Monday, May 30, 2011

SURVIVING SEXUAL SIN
Memorial Day Weekend

I think that it’s because Memorial Day is looked at as the “unofficial” start of summer that this article caught my attention.  The headline read, “Duluth church with cabin habit scraps Sunday service, tries worship Wednesdays.”  I don’t live in a place (thank God) where there is long, cold, hard winters, so I get it that when the weather turns nice people want to get outside and enjoy themselves.  However, the message here is that God takes a backseat to our pleasures, and our conveniences instead of God being the center and source of our greatest pleasures.  So, my point is that even though it was Memorial Day weekend, we still had church!

I’m not sure if it is the best segue, but Memorial Day honors our nation’s war dead.  Well, yesterday, I spoke on another kind of “death” - the death of sexual sin, or, more specifically, on “Surviving Sexual Sin.”  The fact that we live in a sex-saturated society is almost cliché, but the reality is that “porneia” (Bible’s all-inclusive word for any kind of sexual immorality) is everywhere.  By everywhere, I don’t mean “out there” but “in here” as well.  “American Idols” is not just the name of a popular TV reality show and musical competition; it is a fact of American life as well.  The “Idol of Sex” is not an exaggeration, but it part of a culture that is selling sex and rebellion not just to our children, but to adults as well.  All idolatry is taking something that is good, in this case our sexuality, and redefining it or experiencing it outside of God’s design and parameters.  God made us sexual beings as a good thing, but He also restricted it to the context of lifelong marriage and sexuality...also for our good!  The truth is we all feel the pull towards immorality, to satisfy legitimate desires in an illegitimate or sinful way.

You might say, why single this out?  You Christians are always doing that.  After all, isn’t all sin, sin?  Yes, theologically that is true, all sin is sin against God; but, the Bible singles out immorality in its warnings to us.  (1Cor.6:18)NLT “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.”  The Message paraphrase puts it this way, “There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for "becoming one" with another.”  Sexual sin is not worse than other sins because it is more difficult for God to forgive.  No, it is worse, because it profoundly affect us, not just in some of its consequences, but in our ability to recover from it.  There have been some pretty high profile examples recently of people and sexual failure, and while the jury is still out, these people are not the same.  This was the real focus of my message: that the real tragedy of sexual sin is in its dream-destroying quality.  The tragedy is not just the sexual sin, but the tragic number of young people (older too) who at one point in their lives dreamed of radical obedience to Jesus Christ, were joyfully willing to lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel, but now have all but faded away into uselessness.  Sexual sin is perhaps the #1 reason why young people are not passionately involved in reaching the world for Jesus.

This is always the devil’s double whammy: he tempts us into sin and various traps, then he follows it with guilt, condemnation and hopelessness.  It’s kind of like the lyrics to one of my all-time most hated songs, Kenny Rogers’s “We’ve Got Tonight.”  It drives me nuts, not because of the tune or melody, but because of the lyrics and message in it.  “We’ve got tonight, who needs tomorrow?  We’ve got tonight babe.  Why don’t you stay?”  That’s brilliant, let’s not think about tomorrow or the consequences because...we’ve got tonight.  The problem is that there is a tomorrow, and decisions tonight will affect that.  It’s the morning after when Satan unloads on you, “You’re a loser...you may as well not even go to church....and there’s no way you’re going to make a serious commitment of your life to Jesus Christ...it’s over for you.”   The tragedy of sexual sin is that Satan uses guilt from these failures to strip you of your vision and passion for Christ to the point that you give up and become content to settle for substitutes

George Verwer is the founder of Operation Mobilization, and he said and preached these words:

A major besetting sin in the youth of America is sexual immorality.  Now, the tragedy isn’t that young people are giving their bodies to lust and sensual pleasure before marriage.  Don’t be mistaken–this is tragic, indeed–but the real tragedy is what happens to the person’s life after that, the lies that young Christians believe about themselves and their destiny.” ------ “I shudder to think about how many once-radical Jesus-followers have succumbed to an ‘ordinary’ Christian lifestyle due to guilt or shame that came from some kind of sexual mistake, making them think that they could never live the radical life for God.  So, let’s pray for this generation to believe the truth about their identity in Christ and to walk boldly in it.  And let’s tell the devil to go to hell with his lies.

OK, I’ve got to stop, I’m getting carried away, and wanting to preach the whole message again!  The whole aim of the message was to take out of the devil’s hand that weapon he uses to exploit the sin in your life, so you end up wasting your life or, succumbing to hopelessness.  This is not done by stricter rules or stronger willpower Yes, wise boundaries and protective measures help, especially in our cyber-world.  But freedom, hope and deliverance comes by giving Christ his rightful place on the throne of your heart!  None of this is a license to go on sinning, but the distinguishing mark of saving faith is not perfection, the mark is I fight.  Not with fists or guns or bombs, but with the truth of Christ!  An amazing promise in this context is (Micah 7:8, 9) and it is one I intend to use in talking to people who have fallen, as well as to myself:

Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.  I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me.  He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.

These are words that you should meditate on long and hard and repeatedly, because “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 

Note: Thanks to John Piper and some of his messages and references to this fact and passages.

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