Abstain from Sexual Immorality

by Mike Ratliff 

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 ESV) 

When the Carrie Prejean, Miss California, controversy began several weeks ago with the outrage over her comment about marriage being between a man and a woman I really did not focus on her in this. Instead, I was intrigued with the reaction from the media, the libertine lobby, and the various powers that be with something to say about it. It was as if she had no right to state what she said. I had intended to pray, research, and write about that aspect of this, but that was about the same time that several crises arose in my family. Now it seems that the controversy has deepened tremendously with the exposure of Miss Prejean’s semi-nude pictures and breast augmentation surgery. When the push began to elevate Miss Prejean to that of a great example of godliness in the Church et cetera, I had a nagging doubt about that. It reminded me somewhat of the push to make George W. Bush into a godly near-saint during his first election run. Then articles started appearing from what many derisively refer to as ODMs. Their stance over this issue has solidified into an agreement that this whole thing is a fallacy. 

I agree with Carrie Prejean’s statement about true marriage being between a man and a woman. However, the push to elevate this young lady into some sort of godly prophetess or whatever is extremely ill advised. I have been reading some of the email sent in to some ODMs from supposed Christian, family men who see no conflict with Carrie Prejean’s promotion as a gallant Christian defender of the faith and her fleshly lifestyle that included her semi-nude pictures and breast augmentation. One even stated that those pictures were not really ”Porn.” Then it hit me, and several other of my ODM friends. Could God be using this to reveal the filthy under layer of what calls itself Evangelical Christianity? Have the standards for morality been downgraded so far in it that it is perfectly acceptable for a spokesperson for the Gospel and Christianity to be involved in pornography and other forms of immorality? 

While I am sure that her pictures would not be classified as “pornography” by the world, we must ask ourselves, ”what is the purpose of these sorts of pictures?” Why is pornography in all its forms so lucrative? This stuff sells and people buy it in order to feed their lusts to indulge their flesh. There is nothing edifying in this, even those “semi-nude” photos of Carrie Prejean. So, if we look at those and we find ourselves rationalizing that they are not so bad, et cetera, then we have a problem. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that to even look upon a woman with lust makes us guilty of adultery. 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28 ESV) 

This puts it in proper perspective for us my brethren. We cannot walk the narrow path in repentance while looking at a woman, to whom we are not married, with lustful intent. This is sin! Therefore, if we are to be pure and holy then this sort of thing must be mortified along with all those other sins that so easily ensnare us, that clings so close. Examine yourselves my brethren. Are you still going to try to defend your exposure to titillating pictures or videos or magazines while proclaiming to the world that you are Christian? This is hypocrisy! 

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:21-22 ESV) 

I know very well that this topic is taboo in much of the post-modern, visible Church. Why? They are desperate to not “offend” sinners by teaching the truth from God’s Word that Christians are saved FROM their sins and that includes deliverance from those habitual sins that so easily ensnare or clings closely. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV) 

Whatever sin with which you are struggling, the victory over it is available to all who run with endurance the race that is set before them. How? They do so with eyes looking firmly upon Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The way to kill or mortify sin begins with the believer drawing close to God and committing oneself to an obedient walk with the Lord. Time spent in prayer, Bible study, and devotion is time taken away from the flesh. If we devote our days to this pursuit of our Lord then we will find Him. He is not running from us, but is right there with us as we run this race, dealing with our circumstances, which is the race set before us. We are able to do this only as long as we abide in Christ (John 15) as spirit-filled (Ephesians 5), living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). This time spent in the Word and listening to godly preaching and teaching is how God renews our minds. This spiritual growth transforms us into mature Christians who can deny self, take up our crosses, and follow the Lord daily. 

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26 ESV) 

My brethren, we cannot grow into the mature Christians God desires for us to be unless we learn how to mortify the sin that our flesh loves. That includes pornography in all its forms. I do not know what plans God has for Miss Prejean, but I do believe that He is using this to expose those who profess to be Christians, but who also indulge their flesh with what is forbidden by our Lord. Examine yourselves my brethren and I pray that all reading this will do so honestly and prayerfully then repent of what God shows them. 

Soli Deo Gloria!

28 thoughts on “Abstain from Sexual Immorality

  1. God bless you, Mike!!!!!!

    This is the battle that I have encountered the past two weeks. I dared to come out and suggest that we, as Christians, need to realize that others are watching us. I agreed with the statement made by Miss Prejean, but I couldn’t accept her pageant attire. The whole thing wore heavily on my heart, and I found that I was suddenly on the front line and in a minority…thus, we were slandered and called all manner of names. I was amazed that Christians were so myopic! I even went so far as to email a man whose column I have always respected. I received a backlash in his next column, as one of his readers who emailed him in opposition. I agonized, implementing what I had learned from you about ODM’s and checking our hearts, etc. I finally wrote to this man this week and today, he printed a note of apology to the public, his readers, and especially to those of us who had the courage to email him. I praise God for His faithfulness! And I thanked this gentlemen for the humility that it took for him rethink his position and even ask our forgiveness.

