WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT SEX AND LUST?

In this paper I will attempt to use Bible verses to answer frequently asked questions on different topics that have to do with issues of sex in the life of a Christian. These are the different questions I will cover:

(1) What does the Bible say about pre-marital sex (fornication)?

(2) What does the Bible say about masturbation?

(3) When does God give sexual relations His blessing?

(4) Why is it important that I follow God's commands regarding not participating in sex outside of marriage?

(5) What if I have already engaged in sex outside of marriage?

We are living in times where the world is trying to change the standards and moral commandments that were set down by God thousands of years ago. But God is holy and just and does not change, and neither will His standards for us change or be shaped by the so-called progressiveness of this sinful world. So the question becomes who will you be obedient to? Whose standards will you follow -- God's or this world's?

The Bible warns us not to believe it when the world tells us that "sex outside of marriage is okay as long as you are practicing safe sex," or that "same-sex unions are normal and they should have the same status as male/female marriages." God's Word warns us not to fall for these man-made standards of living.

In Ephesians 5:6, it says, "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."

And that verse goes on to say: "For ye were sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Ephesians 5:8-11).

If you truly have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you should not still be ruled by your flesh! Your motto should not be "if it feels good, do it." Instead, you should be doing all you can to avoid those people and things that will cause you to stumble and give in to sexual temptations.

So let's now take each question one at a time and try to expose the lies of this world's system with God's truth!

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(1) PRE-MARITAL SEX (FORNICATION)

What does the Bible say about pre-marital sex? Frequently in our teen Bible study class, we are asked if it is a sin to engage in sexual relations outside of marriage. This is an area that many of us struggle with quite a bit in our Christian walk. Well, God is quite clear on how He wants us to live.

First of all, there are different terms in the Bible that describe pre-marital sex. One way is the term "fornication." If you looked in a dictionary for the definition of the word fornication, you would read, "Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to each other." And another way that pre-marital sex is described in the Bible is with the words "adultery" or "lewdness." And the people who participate in pre-marital sex are referred to as "whoremongers" and "whores."

The world may have nice, fun terms for pre-marital sex, terms such as "doin' it," "foolin' around," "having an affair," "a fling," "one-night stand." But it is quite obvious that God sees such activity in quite a different light!

Let's look at several verses that show us how God feels about us participating in pre-marital sex.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 warns us, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God."

And 1 Corinthians 6:13b, 18 tells us, "Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without (outside) the body; but he that commiteth fornication sinneth against his own body."

The Bible is telling us that pre-marital sex is a sin and that it is something that unrighteous people engage in. As Christians we are to use our body in ways that glorify God.

We are warned to learn from the examples of the Israelites, who God judged because of their sinful ways. 1 Corinthians 10:6-8 reads, "Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand."

And Galatians 5:19-21 reads, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness ... of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

Again, we see that pre-marital sex is not something that God wants us involved with. God wants us to stay away from such behavior:

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel (body) in sanctification and honor, not in lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which do not know God."

Ephesians 5:1-3, 5, "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 once be named among you, as becometh saints...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 God."

Revelation 21:7-8, "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

All of these verses clearly show us that God is 100 percent against pre-marital sex and that He commands us to not take part in pre-marital sex. It doesn't matter what all of your friends are doing or what you see in movies or videos or even what unmarried people who live in your own house are doing. God's Word has not changed. God is today and has always been against His children participating in pre-marital sex! God wants us to have sexual relations with our husband or wife only. 1 Corinthians 7:2 reads "To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."

God's commands are not always easy to follow. Being an obedient child of God in this area requires you to see this sin the way God sees it. You cannot think of sex as just something exciting and fun to do. You must learn to treasure and respect your body as something that is beautiful and special, a work of art that is only to be shared with one person under God's conditions.

You must go to God in prayer and ask for the strength you need to not give in to the temptations of the flesh. You will need to make it a point to not put yourself in situations where you are likely to stumble. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to resist the temptation to take part in pre-marital sex.

2 Peter 2:9 tells us, "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished."

So if you truly are a born-again follower of Christ, do as we read in Colossians 3:1-3,5: "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Mortify (restrain) your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry."

God wants us to live for Him in the way that He told us we should. He wants us to turn our backs on the ways of this world.

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(2) WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT MASTURBATION?

"Is masturbation a sin?" is a question that we are often asked by our teen groups. Many Christians have found it difficult to answer this question according to the Bible because the Bible never mentions the word "masturbation" specifically. To understand how God feels about this topic, we only need to examine other verses that deal with issues such as lust, self-control, and purity.

