A Matter of Life and Death
We have a problem with sex. Namely, we live in a culture that is obsessed, and I mean that in the strongest sense of the word, with sex. This obsession with sex has naturally led our culture to demand access to it, like they do for clean running water, in whatever form or fashion their particular appetite falls upon.
The content available online is hard to believe: graphic and often violent images and videos online, pornographic movies in theaters covered with a thin veneer of a movie-like plot. TV series oozing with extramarital sex, brutality, rape, and nihilism. Advertisements and marketing that use people’s bodies to sell anything from cars to burgers, and “news” shows and websites that feed people’s love of gossip with stories of the adultery, scandals, leaked pictures, and misery of other’s lives laid in ruins by the same constant titillation of the bloated sexual desires they satisfy by consuming them.
We are showered everyday with sexually toxic content and ideas from all sides. Sexual preference is now chosen based on our current feelings alone; and with the very meaning of the words “male” and “female” laid on the culture’s chopping block, it is no wonder why so many people my age and their children, are hopelessly confused as to what is real, what is true, and feel as if life has no real meaning or purpose other than what we decide it is.
Suicide rates have risen by approximately 1,000 people every year since 1999 to the point that it’s currently the 10th leading cause of death in the US. 44,193 people in 2016. I’m not saying sexual sin and pornography use are the only causes for all those, as that wouldn’t be true. It’s a myriad of issues and causes, but I can’t help but wonder how much of those are due to our culture’s rejection of God as the definer of what is good, true, and beautiful; what is right or wrong, what is male and female, what is marriage, what is true love.
Even among the Church, sexual sin and pornography use is rampant. When it comes to sex, we’ve bought into the lie that if we satisfy our sexual desires according to our own judgement of what is good, true, and beautiful, then we’ll finally be happy, finally find peace, and finally be fulfilled once that desire is met; regardless of the manner in which we seek to fulfill it.
Let me be clear. Sex isn’t the problem. Our sinful nature is. It doesn’t have to be this way, and it wasn’t meant to be this way. God has a design for sex. After all, he created it.
Hear the word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and as relevant to us today as it was to the Corinthians that Paul wrote to:
“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."
Do you see that? “And such were some of you.” he points out and then goes on to remind them that when they believed in Jesus Christ as their savior they were washed, made holy (or set apart), and were justified (cleared of guilt) in Jesus’ name. The same is true for you and I today if we call Jesus our Lord and Savior. Paul goes on to say:
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."
Paul couldn’t be any more clear here, in verse 17 he says, “Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” We’re literally sinning against ourselves when we give into sexual temptation. Why do we keep doing it then?
Sex in the covenant of biblical marriage is meant to be pleasurable, to point to the ecstasy, the pleasure, or the joy of what it is like to know God (Ephesians 5:32). It’s a dim reflection. It’s less than the real thing, much less. Outside of biblical marriage, when we give in to sexual temptation or use pornography, we dull our hearts like using the delicate edge of a kitchen knife to cut concrete, it wasn’t intended for that purpose.
Then we go to church community, read God’s word, pray, and try to get to know God or engage with Him, but we suddenly feel like we can’t. Satan begins to accuse us and our own hearts do the same. We begin to dwell on our sin, and the thought creeps in, “How could God love me?”
Then the cycle of sin repeats itself. We try to make ourselves feel better with small pleasures, inferior pleasures, to get the intimacy with God that we so deeply long for; but in a counterfeit way, and it never satisfies, but we go back again and again.
God doesn’t want you to “flee from sexual immorality” because He’s a kill joy, He want’s you to flee it because it’s counterfeit pleasure! It robs you from knowing Him in deep and intimate relationship that will not only satisfy you in this life, but also forever in eternity with Him. Sexual sin is unique, it addicts us to the small pleasure of physical sex, but numbs us to the eternal pleasure of knowing Jesus. Don’t be fooled.
God want’s you to know Him and be known by Him. God want’s you to experience relationship with Him that is more deeply satisfying than anything you’ve ever known. God WILL help you to do it. If you believe Jesus is the son of God and is your Lord and Savior, you have the Holy Spirit to help you, guide you, and give you strength when you need it. However, God won’t do it without you. You also at the same time have to make practical strides to stop feeding yourself trash so you can stop feeling sick and unhealthy and starting feeding yourself things that will nourish your body, heart, mind and soul.
So, what are some of those practical ways that we can fight and make war against sexual temptation and pornography use in our lives? Here are 4 things I CANNOT DO WITHOUT in the fight for sexual purity:
Daily time with Jesus BEFORE you do anything else, right after you wake up. Reading/meditating on the Word of God, prayer (talking to God) for yourself and others, worship, giving thanks, etc. Check out the resources within our app if you don’t know where to start: Antioch Dallas App
A local Church community to do life with. You were never meant to walk out your life with Jesus alone. If you can’t find a healthy Church community, keep searching or move somewhere that has one. If you can’t find one anywhere then the problem is not the churches you’ve visited, it’s you. Pray, ask God, and then commit to the one you feel led to and stay there actively involved for as long as it takes. Here is a list of all the Antioch Church Plants in the U.S. to get you started.
Close friends or someone to disciple you and walk through this with you (they must be of the same gender no exceptions, and they must also love Jesus and have fruit in their life because of it). They will keep you accountable, encourage you, and pray for you and you need all those things. Find these in your local church community, someone who you might see on a weekly basis or more anyways.
Remove the temptation, and train yourself to fight. Mental/heart strategies, website blocking/reporting software, physical changes, and relationship changes that will remove the devices, relationships, and environments when temptation often enters in. For example, do you feel tempted alone in your room at night? Find a same sex roommate who loves Jesus. Feel tempted to look at pornography on your computer? Get a software that blocks those sites and reports all your activities to a friend/person who will actually confront you if needed. Or get rid of your computer. Here are other AMAZING resources for making war on lust and sexual temptation: ANTHEM, Battling the Unbelief of Lust, Moral Revolution, Fight The New Drug, Covenant Eyes, X3 Watch.
Any of that sound too extreme? Nothing is too extreme if it helps you to kill sin and gain EVERYTHING in relationship with Jesus. Nothing is too extreme if it helps you place God in his rightful place in your life, the absolute highest priority. Nothing is too extreme if it is a matter of life or death, and make no mistake, it is.