2 Cor. 5:7–9. “Now the just shall live by faith;” Heb. 10:3. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen;” Heb. 11:1. Most of the examples in Heb. 11 do shew you this truth, that true Christians live and govern their actions, by the firm belief of the promise of God, and of another life when this is ended. “By faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark, to the saving of his house, by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith;” ver. 7. “Abraham looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God;” ver. 10. “Moses feared not the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible;” ver. 27. So the three witnesses (Dan. 3.), and Daniel himself, (chap. 6.) and all believers have lived this life, as Abraham the father of the faithful did; who, as it is said of him, “Staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;” Rom. 4:20. The faith of a Christian is truly divine; and he knoweth that God’s truth is as certain as sight itself can be; however sight be apter to move the passions. Therefore, if you can judge but what a rational man would be, if he saw heaven and hell, and all that God had appointed us to believe, then you may conjecture what a confirmed Christian is; though sense do cause more sensible apprehensions.”

Richard Baxter and William Orme, The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, vol. 8 (London: James Duncan, 1830), 382–384.
[Baxter, Richard (1615–91), *Puritan divine. Born at Rowton, Salop, he was largely self-educated. He studied first at the free school of Wroxeter, next under the nominal tutelage of Richard Wickstead, Chaplain at Ludlow Castle, and finally (1633) in London under the patronage of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels. In disgust at the frivolity of the Court he returned home to study divinity, in particular the Schoolmen. In 1634 he came into intimate contact with Joseph Symonds and Walter Cradock, two devout Nonconformist divines, who awakened his sympathies for the positive elements in dissent. In 1638 he was ordained by John Thornborough, Bp. of *Worcester, and in 1639 nominated assistant minister at Bridgnorth, where he remained for two years, increasing his knowledge of the issues between Nonconformity and the C of E. After the promulgation of the ‘Et Cetera Oath’ (1640) he rejected belief in episcopacy in its current English form. In 1641 he became curate of the incumbent of Kidderminster, where among a population of hand-loom workers he continued to minister with remarkable success until 1660. So far as possible he ignored the differences between Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Independent, and secured co-operation among the local ministers in common pastoral work. In the early part of the Civil War he temporarily joined the Parliamentary Army, preaching at Alcester on the day of the Battle of Edgehill (23 Oct. 1642). A champion of moderation, he was opposed to the *Solemn League and Covenant (1643) and also disliked O. *Cromwell’s religious views. After the Battle of Naseby (14 June 1645) he became Chaplain to Colonel Edward Whalley’s regiment, seeking to counteract the sectaries and to curb republican tendencies. On leaving the army (1647) he retired for a time to Rous Lench, where he wrote his devotional classic, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest (1650). In 1660 he played a prominent part in the recall of *Charles II; but his dissatisfaction with episcopacy led him to decline the bishopric of *Hereford. This refusal debarred him from ecclesiastical office and he was not permitted to return to Kidderminster or to hold any living. He took a prominent part at the *Savoy Conference (1661; q.v.), for which he had prepared a ‘Reformed Liturgy’; here he presented the *Exceptions to the BCP. Between 1662 and the *Declaration of Indulgence of 1687 he endured persecution, suffering at the hands of the notorious Judge Jeffreys on the questionable charge of having ‘libelled the Church’ in his Paraphrase on the New Testament (1685). He was in sympathy with those responsible for the overthrow of *James II and readily complied with the *Toleration Act of William and Mary. He died on 8 Dec. 1691.
Baxter left nearly 200 writings. They breathe a spirit of deep unaffected piety and reflect his love of moderation. Gildas Salvianus; The Reformed pastor; (1656) illustrates the great care he took in his pastoral organization, and the Reliquiae Baxterianae (ed. Matthew Sylvester, 1696) is a long and careful autobiography. He Jalso wrote several hymns, among them ‘Ye holy angels bright’ and ‘He wants not friends that hath Thy love’. In CW, feast day, 14 June.]
F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 173.

