The following message, first preached by Billy Graham more than 60 years ago, is so fitting that it could have been written yesterday. The unchanging truth of God’s Word speaks to hearts in every generation. Let it change yours.
From the very beginning, God has given us moral laws governing the subject of sex that are absolute and unchangeable. Nowhere does the Bible teach that sex in itself is a sin. But from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible condemns the wrong use of sex.
The Bible teaches that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
We allow our magazine shelves to be filled with obscene literature. Our young people have very little restraint placed on them. In many universities religion is frowned on and sexual freedom is idolized.
In the midst of this darkness, the Word of God stands as a beacon. It speaks either to assure us of the right or to condemn us when wrong.
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According to the Bible, morals are not relative. They are absolute. When Moses stood on Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, which are the basis of all moral law, God said to him, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine” (Exodus 19:5).
There is nothing in the Bible that would lead us to believe that God has ever lowered His standards. The seventh commandment says, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).
This commandment has never been revoked or changed in the slightest degree.
Jesus went further and said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).
All the way through the Bible, immorality is listed along with murder and idolatry. In the Old Testament God demanded the death penalty for this sin. God hated it to such an extent that if persons were proved to be guilty, they were to be stoned. Jesus hated this sin so much that He said it is the only thing that can break a sacred marriage contract.
The Bible teaches that this sin leads to hell. “For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell” (Proverbs 5:3-5).
In 1 Corinthians 6, the Bible says that no immoral person can inherit the kingdom of God. There are hundreds of passages that indicate the wrath of God is being stored up against those who commit such sins. God destroyed whole cities because of immorality, and He ordered Israel to destroy nations because of their perversions.
God has not changed. What was wrong from the beginning is still wrong today in God’s sight. There is no variableness nor shadow of turning with God. He is absolute. And I warn you that His wrath is going to explode upon those who are immoral and upon those who encourage others to indulge in immoral practices.
While it is true that “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20), God will judge men and women by the Law. The Bible says, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Romans 2:1).
Romans 1 not only exposes moral sin, but it sets forth the basis upon which God will judge such sin. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:28-32).
Three times this chapter says that God “gave them up” or “gave them over.” Men and women became so immoral that even God “gave up.” In other words, they hardened their heart and deadened their conscience to such an extent that they could no longer hear the voice of God. They were blinded, hardened and deadened to conscience.
You may continue in your sins and evade the social consequences in this life, but you will never evade God’s Law. Even as the Bible says, “But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you. And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins” (Leviticus 26:14-18).
Many people say, “But we are not under law—we are under grace.”
Jesus did teach a new theology. The real truth is that now, Christ having died for our sins, God views them more seriously than ever. The Bible says, “Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:28-31).
We flaunt our evil and corruption into the face of Almighty God as though God were completely indifferent. We glorify the twin crimes of sexual perversion and drunkenness, which have spelled doom for other nations. Men and women openly condemn immorality but secretly get a vicarious thrill out of reading in the newspapers the moral deviations of movie stars, socialites and public figures.
Such times of moral degradation have taken place before in the history of the nations. There have been few that have survived the deadening effect. The truth that is often overlooked is that while we become deeply concerned and rightly take steps to curb the evil, legislation cannot work a cure in these things.
Many people are confident that legislation will solve our problem. Our problem is deeper than that. It is the constant problem of the individual sinner before God. Whether the sin is privately or publicly expressed, it is still the individual who stands guilty before God. It is the individual who must cry out to God for salvation from his or her personal sin.
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While we have an obligation to take steps to curb the outbreak of sin, we have a higher responsibility for the protection of our youth. Young people must be brought before God’s answer to the problem. The temptation to sin, and the evil that results from yielding to temptation, is more than an unaided man or woman can overcome. The disposition to sin is so overpowering that apart from the grace and power of God we cannot solve our problems. Unless God lifts us out of our sin, we will forever remain in it.
Perhaps you have been confronted with temptations to sin and have found yourself unable to rise above them. The law has condemned you before God and has done its rightful work. Paul said, “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20), and you, hearing the standards set forth in God’s law, have said within yourself, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:18-24).
Many have tried with all sincerity to live according to these requirements of the law, and have been plunged into despair, being unable to fulfill them. And all the requirements must be fulfilled, for the Bible says that “whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
What a horrible condemnation this is, and yet this is the Scripture.
But God, knowing our inability because of sin, has graciously made provision for all our need, great as it is. While we are unable in ourselves to live up to the law, and while in our weakened condition through sin we can only acknowledge its correctness, yet there is mercy with the Lord. To the desperate soul, fully aware of all his or her sin and failure, there comes the joyful assurance: “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! … There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 7:25-8:1).
Turn from sin and temptation today. Ask Christ to come into your life, and surrender yourself to Him. ©1953 (renewed 1981), 1998 BGEA
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.