A recent survey found that many Americans are muddled about what constitutes marital unfaithfulness. Just 31 percent thought watching pornography was cheating on a spouse. Some 42 percent said that sending flirtatious messages to a romantic interest was fine—and 25 percent thought even sexually explicit messages were OK. About one in four didn’t see a one-night stand as cheating, and about one in five didn’t even consider regular sexual relations with someone not your spouse to be cheating.
Spiritually dead people are hopelessly confused in their moral thinking. To walk in love and purity, we must have biblical principles and standards. This means that we as “dearly loved children” need to imitate and obey our Father (vv. 1–2). Godliness, after all, means acting as God would act; Christlikeness means doing what Christ would do. What Christ did was love us to death, literally. We should follow His sacrificial example and seek always to “walk in the way of love.” Such a life will be a “fragrant offering,” pleasing to the Lord (see Rom. 12:1; 2 Cor. 2:15).
Sinful and impure choices are foul-smelling offerings to the King of Kings. We must avoid such offensive foolishness at all costs! Sexual immorality and greed, for example, are “improper for God’s holy people” (v. 3). Sins of the tongue are also unacceptable, including obscenity and coarse jesting (v. 4). Giving thanks is an effective antidote.
God’s holiness cannot compromise. There shouldn’t be “even a hint” of such behaviors or approval of them in the church, for people who live in this way prove through their actions that they’re not really God’s children and won’t inherit eternal life (vv. 3, 5). False teachers might say otherwise, but God’s grace leads to transformed lives.
Since it also deals with sins of the tongue, James 3:1–12 would be an excellent passage for additional reading today. Speaking in godly ways is not just a matter of self-control, for “no human being can tame the tongue.” Use these verses to guide your prayers for God to help you use your tongue in ways that glorify Him.