Friday, March 20, 2015

Good Stuff to Give Up in Lent #4 LUST

“You must not commit adultery.     Exodus 20:14 (NLT)
Sex is one of the most powerful forces in humankind.  It is powerfully good as an integral component of a healthy relationship between a husband and wife; it is also one of the greatest problems we have today, when it is abused, outside of the ways God designed it. 

This morning we want to investigate that correct usage as we look at the fourth of seven deadly sins - lustGod’s design for sexual activity is that we are to be faithful within marriage, and abstinent outside of marriage.

Returning from Sunday School one day, where the Ten Commandments had been the topic, [the] young son asked his father, Daddy, what does it mean when it says, Thou shalt not commit agriculture?  There was hardly a beat between the question and [the father’s] smooth reply:  Son, that just means that you’re not supposed to plow the other man’s field.[2]
The Hebrew word for adultery is naaph.  It originally meant to pollute with admixture, to water-down something pure with an additive.  A marriage is made of two who become one.  Any other mixture in that pot is pollution. 

Abstinence means no sexual activity at all.  The Bible calls sex between unmarried people fornication.  You might say, Pastor, please, this is the 21st century.  Well, I do understand what goes on -- and so does God.  He destroyed the world with a flood when it got out of hand before.  The definition of adultery doesn’t change because a new generation comes on the scene.  When it comes to morality, God said,

For I am the LORD, I change not....    Malachi 3:6a
Jesus gave us a further word when it comes to this,

But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  Matthew 5:28 (NLT)
The new morality aside, the definition is unquestioned.  In marriage, nobody else’s field.  If you’re not married -- every field is off limits! 

And when it comes to the definition of adultery – wishing in your mind that you could play in the field makes you an adulterer!

Why is adultery so bad?  After all -- two consenting adults, nobody else finding out?  What’s so bad?  One reason; and (at least) five results,

Sex is one of the strongest instinctual forms of behavior known to man.  God designed it that way for the preservation of our race.  For that reason, we can understand how difficult it can be to make sound decisions while under the spell – that flush/rush of dizzying euphoria we call love

Mostly, it is lust. 

The wrong of two people engaging in sex, when they are not under the life-long commitment of marriage, is that they cannot make sound decisions with sex in the way! 

And it does get in the way!  If it didn’t, the manufacturers of everything from Calvin Klein underwear to beer wouldn’t spend zillions on sexually oriented TV spots.  Sex/lust does get our attention! 

And when your attention is riveted on the heat of attraction, you will not be concerned with whether this person will look good the next morning.  You will not be thinking about which Sunday School class the two of you ought to join.  Sex first clouds the water!  That’s the reason to abstain!


The Demise of Personal Integrity. 

When a person does not say no in this vital area of life, he will likely never choose to hold back.  In choosing a partner for marriage you would like to think that after the wedding he or she will stay faithful. 

Cheating brings paralyzing guilt.  It is sin that is internal – depriving us of holding our head up, knowing we have broken what should be reserved as a special intimacy for only our lifetime partner.

 The Demise of respect for life. 

Adultery and fornication are means of personal abuse.  Years ago in seminary I had to write a paper on an Old Testament passage.  I chose this text.  In reviewing the paper I came across this part:

This commandment (as the others) is designed to keep man from destroying himself.  In sexual promiscuity there is a violation of personality because it involves the use of one human being by another.  This destroys the used and the user.         

    Human life becomes cheap when self-gratification is the point. 

The Demise of childhood.   

Pregnancy among high school students, and even middle schoolers, is rampant.  And with each passing generation the sexual pressure starts younger. 

Babies who raise babies don’t do as good a job as people who have waited and planned.  Parents ought not to allow their children to date early.  Use some common sense!  It’s not cute -- it’s lethal!  Kids ought to have a childhood, not provide one for a baby they’re not equipped to raise.

The Demise of the home. 

Half of all marriages stung by an extra-marital affair end in divorce.  The other half stay together -- but don’t imagine they don’t struggle with the demons in the middle of the night. 

The Demise of our nation. 

