My mother. If there was an international championship of
one-downmanship she would be world class. She is the Jesse Owens of devastating
tales, the Winston Churchill of disastrous situations and the ’27 Yankees of
cataclysmic circumstances. If you are tired she is exhausted unto death. If you
have terrible sunburn she thinks that she once had flesh-eating bacteria. If
you had to walk one mile to school she had to walk five miles to school in the
snow on a peg leg. “But Mom, you have both of your legs.” “Well then it must
have been the crutch. I just remember it being terrible. The kids would laugh
at me constantly.” “You once broke your leg? I never heard that story,” I
replied. “If only it was just a broken leg. It was some kind-of horrible,
disfiguring disease; something affecting the bones. I can’t remember the
details anymore. I think that my mind erased all memory of it because it was so
painful.” “You had a bone disease?” “I told you that my mind erased the
details. It’s a miracle that I can even walk. I think that all of the bones in
my leg were eaten away.” I wanted to reply that it sounded more like lions, but
at this point I realized that it is better to quit while she is still only just
a bit behind. In another few minutes she will be so far behind that General
Custer will look like a winner.
My mother has this incredible ability to make her every effort seem
gargantuan while everything else that others do seem so pedestrian. “Your
father doesn’t do anything around the house. Just yesterday I made him breakfast.”
Here she slows down to a drag with an emphasis on each action verb, “I had to
get out the bagels, toast them, get out the knife and butter, spread the butter
on the bagels, rip off two paper towels, bring them to the table, and put them
down.” The pace quickens, “What did he do all day? –he fixed a pipe on the
toilet.” “Mom, it took you more time to describe making breakfast then it did
to actually make it. And to fix that pipe he had to cut off the old one, cut
the new one to fit, soldier it on and so on. Each step took like 30 minutes.
The whole task took half the day.” She would narrow her eyes, “Do you always
have to pick on everything that I say?”
“If we love each other and are engaged then why
can’t we have sex?”
“As long as we don’t actually have sex what’s
wrong with heavy petting?”
“As long as the lust stays in my mind and
doesn’t affect anyone else then I guess that it’s OK.”
“We aren’t having sex, she just stays over every
once in a while. What’s wrong with that?”
Why is purity such a problem?
It could be because sex or any of the events leading up to it are usually
pleasurable and, if both parties are consensual, then it does not seem like it
is doing any harm. It seems like such a simple, enjoyable thing. The media
makes it out to be so offhand and fun. How come so much is made about it by
In this sensual
world Christians can easily feel like an outsider. We are thought to be
puritanical, antiquated, and repressive. We can mention that we go to church or
read our Bibles every day or that we do not believe in getting drunk or using
foul language and most people will think that is nice. But mention that we do
not believe in sex outside of marriage and we are suddenly ridiculed or snapped
important. It is not simple. It is not offhand. And it can do harm—much harm.
We are going to examine purity as relating to three areas: the eyes, the
thoughts, and actions. “The body is the soul’s image; therefore keep it pure.”
can enter into us in many ways but probably the most common is by what we look
at. Our mind can replay images over and over again.
One of the most
significant scriptures dealing with impurity and our eyes is Job 31:1, “I have
made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?” It is
significant that Job uses such a powerful word as “covenant.” A covenant was an
agreement or a binding relationship between two parties. It usually could not
be broken except by the death of one of the parties.
There are two
possible roots from which the word “covenant” was derived, both of which are
interesting. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology says, “The original meaning
of this word was probably ‘fetter’ or ‘obligation,’ coming from a root bªr,
‘to bind.’” When we
stare at something or someone that conjures up a lustful response that image
will stay with us and bind to us. The word “fetter” is very appropriate. A
fetter is a chain that is used to restrain movement. It is used by someone
stronger that has captured someone weaker and is used to force the weaker one
to do the stronger one’s bidding. Usually the weaker one was a slave. Lust is a
demanding master. It will grab us and bind us and, without the saving grace of
God, it will yank our eyes to wherever it wants us to look. Quite fittingly
Proverbs 5:22b says, “And he will be held with the cords of his sin.” The
context of this verse is regarding sexual impurity. Every time that we look sin
will throw another cord around us and each time those cords will become tighter
and tighter. In this case we could paraphrase the first part of this verse as
“I have bound myself with my eyes to a provocative image and now I am
possible root is discussed in Wilson’s
Old Testament Word Studies, “There is great probability that this word is
derived from” a Hebrew word that means “to eat.”
When we eat something it goes inside and becomes a part of us. Likewise, an
arousing image that we are scrutinizing will bury itself deep inside of us. But
unlike a good meal that will eventually pass out of us no matter how many times
we think about it, an inflaming image will only entrench and solidify itself
the more that we think about it. We can paraphrase the verse using this root
word as, “I have consumed with my eyes a provocative image and now it has
entrenched itself within me.”
It either case,
the word “covenant” carries with it a lasting effect. The usual way to release
ourselves from that image is for one of us to die. The more acceptable would be
to kill the image through repentance and the cleansing power of the Holy
What is one of
the results of this sin? It is said well by Job, “How then could I gaze at a
virgin?” Once we develop the habit of looking with lustful eyes then nothing
will be pure again. The more that we look and lust, the more everything will
become twisted and perverted. If you have been down this road or are currently
on it then you know how awful this can be. Proverbs 27:20 reads, “Sheol and
Abaddon are never satisfied, nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.” This
verse can apply to many things: possessions, wealth, popularity, and so on. But
it is deadly true when it comes to lust also. Our eyes will never be able to
take in enough. We will never stop leering when we have reached some quota; we
will only stop looking when we have repented.
many have said, “The first glance is free; the second one will cost you
dearly.” If we are passing by a store with a sensual display we must turn our
head and pray. When a man or a woman is wearing seductive clothes we must
divert our eyes. It seems as though temptation is crouching at every turn. It
may be on TV, the movies, magazines, the Internet, in malls and even in our
churches. But the person who can learn to look away is one who will keep
himself or herself from becoming enslaved to the covenant of impurity.
