Clear Thinking about Sex!

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Clear Thinking

READ AT BEGINNING OF SERVICE:

Psalms 101:1-8 (NIV)

1 I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will sing praise. 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart. 3 I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me. 4 Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil. 5 Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure. 6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me. 7 No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence. 8 Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land; I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the LORD.

INTRODUCTION:

In the January 1, 2000 issue of Newsweek there is an article that catches you attention with the first sentence. “In the next century you?re going to have better sex than you?ve ever had before.” That caught my attention. Then in the article is found the following paragraph, “You won?t have a single sexual fantasy that will go unfulfilled. But you will have to be willing to step into the strange new world of virtual reality. Of all the communication technologies we?ve ever invented ? the telephone, the telegraph, the radio, movies, Internet have eventually been used in the service of lust. Tomorrow?s advanced technologies will be no different. Virtual sex is risk free. No chance of AIDS or pregnancy. Fidelity and monogamy will have to be completely redefined. Is it cheating if you have virtual sex with another person?”

When I read that I knew why they?d put on the cover “Good grief!”

We?ve been in this series on “Thinking Clearly”. We?ve talked about thinking clearly about your problems, thinking clearly about relationships, thinking clearly about change. Today I want us to do a little clear thinking about sex. I don’t know any subject that has more confusion, more confused thinking, more fuzzy thinking than in this issue of sex. Why is that?

In the first place we live in a very sex-saturated society. It?s everywhere. It?s the number one value in our society. It is used to sell literally everything. Most of the media is built around sexuality and sensuality. In the year 2000 the golden globes were awarded and the best comedy TV series was a new series called “Sex and the City” and the key actress won Best Actress. The basic plot of that show was just how many people could you go to bed with in this episode.

Folks, “Sex and the City” is a long way from “Little House on the Prairie”. It?s also a long way from Ricky and Lucy and matching pajamas in separate beds. Obviously things have changed. The standards? There just aren?t any standards any more. Anything goes in the media.

But on top of that many if not most of us grew up with some faulty ideas about sex. Harmful ideas. Inaccurate ideas. As a result almost everyone has hidden hurts when it comes to sex and sexuality, secret shame, unresolved guilt or unresolved resentment over something that has happened to them.

Some people may have made some really dumb decisions in your life related to sex. You may have some major or massive failures in this area. You may be carrying some very deep hurts, some wounds, some memories. And I’m sorry for that. But you have come to the right place this morning. Because I?ve got some good news for you. The Bible says “The truth will set you free.” In fact, God wants us to think clearly about sex and you can?t be free from memories and hurts and resentment and shame and all those things until you really think clearly about sex.

The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4, “God wants you to be pure and to keep clear of all sexual sin. For God has not called us to be dirty minded and full of lust but to be holy and clean.”

How do you do that? You do it by making four positive choices. Regardless of your past, regardless of what happened yesterday, last week, last month, ten years ago, or 25 years ago?you can get your act together in this area by making four key, positive choices.

1. Make a commitment to God?s standard.

Psalm 119:9, “How can anyone keep his way pure? By living according to Your word.” And God definitely has some standards, some principles that guide us in the area of our sexuality. Obviously, we know that sex is God?s idea. God invented sex and that God created sex for three purposes. God made sex for three reasons:

For pleasure between a wife and her husband in the commitment of a marriage vow.
One man and one woman committed to each other for life. The first purpose is for pleasure between that husband and that wife.

For spiritual bonding.
It brings a husband and a wife together in not just a physical way but also in an emotional and spiritual bonding. Sex is far more than just physical. That?s why you remember it. If you drink a glass of water at the wrong time you don?t remember it in three minutes, much less three years. But you never forget sex in a wrong circumstance. Even 20, 40 years later you can still go back to that thought. Why? Because it?s more than just a physical event. There is an emotional and spiritual bonding that takes place and leaves a part of you in that situation. It?s very profound in its consequences.