When the home disappears, so does the strength of the nation.  In the Old Testament, David had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba.  It led to a murderous conspiracy on David’s part.  His ability to be God’s leader was stunted.  The shepherd boy, who God called a man after mine own heart, became the shamed man who cried out in agony over his sin:

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.  Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.  Wash me clean from my guilt.  Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.  Psalm 51:1-3 (NLT)
In our day heroes are falling one by one.  Ministers, leaders, even presidents fall to sexual scandal.  A nation cannot stand in immorality.  God is not mocked.  The disaster of adultery is evident in our land.

Ignoring God’s way brings His judgment and pain! 

What is the “UP” side to sexual integrity?

Sexual integrity has benefits, and they are summed up in the positive view of this commandment:

Sexual integrity (abstinence when not married, fidelity in marriage, and a thought-life to match) helps build a sense of positive, uplifting relationship, which provides a firm foundation for all of life’s true pleasures, as well as a framework of moral stability for society
These few positive benefits are not an exhaustive list -- they simply underscore the design of God for marriage.  They are suggested by the scriptures.  Note:

Marriage creates union

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. Ephesians 5:31

Marriage creates fulfillment

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”  Genesis 2:18 (NLT)

Marriage creates joy

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.    Proverbs 5:18

Marriage creates stability

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Matthew 19:6b

How can I keep my life pure?

I know that sexual integrity is the right thing.  I know God’s way is best.  How can I cooperate with God on this and succeed in my life?  It’s tough out there today!

START...with a commitment to sexual integrity.  To be successful in anything requires commitment.  Faith is included here.  If you don’t believe sexual integrity can be done today, you won’t stand a chance.  It is not easy, but it is possible.  God requires our obedience. 

Some of us have decided this – some long ago, with 50 years or more of success.  The Word of God demands a decision on this.  You make the decision in your heart.  Ask God to cleanse your past failures -- or even the failure you’re in right now, if that’s the case.  He said he would forgive the repentant person,

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.   Psalms 51:17  (NLT)
Willingness is always the beginning place with God.  He abhors and resists pride.  If you’re serious about sexual integrity, begin with a contrite and broken spirit…Start!

STRENGTHEN...every advantage you have.  Tennyson wrote, Be loyal to the royal within you. 

What wonderful advice.  Your inner thought life is where Satan will trip you up on sexual matters.  If you’re serious about being an overcomer in this area, begin to work on your thoughts.  Read your Bible.  Concentrate on good and wholesome things.  Watch what you watch on TV.  You can’t expect to watch TV and movies that depict sexual episodes, and then think your thoughts are going to be of God.  Be careful little eyes what you see.

STAY AWAKE...Attachment and attraction to the opposite sex are as natural as breathing. Sex is a strong drive.  Attraction begins with a first glance.  Attachment begins with the second look.  The Bible says to flee immorality.  Stay awake about those lingering glances and conversations.  The key is, Bail out early! 

I have a wonderful tie that seems to catch eyes quickly.  I was visiting at a hospital once and got on the elevator.  A woman commented on the tie.  My words came out before she finished talking, My sweet wife buys ‘em, an’ I wears ‘em! 

If you’re married and meet someone of the opposite sex – bring your spouse into the conversation before the first 30 seconds are up!  That will liberate you, and let the other person know where you stand and where the appropriate distance between you should stand!

Start, strengthen, stay-awake, and…


What if you have done all this and you still blow it?  Start again.

What if you’ve blown it so many times you’ve lost hope?  Start again. 

What if you can’t trust yourself anymore?  Start again. 

Get some help. See your Pastor, a counselor.  Get a trusted friend who will help you to remain accountable. 

The place to begin is with contriteness.  Start with God.  He is in the forgiving business.  There is not a sin He won’t forgive except the rejection of His Son, Jesus.   Your affair wasn’t the unpardonable sin -- He will forgive if you’re honest and lay it all out before Him in prayer. 

They brought a woman to Jesus.  She was caught in the very act.  She could have been stoned.  She hung her head while the self-righteous folk ridiculed her. 

They wanted Jesus to condemn her, or release her and prove He was a lawbreaker.  Jesus showed them He was in the caring business – He shamed them, and they left one by one.  Then Jesus turned to the adulterous woman and told her she was free to go!  Now she had a new chance – a new start. 

Just don’t repeat the same old mistakes. 

Jesus gave that woman a second chance to start her life; he’ll give it to you too!

[1] Title image:  Carl Spitzweg, via Wikimedia Commons
[2]Reader’s Digest, July 1979, p.87

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