Many times we have the attitude of "If God gave me this body, shouldn't I be able to enjoy it?" First of all, we have to remember that sex is God's invention. He is the mastermind behind it. This beautiful expression of love was created out of God's own heart as a gift to be experienced between a husband and wife. As we've already said, it is only in marriage that this expression of intimacy can be fully enjoyed to the degree and depth for which it was created.

Hebrews 13:4 reads "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge."

The more beautiful and unique something is (like sexual intercourse), the more power it holds over our lives, either as a good or bad influence. That is why it is so easy for the devil to corrupt the most precious of God's gifts. God created sex so that we could become one with our husband or wife. Masturbation is a selfish act where we take advantage of and abuse God's gift.

God cares about what we do with our bodies, in public or in private, and He doesn't want us to abuse ourselves in any way.

Did you know that in older dictionaries the definition of the word masturbation is "self-abuse"? And if you were to look in a current dictionary under the word self-abuse, the word "masturbation" would be the second definition given. To this day, the two words are linked together, masturbation/self-abuse.

You might be thinking, "How am I abusing myself by doing this?" We are abusing ourselves by masturbating because we are improperly handling something that God entrusted to our care. We are taking something that God gave us (our bodies and minds) and using them in a perverse manner. When masturbating, you are defiling your mind with obscene thoughts and then defiling your body by using it to act out those thoughts. To "defile" something means "to make unclean, to make impure." Matthew 15:19-20a reads, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications ...these are the things which defile a man."

And I believe that we all already know in our hearts that masturbating is wrong. When you engage in this activity, you soon after feel a sense of guilt and shame. This activity does not lift you up spiritually. It brings you down. God did not create our sexual organs so that we could fantasize and have sex by ourselves. God created sexual pleasure as something to be shared and experienced between two people -- a husband and a wife.

Now, you might be thinking, "Well, isn't it still better to masturbate than to commit fornication?" Maybe in your mind you feel that it is better to masturbate because at least you are the only one involved. Maybe you believe that it is the "lesser" of two evils.

Well, I don't believe that our loving, holy, all-powerful God wants us to be in situations where we have to choose any evil, whether it be "lesser" or "greater." God doesn't want you to be involved with sin at all!

And now let's look at some reasons why masturbating is no better than fornicating. First of all, masturbation will not truly relieve the sexual pressure that you may feel. It may for a short moment, but in the long run it only creates a deeper desire and capacity for sex, which will lead to more masturbation and, ultimately, the desire for sexual intercourse.

James 1:14-15 tells us, "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." This verse is telling us that all sin begins with a thought, but that when we give in to the thought and act out the sin, we will sink deeper and deeper into sin. Sin always takes you farther than you wanted to go and keeps you longer than you wanted to stay.

And with masturbation, there is a vicious circle. You are only temporarily satisfied. And the more you indulge in this activity, the more addicted you become to it. Then if you let yourself become enslaved to a sexual high, you will find that you need to go to increasingly extreme acts to maintain the same degree of excitement. In John 8:34, Jesus warns us, "Verily, verily I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin."

So, again, masturbation is a dangerous activity to engage in for this reason: All sexual immorality, including masturbation, begins with a thought. Then a lustful thought not taken captive will eventually lead to other perversions, because sin reproduces itself if left unchecked. When we fantasize and masturbate, we open our hearts and minds up to strange and perverse thoughts and possibilities. We are giving the devil an open invitation to take residence in our beings. If we do not deal with our evil thoughts, they will take root in our heart. It is for this reason that God is so concerned with our thought life. Jesus came not only to deliver us from our "outward" sins, but also from wickedness that begins in the heart.

So we are to control our actions with others and also our actions when alone. We are not to let sin take root in our hearts. Romans 6:12-14 tells us, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace."

Your "members" in this verse is referring to the different parts of your body: your hands, feet, fingers, etc. Are you using your body in a way that you think would make God proud?

Now, you may be thinking "It is unfair for God to demand sexual purity from us after giving us sexual drives that seem to overwhelm us." To that I say that God never demands from us something that would be impossible for us to do. True, you may feel weak within yourself, but He will equip you with His holy power to overcome any sin if only you ask in faith.

Some of you are probably saying, "Well, I agree with all of this in my head, but living it out on a day-to-day basis is another story." Perhaps you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the temptations that you face. But never underestimate the power that you have over sin. On your own you might not be that strong, but with God's power, you can overcome.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 reads, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."

These verses are telling us that we are not helpless. We can fight and be victorious against our sexual thoughts and desires. If you want to stop masturbating and you realize that this is what your Heavenly Father desires of you, you can. Confess this sin to God and ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you so that you can have control over your lustful thoughts and actions. And if you have a Christian friend whom you trust, ask that person to pray for you in this area, also.