Follow-up to Previous Post: "Stay Out of the Ghetto."

pew-and-pulpit

Earlier this month I posted an article warning against the ghettoisation of Christianity. This post illustrates well the challenges that are met by those who must work and live outside the ghetto:

Article here from the Gospel Coalition.

A Religion of Redemption

Image

Bavinck quote

 

“The revelation that comes to us in Christ through Scripture in fact takes that position toward us. It does not put itself on a level below us to ask for our approving or disapproving judgment on it but takes a position high above us and insists that we shall believe and obey. Scripture even expressly states that the unspiritual cannot understand the things of the Spirit, that they are folly to them, that they reject and deny them in a spirit of hostility [1 Cor. 2:14]. The revelation of God in Christ does not ask for the support or approval of human beings. It posits and maintains itself in sublime majesty. Its authority is normative as well as causative. It fights for its own victory. It itself conquers human hearts and makes itself irresistible.”

Herman Bavinck, John Bolt, and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 505.

These Are Not Unrelated

Paul Pelton

Paul Pelton, holds to a consistent anti-life ethic

Dr. Deborah Nucatola, has a consistent anti-life ethic

Dr. Deborah Nucatola, consistent anti-life ethic

Josef Mengele, held to a consistent anti-life ethic

Josef Mengele, held to a consistent anti-life ethic

By now, only those who choose ignorance have not heard of the Planned Parenthood’s selling of baby body parts, organs and tissues that were taken from live infants killed by doctors. Information can be found here, but is only recently being discussed in the mainstream media.

Now we have Paul Pelton, who, when happening upon a fatal car accident, chose to record the dying teenage victims on his mobile rather than assist (article here). Being first on the scene, one might expect him to behave like a human, and lend aid. But to do so would mean we’d expect him to act in a manner inconsistent with a 21st century life-ethic (Carl Trueman has  an excellent article on the consistency of ethics here). Rather, he recorded one teen’s death and attempted to sell footage to news outlets. He has been charged with trespassing in an accident scene, the only charge that could apply.

We have now, for over a generation, understood human life is at our disposal–we can get rid of unwanted children, or the unwanted elderly and disabled, and even sell tissue, or suffering for a profit. Making the unborn disposable has logically led to the unthinkable attempt at profiteering from human suffering. If the weakest of life can be so easily terminated, if life means so little, what reason would Pelton have to feel shame for his inaction?

The late Francis Schaeffer wrote:

“If man is not made in the image of God, nothing then stands in the way of inhumanity. There is no good reason why mankind should be perceived as special. Human life is cheapened. We can see this in many of the major issues being debated in our society today: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, the increase of child abuse and violence of all kinds, pornography (and its particular kinds of violence as evidenced in sadomasochism), the routine torture of political prisoners in many parts of the world, the crime explosion, and the random violence which surrounds us.”

(Francis A. Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, vol. 5 (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 290.)

As our culture descends to the the level of the animal, it will become clear that the Christian worldview, along with its value of man as created in the image of God, is the only way to stop the barbarism that is now the norm.

Stay Out of the Ghetto

resistance

I was concerned when I learned recently that some states in the US are considering legislation to protect ministers of religion from civil and criminal penalties, if they refuse to solemnize same-sex marriages. I think this is a bad thing that appears tempting to the fearful. This is because it creates a safety zone for a very small percentage of Christians, the professional clergy, to operate within the very small confines of their churches; and by “church,” it will be most often restricted to physical property set aside for religious purposes. Churches that rent school space, for example, may not get off so easily.

This is good news for mega-church and small-church clergy alike: They will enjoy “freedom of worship” (to use President Obama’s phrase) and agree to give up actual religious freedom. In fact, by accepting this sort of thing, clergy is supporting a rending asunder of the church between themselves and the majority of Christians who are expected to bow to Caesar at every turn.