You have self-control if you:
Are able to
abstain from something that is pleasurable but harmful to you (Example, food,
pornography, alcohol, drugs, excessive shopping, gambling)
maintain a (daily, weekly, etc) schedule of something that is beneficial such
as Bible reading, prayer, exercise, etc.
silent when you know that what you want to say you will regret later or should
not say at all
Can stop doing
something when it has gone on long enough such as playing a computer game,
watching TV, practicing golf, tinkering with the car, and so on
Will only eat
to satisfaction and not to gluttony or to “just finish up what’s left”
from buying something that you do not really need or want even if you have the
Are able to
say “no” to going out with friends when you know that you have something more
important to do
your own wants and desires for the sake of someone else
something so that it lasts longer rather than quickly using it all up
Lust is a sin that
can easily take hold of us and once the thought is put into our heads we can
easily spend long periods of time dwelling on it. For this reason God tells us
in Ephesians 5:3 (“But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be
named among you, as is proper among saints”) not to even discuss the subject in
a flippant or causal way. Because once we do broach the subject then our minds
can slither all over the topic.
said in Matthew 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT
COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust
for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” This does not
mean that looking at a woman lustfully is the same as committing that act with
her. But what it does mean is that God can see beyond actions and into our
minds and that lust carries with it dire consequences.
knows that lust does not just go away on its own. He knows that once our minds
have grabbed onto some image or illicit fantasy it will not easily or quickly
shake it loose. Rather, we will have a tendency to develop that thought and run
with it. God describes this scenario well in James 1:14-15. “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.” Our impure thoughts can come
frequently and with much variety.
the great book of Philippians Paul gives many exhortations and lays out some
tremendous doctrines. But in chapter 4 verse 8 near the end of the letter he
gives one final major command, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever
is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever
is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise,
let your mind dwell on these things.” That word “dwell” has the connotation of
focusing on so as to make it a habit. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries has
this word meaning to “take into account (logos),
reflect upon and then allow these things to shape your conduct.” What we think
about will determine what we do. We do not choose sin out of a blank mind nor
do righteous acts emanate from a vacuum. “For as he thinks within himself, so
he is,” (Proverbs 23:7a).
keep our thoughts from mastering us and from whipping us back and forth we must
learn to master them instead. 2 Corinthians 10:5 admonishes us to do this; “We
are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the
knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of
Christ.” How do we take our thoughts captive? The first way to control our
thoughts is to control what starts them. If we do not guard what we see then
what we see will be the seeds of our thoughts. Staring at wrong things will
produce poisonous thoughts.
no matter how hard we try those thoughts will come anyway. The best action to
take then is to cut them down quickly. A garden that is constantly weeded while
the weeds are young and small will be easier to maintain than one that is left
untended. Then the weeds will grow tall and spread out and the garden will soon
be overrun. That one bad thought or fantasy will sow seeds for other wrong thoughts
So how do we
destroy these impure thoughts? For one we need to cut them down as soon as they
pop through the surface. The more they are allowed to develop the harder they
will be to kill. We can do this by quoting scripture that we have memorized, by
praying for someone, or by meditating on some topic that is righteous. We can
also ask God to help us destroy that thought. And if one thought is persistent
then we need to be even more persistent. We must determine to never let our thoughts
get control of us. It is not easy and victory will never be permanent but it is
a battle that we must continually strive to win.
passage on how severe God views impure thoughts is in Job 31:27-28, “And my
heart became secretly enticed, and my hand threw a kiss from my mouth, that too
would have been an iniquity calling for judgment, for I would have denied God
above.” First notice the word “secretly.” The original stimulus is something
that, if known by others, would be shameful and embarrassing. Instead, it is
accessed furtively. Maybe it was a sideways glance or an Internet site in the
privacy of our house. Then we see a progression, first of our heart being
enticed by something that we should not be looking at or thinking about and then
that leads to an act of seduction. God says that this is iniquity or sin. But
why such a harsh call for judgment? And why is this denying God? Possibly
because this seduction momentarily replaces God as the source of all that is
good and perfect and replaces Him with something whose only value is sexual.
The superlative is replaced by the sensual. The living God has been pushed
aside for an idol. God is forgotten and our own lusts reign supreme.
You are falling into a spiritual
slide if you:
Are a “Bedside
Baptist” (i.e., you do not attend church but “attend” services on the TV or
reading your Bible because you do not have time or are not getting anything out
thinking more about how people can help you out rather than how you can help
Do not think
that you have any problem areas in your life to work on
Go to church
and think more about what was wrong then what can draw you closer to God
correction or reproof (“They just have a bad attitude” or “They don’t know what
they are talking about”)
about how you can make more money than how you can develop godly character
Are willing to
compromise the Bible or your own conscience in order to “get ahead”
pornography, drink alcohol, take drugs, or smoke to feel better
Think that you
are better than most Christians
“things” as more important than people
sexual relations are always a mistake… The Bible condemns sex outside the bonds
of matrimony. The fact that immorality is rampant throughout the nation doesn’t
make it right!” – Billy Graham.
the Bible, most translations will use four words used to describe wrong sexual
behavior. They are immorality, adultery, fornication, and sensuality.
Immorality is the
broadest of the three. It can mean fornication, adultery, homosexuality,
pedophilia, prostitution, incest, and bestiality.
defined as a married person having sex with someone other than his or her
spouse. Both people would be guilty of adultery even if one person is
Heritage Dictionary defines fornication as “sexual intercourse between a man
and woman not married to each other.” Webster’s Dictionary defines the
difference between fornication and adultery by saying fornication is “voluntary
sexual intercourse between an unmarried woman and a man, especially an
unmarried man. Fornication is the act of incontinency in single persons; if
either party be married, it is adultery.”
carries with it an excessive indulgence in sexual activities. It is
characterized by lewdness, debauchery, and shamelessness. An example of this
might be some street carnivals where nudity and sex are brazen and flaunted.