And if you slip occasionally or even a lot, don't give up. Self-control takes effort. If you truly want to stop masturbating, one thing that you should consider doing is to flee from and reject those things that will cause you to stumble, whether it be sexually-themed movies, music, books, videos, anything that fills your mind with images and words that will make you weak and vulnerable.

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(3) WHEN DOES GOD GIVE SEXUAL RELATIONS HIS BLESSING?

God is the one who created sex. It was His gift to us. And God gave us the ability to enjoy sex not only so that we could reproduce, but it is also a way for husbands and wives to bond and experience intimacy. God wants us to experience fulfilling, joyful sexual relations with the people we are married to.

Proverbs 5:15, 18-19 reads "Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well...Let thy fountain be blessed and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love."

If God didn't want us to enjoy sexual relations, He would not have made sex pleasurable. God obviously wants us to enjoy sex. And his Word makes it equally obvious that He only gives sexual relations His blessing when it occurs between a husband and a wife. And, again, the reason for this is because God wants what is best for us.

What a lot of people don't realize is that sex is not just something that is to be done casually for temporary pleasure. When you are intimate with someone in a sexual way, you are actually becoming one with that person on a deep spiritual level that goes far beyond just temporary thrills.

Genesis 2:24-25 shows us this when referring to the first husband and wife, Adam and Eve. It reads, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."

When you are intimate with your husband or wife, there is no shame. When you fornicate or masturbate, there is shame, regret, and loss of self-respect.

When we engage in sex, we "become one" with that other person. Who in their right mind would willingly want to become one with a prostitute or someone who has had multiple sex partners? Maybe nowadays "sleeping around" is no big deal. But in the Bible people who took part in such behavior were referred to as harlots or whores or whoremasters (These terms refer to men and women). And the definition of a harlot or a whoremaster is "one who practices habitual, customary, unlawful indulgence of lust, fornication, or adultery."

1 Corinthians 6:15-16 reads, "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid. What! Know ye not that he which is joined to a harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh."

So, again, every time you casually have sexual relations with someone who you are not married to, a little bit of your soul dies in a way. You have given to a stranger something that is valuable and precious. You have allowed this person to steal your wealth, to take away your honor.

And when we are disobedient to God in this area, we even run the risk of harming our relationship with our Heavenly Father. God still loves us and will forgive us, but we might feel too ashamed to go to God in prayer.

When we engage in sexual relations with people we are not married to, we bring hell and pain into our lives in many different forms: Sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies that lead to abortions, sexual dysfunctions, shame. You may even rob yourself of the ability to have a fulfilling sexual relationship in the future when you do get married. Proverb 6:27 asks the question: "Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned?"

God knows what is best for us. He has given us standards to follow because He wants to save us from ourselves and from the pain we can bring to our lives.

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(4) WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT I FOLLOW GOD'S COMMANDS REGARDING NOT PARTICIPATING IN SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE?

The one thing that God desires most from us is our obedience. God wants us to glorify Him by the way we use our bodies. If you have truly been washed in Christ's blood, then you should no longer be living for yourself, but instead you should be living to glorify God.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reads, "What! Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

And Romans 13:12b-14, "Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying: but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."

These commands are important and we should live according to them because God commanded us to, and because we show our love to Christ by being obedient. In John 14:15 Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." And 1 John 2:3-5 reads, "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. "

If you say that you are a follower of Christ, yet you are out in the world fornicating and carrying on like all of the lost people of the world, than just maybe you are fooling yourself and you are not really a child of God's!

Our actions don't save us, but if we are saved, it should show itself in our actions.

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(5) WHAT IF I HAVE ALREADY ENGAGED IN SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE?

It is not too late to stop what you are doing and to recommit your life and body to God. The Bible tells us that no matter how bad we think we are or how much we have already sinned, God is able to forgive us and make us whole again if we only confess our sins to him and repent or turn from them. Here are just a few verses that show you God's willingness to forgive: 1 John 1:9 reads, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Isaiah 55:7, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

Proverbs 28:13, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."

All of these verses show that it is still not too late for you to make a fresh start with God. Won't you stop chasing your own lusts and start letting God lead you? The cheap thrills that you are gaining by living like the rest of this sinful world cannot compare to the beautiful, rich relationship that you can have if you obey God's Word and follow His standards for living.

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(I cannot take full credit for putting together this paper. Parts of it were taken from another site. Unfortunately, I do not remember the site address to give them proper credit.)

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