TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

II. Riches and Sex

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Chapter 38  Part II

Riches and Sex

Riches and sex are both good in themselves; in fact they are blessings from God. However they both are easily and often misused, bringing ill effects for both ourselves and others. Indeed, few things have the capacity of riches or sex for both good and harm. So it should be no surprise that they feature so prominently in the Bible’s teaching on our relationships with others and moreover our relationship with God.

Riches and Godliness

See also:

Riches are a barrier to a relationship with God

Matt 6:19-21, 24  Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.24“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.  NET

Mark 10:23, 25  Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  NET

Riches in fact draw one away from God . . .

1Tim 6:9-10  But people who want to get rich keep toppling into temptation and are trapped by many stupid and harmful desires that plunge them into destruction and ruin. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with much pain.  ISV

. . . Contrastingly, the poor are given prominence as recipients of the gospel and God’s kingdom

Luke 4:18a  [Jesus:] The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  NET

James 2:5  Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?  NET

It would appear that James is making a generalization, as obviously not all who are poor are rich in faith, and presumably some who are not poor will have a part in the kingdom.

Desire for riches can lead to mistreatment of others

2Pet 2:3a  [Peter, speaking of false teachers:] And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words.  NET

Prov 18:23  The poor person pleads for mercy, the wealthy man responds harshly.  ISV

The rich are often unmerciful in their pursuit of increased wealth.

So, do not love money . . .

1Tim 3:2-3  [Paul, speaking of Christian leaders:] The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self–controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, 3not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money.  NET

Eccl 5:10  The one who loves money will never be satisfied with money, he who loves wealth will never be satisfied with his income. This also is futile.  NET

. . . Be content with what you have

Heb 13:5  Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for God has said, “I will never leave you or abandon you.”  ISV

1Tim 6:6-8  Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. 7For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. 8But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that.  NET

Note: Wealth ultimately comes from God

1Chr 29:12  [David, to God:] You are the source of wealth and honor; you rule over all. You possess strength and might to magnify and give strength to all.  NET

Bear in mind that the knowledge that wealth ultimately comes from God is no reason to keep it for oneself. Rather, one must use wealth wisely, remembering that: riches give one great potential for good – for God’s kingdom and for helping others; and there are grave potential pitfalls associated with accumulating riches (as the other subsections in this and the following section indicate). Also note that the knowledge that wealth ultimately comes from God rather than our own efforts, should encourage us to not be focused on chasing wealth.

 Questions for Section A

Further Warnings about Riches

Riches are not secure . . .

1Tim 6:17  [Paul, instructing Timothy what to teach believers:] Tell those who have the riches of this world not to be arrogant and not to place their confidence in anything as uncertain as riches. Instead, they should place their confidence in God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  GW

. . . and we do not know what the future holds

Prov 27:1  Do not boast about tomorrow; for you do not know what a day may bring forth.  NET

We do not know what the future holds, for ourselves or our riches.

Life does not last and the dead cannot take their riches with them

Ps 49:10  Surely one sees that even wise people die; fools and spiritually insensitive people all pass away and leave their wealth to others.  NET

1Tim 6:7  For we did not bring anything into the world, and surely we cannot take anything out of it.  ISV

Hoarding riches will bring ill consequences in the afterlife

Luke 6:24-25a  [Jesus:] But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort already. 25“Woe to you who are well satisfied with food now, for you will be hungry.  NET

Luke 16:9-12  [Jesus:] And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by how you use worldly wealth, so that when it runs out you will be welcomed into the eternal homes. 10“The one who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and the one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11If then you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will entrust you with the true riches? 12And if you haven’t been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you your own?  NET

Verse 9 indicates that the afterlife is primarily in view. One must use worldly wealth for the benefit of others (v. 9), as opposed to hoarding it. Those who have not used worldly wealth – comparatively “very little” (v. 10) – as they ought to have, will not be given the “true riches” (v. 11) of God’s kingdom – i.e. “much” (v. 10) wealth. Note that in v. 10, “unrighteous” (NASB) and “unjust” (NKJV) are alternative translations to “dishonest”.

Other shortcomings of riches

Prov 11:4  Wealth won’t help in the time of judgment, but righteousness will deliver from death.  ISV

Prov 13:8  The rich may have to pay a ransom for their lives, but the poor will face no such danger.  NCV™

Eccl 5:11  The more wealth people have, the more friends they have to help spend it. So what do people really gain? They gain nothing except to look at their riches.  NCV™

 Questions for Section B

Sexual Sin

Avoid sexual sin . . .

