By Andy Alexander
We must not get comfortable in a world of sin. We must be like Lot who was “oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) . . .” (2 Pet. 2:7-8).
The world in which we live, late 20th Century America, is morally deteriorating. Technologically, physically, and economically society seems to be advancing, but spiritually we are declining. Immorality abounds. Deviant behavior and actions that once were rarely mentioned in public, except to condemn, are now openly discussed, joked about, and promoted. Filthy language (cursing, sexually explicit, etc.) is frequently used by both men and women. Satan is working non-stop to encourage all these evils and he especially works to bring these evils into the lives of Christians.
We want to notice various forms of immorality that are present in the world, how Satan works to bring these evil acts into our lives, and what we must do to combat this error.
Various Forms of Immorality
Many forms of immorality are socially acceptable and to oppose them is to be narrow-minded, unloving, or worse yet, an extremist. The term “extremist” is used to prejudice the minds of the general population. It is a term similar to the term “anti” used by liberals in the church to paint those of us who demand Scriptural authority for all practices as hate-mongers and orphan-haters. Let us notice some of these socially acceptable forms of immorality.
Homosexuality is emerging, not only as acceptable, but almost the “in thing” to practice. A recent segment on 20/20, an ABC news magazine show, interviewed a number of older women coming out of their marriages claiming they were lesbians and did not realize it till later in life. Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters portrayed them as mixed up, perhaps confused, and sympathized with them in their situations (aired 12-4-97). The television show “Ellen” openly defends and promotes the gay/lesbian lifestyle. Men kissing men and women kissing women is now spot-lighted on prime- time television. Among those of us who are older, few would have ever thought such would occur!
The President and Vice-President of our country are very supportive of the homosexual lifestyle. Many public schools in larger cities are catering to the homosexuals. Classes are offered which promote the lifestyle as normal and anyone who would oppose it on moral grounds is generally castigated. An Indiana school recently allowed a poster promoting sympathy and understanding for homosexuals to be displayed in a high school classroom. Regardless of society’s acceptance of it, homosexuality is and always has been wrong. From the beginning God created man and woman for one another (Gen. 2:18-24). Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed and homosexuality was one of the sins that led to their destruction (Gen. 19; Jude 7). This sin is also condemned in the New Testament and only those with a dishonest heart would deny that these plain teachings from God’s word condemns their sexual deviancy (Rom. 1:26-28; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:8-11). Homosexuality is a present evil and making great inroads into our society.
Sin has consequences. It is addictive in nature, takes us farther than we want to go, and keeps us longer than we want to stay. When we sow to the flesh we will reap a harvest (Gal. 6:7-8).
The sin of adultery is also very prevalent in America today. Those in the world act as if it is no sin at all. They see it as a freedom given to them by the courts of the land. Many divorce and remarry at will, never giving thought to the fact that they are committing the sin of adultery. So prevalent is it that some preachers in the conservative churches of Christ are promoting it by twisting the Scriptures to accommodate those living in it. Other preachers are encouraging this sin by accepting those who teach this error and looking on these false teachers as faithful brothers in Christ while casting out those who oppose and expose the teachers of error. Jesus said in Matthew 19:9, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” Divorcing your mate and marrying another is a sin (Rom. 7:2-3). God calls those who do so “adulterers” and “adulteresses” and they are plentiful in our society today.
Another commonplace sin in twentieth century America is the sin of drunkenness. Everywhere we turn in this land there is some reference to drinking and usually it is placed in a positive context. Commercials, billboards, and television shows picture drinking alcohol as the socially acceptable thing to do. The elite in society enjoy it. The up and coming generation all drink intoxicants and are portrayed by the media as having no trouble with it.
It is taken as a given that people drink intoxicating beverages and when someone turns down a drink he is considered strange or thought of as “the designated driver.” Teenagers watch their parent or parents drink, learn from them, then quickly put into practice what they have learned. Some parents are now renting their graduating sons and/or daughters rooms in motels for drinking after special events like homecoming game dances and proms. They claim their children will drink with or without their approval, so they want them to be safely off the streets while they do it. Such illogical think- ing pervades much of society today, but it illustrates how far our society is getting from biblical principles that were instilled two or three generations before.
The Bible condemns the recreational drinking of all modern intoxicating beverages (1 Pet. 4:3). The Proverbs warn of the dangers of alcoholic consumption (Prov. 20:1; 23:29-35). Disease, divorce, abuse, death, and misery accompany those who drink, but still there are preachers in the church who will encourage and condone its use by their weak and compromising preaching on the subject. Immodest dress is commonplace in the world today and especially in the United States. Commercials, television programs, retail stores, ad campaigns, magazines, various types of uniforms (sports, cheerleading, twirling costumes, swimsuits, etc.) and fashion designers all promote this sin. We are constantly bombarded with immodest and indecent dress. Both males and females are guilty of this sin. However, God’s word speaks clearly of the type of dress that Christians are to be seen in, modest, seemly apparel which befits people professing godliness (1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:1-6; Gal. 5:19-21; Matt. 5:16).
Abortions performed in mass quantities is another abomination in this land. About half the people of the United States believe that a woman has the right to choose an abortion. Among the other half of Americans is a large group that does not care either way, thus they lend their support to the abortionist. Bible principles condemn the practice of abortion.
Jeremiah says that he was known by God before his birth, while he was still in the womb (Jer. 1:5). David proclaims the Lord knew him before his birth and that he was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13-16). Abortion is the murder of an unborn baby and many are hardened to the point of unconcern toward this evil. Why? The reason is likely twofold. One, because it is so prevalent; secondly, they are so far removed from a knowledge of God’s word which enlightens us to know that it is a moral evil.