The use of these
words is not always consistent among translations. However, this does not
lessen the impact of what God is telling us regarding purity.
of the most widely used passages against immorality is 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.
12 All things are lawful for me, but not all
things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered
13 Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is
for food; but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for
immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body.
14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but
will also raise us up through His power.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members
of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members
of a harlot? May it never be!
16 Or do you not know that the one who joins
himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, "THE TWO WILL
BECOME ONE FLESH."
17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is
one spirit with Him.
18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man
commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple
of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not
20 For you have been bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body.
passage rebukes some of the arguments that people use for having sex outside of
“Isn’t Christianity supposed to free us from
rules and regulations?”
“Besides, if I do mess up there is always
“We’re only to going to do it a few times and
then we’ll stop. It’s not going to get out of hand.”
addresses these kinds of questions. Yes, according to Christianity we do not
have to work out our salvation with good deeds. Yes, it is true that our
salvation is fixed in Heaven and nothing can take it away. However, there are
commandments that should be obeyed. We obey them for God’s glory but for our
own good also. God will bless us when we do what is right but we will stumble
along or even be opposed by God when we do wrong. The world is difficult
enough; God’s grace helps us make it through. But when we despise God’s
commands it is like trying to walk through life waist deep in wet cement.
things will be harmful to us or to others. Immorality is one of them as we
shall see. We may be able to do anything that we want but we must always keep
in mind the stern warning in Galatians 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived, God is not
mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows
to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to
the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
most sin is addictive but immorality even more than most. If you get into a
little pornography and do not repent then you will eventually be into a lot of
pornography. If you have pre-marital sex every once in a while and do not
repent then you will eventually be having it a lot. Immorality can soon become
our master. We will look for opportunities to satisfy that lust and it is one
sin that can consume us. At one of my previous jobs I went into the men’s
restroom and an older guy was just coming out of a stall with a pornographic
magazine hidden within a folder. He did not know that I was there and he was
startled and nearly dropped the folder and its contents. He then rushed out of
the bathroom all frazzled. Immorality will follow us to work, to the Internet,
to church, and everywhere else that we go. If we do not repent from it then it
will put its leash on us. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 that we cannot serve two
masters. If lust or immorality has mastered us then we have relegated Jesus
Christ to a place that is lower than our sin.
“God knows that I have needs. If He didn’t want
us to satisfy those needs then why did He give them to us to begin with?”
“God created us with a capacity for sex. Sex is
a natural act. Therefore there is nothing wrong with having sex.”
“When I’m hungry, I eat. When my hormones are
raging, I have sex. What’s the difference?”
were some of the arguments that the Corinthians were probably using to justify
their immorality and they are the same arguments that are still being used. But
what Paul does here is to introduce four lines of reasoning as to why they are
first, Paul in verses 13 and 14 raises the sex act to a higher level than the
base need for food. He points out that since we are not just evolved bags of
chemicals everything cannot be reduced to the satisfaction of primitive urges.
Eating food and having sex are simply not two sides of the same coin. Our
stomach was created to do one thing and that is to aid in the digestion of
food. It has a very mundane purpose. Our bodies, on the other hand, were
created to serve and glorify God. They have been sanctified or set apart. They
have a potentially much more noble purpose. However, we have the choice of
giving our bodies over to unrighteousness or to God. This is what Paul is
referring to in Romans 6:19, “I am speaking in human terms because of the
weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to
impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present
your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.” We can
allow our bodies to be degraded and debased or we can use them to serve God.
went into a shop to buy some steel. The first man brought some steel home and
out of it he lovingly formed a beautiful cross. This cross was placed in a
church and those who walked by it were reminded of the beauty and grace of God.
The second man brought his steel home and formed it into a knife. Using this
knife he robbed and stabbed people. The blade became dirty with blood and was
kept hidden in the back of a closet so that no one would find it and link the
man to his crimes. At one time both pieces of metal were the same but one was
sanctified and used to glorify God. The other was used to steal from others and
satisfy only one man’s purposes. God has given us a similar choice in how we
use our bodies.
second line of reasoning in verses 15 – 17 Paul discusses how when we eat we do
not become one with the food. Food is eaten, digested, and eliminated. But when
two people have sex a mystical union is formed. This concept dates back to the
first discussion in the Bible about men and women in Genesis 2:24. It is
similar to the union that Christ has with the church. Each Christian is a
member of the one body of Christ and we are all joined together in some
supernatural and mystical way. To commit immorality is to disrupt this union as
if to push aside Jesus Christ and put in His place a prostitute. Paul says
emphatically, “May it never be!”
third line of reasoning in verse 18 Paul states that the sin of immorality and
only this sin comes from within and is committed against our own bodies. Other
sins will usually affect only certain parts of us and that affect may be
shallow. Immorality, however, not only originates from deep within but its
effects will violate us back down to that same depth. Immorality will corrupt
and rot every part of our being from our personality to our soul. It cannot be
contained. Many sins will cut us like a knife but that wound should eventually
heal. Immorality is like drinking poison. It will spread throughout our body
and destroy us from every which way. The only way to stop this corruption is
through repentance and the cleansing grace of God.
fourth line of reasoning that Paul uses in verses 19 and 20 is that each of our
bodies is a temple of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament times the Holy
Spirit would come upon people for a particular purpose and then leave once that
purpose was accomplished. But in the New Testament the Holy Spirit is given
permanently to all believers and resides within all believers. This is the “He
who is in you” mentioned in 1 John 4:4. This makes our bodies a temple of God. “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells
in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). All but the most corrupted person would find it
difficult to have sex with a prostitute in a church sanctuary. There would be a
sense of God’s presence or holiness that would be violated. Yet each of us are
in fact the true temple
of God. God resides not
in a building but in people. So there should be that same sense of violating
God’s presence and holiness when we commit acts of immorality.
key command in this passage is in verse 18, “Flee immorality.” Tyndale New
Testament Commentaries states, “The present imperative indicates the habitual
action, ‘Make it your habit to flee’. That is the only way to treat it. It
cannot be satisfactorily dealt with by any less drastic measures. The Christian
must not temporize with it, but flee the very thought.” In the Old Testament
when Joseph was directly confronted by this sin he did not reason with it or pray
about; he ran out of the room. If we happen to be in a place with someone of
the opposite sex and the situation is tempting then we must quickly leave or
the two of us move to a less tempting (usually defined as “more public”)
can devastate us. It has destroyed marriages and it can haunt us to our graves.