Christian ministers need to decide if they are preaching the Gospel of a God who is Lord of all, or is lord of their campus.

Preachers, be prepared to stand with those in the marketplace who refuse to bow the knee to Ba’al.

I had much more to say on this, but I found this little article by R. C. Sproul Jr., who says it much better than I. It is reproduced below, but the full article can be found here.

THURSDAY, JULY 2, 2015

Bread, Circuses, and the Coliseum

While the Christians who went to their deaths under the empire of Rome died for their faith, I fear they did not die for our faith. First, we must understand what Rome had against these saints. Part of the genius of the Roman empire was their “broad-mindedness.” They did not roll into town after their phalanxes had left not one brick upon another and rebuild from scratch. Instead it was their habit to assimilate. As they did with the Pharisees, they cut a deal. We will rule over you, but you can, by and large, keep doing what you were doing.  Keep your temple. Worship there. Keep your traditions, your way of life.  All we ask of you is that you pay your taxes, acknowledge our authority, and then this one other little thing- we need you to acknowledge that Caesar is Lord. Burn a pinch of incense, bow the knee, and then go back to what you were doing. You don’t even have to mean it.

The Christians’ problem was more political than narrowly theological. You see the very first creed of the church was just three words long, but managed to confront Rome at its heart. Christians were those who confessed Christ is Lord. They died by the thousands because they would not confess that Caesar is Lord.

Which brings us to our faith. We’re like the Pharisees. We have our worship services, our private convictions, and that’s where our faith ends. The rest of our lives are committed to the authority of the state, and to the diversions and distractions the broader culture provides. We are in no danger because we are no danger. When the world calls our convictions “hate” we simply change them, insisting that our response to the wholesale turning over of God’s created order is more love, more appeasement, more assurance that we are not a danger. Some of us reinterpret our Bibles to get with the times. Some simply look away awkwardly when the Bible embarrasses us. We conflate the Biblical notion that all sin is rebellion against the living God and deserving of His judgment into the much safer notion that all sins are equal, making all of them innocuous, not worthy to be mentioned.

When the Supreme Court made its most wicked ruling, upending the natural, God created order of things, we ignored it. When we finally woke up, we found safe, reasonable, Rome approved ways of “fighting” it. 42 years later and still three thousand little babies are murdered every day, right in our own neighborhoods. And we are more interested in our favorite football team.

We worship a Jesus who will save us from our sins, but whose reign we’re willing to negotiate. We worship a state that simply requires of us that we be nice and keep our convictions to ourselves. We worship distraction, so that we won’t have to face our idolatry. We worship the acceptance of the broader culture, and sacrifice all else to get it. We’re not like our fathers who died for Jesus, but like our fathers that killed Him and the prophets God sent to call us to repentance, because they, like we, worship the god of this age.

Until we stop repenting to the god of this age for the plain teaching of the living God, and start repenting to the living God for bowing before the god of this age, we will be trodden underfoot. Until we weep for our sin, until we tear down the high places, until we cease to hand our children over to Moloch we will burn with Rome. Lord be merciful to us, sinners.

 

Sometimes a Light Comes On

wheat and weeds

Please read this:

Matthew 13:24–30 (ESV)

The Parable of the Weeds

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ”

How have you read this? How has it been taught to you? I remember this being taught in several contexts, but the gist is that evil and good people co-exist until judgement, and we cannot be too quick to give up on people. Only in the End is it known for certain whether or not a person is saved.

But this passage doesn’t teach this. Now, if I’m the only one who is surprised, maybe I just have a poor memory of what was taught when I was younger. But if not, here goes.

It is obvious from the beginning who the weeds are. There is no change from weed to wheat, and there is change of the set path of fire or barn.

This parable is about delayed judgement, not delayed knowledge. While God may turn weeds into wheat, bad seeds into good, there really is no mistaking which is which. This is reprobation on display. Is it not possible that some people are simply reprobates, who, like Pharaoh, have been chosen for God’s wrath?

