Monthly Q&A: December 2020
Q: The Bible says that the sexually immoral will not enter heaven. What is sexual immorality? I’m scared that I’ve committed it. Also, why do some say pornography sends you to hell?
A: Thank you for your question. Sexual immorality can be generally defined as anything outside of the commandments God has for sexual activity. God’s standard for sexual activity is that it only be practiced within the boundaries of marriage, between a husband and wife. Anything outside of that would constitute sexual immorality. For example, adultery is sexually immoral because it violates God’s standard for sex to be kept within a marriage. Fornication (sex between two single people) is sexually immoral because it violates God’s standard that sex be experienced only within the covenant of marriage. Therefore, anything that falls short of God’s standard for sexual activity would be considered sexual immorality. Pornography also falls into that category because pornography, by its very nature, is designed to stir up lust within the human heart. As Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:27-28 that anyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent is already guilty of an adulterous heart. In other words, if we engage in things that provoke lustful thoughts, we are exhibiting an adulterous intent in our hearts.
To address the other half of you question, unrepentant sexual immorality does indeed exclude people from heaven. But why is that the case? The key idea here is unrepentant. Those who refuse to forsake sexual immorality and turn to Christ, will not spend eternity with Christ because their actions exhibit a heart that does not know God, regardless of what they might say or profess to believe (1 John 3:6). As we’ve seen already, sexual immorality includes pornography, which is why it is logical to say that unrepentant pornography use excludes someone from the kingdom of God, because it gives evidence of a heart that doesn’t know God.
With that said, let me encourage you. You mentioned that you are “scared” that you may have committed sexual immorality. I don’t what you’ve done that makes you feel that way but perhaps it is the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin and giving you an opportunity to forsake it and repent of that sin. Let that “fear” drive you to seek God’s forgiveness. While God does indeed judge sin, the Bible tells us over, and over, and over again that God is merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love (Exodus 34:6; Nehemiah 9:31; Psalm 86:5, 15; Joel 2:13). God has promised that He will forgive any sin that we confess before Him (1 John 1:9). Take courage from what Paul said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 6 (I’ve bolded and underlined the part I want you to be sure and see):
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
This was addressed to people who had committed sexual immorality in the past. That’s why Paul says “And such were some of you.” But we see that God forgave them because they turned to Christ for forgiveness. If you are a believer now and you made a terrible mistake, the same offer of forgiveness still holds true. In 1 John 1:9, John is speaking to Christians when he says God will forgive confessed sin. Also, remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:21-22 when He told Peter to forgive those who repent, “70 times 7,” which means to forgive someone every time they repent of their sin and return. Therefore, God demonstrates that He too forgives when we repent and return.
I hope what I’ve said has helped answer your question. Please know that I am praying for you and asking that the Holy Spirit would give you answers to your situation and lead you into repentance and forgiveness. God bless you, my friend.