now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality [galatians 5:19]

are they really evident?

for those of us who have spent a lot of time in the church, we probably know what is acceptable sexual behavior – that is, sex confined between a husband and wife in marriage. but our society today doesn’t seem to act like restricting it to marriage is evident! what is going on here? are their consciences so seared that they don’t have any idea? i think not, for one simple reason: the enemy has had to work so hard to create an alternative gospel that says that there is no such thing as sexual immorality.

here’s what i mean by an alternative gospel. in the true gospel, our biggest enemy is the devil, who leads us to sin, and the only way to be saved from that enemy (whom obeying even once makes us deserve death!) is to be covered by the atoning blood of Jesus by believing in his name. 

the gospel:

central problem: sin, whose wages are death

solution: Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone

the enemy wants us to think anything but himself and sin are our enemy. here’s one false gospel the enemy has labored to spread in our society: the devil wants us to think our biggest enemy is being told to follow meaningless rules, and the only solution is to reject all authority over us so we can rule ourselves.

a false gospel:

central problem: rules that stop us from being happy

solution: reject any authority figure that threatens our sovereignty

paul’s words here are powerful:

for what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. for his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in things that have been made. so they are without excuse. for although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! amen.

[romans 1:19-25, emphasis added]

because of their idolatry and submission to false gospels, so many around us have had their hearts hardened and have been given over to the lusts of the flesh. the unsaved around us do not have the Holy Spirit inside them to convict them of their sin, but they can’t say they didn’t see the “speed limit signs” either – no one is without excuse!

so what?

if you have believed this false gospel, repent! submission to God is hard, but his ways are always best. we can also be assured that God’s rules are not meaningless! sin clouds our vision of right and wrong, but the works of the flesh are evident. coming to the truth in scripture is more like being reminded of something we should have already known than it is learning a completely new language: righteousness was God’s DNA for man in the garden of eden, and sin only perverted God’s design. i hope this can give us some clarity as we preach the gospel in love to the lost. i hope we can rest assured that God’s word brings life, and that the truth sets us free!

Lord, grow our desire to bring the truth of the gospel to the lost! show us their hearts, that we may enter into the work you are doing; show us the way to speak to them in the context of where they are, that our love may be complete. and teach us the joy of submitting to your Spirit and your word in all things!

~ stephen hall