    I had been wondering if you were going to address this a couple of weeks ago. I know it was because of family issues that you weren’t able to, but I also think that was God’s way of allowing things to play out a bit before you took to your laptop.

    Again, many, many thanks!I am always lifted up here!
    Heather

    Everything you just wrote is so important for Christians to hear and understand. The lines are blurred today. The culture has desensitized the Church. Compromise is flourishing. Sin is rampant in the Church and we look so much like the world.

  2. Thank you Heather. I know of whom you speak. I was indeed pleased when he issued his apology today. Spiritual myopia is a symptom of something much more dreadful, hard-heartedness leading to functional unbelief. Those with this dread disease can be quite religious and self-righteous, but it is all just empty religiosity. These are the ones who turn on other Christians for just speaking the truth.

    We must repent and preach repentance to all who will hear. We must be separate from the world. I know that this will cause persecution, but better that than to have my Lord ashamed of me.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  3. Hello Mr. Ratliff!

    First of all, could you please tell me that are ODMs?

    At first, I thought she was very brave. I still do.

    But then I stood back because she started saying she is a Christian, and then I thought, “Oh boy, here we go.”

    I feel extremely bad for her. She must feel awful.

    But I noted this, and please correct me if I’m wrong. In her response to the photographs, she just excuses herself as not being perfect. She states that she’s a christian and a model and models pose for pictures in swimwear and lingerie.

    She didn’t say she regrets those photos being taken.

    Sometimes, I just feel that christians are so starved for heros that they’ll take anything they can get.

    Carrie Prejean is a victim of the christian communities insincerity, it’s hipocresy, and it’s lose for the love of the Truth that is the Word of God.

    That poor woman never stood a chance.

  4. Las5solas, ODMs is a derogatory term made up by those who hate what we do. It stands for [O]line [D]iscernment [M]inistry. I agree with you on what you said about this young lady. We should pray for her not tear her to pieces. Either she is not really a Christian or she is very immature and has not been properly discipled, therefore she makes those excuses. She should have confessed this as sin and asked God for forgiveness as she walked in repentance. Let us pray that she does this.

  5. Thank you Mr. Ratliff for taking the time to respond!

    I had no idea ODM meant Online Discernment Ministry. This clears up the article for me a great deal.

    On another note, it is always a joy, and especially, of great comfort, to read your posts. I pray that the Lord continue to pour His blessings through this wonderful ministry.

    In Christ,
    Perla

  6. Since Ms. Prejean is from the town I live and grew up in, I am certainly most qualified to comment on this! Now, if you buy that last statement I made, you probably are culturally wise, rather than actually wise. Never the less this is briefly my thoughts. Ms. Prejean is the beauty from a local mega church, and what is adored by the harlots who claim to be Christians (evangelical) in my community. I am the father of five beautiful daughters, I would NEVER allow my daughters to join a beauty pagent, this is wickedness for a number of reasons, most importantly, it glorifies and brings justification to the minds of many evangelicals, to soft porn, partial nudity, goddess worship, woman power, secretly luring the hearts of those who are unfaithful to the Lord, this is an abomination to God! Ms. Prejean is the quintessential symbol of the evangelical harlot church, which by the way, is very Republican. Ms. Sara Palin was also such a symbol, who was also a former beauty pagent winner. If you were seduced by the Sara Palin bandwagon, what about Sara Palin were you drawn to? I admit I voted for her because I would rather a harlot ruling over me, than the vile man who won. Sara Palin was not as bright as many wanted to believe, she made a few good speeches and then repeated the same words from then on at adnauseam. Many proclaiming Christian, right wingers, Rush Limbaugh, Shane Hannity, Micheal Savage, Bill Oriely, are perfectly ok and themselves are seduced by the Prejeans and Palins, so called “strong women” of our society. Can’t you see that God has raised up a vile army on the left to judge these people, they are harlots and their lip service to God will soon come to an end.
    Robert Begnaud