For procreation.
To have babies. Obvious, God gave this command to Adam and Eve at the very beginning of time and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” That, by the way is the only one of God?s commands we?ve ever been able to keep. We?ve done a pretty good job of being fruitful and multiplying and replenishing the earth and we?re all here because somebody kept that part of the command. Every human being is here because of that.

I wish I had time to go into these but I don?t. What I want to say to you this morning is when sex is used the way God intends it?s beautiful. It?s wonderful. It is a great benefit to a husband and wife in their relationship. But when sex is not used the way God intended, it creates more problems than anything else in life. Nothing causes more problems than sex outside of God?s standard.

God?s standard is very clear. And God?s standard has never changed. Sex is only for a wife and a husband committed to each other in a marriage relationship.

You say, “I thought God wants me to be happy.” He does. And that?s why He puts boundaries for His kids. Can you imagine if I, as a parent, let my kids do anything they wanted to when they were growing up, when they were two, three, four years old. Let them get up when they wanted to, go to bed when they wanted to, eat whenever they wanted to, play in the middle of the street if they wanted to. Do whatever they wanted to do because I’m a loving, forgiving parent.

That kind of parent should be jailed for child abuse. Parents know more than kids. When parents love their children, they set boundaries. They set limits. Not to punish the kids but to protect the kids because the kids aren?t smart enough to know what to do.

God made you. He is your Heavenly Father. He created you. You wouldn?t even be alive if it weren?t for God. When God gave you your life He also established some parameters, some principles, some boundaries. He says, “If you play by the rules of life, you win. If you ignore them, you break the rules of life, you lose.” You lose big time. You lose big time emotionally. You lose big time relationally, physically, spiritually and even eternally. The loss is enormous.

If you were driving down a freeway and you decided to get off an Off ramp but it was really an On ramp, you would see a sign that says, “Don?t enter here!” How would you feel about that sign? Would you resent that sign? ? “Oh, that stupid sign! I should be able to drive wherever I want to. I’m an adult. I can make my own decisions. I don?t need any signs telling me what not to do with my car. It?s my car and I can do whatever I want to with my car.”

That would be silly. It would be ridiculous. The sign is there not to punish you. The sign is there for your protection. If you stupidly drive off the ramp thinking it?s an Off ramp when it?s really an On ramp, you?re going to hurt somebody and probably hurt yourself.

Yet many people when they see God?s provisions that say, “This is off limits,” they say, “Why? The audacity of God to tell me I can?t do that! I’m an adult. This is my body. This is my life. I can do whatever I want to with it.” Sure you can. God will let you do that. But you?re going to get hurt, just as sure as driving off on an On ramp.

The real issue here when you boil it all down about sex comes to this, Who?s really smarter, God or me? Who knows more about life, God or me? Who knows what will make me happy most? Does God know, the one who wired me up and created me and saw me even before I was born or do I know more about my life?” Anytime I disobey God and say, “I know You said not to do this but I’m going to do it anyway,” I’m basically saying, “God, You?re dumb. I’m smarter than You. I’m going to be my own god. I’m going to choose what I want to do. I’m going to listen to the opinions of other people and thumb my nose at God and say, ?Forget You, God! You may have created me. You may have given me my life. I may owe everything to You. But I’m not going to play by the rules that You established for my own protection.?”

You need to establish a commitment to God?s standard. It really boils down to this. Am I more committed to doing what God says will make me happy or am I more committed to doing what I think will make me most happy?

Sex is a gift. Sex is a gift from God. Sex is a good gift from God. It?s not bad. It?s not dirty. It?s not ugly. It?s holy. It?s God?s gift. But any gift has to be used correctly.

I have a wonderful gift in my back yard called a swimming pool. I can either enjoy it or I can drown in it if I don’t use it correctly. I have a fireplace in my house. If I use it correctly, I gain warmth from it, enjoyment. But if I don?t use it correctly, I can burn the house down.

Anything that is good, that has been given to us by God (and sex is one of those good gifts from God) misused, not used according to the way God says it is to be used is going to burn your house down. Eventually. Inevitably. And it?s going to leave scars and shame that you can?t get rid of.

