Fighting the Works of the Flesh: Lewdness
In the fourth of our series covering the works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21, we discuss lewdness and strategies to combat it in our life.
We know what you are thinking: “What in the world is lewdness?”
The sexual connotation this word has received in the modern era certainly is fitting, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. According to the NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, the word lewdness comes from the Greek word aselgeia, which means “unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence.”
Basically, lewdness refers to purposely living without restraint. This means that lewdness is doing something we know is wrong, but doing it anyway because it feels good. It denotes a pride in the sin. This can include inappropriate sexual behavior, indulging in excesses and lack of restraint in many different areas of life.
There are so many lies from society regarding this work of the flesh that it goes beyond the scope of this blog post to address them all. Here are a few:
Satan influences society to lie about lewdness
Lie No. 1: “Experimentation is the only way to find out whether something is good or not. Don’t let the Bible tell you what is right and wrong. Experience everything for yourself and then you decide.”
Without restraint, our behavior literally becomes whatever feels right to us. This can have a disastrous consequence on unsuspecting people who may not agree with what we think is right. Consider some examples:
- Adolf Hitler decided for himself that Germany—and the world—would be a better place without Jews. He did not allow any sense of morality to restrain what he felt was his perceived solution to Germany’s problems.
- Millions of people are plagued with addictions—many of which literally destroy their lives. Addictions start by ignoring restraint because something feels good.
One of Satan’s tactics is to make lewdness physically and neurologically appealing (Proverbs 14:12; Isaiah 5:20). This was the tactic he used against Eve in the Garden of Eden: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6). Satan made the forbidden fruit seem so appealing to Eve that she disregarded what God had commanded her and Adam. God’s command was disregarded based on the physical appeal of the fruit.
Without restraint, concern for others and God becomes extinct and selfish desires become our guiding motivation—to our own hurt.Lie No. 2: “There is no morality. In a pluralistic society, we have the right (and freedom) to determine what is right and wrong and to not have that information imposed on us by others.”
This lie claims that the freedoms of man trump the laws of God. When someone embraces a mind-set of lewdness, it is only a matter of time before more and more thoughts and ideas that were previously appalling to him or her become acceptable and attractive.
For example, in a free country (like the United States) one may have the freedom to speak and write things that degrade or belittle an entire race or group of people. But just because there is a right to freedom of expression does not make that expression right! Yes, God gives us free will. But will we use it to embrace destructive lewdness, or will we use it to follow the beneficial way of life God reveals in the Bible?
Deuteronomy 6:18 states: “And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you.” Why do so many ignore this and choose lewdness? One of the purposes of Life, Hope & Truth is to educate readers about God’s standards of conduct and to show that living by those standards actually works and brings happiness!
Strategies to combat lewdness
1. Carefully examine our motives for everything we do.
Self-monitoring is often taught to children at a very early age. Why does that skill seem to be so lacking when many reach adulthood? We need to bring it back by asking ourselves questions about why we are doing the things we do. When analyzing our conduct, we can ask ourselves pointed questions like:
- “Is doing this showing love to another human being, or just selfishly getting me what I want?” In other words, am I practicing the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12)?
- Is this something God has said is right, or have I just convinced myself that this is right?”
2. Question and filter what is influencing us.
When people apply for a job, they are usually “vetted” or researched thoroughly, to make sure that they are qualified for the job. We should consider vetting the influences that bombard us every day, especially from media. Some television shows, movies and even scholarly journals are specifically aimed at convincing us to change our “old-fashioned” opinions and embrace progressive ideas (often, within so-called progress is “forbidden fruit”).
- Is the idea or product being pushed godly or lewd?
- Is a movie really worth watching if the entire theme focuses on something blatantly wrong?
The Bible contains a principle that we should strive to practice on a daily basis: “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
3. Learn to despise lewdness as much as possible.
Realize the reason God wants there to be restraint on human behavior (Proverbs 29:18; Hosea 4:2). Without restraint, concern for others and God becomes extinct and selfish desires and pleasures become our guiding motivation—to our own hurt. Unfortunately, this describes much of today’s world.
Don’t let it describe you!
To learn more about developing restraint, as opposed to lewdness, read our article “Fruit of the Spirit: Self Control.”