  7. God bless you Mike! You have graciously and biblically stated truth!
    I was so disheartened by this because of the professing Christians who exalted this young woman as the ‘voice’ of Christianity. There is a desperate need to pray for all who feel this woman is a role model for Godly women.
    This young woman desperately needs our prayers as well, what an absolute mess she is in. It grows worse with each passing day.
    The hypocrisy that has been birthed from this ordeal is mounting as well. Our Lord must be angered by the whole event.
    For those with discernment, this passage should have been the first thing that popped into their minds, ” In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array” 1 Timothy 2:9
    Thank you again, and God bless

  8. Mike , Thank you for a balanced and might I add gracious article about this whole Prejean mess. The whole thing has gotten to the ridiculous point. Too much time and too many article have focused on this whole situation. Sometimes how we say something or write an article about someone matters. We can state truth without ripping and tearing someone apart. Only now, after days of blog articles has someone thought to ask for prayer for Carrie Prejean. She may be as deceived as a lot of the professing church. And Mr. Begnaud I am surprised you would compromise and cast your vote for a harlot. Maybe instead of voting for the lesser of two evils you shouldn’t vote at all. And I believe it is patently ridiculous to say all your list of right wingers are ok and being deceived by these harlot women. Who are these men and what makes them OK. Maybe you are being deceived by your nationalism.

  9. Hi Mike!
    I discovered your blog today through a friend and found myself reading post after post…so about an hour later (smile) I also found myslef desiring to resist those things that so easily distract me and read my bible more instead….ahhh the power of God’s word at work! Thank you for the reminders and loving rebukes.I desire to be like the wise man who embraces rebuke and not like the fool who despises it.Regarding this article…I too feel the same way and have found that you explained it very appropriately and biblically. Keep preaching the Word of our Lord brother, stay faithful no matter what..we NEED people like you out there preaching the truth….despite what the polls and the media may say, there are many out here who are desperate for the truths of God’s word and who are fed up with the nonsense….please be encouraged even on days when the naysayers may sometimes seem to outnumber the believers/encouragers….always remember God’s faithfulness and keep serving him!!
    Your sister in Christ
    Angela

  10. Thank you for the encouragement Angela. You are right about the power of God’s Word. I feel so sorry for those professing Christians who neglect it and are mostly ignorant of what it says. Be blessed my sister!

  11. Dear Mike,

    Thank you so much for articulating clearly your convictions and in so doing giving honor and glory to our Lord Jesus Christ. You have been an encouragement! May the Lord find us all faithful in the defence of the faith and obedience to His Word!

    Jawn

  12. Mike,

    I’m glad to see you weigh in on this issue, brother. I respect your consistently Biblical teaching and your commitment to telling the truth in love. You words here were seasoned with grace and well reasoned from scripture.

    Mike I’ve been absolutely stunned by some in the Christian blogosphere who are falling all over themselves lately crying, “grace, peace, charity, humility!!!” in defense of Ms. Prejean’s unfortunate and indefensible self-made quandary supposedly because she has made verbal professions for Christ, even as they simultaneously excoriate, pillory, denigrate and impute scurrilous, sinful self-righteous motivations to other professing believers who are abstaining from their impromptu Miss America Love Feast, and who dare to discuss the glaring incongruence of her lifestyle in the light of infallible scripture.

    What love is this?

    How is that some otherwise solid, godly believers seem to have succumbed to the siren song of a false, external, temporal “unity of spirit in the bond of peace”, even if the foundation thereof is built on the shifting sands of worldliness and disobedience to Christ’s commands?

    How is that some otherwise solid, godly believers can so easily castigate and criticize fellow believers, accusing them of being “self-righteous” and “unloving” for examining the walk as well as the talk (testing the spirits), and holding fast to the admonition that we shall know those of the true household of faith by their fruits, (the conversation of their lives) as they simultaneously use their own personal interpretations of grace, charity, peace and humility as a spiritual stick with which they bludgeon those who dare to disagree with them?

    Frankly it’s appalling, yet it’s also very telling and I believe you absolutely hit the nail on the head with these two astute observations: “Could God be using this to reveal the filthy under layer of what calls itself Evangelical Christianity? Have the standards for morality been downgraded so far in it that it is perfectly acceptable for a spokesperson for the Gospel and Christianity to be involved in pornography and other forms of immorality?”

    And again:

    “I do not know what plans God has for Miss Prejean, but I do believe that He is using this to expose those who profess to be Christians, but who also indulge their flesh with what is forbidden by our Lord. Examine yourselves my brethren and I pray that all reading this will do so honestly and prayerfully then repent of what God shows them.”

    This is it, Mike. This is what I’ve been trying to put my own finger on and to put in my own words, but I’ve been unable to do so up to now.

    Please understand that it isn’t my intent to be harsh, or unloving, or to “pile on” to what must be an excruciating and fiery trial for Carrie Prejean, but this young woman is an object lesson in a context much broader than just a vanity pageant, or bickering between the political left and the right, or petty disagreements involving the parsing of scripture within the Christian blogosphere.

