(Cross-posted on YouVersion. Click over there for bible verses.)
Message #3 of "Christian Sticky Wickets" - Our Savior's Baptist Church; Federal Way, Wash.; www.oursaviorsbaptist.org; Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011. My notes from the 9 and 10:45 am services, I pray they will be useful to you.
--- Why is s-e-x such a difficult for Christians? ---
It's a very personal thing. We are all wired for it, but we wrestle with our desires. In some area, every one of us has failed and we don't want to be reminded of it.
We live in a highly sexualized world. It's not simple to live purely in such a world. TV flaunts crudity and nudity. Certain lines of clothing suggest to buy theirs is the quickest way to be out of their clothes. Movies often portray sex as the outcome of true love and that nothing should stand in the way of it. The main characters might not even make it to the end, but everything is somehow OK if they at least have sex before they die.
Christians are bombarded. We grow blasé about it. And then we step into church and there's a whole different set of rules and values.
God has a higher ideal for sex.
--- A Higher and Holy Calling ---
(1 Peter 1:13-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)
God calls us to be holy, like Him. Peter takes that idea of holiness and brings it down to earth, to us. When Peter talks about not being shaped by your "evil desires," he's talking about sex. This is where most peoples are the most challenged in their pursuit of holiness.
* God's Calling: holiness applied to OUR SEXUALITY
The world is driven by evil desires, by ignorance, by lust. But we're different. We're called to a higher standard.
Peter and Paul both say you can't talk about "holiness" or "sex" apart from each other, or you don't correctly address either.
* God's Will: holiness shown by A HOLY AND HONORABLE SEXUAL LIFE
God is not against sex.
* What is "holy and honorable" sex?
(Proverbs 5:15-20; Song of Songs; Genesis 2:24)
Sex expressed according to God's will. God created sex, God created marriage. Nowhere in the Bible is any other expression of sex condoned. Man with anyone who is not his wife (woman, child, another man, goat, toaster, etc.)
The world says that God doesn't want people to have any fun. It's no fluke that men are attracted to women and women are attracted to men. It's no accident that intimacy is pleasurable.
"Culture may think it composed the symphony of sexual pleasure, but God created the notes." -- Dr. Gregg Jantz
God planned for us to enjoy intimacy as He designed it. It's God's gift to the marriage relationship. God planned for it.
--- God's Words about Sexual Purity ---
(1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)
So what, then, is "unholy and dishonorable" sex?
Everything else. Sermon done. When we sexualize any relationship that's not between a husband and wife.
1. Our life is about PLEASING GOD.
So, like everything else, our actions should please God. The culture may approve it, your friends may cheer you on, the media may glamorize it, but God says "I've got a problem with it."
Paul is including holy/honorable sex when he talks about pleasing God.
2. Recognize Jesus as the SOLE AUTHORITY on sexual purity.
At the time of the writing, the culture accepted multiple wives. It considered an honor for a woman to be asked to become a temple prostitute. Homosexuality was common. Using slaves for the purpose of gratification was also common.
So Paul at this time was writing to tell new Gentile converts that these were all contrary to how God had intended sex to be enjoyed. That these other implications weren't as God intended, they didn't honor Him and they didn't honor other people.
So those Greeks may have actually had it more difficult in struggling for purity.
What's our authority? Who gets to say it's wrong? Who says extra-marital sex is wrong? Homosexuality? Adultery? Incest? Pornography? Pedophilia? Rape? Is it wrong to lust? What about multiple wives? Is it wrong to fanatisize if I don't act on it? What about if I'm offered a million dollars? Who gets to say? Who writes the rules? If all we have is what feels good to us, we're (as a human race) in a lot of trouble.
The only way that works is if there is something that works at all times in all cultures. God says "I wrote the rules."
3. Follow God's will as it relates to SEXUAL ISSUES.
God said only one relationship in your life can become sexualized - your marriage. And that you should only have one spouse. That makes it pretty simple.
If you're married, it's pretty simple. One person. Period.
If you're not married, it's even simpler.
(Which calls back to last week's description of marriage as one man and one woman.)
a. Abstain from SEXUAL IMMORALITY
NIV says "avoid" but that's weak.
Abstain = have no part. Draw a line. Run from it. Flee.