Romans 9:17 (ESV)17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

In more times than not, a person either responds to the Gospel or hardens against it relatively early in life. Weeds are obvious.

 

The Implications of Being Filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-27)

Ephesians

Ephesians 5:15–27 (ESV)

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives and Husbands

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

This passage may contain the worst paragraph break in the English Bible. In preparing messages on these passages, I noticed this: that the main verb in vs 18 “. . . but be filled with the Spirit” (present passive plural) is the last imperative until vs 25, “Husbands love your wives.”

The intervening verses may be diagrammed as below (I have oversimplified the diagram). The red-underlined word indicates the imperative, and the single underline indicates a participle.

Be filled with the Spirit

addressing one another

                        in psalms

and hymns

and spiritual songs

singing

and

making melody

to the Lord with your heart

giving thanks

always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Note that there are five adverbial participles (each are present active participles, plural, nominative, masculine) which form a “list” which modifies “be filled.” In this case, the participles take on the character of the imperative, but more than that, they describe the Spirit-filled.

If we may allow that these five attributes describe the Spirit-filled, then I wish to draw attention to the last one, “submitting to one another . . .”

It is here that I find the pericope division unfortunate: the ESV, NASB95, NIV84, NKJV all start a new section here, which leads the read to think that this is the place to start reading about wives and husbands.

Verse 22, however, is dependent upon verse 21: the verb, submit (or, as in other translations, be subject to, or be in subjection to) is supplied as an English gloss to assist the reader. Literally, verses 21 and 22 read, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, to your own husbands etc.”

The doctrine of the Christian family is challenging here, as is the practical implications of submission. But before the text is explained to wives as their duty to submit, the connection to “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” must be kept in mind, as well as its connection to the main verb. The Nestle-Aland and UBS4 both correctly place the paragraph  beginning at verse 21, keeping verse 21 and 22 together.

Being Spirit-filled (a command) has five evidences, or proofs: addressing one another outwardly, singing and making melody inwardly, thanksgiving, and mutual submission (ὑποτασσόμενοι ἀλλήλοις)[1]

This demands at least, then, that the idea of the wives’ submission to their husbands is not separate from all Christians’ submission to one another, and this is an outcome of being Spirit filled. Furthermore, The next imperative is in verse 25, “husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her . . .”

So to simplify,

Be filled with the Spirit

→mutual submission

→wives to husbands

→husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church

This understanding of the text may help to avoid some of the misuse of the concept of submission in the marriage relationship.. Submission and love are both necessary outcomes of being filled with the Holy Spirit, thus making the Spirit a requirement for submission and love.

If verse 21 modifies the wives’ submission, verses 25-30 modifies the husbands’ “submission,” in that the husbands’ love for their wives is to be marked by sacrifice, even submission to the wives’ best interests.

[1]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Eph 5:21.

Christians Need to Stop Making Gay Jokes

Perhaps not for the reasons usually given, that it is unloving or unkind to do so. A careful reading of Ephesians 5:3-14 helps us understand why it is always inappropriate to make light of sin.

3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 5:3–14 (ESV)

The internet is a place where much is said that should not be said. This point is driven home, at least to me, by the events that have and are still unfolding in the popular culture around the area of human sexuality, morals, and law. I won’t rehearse these here, as I assume that any reading this are also somewhat aware of the news.

Before moving forward with this article, I want to explain how I came to discuss this text. I have been preaching through the book of Ephesians since January of this year. I tend to preach through Biblical books, rather than skip around the Bible, and I rarely preach on a topic by using multiple texts. This avoids preaching that is only a reaction to the present, and helps to protect me from the accusation of using a “bully pulpit” to attack specific matters that I find important. This method might even help me to avoid a certain kind of staleness, although I’m sure I can find other kinds of staleness to inflict on my hearers.

