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Arie den Hartog is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Randolph, Wisconsin.

One of the greatest dangers for worldliness in our modern world is in connection with the great evil of immorality. We live in a world that is filled with immorality. That has of course always been the case, beginning immediately after the fall, when Adam and Eve first knew that they were naked, and their hearts were filled with lust and shame. Over the ages the immorality of the world has grown worse and worse. Today it affects virtually every area of life. It is prevalent on every level of society, from the most honored and respected of the world to the lowest. We live in a world of debauchery and filth, a virtual Sodom and Gomorrah. God’s holy ordinance of marriage is despised. Men are enflamed with lust one for another and abuse their own bodies and those of their neighbors. Never before in the history of the world has this been engaged in more openly and without shame. It is considered one of the greatest forms of excitement and entertainment. The most immoral and wicked are the most honored and glorified. It is glorified in the theatre. There are virtually no popular movies that do not have immorality and adultery as one of their major themes. The same immoral movies that are shown in the theatre can also be seen in the privacy of one’s home on the television screen, and especially today, since the advent of the video tape industry. Book shelves in public book stores are filled with the grossest immorality and pornography. Magazines which openly portray nudity and the vilest immorality are sold by the hundreds and thousands. The modern media constantly bombards us with sexual innuendo. Everything from soup to nuts is sold through an appeal to man’s sexual lust.

It is inevitable and inescapable that all of this is going to affect us. If we are not careful, it will enter into our very homes and corrupt our souls and the souls of our children.

It is quite obvious that immorality is one of the chief instruments of the devil. By means of immorality he has enslaved the world. Through the evil of immorality most terrible diseases have become epidemics. So utterly enslaved is man to this great evil that he will spend millions of dollars and marshal great armies of the world’s best scientists to find cures for these dreaded diseases. Meanwhile he ignores and hates the law of God which, if lived by, would be the simple cure. Through immorality millions of homes are broken up every year and the world has been filled with misery and wretchedness so terrible that it is a prelude to hell. The devil uses great stratagems to destroy even the Christian, his home, and his church through immorality. He uses the very prevalence of immorality to spread the philosophy; “everyone is doing it, it is not so bad.” He can make us become accustomed to this great evil and lose our spiritual sensitivity to the evil of it in the sight of God. He works little by little, beginning with small compromises and leading on to more serious ones. Many of today’s churches already tolerate and condone some of the grossest immorality. Even in our own circles signs of this great sin are on the increase.

How urgent that we by the grace of God maintain true holiness in this area of our life. Never before has the call of the Lord been more urgent. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not her plagues,” Revelation 18:4. Yet how many who call themselves Christians are taking a less and less serious attitude in regard to this sin.

God first made sex a beautiful and holy thing. He created man male and female with all the beautiful distinctions of that difference. He also ordained the holy bond of marriage. He made sex exclusively for that holy bond to be used for the expression of intimate, holy, and faithful love between husband and wife. He has commanded us in His law to live chastely within and without the bond of marriage for His glory. He has told us to keep our bodies holy and not to use our bodies as instruments of sin and unrighteousness to defraud our neighbor.

All the immorality of the world stands under the curse of God. It is an abomination to Him. He will judge it in terrible holy and just judgment. God is not mocked. His wrath is revealed from heaven against all the wickedness of men.

As Christians we have been spiritually transformed by the grace and Spirit of God. We have been made new creatures in Christ Jesus. Our bodies have been made temples of the Holy Spirit through His indwelling in our hearts. Therefore, out of love for God and in fear and reverence for Him, we must keep our bodies holy. In the age in which we live this will involve a constant spiritual battle. We will have to be very serious and very careful to avoid the temptations of the devil. We will have to be strong in His grace and keep our hearts and minds pure from all the corruption of the world. We must be radically different from the world and not be ashamed of this.

In our own personal lives we must live chastely and modestly before the Lord. We must not yield to the temptations of the world. At home and at work we must not join in the world’s constant immoral joking and sexual innuendo. We must be vigilant to keep our hearts and minds pure and holy. We must maintain the old traditions of our godly ancestors which forbade joining in the world’s dance, and going to the world’s theatre, and singing the world’s songs. I know that this is a pretty rare perspective on life today. Nevertheless it is obvious that the movies and books and songs of the world are becoming more and more wicked and immoral. There is something very seriously wrong with a Christian who can find enjoyment in the wicked entertainment of the world. No amount of high sounding philosophy of being an “enlightened and mature age,” no amount of claims about it being “good art” is going to change the fact that all the world’s immorality is an abomination to the Lord. A Christian who does not separate himself spiritually from all of this is going to do great damage to his soul. Even in our dress we must be different. I know that sounds terribly old fashioned and strict. But a serious Christian must pay attention to this. He or she cannot simply follow the fashion of the world. He or she does not have the right shamefully to expose the body to the lustful spectacle of sinful man. Neither does going to the beach give one the excuse for this. The Christian must dress modestly so that by all means he may avoid immoral thoughts in his fellow man. We must recognize that following the world in its immoral dress is the grossest form of worldliness.

God’s word has very strong warnings against the great evil of immorality. “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them,” Ephesians 5:1-7. May God give us the grace to be serious about these words and to take them to heart in all of their meaning and application.

We also must guard our homes and give instruction to our children. We must teach our children about the beauty and sanctity of sex and the great evil of immorality. The evil world desperately wants to teach our children about sex so that by means of this instruction it can corrupt our children and entice them into immorality. At a surprisingly young age our children will already be exposed to all kinds of immoral talk. As parents we will do our duty and teach our children about this area of life before they are corrupted by the world. We must be careful about the books that enter into our homes. A serious Christian parent will see the urgency of monitoring what his children read. It is a fact that television is becoming more and more common in our covenant homes. That may not all be condemned on the basis of the word of God. Yet it is also a sad fact that more and more immoral programs are being watched in our homes. There are very few today that are not immoral. Many Christian parents are losing their spiritual sensitivity to this and are slowly compromising and allowing programs that have “just a little” immoral language and suggestion of uncleanness. We have to be concerned about this. We have to be concerned about our young people as they are growing up in a world where most of their peers and classmates are “sexually active” and where being popular is dependent on a liberal and “uninhibited” perspective of life. We have to teach our children about boy/girl relationships. We have to urge them to keep themselves holy and pure while they are dating. We have to warn them not to place themselves in tempting circumstances and not to underestimate the power of this sin or overestimate their own power of self control. We have to teach them what is honorable in the sight of God. We have to teach them about the reward and blessing of waiting until marriage.

As the world becomes more and more immoral the walk of the Christian becomes more and more difficult. The temptations of the world strongly appeal to our sinful flesh. The world presents the way of immorality as one that is filled with great excitement and pleasure. God’s way of holiness is the opposite of the way of the world. To live in holiness is often difficult, and involves a great spiritual struggle. Yet it has abundant reward and blessing. What is more blessed on earth than a home where husband and wife live faithfully with one another and by the grace of God avoid the sin of unfaithfulness and immorality? This is the sphere that is healthy and stable for the nurture of children in the way of the Lord. Above all, this is the place where the favor and blessing of the Lord are found. Here the glory of the Lord is revealed and here is the hope of eternal happiness and blessing.