Yet many do not see what is so wrong about it. To them it might be just an act
of love or even just an act of pleasure between two people. The following are
some of the reasons why we should, at all costs, avoid immorality.
God commands against it. In 1
Corinthians 6:9-10 God lumps fornication and adultery in with idolatry,
stealing and swindling and refers to all of them as unrighteous. In 1
Corinthians 6:18 God tells us to flee from it. In 2 Corinthians 12:21 Paul
tells us that we need to repent of immorality, “I am afraid that when I come
again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those
who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and
sensuality which they have practiced.”
It is stealing. Even if you have a
devalued view of your own purity that does not give you the right to take
someone else’s. Unless you are married to that person their purity does not
belong to you. You may say, “But it is consensual. We are both agreeing that
this is what we want to do.” Even if the other person is willingly consenting
to sex that still does not mean that it is not stealing. If you know that it is
wrong for another person to give you something and you allow it to happen then
you have still stolen from that person. A thief may be able to replace the
object that he stole but once you have stolen another person’s purity you can
never replace it. In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 Paul states this. “For this is the
will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual
immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in
sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not
know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter
because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you
before and solemnly warned you.” The key here is that if you are sexually immoral
then you are defrauding that other person; you are taking advantage of him or
her. It carries with it a sense of trickery or swindle; of unlawful gain.
God equates it with idolatry. Colossians
3:5-6, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to
idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will
come.” Idolatry is essentially the replacement of God with something else. Why
would these five sins, the first three of which are sexually related, be
equated with idolatry? It is because sexual impurity, like no other sin, can
consume us and take over our eyes, our thoughts, our actions, and our plans. We
go to church thinking not about worshipping God but who we will see. We watch
shows or movies based on who will appear and in how few of clothes. The VCR
gets extra use. We set aside and plan time to sin. It becomes our first thought
of the day and our continuous thoughts throughout the day. God is left behind.
Immorality will prevent the blessings of
God. This was discussed earlier under 1 Corinthians 6:12. God will allow us
to do wrong and His wrath may not be immediate but that does not mean that He
has necessarily brushed it aside and forgotten about it. Even if God does not
discipline us for immorality we can be assured, though, that His blessings will
be withdrawn. If we want to seek for our pleasures apart from God then He will
generally let us but then we should not wonder why we are not receiving His
grace when we need it; we should not wonder why our lives are unfruitful.
“Things just aren’t going well for me at work. I just don’t know where God is.”
“Aren’t you living with your girlfriend?” “Yes.” Then no wonder. We just do not
flaunt God’s laws and wave them in front of His nose and then expect or even
demand that He respond in the way that we want Him to. That relationship may
continue on into marriage but, unless there is repentance, it will have to be
maintained without the blessings of God. Relationships are difficult enough, so
why push away the One who can give the greatest hope for success?
It will enslave us. We saw this also in
1 Corinthians 6:12. Sex, especially immorality, is addicting and the more that
we give in to it and seek after it the more that we want. We will never be
satisfied. The degradation will only become more coarse and vile. 2 Peter
2:18-19 confirms this, “For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice
by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who
live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of
corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”
Perhaps the most
sobering story about how immorality can destroy us is found in the person of
Samson. He was a judge in Israel
who delivered his people from oppressors time and time again. But he had a
great weakness and that was that he was addicted to sex. This addiction caused
him to rebel against the commands of God, against his parents’ wisdom, and was
used to defeat him. The verse that best summarizes his ultimate fall is Judges
16:21. It reads, “Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and
they brought him down to Gaza
and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison.” This sin
of immorality first blinded Samson, then it bound him, and finally it ground
him down. Immorality will do the same to us: it will blind us, then bind us,
and finally grind us.
Immoral sex degrades what God created us
for. This was expanded upon earlier under 1 Corinthians 6:13-14. God
created us to be wonderful creatures raised in power to the glory of God.
Immorality lowers us back to the level of animals. If we only knew what we were
sacrificing we would never be so tempted. Ravi Zacharias said this, “Ultimately
it is the person behind the relationship that provokes wonder because of the
divine image stamped upon the human personality. If the person is a means to an
end, then the greater has been destroyed by the lesser.”
Sex forms a mystical union and is not merely
the fulfillment of a base appetite. This was discussed earlier under 1
Corinthians 6:15-17. Having sex has greater repercussions than other activities
such as eating. Eating improperly once is easily undone. Having immoral sex
even just once will have lifelong implications.
Immorality will corrupt our entire being.
I Corinthians 6:18 tells us how the sin of immorality will bore itself right
into our core like a beetle into the heart of a tree. It is a sin like no
other. It is not necessarily worse than all other sins but it is a sin that
affects more adversely and deeply than other sins. Even murderers will usually
kill only once but rapists will seek for victim after victim. Immorality will
take over our lives unless we repent.
Immorality defiles the temple of God.
God saved us to be holy and He takes up residence in the body of each believer
in the Holy Spirit. When we are born-again we become the temple of God.
Therefore to be immoral is like having illicit sex on the altar of a church. It
is profane and terrible.
It is putting the sensual above the
spiritual. The passage in Galatians chapter 5 that contrasts the spirit to
the flesh starts out in verse 19 by saying, “Now the deeds of the flesh are
evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality…” Romans 8:6 further
defines this contrast, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind
set on the Spirit is life and peace.” We can choose the passing pleasure of
immorality but in doing so we will sacrifice life and peace and the fruit of
the Holy Spirit.