    I think your keen insights here have put it into perspective for me, Mike; to wit this entire sorry episode which has variously been called the “Miss America Controversy” or the “Miss America Flap” is strikingly similar in many ways to an Old Testament type. What is Miss America supposed stand for?

    In theory Miss America is to represent and project all that is wholesome and good about American femininity encompassing such virtues poise, beauty, intellect and talent. As such she acts as a role model for other young people to aspire to emulate, especially young women.

    In the case of Carrie Prejean, being a professing believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, she “carries” the much more serious responsibility and great privilege to represent the Risen King of Glory, God the Son, the Second Person of the Triune One True and Living God as an ambassador of His Kingdom above all else.

    Ms. Prejean’s relationship to the world became hostile enmity the day she counted the cost to daily take up her cross to follow after Him. If he is a professing believer then it’s woefully clear that her father completely abdicated his spiritual responsibility to raise her in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and the same holds true for her mother.

    It’s also painfully clear that her pastor, the elders, deacons, and mature women of her local church have also jettisoned their spiritual responsibility to teach poor Carrie that friendship with the world is enmity with God and that a believer cannot serve two masters for he (or she) will hate the one and hold to the other.

    I’ve not viewed the oft reported “pics” of Ms. Prejean, nor do I have any desire to do so because the descriptions alone are enough to turn the mind of a corrupted mass of sin like myself towards uncleanness. Yet it’s amazing to me to hear reports of professing believers who have viewed these photos and pronounce them as “not being porn”. I’m sorry Mike but one must wonder what these people are viewing to consider an image of a practically nude young woman who is not his wife from any angle as being unobjectionable in the light of scripture.

    The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life fills the broader professing church, and professing believers are too quick to wink at it and poo-poo it away by comparing themselves with themselves and saying “it’s not so bad.” Sin is no light thing, it’s absolutely evil and believers ought to treat it like the deadly poison that it truly is, fleeing from it and towards the cross the moment we become aware of its malignant presence.

    But too often this simply isn’t the case among professing believers.

    “Everyone does it” they say.

    “My sins were forgiven at the cross” they say.

    “Are you telling me YOU’VE never sinned? YOU go ahead and cast the first rock you self-righteous Pharisee!” they say.

    “Who made you a judge over us?” they ask.

    This is madness and is shocking presumption upon God’s grace and tender mercy Mike, but worse than this is shameful and it dishonors the Name above all Names. It stains the purity and compromises the separateness and holiness of His church, His bride for whom He shed His perfect and sinless blood.

    I’m not bashing Carrie Prejean, Mike. It’s more than obvious that she’s a badly misguided and poorly taught young girl who has become, in a very sudden, public, and sad way, a type – a poster child if you will – of the bitter fruit of the last days harlot apostate church.

    She draws close to the Lord with her lips, but her actions belie a love for the world.

    She looks good on the outside, but by her actions she demonstrates that she is unclean on the inside.

    She says things that sound good and right, but by her actions she proves the motivation of her heart is self-aggrandizement, self-gain, and the admiration of the world in pursuit of an earthly crown.

    I think there are many who realize this in their heart of hearts, and they are pricked by the Spirit’s conviction of this truth, but rather than confess and repent they blindly lash out at those who shine the light of scripture on the evil spirit of this age, because they love the darkness and their pet sins, therefore they flee from the Father of Lights, lest they be reproved.

    But God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and He will harden who He will harden for He is the potter and we are but clay.

    May He have mercy on those who are called by His Holy Name and show us the more perfect way by the illumination of His Holy Spirit and out of His boundless oceans of real and genuine pity, grace, and love and deliver us from those who desire to redefine and corrupt the Biblical meaning of these words to salve their own seared consciences, and tickle the itching ears of their spiritually blinded followers.

    This may sound shocking but the days are coming when men will murder people who stand unwaveringly upon the Rock of Jesus Christ, and they’ll believe in doing so they are doing a kindness and rendering a service unto the Lord.

    Maranatha Lord Jesus!

    In Christ,
    CD

  13. Amen CD! Well said brother. I pray that God will take these words and start a fire in the Body of Christ of repentance in sack-cloth and ashes. Pour out your spirit on your people O Lord, convict your people of their sins and cause us to repent and turn back to You according to your mercy and grace. Soli Deo Gloria!

  14. Pingback: Unclean! Unclean!! « Defending. Contending.

  15. Thank you sir, for your seasoned, balanced, thoughtful, biblical approach to this whole situation. Response such as yours have been quite rare in the past few weeks.