Another common and growing sin in our day is the sin of gambling. This sin comes in many forms. Casino gambling, wagering on horse and dog races, state lotteries, raffles, bingo games, and employees in businesses and offices betting on the outcome of various sport’s events are some of the ways that this sin is committed to- day. The promoters of this sin include schools, governments, denominational churches, and many charitable organizations as well as those in the gambling industry itself.
Principles contained in God’s word prove gambling to be sin. It survives off of greed and is nothing more than theft by consent. Just as killing someone in a duel is murder, taking someone’s money in a poker game is stealing. Stealing and greed are both wrong and should be abstained from by every Christian (Eph. 4:28; Col. 3:5). Because so many “reputable” organizations use gambling as a source of revenue, it is generally seen as a harmless form of recreation.
One last common sin of our day that we want to notice is dancing. The dance comes in many different types and some appear to be innocent and even healthy. Schools promote dancing at very early ages and culminate with the Jr./Sr. Prom in the spring of the year. There are sweetheart dances, homecoming dances, and birthday parties where dancing is practiced. Satan begins breaking many people down at very young ages to accept this evil. Parents encourage their children not to be shy, but get out on the dance floor as if the dance is something that is good for bringing young people out of their shell. Dancing is a lascivious act and is condemned as a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21).
Satan’s Tactics To Promote Immorality
We have noticed various forms of immorality that are frequently practiced in the world. Homosexuality, drunken- ness, immodesty, dancing, gambling, abortion, and adultery are not only practiced by many people, but also most of these sinful acts are looked upon as normal and healthy for all ages and both sexes. These sins are also accepted by many people who claim to Bible-believing Christians.
How does Satan work to bring these sins into our lives? His primary tool is the lie (John 8:44). He deceives us in various ways and uses those close to us to aid him in his battle.
One of his methods of destruction is familiarity. Why did we spend so much time looking at these various sins? Because they are so common. Since this is so, there is the danger that we can reach the point where we are not upset or disturbed by any or all of these perverse acts. Seeing these sins from day to day, we can become accustomed to them or become comfortable around them. They can then more easily worm their way into our lives or the lives of our loved ones and souls will be lost. This is one of the hideous schemes of Satan. Familiarity causes relaxation. Our guard drops and we fall into Satan’s trap.
We must fight back. We must not get comfortable in a world of sin. We must be like Lot who was “oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) . . .” (2 Pet. 2:7-8). Preachers, elders and Bible class teachers must teach the truth on these evils and do whatever possible to keep Christians from relaxing in this sin-filled environment. Satan will also use our family, friends, and loved ones to soften our attitude toward worldliness. Sometimes children or grandchildren become involved in one or more of these sins and attitudes that once stood firm begin to weaken. Satan is making headway among God’s people especially in the sins of dancing and immodest dress through this avenue. We must not let the world become our standard. The modern dance is a lascivious act whether performed by one of my family members or not. Compromise in this area will not help bring them out of this sin, but rather, will encourage them to continue in it. Immodesty is wrong no matter whose friends or loved ones participate in it. The fact that sports are involved does not change this sin, it only makes it more public and more damaging to the cause of Christ. Teachers of God’s word must not fail to send a clear signal so all may be warned and souls may be saved. We must use principles and examples contained in both the Old and New Testaments to establish what is modest and immodest, then urge all members of God’s family to abide in the teaching and to discipline those who refuse to adhere to the divine standard (Gen. 3:21; Exod. 28:42; Isa. 47:2-3; 1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:1-6; Gal. 5:19-21; Matt. 5:13-16; Luke 17:1-2).
Another tactic used by Satan is time. He leads us to believe that we have plenty of time; therefore, if we choose to engage in some particular sin, we will have time to repent. In fact, some people commit sin with full knowledge of what they are doing, but intend to participate for only a little while, then they will repent and leave it alone. Satan deceives them into thinking that what they are doing is not all that harmful and that they will be able to participate for a little while, then quit. Consequences and influence are forgotten.
King David could have had this attitude when he com- mitted adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11). However, sin has consequences. It is addictive in nature, takes us farther than we want to go, and keeps us longer than we want to stay. When we sow to the flesh we will reap a harvest (Gal. 6:7-8). One fact about sowing and reaping is that we reap more than we sow, and another is that the fruit is not fully realized until sometime in the future. When parents allow their children to sow wild oats, they seldom think about the fruit that those wild oats will produce. Often the fruit is drunkenness, fornication, unwanted pregnancy, death due to drug overdose, and in the end — a lost soul.
Categorizing sin is another maneuver used by Satan. He deceives us into thinking that the sins we or our loved ones commit are trivial. We tend to categorize sins much like the Catholics. Those viewed as less harmful are tolerated while more harmful ones are condemned. Of course, the sin that we are committing is a “trivial” sin and we truly do not like to refer to it as sin. Watching filthy movies or television shows is acceptable, but if a brother goes to a strip bar or nude club, then he is a vile reprobate. What is really worse, watching someone strip on a screen or on a stage? We must recognize sin for what it is and seek to destroy its influence in our lives and the lives of those around us (Rom. 12:1-2).
Local churches of Christ should not tolerate these sins. These sins ought to be exposed as sin and the brethren warned about their destructive nature. Those who refuse to heed the warnings and rebukes of faithful Christians should be disciplined for their own good and the good of the congregation (1 Cor. 5; 2 Thess. 3:6-14). Preachers must cease not to warn. We must “preach the word” and be faithful in our work as ministers of Christ (2 Tim. 4:2-5).