Immorality forces us into secrecy and lies.
Except among the most corrupt, adultery is not well received. The great
majority of people still consider it to be a disgrace. Unfortunately,
fornication does not carry with it the same stigma anymore although in most
Bible-believing churches it is still considered to be shameful. But any of
these related sins can drive people into deception and dishonesty. I have seen
businessmen park their cars at fast-food restaurants, get into the cars of
young women, and then speed off. Others have lied about staying late at work.
Still others will downplay any suspicions with the comment, “We’re only
friends. There’s nothing going on.”
It is almost always nothing more than lust
and not love. Take a look at two events in the Bible. In 2 Samuel 13 there
is the story of Amnon and Tamar. It says that Amnon loved Tamar but he could
not get anywhere with her physically. So he devised a scheme by which they
could be alone and then he would take advantage of her. That situation came but
Tamar would not cooperate because she knew that such an act would be
disgraceful. She even suggested that if he would be willing to wait that her
father, King David, would allow them to marry. Whether or not she was sincere
in offering this solution or was using it as a way to escape is irrelevant.
Amnon had no desire to wait so he took her by force and lay with her. The key
comes in verse 15, “Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the
hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had
loved her.” Lust cannot wait. Lust wants its pleasure right now no matter how
much it will adversely affect the other person. Lust says things like, “If you
really love me you’ll do this for me” or “We both love each other, why should
we have to wait?”
Now let us look
at a different situation. Jacob, whose name was eventually changed to Israel,
was a schemer. He was someone who was always looking for an advantage. After
escaping from his brother Esau whom he had tricked he wound up at a relative’s
house, Laban. Jacob fell in love with Laban’s daughter, Rachel and asked to
marry her. Laban agreed but Jacob had to work for Laban for seven years before
he could marry her. The key to this passage is in Genesis 29:20, “So Jacob
served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of
his love for her.” Love can wait. Love is able to delight in all of the rest of
the other person and is unwilling to lead him or her into anything wrong.
impatient. Love can wait. Lust sees only its own pleasure. Love puts the other
person first. Lust craves for the sexual part of that person. Love delights in
the total non-sexual part of that person. Lust sees time as dragging because it
is being denied. Love sees time as flying because other aspects of the person
are fulfilling it. Lust justifies. Love considers.
Immorality tempts others. At one time or
another most people struggle with doing what is right. Temptation is always
swirling around us beckoning us to do its bidding. In Proverbs 9 the woman of
folly tempts those who are near by assuring them that sin is sweet and
pleasant. We are all weak and as Christians we must stand with each other and
support each other. But when one person falls into sin, especially if that
person is in a position of respect or authority, then temptation can use this
as a wedge to crack open the door for someone else. Sometimes the only thing
keeping someone from falling is a good justification. The fact that someone else
fell, no matter how wrong this is, may be all the justification that this
person needs. “Well if he can do it then why can’t I?” Or it may push the
subconscious prodding of someone needing any kind of excuse, “If he couldn’t
resist then what makes me think that I will be able to?” Because we are all in
the Body of Christ we cannot sin in isolation. In 1 Corinthians 5:6b Paul says
in response to a man who was immoral, “Do you not know that a little leaven
[sin] leavens the whole lump of dough [the church]?”
You will be telling non-Christians that you
are no better than they are. Non-Christians put Christians under a
microscope. We try to let them know that we are different; that God has changed
our lives and we are urging them to allow God to change their lives also. So
they watch us. They watch our language. They watch to see if we easily become
angry or frustrated. They watch our ethics. And they watch our behavior. But if
they see no difference then has God done anything? An immoral Christian has
essentially destroyed his testimony to non-Christians. And though grace can
certainly abound over sin there may be people who will be pushed away from
considering God because His people have not distinguished themselves from even
the lowest of sinners.
Immorality creates guilt. Repentance and
forgiveness can wash away any guilt completely and forever. However, until that
point is reached the guilt of an immoral Christian can be overwhelming. There
can be a deep sense of failure, thoughts of lost salvation, and a despair of
never being able to be in God’s good favor again. Of course, God does forgive.
Of course, no sin is greater than God’s love. Of course, God can raise up even
the most defeated of sinners. But even if we know all of this we may still feel
as though we have to prove something to God to make up for our great sin. Then
we may become legalistic and works oriented. We try to become super-Christians.
But it is all in vain because, though God does want to see deeds becoming
repentance, He does not want to see us try to gain His favor through good
Even in repentance and forgiveness you may
always have this stigma. God can take any sin that we commit and bury it in
the deepest sea. Unfortunately, people are not always as forgetful. If you have
been immoral and you have humbly repented of it then God has washed you clean.
You can inform others of this, but you cannot force them to think as God
thinks. You may lose friendships. You may be forced out of serving in some
ministry. You may even be forced out of your church even though you have truly
repented. This is yet another cost that must be considered before you do
something stupid. Is it worth it? Never!
Immorality makes one vulnerable to sexually
transmitted diseases. Two married people who have never had sex with anyone
else have a nil chance of sharing a sexually transmitted disease (STD). When
you have sex with another person you are having sex with all of their partners
too regarding disease. Two people who abstained from immorality will only be having
sex with each other.
Immorality can lead to abortion.
Abortion can be a tremendously volatile subject, but I firmly believe that it
is murder. The vast majority of abortions are the result of immorality.
was listed a number of reasons to flee immorality. Yet the person who is
determined to have sex outside of marriage will be able to justify away all of
them even if many of these justifications are simply ridiculous. To avoid
immorality we must be honest with ourselves. Will we choose lust or will we
choose love? Will we choose God or will we choose self?
The Bible is full
of people who lusted and fell. Even some of the greatest Biblical heroes, such
as David and Samson, were overcome by this sin. We can easily study many of
them and find tremendous insights into what went wrong and how they dealt with
it. But instead we are going to look at an anonymous man as described in
6 For at the window of my house I looked out
through my lattice,
7 And I saw among the naive, I discerned among
the youths, a young man lacking sense,
“Naïve” or as some translations put it
“simple” does not mean someone who is dumb or of less intelligence. It means
someone who is “foolish, easily enticed and seduced, credulous, inexperienced.”