Eph 5:3  [Paul, to believers:] But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints.  NET

John 8:3-4, 7-11  The experts in the law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught committing adultery. They made her stand in front of them 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery.7When they persisted in asking him, he stood up straight and replied, “Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground. 9Now when they heard this, they began to drift away one at a time, starting with the older ones, until Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus stood up straight and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11She replied, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”  NET

. . . Be pure

2Cor 7:1  [Paul:] Dear friends, we have these promises from God, so we should make ourselves pure—free from anything that makes body or soul unclean. We should try to become holy in the way we live, because we respect God.  NCV™

Sexual sin has ill consequences

1Cor 6:18  Keep on running away from sexual immorality. Any other sin that a person commits is outside his body, but the person who sins sexually sins against his own body.  ISV

In contrast to other sins, sexual sin involves the misuse and mistreatment of one’s own body. Moreover, Paul seems to imply that sexual sin adversely affects the body or one’s being in a deeper way than any other sin (cf. CEV, GNT, NLT).

2Pet 2:18-19  [Peter, speaking of false teachers:] For by speaking high–sounding but empty words they are able to entice, with fleshly desires and with debauchery, people who have just escaped from those who reside in error. 19Although these false teachers promise such people freedom, they themselves are enslaved to immorality. For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved.  NET

The false teachers promised that their immoral way would bring freedom, but ironically they themselves had become subject to and controlled by such immorality (v. 19; cf. 1Cor 6:12 ). Presumably sexual sin is primarily in view.

Sexual sin ultimately results in God’s judgment

Heb 13:4  Marriage must be honored among all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, for God will judge sexually immoral people and adulterers.  NET

Note: The sexually immoral who believe and repent are forgiven

Luke 7:37-38, 47-50  Then when a woman of that town, who was a sinner, learned that Jesus was dining at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfumed oil. 38As she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfumed oil.[Jesus:] 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.” 48Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  NET

In being described as “a sinner” (v. 37), the woman was likely a prostitute. In v. 47a, Jesus is saying that the great love she had shown him (vv. 37-38) demonstrated that her many sins had been forgiven – rather than saying that it was the reason for why they were forgiven; for it was her faith that saved her (v. 50). One can infer that the love she showed Jesus was an expression of her faith – and presumably of her repentance as well.

 Questions for Section C

Prohibited Forms of Sex

See also:

Lust

Job 31:1  [Job:] But I made an agreement with my eyes not to look with desire at a girl.  NCV™

Matt 5:27-28  [Jesus:] You have heard that it was said, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you, anyone who stares at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  ISV

Gazing longingly at a woman with sexual desire, is committing adultery in one’s heart and in a spiritual sense.

Sex apart from marriage

Deut 22:21b  [Moses, speaking of any woman who had had premarital sex:] She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by having sexual relations before she was married. You must get rid of the evil among you.  NCV™

Moses’ words are of course also applicable to males.

Prostitution

1Cor 6:15  [Paul, to believers:] Surely you know that your bodies are parts of Christ himself. So I must never take the parts of Christ and join them to a prostitute!  NCV™

Prov 23:27  A prostitute is a deep pit.  GW

Homosexual acts

Rom 1:26-27  [Paul, speaking of ungodly people:] For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  NET

This indicates that homosexual relations are unnatural. In v. 27, the phrase “received in themselves the due penalty” implies that the committing of such acts carries its own natural consequences.

Incest

Lev 18:6  No man is to approach any close relative to have sexual intercourse with her. I am the Lord.  NET

Bestiality

Lev 18:23a  And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.  ESV

 Questions for Section D

Epilogue: Be Wary

Believers are to be wary of such things as the “pitfalls” spoken of in this chapter, and of any other sin or thing that would compromise our life of faith.

Be alert and sober

1Thes 5:6  So then we must not sleep as the rest, but must stay alert and sober.  NET

Watch yourself . . .

Acts 20:28  So keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock which the Holy Spirit has placed in your care.  GNT

. . . Watch and guard yourself against sinning

Ps 39:1a  [David:] I decided, “I will watch what I say and make sure I do not sin with my tongue.  NET

Mal 2:16  So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.  ESV

To “guard yourself in your spirit” involves watching and evaluating such things as one’s attitudes, motives and conscience – effectively one’s thoughts.

Examine and evaluate yourself

Lam 3:40  Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!  ESV

Keep a clear conscience . . .

Acts 23:1  Paul looked straight at the Council and said, “Brothers, with a clear conscience I have done my duty before God up to this very day.”  ISV

. . . A good conscience is vital for governing ourselves in pleasing God

2Cor 1:12  [Paul, to the Corinthian believers:] We are proud that our conscience assures us that our lives in this world, and especially our relations with you, have been ruled by God-given frankness and sincerity, by the power of God’s grace, and not by human wisdom.  GNT

Evaluate all things

1Thes 5:21  Test all things; hold fast what is good.  NKJV

Heb 5:14  But solid food is for the mature, for those [believers] who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.  ESV

Do not be deceived, nor deceive yourself

James 1:16  Do not be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters!  GNT

1Jn 1:8  [John, to believers:] If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  ESV

Beware: Sin is deceptive

Heb 3:13  [The writer, to believers:] But exhort one another each day, as long as it is called “Today,” that none of you may become hardened by sin’s deception.  NET

 Questions for Section E

Pray for persecuted Christians