I recommend that in the first step if you want to get your thinking clear, regardless of the past, you say, “Starting today I want to be a new me. (Kind of a second virginity) God, I want to go Your way.” You make a public commitment to God?s standard.

Some of you may have heard of the movement – that millions of teenagers have become a part of – begun in the US that has gained some momentum here in Canada called True Love Waits. It?s a commitment where kids commit to staying a virgin until they get married. Millions of teenagers have now signed True Love Waits commitment cards. Many parents actually buy their kids a little Promise ring or a True Love Waits ring.

I want to say that you as an adult should make the exact same decision whether you?re married or whether you?re single. If you?re married you need to say to your wife or to your husband, “Whether you ever are unfaithful to me or not, I will always be faithful to you. Because my commitment is not based on your response. My commitment is not based on what you do. My commitment is based on God?s standard and God says no sex outside of marriage. I want God?s blessing on my life. I want you to know that no matter what happens, no matter how angry we get, I will never be unfaithful to you.” If you are a single adult or married, you ought to tell your friends. There should be no question among your friends where you stand on this issue about “Will she?” or “Will she not?” or “Will he?” or “Will he not?” You need to let everybody know, “I intend to live by God?s standard.” That?s the first step.

The second choice to make in this clear thinking about sex is

2. Manage your mind.

There?s always a predictable process that happens whenever we?re going to do some kind of sin. You are not a moral person one day and then an immoral person the next day no matter how it seems on tv and movies and books. That?s not what happens. There is a process that occurs. There are decisions that happen over a period of time that lead eventually to immoral actions.

The first step toward sinful behavior, if you don?t manage your mind, is to accept sinful thoughts in your mind.

The battle for any temptation begins and ends in the mind. What you think about will eventually effect how you feel and how you feel will eventually somehow come out in your behavior or how you act. So ground zero for getting control of any area of your life is your thoughts, deciding what you?re going to think about.

Two scriptures that are very relevant. Proverbs 4:23, “Be careful how you think. You life is shaped by your thoughts.” Then Psalm 101:3, says “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.”

Most people think this last verse particularly very childish. We think of ourselves as much too sophisticated to be governed by something as archaic as that. In fact, movies and magazines are full of people telling you that you not only need to think whatever you want to think but it?s all right for you to go ahead and fantasize about people other than the person you?re married to. That that?s good, healthy, a good thing to do.

The Bible clearly over and over and over tells us that what we think about will effect our behavior and our thoughts are not harmless. Even Christians get caught in the trap thinking, “It?s no big deal. It?s just a thought. Just a harmless thought.” That?s not what the Bible says. The Bible says our lives are shaped by our thoughts.

In our society it has almost become an accepted part of life that people will have an “affair” and cheat on their spouse. This leads to an important question for those who want to remain committed and keep fidelity in their marriage, “I want to be committed to my husband/wife. But how do you do it? How do you keep yourself from being attracted to somebody else through your lifetime? When you get married doesn?t it make all the attraction for other people stop?” I wish it did, but it doesn?t. Honestly, God has made us sexual creatures. We are male and female. We are identified by our sexuality our entire lives through. So for the rest of your life you will always find people that you?re attracted to. And they may not be who you?re married to. What do you do?

You cannot control the fact that you?re going to be attracted to other people. There?s going to be somebody that you meet that?s going to be interesting or exciting or attractive. You can?t control that. But what you can do and what you must choose to do is to control what you do with those feelings of attraction.

If you take care of those feelings of attraction right away you can quickly move into the next stage which is emotional, non-physical involvement. After thinking and thinking about another person and fantasizing about them and starting to rearrange your time and your schedule so that you run into them or at the same place that they are, then what can happen next is, if that person is at all kind to you or receptive or a good listener or somebody that you share a common interest with, you will find yourself talking about your life and things that are making you unhappy and the things that aren?t going right and maybe how your marriage didn?t turn out the way you thought it was going to or your spouse doesn?t love you or all the things you can end up sharing. And then, not only is your head involved ? your thoughts ? but your heart is involved. And you begin to fall in love with somebody that you have no legitimate right to fall in love with. It?s a very, very dangerous thing that happens.