The fact that he is a youth only implies that the young are more likely to be
seduced by sex because their hormones are on a racetrack and because they
probably have not learned the power and deceit of sin quite as well. However,
immorality is a sin that anyone, no matter how young or old, can fall into.
Just because a person is older does not mean that they should be confident of
their ability to resist such temptation.
8 Passing through the street near her corner;
and he takes the way to her house,
does not mean that he was deliberately going to her house. But what it does
imply is that he knew that the temptation was there and he still went near to
it. He may not have initially set his heart to commit sin but he may have
deliberately put himself into temptation’s way. Sometimes we do that because
then we can blame our weakness and the fact that the temptation overwhelmed us.
It is like saying, “God knew that I was weak in that area. He should have kept
me from that temptation.” Another common way of justifying this sin is, “I
tried really hard to avoid it but then it was right there in front of me and I
couldn’t do anything about it.” There are two scriptures that answer both of
those. The first is in James 1:13, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am
being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does
not tempt anyone.” God gives us the discernment to usually recognize and avoid
even if we are placed into that situation because of no fault of our own then
God is still there to help us. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is
common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond
what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also,
that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13). If we fall into
temptation then it is no one’s fault but our own. If you and your girlfriend or
boyfriend have been getting closer and closer to the edge while making-out then
it is not God’s fault if you are left alone in the living room and you fall to
immorality. You should have gotten out of the house and went for a walk.
9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the
middle of the night and in the darkness.
Here we see the slow transition to
complicity with sin. There is an overworked analogy but it is still applicable
here. If you want to boil a frog, if you put it directly into hot water then it
will jump out. But if you put it first into cold water and then slowly turn up
the heat then it will eventually cook. If you asked Christians a year before
they committed immorality what they thought about their chances of falling like
that many would reply that it would have been inconceivable then. That was a
sin for those who had cast God behind their backs or who might not have really
been Christians after all. There might have been strong repulsion and
indignation at the very thought. But then circumstances changed. Maybe a lot of
that person’s friends got married and there was a deepening sense of loneliness
or desperation. Or maybe this man or woman showed up who was very open to the
physical aspects of a relationship. Then what was yesterday’s sin becomes
today’s activity. And what is today’s activity becomes tomorrow’s habit. And so
on until finally there is nothing left. The foundations have crumbled and all
indignation is lost.
Sin should be caught quickly. This is
why it is good to set up boundaries and make a firm determination not to
stretch those boundaries no matter how innocently it may seem at the moment. It
is even wise to write down those boundaries just to make them concrete and not
some nebulous concept such as “I’ll never touch her inappropriately.” Instead
write down something like “I’ll never touch her from the chest down.”
But even if the activity has gone beyond
what was initially acceptable, it is still not too late to stop and
re-establish a sense of morality.
10 And behold, a woman comes to meet him,
dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart.
11 She is boisterous and rebellious; her feet do
not remain at home;
12 She is now in the streets, now in the
squares, and lurks by every corner.
Here is how this immorality came. She
was dressed to entice. She knew what buttons to push. She does not wait for the
wicked to come to her but goes out looking for the gullible.
But temptation does not have to
necessarily start out dressed like this. She can be dressed normally, but once
the mood becomes heated and the blouse comes off then she is now dressed as a
harlot because she is now seductive.
13 So she seizes him and kisses him, and with a
brazen face she says to him:
With immorality someone must take the
initiative, it does not just happen out of the blue.
14 "I was due to offer peace offerings;
today I have paid my vows.
This may seem like a rather odd thing to
say to someone if you are trying to seduce him. But there may be one of two
motives behind this. One is that she is trying to put on that she is a
religious person and that he has nothing to fear. We must always be careful not
to be fooled by someone. I know someone who went to a dance party. There was no
alcohol and the guy that she danced with was very nice. At the end of the
evening he asked her for a ride home. She figured that there would not be a
problem because they had such a good time together and he was so nice. He raped
her, disappeared never to be seen again, and now she has his child. It is
always better to be careful and safe and not assume that you are a good judge
Her second motive might have been to get
him to her house with something enticing. After a peace offering there was
oftentimes some meat left over. This would have been taken home and since there
was no refrigeration it would have had to be eaten quickly. Having a meal together
was just a cloak for her real desire of sex. Today this can come in many forms.
“If you loved me then you would be willing to go to bed with me.” The real
desire is sex; the cloak is love. “We both want it so what’s the problem?” The
real desire is sex; the cloak is wanting to satisfy your own pleasures. “You’re
so beautiful I can’t keep my hands off of you.” The desire is “I want to have
sex,” the cloak is that you are irresistible.
15 "Therefore I have come out to meet you,
to seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you.
Temptation sucks us in with flattery. “I
want you.” “I need you.” There is nothing wrong with honestly expressing your
feelings unless it is to get the other person to do something that you know
that they should not.
16 "I have spread my couch with coverings,
with colored linens of Egypt.
17 "I have sprinkled my bed with myrrh,
aloes and cinnamon.
18 "Come, let us drink our fill of love
until morning; let us delight ourselves with caresses.
Here temptation lays out just how
wonderful the experience will be. All five senses will be satisfied and
delighted. Sin will always appear pleasurable. If that was not the case then
none of us would have any trouble being righteous. But notice how sin describes
the experience only until it is over. In this case it is until morning. There
is never any thought to future consequences. We must see both sides of sin; its
pleasure and its ugliness. Lamentations 1:9 says, “She did not consider her
future; therefore she has fallen astonishingly.” Once we can take our eyes off
of the immediate satisfaction and see the longer agony then we would be more
hesitant to fall. Sin fools the man into saying, “As long as I’m rich and happy
now I don’t care if I go to Hell later.”
19 "For the man is not at home, he has gone
on a long journey;
20 He has taken a bag of money with him, at full
moon he will come home."