  16. Such wonderful, sound and godly words on this subject were found right here! I can tell you that after visiting a few sites on this issue, your article Mike, was a breath of fresh air.

    One of the things that I pray, is that Miss Prejean doesn’t miss the message of what a lot of loving Christians are trying to pass on to her. I fear that in the church she attends, there isn’t much talk of sin and repentence, and much advice like this will be ignored. Like so many seeker-sensitive churches, the external seems to be more important than the internal. One way we can pray for Miss Prejean: that the Holy Spirit will find another avenue with which to give her this precious message and be able to restore her to a right relationship with Him. This could truly be a life-changing event for her, if it’s handled in the right way in a discipling relationship with another, more mature believer. There are a lot of valuable lessons to be learned from this one event.

    Thanks Mike for always giving us the Truth, even the inconvenient one. It is a real blessing!

  17. Debbie, thank you for your willingness to rebuke me. I did not mean to say that these men were ok, that was a typo. they are part of the harlot religious system, I am rebuking them. Voting for a sinner or a harlot is not wrong, even a harlot is right sometimes. Vile man in office is far worse than a harlot. A harlot is someone who is unfaithful, they have Idols, a vile man is consistently committed to his wickedness and many times holds true to his wicked ways. If you can show me in scripture where voting for a non-christian is a sin, I will certainly vote no more, since God has chosen the basest of men to rule over the affairs of men. My comments about Ms. Prejean and Ms Palin will probably never be heard by them, yet your speed at rebuking me, in defense of them, is instructing to me.
    Robert Begnaud

  18. Mike,

    Not to detract anything from your article and all of the supportive comments above with which I whole heartedly agree, I want to simply address a question for discussion on the last line of your post:

    “My brethren, we cannot grow into the mature Christians God desires for us to be unless we learn how to mortify the sin that our flesh loves. “

    AMEN and AMEN! Mike, I’m there. I’ve been there for about the last six years! FINALLY, by the grace of God, I’m starting to peel back the layers of those drives and lusts that lead me away from Christ and quench the Spirit.

    But its been a struggle and very often, believers ask “what does it mean to “mortify the flesh”? In these past six years, I have discovered several things that I’d like to share with you and some of your readers, especially the younger ones.

    1) First, you aren’t alone. I’m 53 and I still struggle. :-) Its not over till we die.

    2) Understand the reality of why you struggle. Even the Apostle Paul struggled to mortify his flesh. Read Romans chapter 7. When you wallow in despair, continue to Chapter 8 for to discover the source of VICTORY.

    3) It matters HOW you “mortify”… the letter kills, the Spirit gives life. Your “willpower” may temporarily curb your outward behavior, but that will only strengthen the desire to sin. The problem lies in our hearts and minds, which fuel our desires.

    4) We are powerless to change on our own. The only one who can change that is GOD. Seek His face in prayer!. Before you commit a sin, while you are thinking about it, entertaining it, rationalizing it, justifying it. The tiny compromise you make in your mind is the disaster that will later manifest in your life.

    5) After a sin, and there will be sins, lay hold of the fact that you are no less saved and forgiven than you were before. Preach the gospel to yourself!! Just never forget that you HAVE sinned, broken God’s law, and don’t redefine God’s word to make yourself “feel better”. Be ruthless in your grip on truth. This isn’t being “legalistic”, its using the Sword of the Spirit on yourself. :-)

    You need God to work in you to strengthen you for the next challenge against your walk of holiness, but how will He do that if you’ve set your face against His truth? That’s two problems, not one. :-)

    So, PRAY FERVENTLY for God to pour out His grace upon you to break the weight of the sin. He will provide a way, trust me, HE DOES.

    6) Sin’s desires may never totally leave you, but by God’s grace through the Spirit, it IS His will to sanctify us. – 1 Thessalonians 4:3 That’s why were are predestined! “to be conformed to the image of His Son!” Romans 8:29

    Seek it. Ask for it. “His yoke is easy and His burden is light”. Pray that He will work IN you both to WILL and to DO His good pleasure”. Phillipians 2:13

    Christian holiness cannot be lived out apart from grace, prayer and the security of knowing that not only are your sins FORGIVEN, but that God works in our souls to lighten the load.

    Finally, as one who has been walking down this road together with you, rest assured that every time you turn to the Lord in prayer for grace to oppose your desire to sin, the mortification gets easier and less painful.

    Eventually, you rest in it, you desire it and you WILL become thankful when you see how God’s work in you will redeem your time, your energy, your choices and give you a contentment you never thought was possible.

    Our Lord is GOOD!! Count on it.

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