Having said this, I did not arrange my preaching schedule to coincide with the recent SCOTUS decision in the United States. When setting out to preach through a book, I am, until closer to a particular Sunday, unsure as to how large the passage under consideration will be. Add to that uncertainty a day off for illness, a shortened vacation, another Sunday at home but not preaching, and the text landed where it did. I don’t arrange messages around human events, be they the gay pride festivals or governmental policy shifts.

The text from Ephesians was divided by me into two sections for the sake of time; these were the texts of two sermons, preached June 21st and June 28th. I would like to draw the readers’ attention an expository outline which is a kind of building-block for the sermon. The reader will note that there are a series of three triads, the first and second are identical (note that in this outline form, the entire text has not been reproduced):

Triad 1: this must not even be named among you, (said as done):

1.       Vs 3: sexual immorality (Logical contrastive with vss 1-2 and continuation of 4:25-31

2.       and all impurity

3.       or covetousness

Triad 2: this must not be said (which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving).

1.       no filthiness

2.        nor foolish talk

3.       nor crude joking,

Triad 3: Because these things are exclusionary from an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God

1. the sexually immoral

2. the impure,

3. the covetous (that is, an idolater),

Warning:

6 Let no one deceive you with empty words,

for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Please notice the emphasis placed on speech in this passage. “not be named” (vs 3, and this is an imperative, not a suggestion); vs 4, filthiness, foolish talk, coarse jesting; and vs 6, “empty words.” Placing the three kinds of speaking of the second triad in the middle of the other two, may be considered a form of an inclusion. That may or may not be the case, but it is here, I believe to place an emphasis on speech. “Filthiness aischrontē , foolish talk mōrologia, and crude joking eutraelia” are all hapax legomena, that is, they do not occur anywhere else in the Greek New Testament, nor, as it happens do they occur in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, completed about 200 BC).

Filthiness is, according to the Liddell and Scott lexicon, “obscenity,” and can be a euphemism for fellatio. Foolish talk is “silly talk, nonsense, and can describe one’s being mad (insane). Crude joking describes “wit, vulgarities, mocking derision” etc. The first term seems to always be associated with sexual behaviour, but the other two are certainly readily present as well.

The placing of these three ways of speaking, between a repetition of sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness (idolatry) as it does indicates that these are ways of speaking about sexual sin specifically—the concern of this passage is not that people would be silly and witty in general, but specifically about sexual sin.

It is, clearly sexual sin that is the topic here. This is what is actually up for much debate today, but I do believe that Queer exegesis is over. One must accept the authority of the Scriptures or not, and if not, at least have the integrity to say so.

First Term in Triads 1 & 3 “sexual immorality”

 Sexual immorality (porneia) is obviously the source of our words “porn,” and  “pornography (written porn).” It would be very wrong, however, to limit the Biblical use to our current usage of the terms. It is a simple matter to see how the Scriptures use this term.

The root of this word is pornē (prostitute). Consider how it is used in the New Testament:

Porneía: “sexual immorality” 8 times in 7 verses

Matt 19:9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

1 Cor 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind •that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.

1 Cor 6:13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

2 Cor 12:21I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,

Eph 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Rev 19:2 for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

Pornē “prostitute” 4 times in 4 verses

1 Cor 6:16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”

Heb 11:31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

James 2:25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

Rev 17:15 And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.

Pornos  “a sexually immoral person” and also refers to a catamite, the “receiving partner” in a male homosexual relationship. It occurs three times in three verses. Note that this is the use in one of the verses we are considering, Ephesians 5:5:

1 Cor 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Eph 5:5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Heb 12:16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.

Porneuō is “to commit sexual immorality.” It is the act itself. This is a verb. It occurs 8 times in 7 verses:

1 Cor 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

1 Cor 10:8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.

Rev 2:20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

Rev 17:2

with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.”

Rev 18:3

For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Rev 18:9

And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning.