Here we see the harlot assuring the
young man that it is safe, that there will not be any repercussions or problems
because her husband is away for several days. Sin and especially immorality is
never without a cost to pay. Yes, God is merciful and patient but only as He
determines when it is best. We can never expect or demand God’s mercy or
patience. The husband may not have caught the young man but God knew.
21 With her many persuasions she entices him;
with her flattering lips she seduces him.
Here he makes a big mistake; he allows
the woman to continue to talk to him. Instead he should have ran away. We may
not give in to temptation the first time but why take a chance on the second or
third times? Eventually it will wear us down and we will give in. Get away the
first chance that you get. If you unnecessarily stay around temptation then
either you really want to commit the sin and are just letting yourself be
seduced or you are a fool who thinks that you are stronger than you should
think (“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”—1
Notice again the mention of flattery. If
the only time that someone compliments you is when he wants to have sex with
you then watch out because he is a flatterer. This is a person who will say
whatever he has to in order to get whatever he wants even if he does not
believe it. Do not be sucked into this deceit.
22 Suddenly he follows her, as an ox goes to the
slaughter, or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool,
23 Until an arrow pierces through his liver; as
a bird hastens to the snare, so he does not know that it will cost him his
The temptation may sneak up on us and
gradually seduce us, but the choice to sin is sudden.
Notice the five descriptions or results
of immorality. 1) He is as ignorant of the consequences as an ox that is
stupidly walking into a slaughterhouse. 2) It will enslave him as one who is in
chains. Chains restrict movement and prevent us from doing what we should. In
the same way immorality will prevent us from becoming the kind of person that
God wants us to be. 3) The liver was referred to as “the passion of sensual
love, according to the ancients.”.
In this case, immorality did not arouse passions of love but rather cut him
with a severe wound. This was not Cupid’s arrow but an arrow of poison. 4) A
bird was designed by God to soar. A trap will, instead, force it to flutter
helplessly. Immorality will prevent us from being the person that God created
us to be. 5) The consequences of immorality are terrible. Through disease it
can literally cost someone their life. But it can also destroy a person’s
desire to follow God. In this case it has cost someone their spiritual life.
here we have an example of someone who fell into immorality. We can see the
progression of his foolishness. It is clear that he was not diligent to avoid
temptation but, rather, allowed himself to stare it in the face. He then
lingered long enough to be deceived by its flattery and then he suddenly gave
in. The results were devastating.
do not have to wander through darkened streets to find it. We can wander
through the Internet or through magazines. We can wander through movies and
some TV shows. We can wander through our office or through our neighborhood.
Unfortunately, we can even wander through our church and sometimes find it. But
we do not have to learn only from our experiences. God gave us this example to
show us how something like this can happen and what it can do to us. Why should
we be so stupid as to make the same mistakes as this simple, young man?
You are possibly depressed if you:
every little thing and usually expect the worst to happen
Feel like you
cannot do anything right
Cannot seem to
initiate anything and lack motivation
Are unable to
interest in much of anything
Shy away from
time with friends and family
worthless, helpless, or excessively guilty for no reason
sad and lethargic
Feel worn out
and beaten down
Snap at people
often and are more cranky or irritable
Feel like no
one cares or understands
can come from two different directions. One is from others that tempts us and
the other is that we can be a temptation to others. In either case we must be
diligent to do all that we can to flee or eliminate all temptations.
are going to take a look at some of the ways that we can do both of these. Of
course everyone is different and what is a temptation to one person may be
repulsive or indifferent to another. In any case, you know when you are being
tempted and it is your responsibility to get away from it.
Be careful where you look. Those furtive glances
can take in a lot of information. Another shameful aspect is that other people
can easily see where you are looking. They will not say anything to you but
behind your back you will develop the reputation of being a lecherous dog.
Avoid filthy talk or jokes.
If you used to be sexually active do not use
that as a badge of bravado, it is not. Those women were not conquests; those
were acts of sin and shame.
Do not have your shirt unbuttoned down the
Do not fondle, caress, rub or pat a woman’s
breasts (whether clothed or not), buttocks, or pelvic area no matter how close
to marriage you are.
Do not wear shorts that are too short. That does
not mean that they must be touching the knee or any such rule but you will know
when they are too short.
Be careful how you bend over and who is standing
near to you when you do so.
Avoid too much perfume.
Do not fondle, caress, rub, or pat a man’s
buttocks or crouch.
Be careful how you sit when you are wearing a
Memorize scripture and review it in your mind
when you are being tempted. Psalm 119:11 gives us some good instruction, “Thy
word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.”
Do not put yourself in a position of temptation.
As we saw while looking at Proverbs 7 the young man did not avoid temptation
but even seemed to flirt with it. Stay away from private places with your
boyfriend or girlfriend if you are prone to falling. I would not go so far as
to say that the two of you should never be alone together. Some would say that
if the woman lives alone in an apartment and you are going to pick her up, she
should meet you at the door and then both of you go somewhere public. I believe
that if you are both mature there is nothing wrong with being in the same home
together. But if there is temptation or things are getting too close to the
edge then only being in public places is the way to go.
1 Thessalonians 5:22, “abstain from every form
of evil” or as the King James Version puts it, “Abstain from all appearance of
evil.” I knew one woman who lived with her mother. She got engaged and the man
moved in with the two of them until they got married. I felt that this was
wrong. Their claim was that nothing ever happened and that the mother was there
most of the time. However, what would the neighbors think? They said that their
neighbors all knew the situation and also knew that nothing was going on. But
then what about the neighbor’s neighbors? Or what about the mailman? If you say
to most people, “Yes, we’re living together but nothing is going on,” their
outward response might be, “I believe you.” But their inward response is
probably more like, “Yea, I bet.” I do not think that any situation is valid
for Christians of different genders to be living together. If money is tight
and that is your excuse for moving in together then get a second job or trim
the wedding plans or maybe even get married sooner. But do not move in
Some say that you should never touch the other
person anywhere from the chest down. This might be good advice but since the
Bible does not explicitly say this then we cannot make it a hard and fast rule.