Sexual Morality = greek 'pornea' (por-nay-uh) - an all-encompassing word from which words like pornography and fornication comes from.
Just stay away from what looks or feels like immorality.
Do you lock on once an attractive man or woman comes near?
What about after they've passed?
Do you find yourself longing for other men/women?
Do you seek out sexually-charged articles or photo-spreads?
Do you have a private place/secret compartment you keep hidden from your spouse?
Do you look forward to going away or out of town for reasons other than the business you'll be attending?
Do you visit porn sites and figure it no big deal because there's lots worse out there?
Are there behaviors you'd be ashamed for your spouse to discover?
Do you pause at channels where you've seen sexually charged content in the past?
Do you watch sexually charged movies or videos for gratification?
(the tip of the iceberg of what people wrestle with)
b. Take control of your body (Matthew 5:27-30)
* Guard your TONGUE (Ephesians 5:3-4, 11-12)
Watch what you say. Even as a joke, it means you've been thinking/dwelling on it. If you have to change the flavor of your jokes when your pastor comes over, you've got the wrong jokes. If you have to change the channel when someone from church comes over, you're watching the wrong shows. If you have to change your language with your co-workers when your spouse is around, you've got the wrong behavior - you're in dangerous territory because you are thinking.
* Guard your EYES (2 Samuel 11; Leviticus 17-20)
If you make a habit of viewing content that's sexually charged, you reinforce the idea that everyone can be viewed sexually. This will lead you to look at your co-workers or even other people at church in ways that are inappropriate.
King David saw Bathsheeba and it even led to bigger problems.
What your eye looks at, your heart feeds on.
What if our neighbors invited us over to watch them have sex? We'd have a problem, but if we watch a movie, we consider it personal, or even a sexual aid, but it's really no different.
It's ok to appreciate the beauty of someone of the opposite sex, but don't sexualize it.
* Guard your HAND (Matthew 5:29-30)
Touchy-feely people especially need be careful. Some people use touch more than just a greetinng, or some people misinterpret what's meant. This may be either for your own safety against temptation or to avoid giving someone else the wrong idea.
* Guard your FEET (Proverbs 7:7-9)
Decide where you're not going to go. Temptations exist in specific places and you know where they are.
* Guard your HEART (Mark 7:21-23; Philippians 4:8)
Thoughts are difficult to control. Our thoughts have a tendency towards evil. Don't focus on what you don't want to think about - focus on God.
c. Don't WRONG other people
Maintain high levels of purity so that we maintain boundaries and don't take advantage of someone else. Sexual impurity always hurts someone. (Someone taken advantage of, someone physically or emotionally abused, people/children forced into slavery, people trapped in an entertainment trade that is unhealthy to them personally/spiritually. Even if *you* only look at tame porn online from people who obviously enter into it willfully, there are people that move on to worse types that victimize the participants or force them to unwillingly participate.)
4. Expect THE HOLY SPIRIT to help.
You're not alone in this. Sexual urges are strong, but with God's help, you can be stronger. You may struggle every day, but God is with you every day. Saying no to the temptation means saying yes to God. Except the Holy Spirit to help.
--- Ending Where We Began ---
(1 Peter 1:13-16)
Who do you want to be like?
Like the world that's going nowhere, or like God? Prepare yourself for action.
What will it take?
* A SELF-CONTROLLED mind
There is a battle here. We are constantly pummeled. Will we let our mind run or will we turn to God for help?
This isn't just about men. Men are most drawn in by visual images. But women have their own struggles - more typically drawn in by chat rooms where they can become someone else, anonymous, and living out their fantasies with others.
* A GRACE-DRIVEN heart
Set yourself on the hope and grace given you by God. You will fail, you will trip-up, you will fall. You will stop, feel shame and realize you did not successfully resist temptation. But you can stand up, confess, repent and turn away.
* Acting as God's OBEDIENT CHILDREN
What's it going take to be like God? Trying to live like God. Not thinking God is glaring at you like a judge waiting for you to fail, but cheering you on, helping you to succeed when you ask, celebrating your successes, comforting you and aiding you after a failure, and encouraging you to try again.
No one here is immune. But live holy, live honorably and you bring pleasure to yourself and to God.