Ekporneuō is another verb meaning, “to engage in sexual immorality.” It occurs once in the New Testament

Jude 7

7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

[If the reader is interested, the entire word group is listed here, in Scriptural order].

Do note that the terms “sexual immorality” (Ephesians 5:3) and “an immoral person” (5:5) stem  from the same word group. It is very clear that Paul is speaking about all forms of sexual immorality, and it should not be supposed that he is only speaking to homosexuality, lesbianism, or transgenderism.

In the passages above, it is also clear  that sexual immorality includes adultery, incest, prostitution (literal and figurative), and covetousness. It is important to establish that sexual immorality is a violation of the 7th commandment: “you shall not commit adultery.”

Keeping this in mind, consider this:

The Second Term in Triads 1 & 3 “impurity”

For the interest in time and space, I will not discuss the word group from which akatharsia comes. The reader can find a complete list here. Do note, that this word is a negation of the word, katharos, “clean.”

The word in Ephesians 5:3 is akatharsia which negates the idea of purity or cleanliness by the addition of the “a” at the beginning of the word. This is common in Greek, and has carried over to English, such as a theist is one who believes in a deity, an atheist does not.

This term occurs 10 times in 10 verses:

Matt 23:27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.

Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

Rom 6:19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

2 Cor 12:21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,

Eph 4:19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

Eph 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Col 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

1 Thess 2:3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive,

1 Thess 4:7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

This is important: notice that out of the 10 occurrences of this word, six are explicitly about sexual behaviour. In fact, the two term “sexual immorality” and “impurity” are linked in 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3, and Colossians 3:5.

In the LXX (Septuagint, Greek Old Testament), this word translates 10 Hebrew words, the most common is to be ceremonially unclean. But see, for example, in Leviticus 18:22, (and 20:13) (ESV), “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination,” “abomination” (Hebrew towweba). In the Old Testament, uncleanness was an abomination and homosexuality as well as all other sinful sexual relations are considered unclean.

The Third Term in Triads 1 & 3, “Covetousness.”

This word is a compound word, that takes two Greek words and makes one: “to have” (echō), and “to complete, fill; fulfill” (plēroō). From this construct we get, “covetousness” and “greed.” It occurs 10 times in the New Testament:

Mark 7:22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.

Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Rom 1:29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,

2 Cor 9:5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.

Eph 4:19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

Eph 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Col 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

1 Thess 2:5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.

2 Pet 2:3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

2 Pet 2:14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!

This word often is used to describe the coveting of material goods, but in Romans 1:29, Ephesians 4:19, 5:3, and Colossians 3:5 it is clearly used to describe a greed or desire in a sexual sense. This is in keeping with the 10th commandment, Exodus 20:17 (ESV) 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” In this comprehensive prohibition against coveting, the inclusion of the wife demonstrates a prohibition against lust.

Paul brings covetousness into sharper focus in the third triad, Ephesians 5:5, equating covetousness with idolatry. The connection between idolatry and material goods may seem obvious, but we must consider here the connection between lust and idolatry. Connecting sexual immorality, uncleanness, and covetousness (idolatry) make even better sense when it is remembered that the Ephesian Christians who came out of paganism were exposed to temple prostitution.

Now to Summarise:

At the risk of oversimplification, sexual sin is no laughing matter. This is not sodomy only (in all its many expressions), but all sexual sin. It is not a thing to be made light of, to be laughed about:

Ephesians 5:5 (ESV)

5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

1 Corinthians 6:9–10 (ESV)

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 5:6 (ESV)

6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Connect the phrase in Ephesians 5:6, “the wrath of God comes” with Romans 1:18, “the wrath of God is revealed.” There is no room for levity here. Romans describes people who have so abandoned God that He has surrendered them to their lusts (Romans 1:24).

The “empty words” of Ephesians 5:6 are the words 5:4, as when light is made of these things, the true horror God’s judgement is diminished.

To be continued . . .