I would just say that there are certain parts that should not be touched and I
think that we all know what they are.
Avoid tight fitting clothes.
Read reviews before you see a movie. If nudity
is mentioned then avoid the movie even if it is wildly popular and all of your
friends have seen it.
If you are watching a movie and a raunchy or
tempting scene comes on then fast-forward to the end of it or close your eyes
if you feel that the dialogue is somehow important.
By all means, do not buy pornography in any form
and if you have any then destroy it immediately. If your friends have some and
want to show it to you then decline. Tell them that you are not interested. If
they hound you about it then tell them, “If you have to pay for it then you
don’t deserve it.”
Do not go to “pick-up” bars or other similar
Do not flirt. If you are interested in someone
then be courageous enough to be direct and honest with him or her. Do not feed
your ego on the reactions of people whom you care little or nothing about.
Do not call sex hotlines even as a joke or as
If you find yourself struggling greatly and are
encountering defeat after defeat then find someone whom you can be accountable
to. Tell him or her to ask you at least once a week how you are doing in this
are many areas of purity that are easily argued over. Both sides can make good
points and can probably give examples of people who did or did not do
such-and-such and how it proves their point. The reason why these areas are
gray is because the Bible does not address it directly and how it affects
people may vary greatly. Therefore, using the experiences of yourself or of
other people does not make for a convincing argument.
fact that God did not see the necessity to clearly mention it in the Bible is
evidence enough that we should not make any rule about it. We may make
suggestions and lay down some principles but we must be careful not to present
our opinion as God’s rule or commandment. For example, some churches may say
that women cannot wear shorts above the knee or they cannot wear anything that
is the color red since that is the color of arousal. God never says either of
these things. In fact in Exodus 26:14 God wanted part of the tabernacle to be
red. We must be careful not to add to God’s Word or to give the impression that
what we are saying is a commandment or principle in scripture.
Kissing. Some Christians think that
premarital kissing is absolutely wrong and that the first kiss should be at the
altar. I see this as overly restrictive. Perhaps the best scripture refuting
this is in The Song of Solomon (a.k.a. The Song of Songs in some versions).
This is perhaps the most difficult and wildly interpreted book in the Bible.
But I will accept one of the more common outlines as described in The Bible
Knowledge Commentary. “Many evangelical scholars interpret the Song of Songs as
a lyric poem which has both unity and logical progression. The major sections
of the Song deal with courtship (1:2-3:5), a wedding (3:6-5:1), and maturation
in marriage (5:2-8:4). The Song concludes with a climactic statement about the
nature of love (8:5-7) and an epilogue explaining how the love of the couple in
the Song began (8:8-14).”.a
If this is the case then we read in chapter 1 verse 2, “May he kiss me with the
kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine.” This would be in the
courtship phase of the relationship, which was certainly before marriage.
believe that kissing while dating or courting or whatever style you use is
acceptable. However, I do think that kissing is an intimate form of bonding and
commitment and should not be done too early in the relationship such as the
first or second time together. In some ways the longer that you wait the more
wonderful it will be. The difference would be like flinging open a treasure
chest and showing everything at once versus pulling out a jewel one at a time
and admiring each one sufficiently.
Masturbation. This is a gray area
because the Bible does not address it. Therefore, it can be argued that its
permission or prohibition is uncertain. There is much that can be said about
this subject and I do not intend to give a complete or final word. But I would
like to discuss a couple aspects of this act.
In order to
perform this act there usually must be some sort of sexually stimulating
fantasy providing the arousal. So even if the act itself is not addressed these
types of fantasies are. In Philippians 4:8 we read, “Finally, brethren,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and
if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” One would
be hard pressed to assert that these fantasies do not violate this verse.
in order to feed these fantasies a person must keep his or her eyes open for
additional stimuli or material. As we discussed earlier, these images will
expand in our minds and oftentimes our thought life can become out of control.
None of this is glorifying to God.
is an issue that can destroy a person and it can destroy a church. How many
Christians have hung up their spiritual lives because they insisted on living
with their girlfriends or boyfriends? How many men have fallen into guilt and
despair because they are addicted to pornography? How many churches have been
torn apart or distracted and stalled because their pastor fell into adultery?
is a lifelong struggle for most people. It is one where, if we let down our
guard ever so slightly, lust will shove one hairy claw into the door and before
we know it our thoughts are dwelling on things that not too long ago we would
have found disgusting. Only now we find them enticing and arousing.
is never a private sin. Even if the lusts are only in your mind they will
affect other aspects of your life. In 2 Samuel 11 David should have been out in
battle as was the duty of kings. Instead he stayed home. Likewise when we are
not doing God’s work but are idle and bored we will be more likely to fall into
sin. So David, being bored, wandered up to the roof of his house and from there
he saw a woman bathing in the privacy of her yard. For one, he should not have
been looking into other people’s private places. And two, once he realized what
he was seeing he should have quickly turned away. Instead, he watched. This, I
am sure, caused him to fantasize or at least think long and deeply about this
woman because he then needed to know more about her. He was unable to stop at
his own private lusts; he had to involve others. He then took her and lay with
is never satisfied; it is never quenched. One look is never enough. Then one
fantasy is never enough. Then one action is never enough. Instead of meditating
on God and His word we are now fantasizing about men or women in an impure way.
Instead of a life that is honorable and transparent we are now dishonest and
secretive. Instead of them being our sisters and brothers in Christ they are
now objects to feed our lusts.
a heart of purity will be hard. It will be life long. But it is vital that we
set our hearts to be pure. We must make it a habit to look away when our eyes
are tempted, to pray when our mind is tempted, and to run when our body is
You have a problem accepting
responsibility if you:
admit that you are wrong
First try to
think of how you can justify or excuse your behavior when you are reproved
people lucky if you do something for them
something the first time that something goes wrong
First look to
blame someone else when something goes wrong