“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.”
Revelation 21:8 NIVUK
“But as for the cowards and unbelieving and abominable [who are devoid of character and personal integrity and practice or tolerate immorality], and murderers, and sorcerers [with intoxicating drugs], and idolaters and occultists [who practice and teach false religions], and all the liars [who knowingly deceive and twist truth], their part will be in the lake that blazes with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Revelation 21:8 AMP
In the last blog we unpacked what God was saying about the cowardly and the unbelieving. And we now move onto to consider the “vile” and “the sexually immoral“. Other translations use words such as “corrupt”, “abominable” or “dirty-minded“. The Amplified version of Revelation 21:8 expands the meaning to include all those, “who are devoid of character and personal integrity and practice or tolerate immorality”.
Sexual immorality is often seen as a grey area, depending on, or influenced by, societal attitudes, liberal theologians, or just downright ignorance. Many have a “if it feels good just do it” attitude. Thankfully we have the God-view as recorded in the Bible. A good place to start is perhaps 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honour God with your body.” Earlier in 1 Corinthians 6, we read this, “Don’t you realise that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality”. Some try and rationalise their behaviour by saying that society has changed since the First Century, and the restrictions and attitudes that were the norm then don’t apply today. The old philosopher, Solomon, writing in Ecclesiastes, noted, “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10). The Biblical teaching about sex, morality and ethics is just as valid today as it was two thousand years ago.
Sadly today we have some of our churches and denominations embracing sexual attitudes and customs that are directly in contravention with Biblical teaching. “We have to move with the times”, they say, and in the process they consign themselves to obscurity and, ultimately, the fires of hell. And our political leaders are even introducing legislation that directly opposes the morals and practices that are deeply embedded in our Christian faith. God’s words to John in Revelation 21:8 make it very clear that those who choose to select the Scriptures they like and reject those that they don’t, thus trying to justify their sinful behaviour, will be heading for the second death.
God also mentioned to John about the fate awaiting “murderers“. I can hear many breathing a sigh of relief because they have never murdered anyone. But before they adopt the moral high ground, Jesus too said a few words about murder. We read them in Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” It’s not just the act but also the attitude, the thought, that constitutes murder.
We pilgrims must always honestly and soberly assess what we are thinking and doing. It is so easy to get sucked into societal thinking and end up diluting the purity of our faith. Whether it is sexual temptations or murderous thoughts, we must be remember the warning Peter included in his first epistle, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). We all have our weaknesses. We must bring all our thoughts and deeds under God’s spotlight and allow the Holy Spirit to help us “stand firm…” in our faith.
Dear Father God. Again we thank You for reminding us of the things we must avoid. We thank You for Your grace and patience. Please help us to “Stay alert” as Peter advised. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.