I am a Pentecostal Christian and we live by grace, not under the law. Since Jesus died on the cross we have a new covenant. So my question is: I'm in a committed relationship with my girlfriend. Sex is obviously one of the keys to a relationship. I know the message of Paul about being under grace and sinning, but if it did happen that people under the grace of God and being sexually active without being sin-conscious and live a good life pleasing the Lord in our everyday actions, will we still be able to make it into heaven?
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
The simple fact is that there is no excuse for sin; yet, many people lie to themselves and think that God will somehow tolerate their particular sin. Notice that Paul warned Christians not to be deceived and twice said that people involved in sin, such as the fornication you are involved in, will not inherit the kingdom of God.
You appear to be trying to make an excuse similar to people who tell a police officer: "I didn't know the speed limit was only 30 mph!" The fact is, whether you knew it or not, the speed limit is still there and you are expected to obey it. You claim to not be "sin-conscious" when you are committing fornication; yet, the very nature of your question indicates that you are fully conscious of the fact that you are sinning -- you just don't want to admit it.
"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21).
By saying that works of the flesh, such as fornication, are evident, Paul is stating that these sins are clearly and obviously wrong. Can you commit murder without being "sin-conscious?" No! And neither can you have sex with someone you aren't married to and not know you are sinning.
"This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth" (I John 1:5-6).
The idea that God would accept sin is foolish. Sin is against the very nature of God. Thus, to claim that you can live a good life, pleasing to the Lord while you knowingly break his laws is contradictory. "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46).
God's grace is not an excuse to sin. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). It was God's grace that gave us a way out of sin. To sin and say that God's grace will cover it is to disrespect His great gift. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. ... For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:12,14). It is because of grace that you should not sin.
The Old Law condemned sin but left mankind under the penalty of their sins. "For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. ... But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death." (Romans 7:5,8-10). Thankfully we are not under that law, but it is wrong to assume that we are not under any law. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:1-4). Walking according to the Spirit doesn't mean doing whatever your spirit feels like doing. The Holy Spirit is who delivered the Scriptures to man. Living by the teachings of God found in the Bible is walking by the Spirit. "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:24-25). Thus, Paul stated, just two verses later: "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).
We are under a law, not the law of Moses that condemned, but under the grace of the law of Christ that justifies. In speaking of how he dealt with the Gentiles, Paul said, "to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law" (I Corinthians 9:21). Paul dealt with the Gentiles, not as a Jew under the law of Moses, but that did not mean he was without any law. He always was under the law of Christ.
Therefore, we have proved that you are under Christ's law and Christ's law clearly states that having sex when you are not married is a sin that keeps you out of the kingdom. Thus, your contention that sex is a part of a relationship is also false. Since the world began people have known that sex belongs only in a marriage relationship. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). You call it a "committed" relationship, but there is no commitment. You have made no marriage vows to each other. If one of you decided to walk away, there would be nothing the other person could do because there is no real commitment.
What should you do? Stop living a lie! Get married, even it is just a quick wedding at the county courthouse. "But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (I Corinthians 7:8-9). If you won't commit to a marriage, then you two have no business living together and having sex.
Thank you very much, Jeffrey. You really cleared up things for me. I have been saved since I turned 18. I thought it was a good time because being 18 is the start of manhood. I have committed fornication once, but my conscious told me I was wrong so from then on I only began doing foreplay, but something told me even that was wrong, so I went on-line and searched. I saw on your site that foreplay is still a part of sex and since the New Year started I tried to turn away from sexual sin.
I was introduced to pornography at the age of 12. My friend told me to go on a site that I did not know and from that point I was addicted. But ever since a week before my baptism I quit pornography. It was hard, but I did it with God's help. About three months later I was tempted to view porn again. But just like Paul, the Holy Spirit convicted me and from then I haven't watched porn. I'm very proud of myself for overcoming my pornography desires.
I'm really trying to please God. I'm a good person over all. I treat people right, I obey most of the commandments, I look up to God for legitimacy in everything and I read the Bible every day and I try to live it.
The reason for this email in the first place is because I asked my friend if she thought foreplay before marriage was a sin against God. She responded by saying that "It's all about what we believe. We are under God's grace. He died for our sins. We don't go by the law anymore. We are saved under the grace of God. Our actions won't turn us away from Him because He loves us." But now I see where you are coming from about God's grace. It was just Satan using my friend to deceive me into going back to the ways that God is delivering me from step by step.
But isn't it wrong to be sin-conscious? I saw in a video that we should be Savior-conscious not sin conscious.
I'm trying to do good for the Lord and please Him, I really am, but sexual sin is a sin I'm trying my hardest to overcome. I'm having a little trouble, but I know I will make it through. Do you have any advice for me that can help me over come my sexual desires?
I frequently get asked how a person can get rid of their sexual desires, but it misses a point. God created your body with sexual desires for a purpose. It is a part of what drives you to find a woman, get married, and have children. The desire for sex, by itself is neither right nor wrong. It can be used righteously when a husband has sex with his wife, but it can all too easily be used wrongly in a pursuit of pleasure. Sin, of course, takes advantage of existing desires to put you in situations where it appears that to have what you desire you have to sin. That is called temptation. "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death" (James 1:14-15).
You can't stop your desires. To lack a desire is to say some part of your body is not working properly. Nor can you stop Satan from tempting you. We are on guard against Satan's schemes, but we have no control over him.
What happens in the world is that people use their desires and emotions to decide what to do. Neither of these are good guides. The desires of the body are amoral; they are instinctive responses that do not consider whether what is desired is right or wrong in a given situation.
Let me illustrate it this way: You are hungry and someone plops a juicy steak in front of you, but then tells you that he tripped on the way in and the steak landed in a manure pile. But that is all right, he washed it off. You are probably thinking "Eww! I'm not eating that! Think of all the germs!" and rightly so. But it won't stop you from salivating and your stomach from rumbling. Your body wants food. It is your mind that supplies reason to say, "Yes, but not that food."
Emotions are also bad guides. Your emotions change and they can be manipulated. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). God's word is constant, so you must use your head, not your heart, to decide what you ought to do.
When you are a Christian, you learn to put aside your personal desires because you serve a greater cause. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20). When decisions are made based on what Christ wants of me instead of what I want, I stay out of trouble.
Thank you. Really, I really do appreciate it.