We sooth our conscious at this stage by saying, “But nothing physical is going on! So chill out. Don?t worry about it.” That?s a dangerous thing to say. Because just because something physical is not happening does not mean that what is happening is not powerful and can have a profound effect on your life.

Pepole don?t like this. We tend to watch TV shows over and over that show us that as a culture we don’t spend a whole lot of time at this emotion involvement stage. We go right to the physical. People on TV shows meet each other and the next scene they?re in bed together. They don’t spend a whole lot of time at this emotional stage. You?re attractive? let?s sleep together. But this is very misleading, because all adulterous relationships go through a stage where the emotions get involved. Where emotional needs are being met.

Now this may or may not be true but some of you might be in this exact situation. The situation, the relationships that you?ve been in your life are not fulfilling for whatever reasons. You?re not in a good place. Somehow someone has come into your life that?s attractive, makes you feel good, is interested in you and you are deliberately allowing emotional attachments to begin. You?re allowing it. You?re doing it on purpose.

Maybe there?s others of you, on the other hand, who have found yourself in this place and are shocked as you sit here to realize that?s where you are. You?re saying to yourself even as I’m talking, “I never meant for this to happen! I never intended to become emotionally attached to him/her.” But you find that?s where you are.

What I want to tell you is, it?s not too late. It is not too late. If you are at this stage right here, stop. Call a halt to it. It?s not too late to stop devastation from occurring. It may break your heart. But it will keep your conscious clear. If you don?t, if you persist in this very predictable pattern, the next step in this stage is physical involvement. And once you?ve crossed the line to where there is actual physical contact, where there?s a sexual relationship not just emotional, to try to break out of that will take everything that you?ve got. Don?t do it. If you haven?t crossed that line, don?t do it. It will take all that God can give, all the strength that He can give you to walk away from that.

If you ignore this, if you continue the next step will be rationalizing your actions. We are all pros at rationalizing our actions. We are all experts at pulling the wool over our own eyes, at coming up with very creative reasons to justify what we?re doing. When I do things in my life that I know are wrong, I know they?re wrong, I can be so creative in telling myself why it?s ok for me to have done whatever it is. And I’m sure that you?re exactly the same way.

The Bible says this is the way we all are. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” We say things like this to ourselves when we?re doing something we know is wrong, “But I was tired? I couldn?t help it? I wasn?t thinking clearly? I?ve been feeling depressed? I?ve been under a lot of stress lately? Things just didn?t turn out the way I thought they were going to? If he was meeting my needs, talking to me and paying attention, I wouldn?t have been interested in anybody else? If my wife was talking to me and we were having a good physical relationship and she was letting me know how important I was to her, I wouldn?t be interested in anybody else? I?ll never do it again? Just one more time? ”

When you are rationalizing ? pull that word apart ? you are giving yourself supposedly rational lies. It?s all lies. Anytime that we justify to ourselves behavior that we know is wrong we are lying to ourselves. And the cost is way too high.

So what else can we do? There?s choices to make. We can accept God?s standards. We can make God?s standards for morality our standards of morality. We can decide to get serious about this and manage our minds. And the third choice we can make?

3. Minimize the opportunities for sexual misconduct

The first step in this is just acknowledge that you?re vulnerable. Some of you may think, “There might be some scumbags in this church but I am not one of them. I would never do anything that he?s talking about.” 1 Corinthians 10:12 begs to differ. “Be careful. If you?re thinking, ?I would never behave like that.? Let this be a warning to you for you too may fall into sin.” Given the right opportunity, given the right circumstance, anybody can commit any sin. If you don?t think you?re vulnerable, you are going to let your pride keep you from putting the barriers and the safeguards around your heart and your lifestyle that you need to put into place. I’m going to suggest some of those to you.

First, admit you?re vulnerable and then second, start looking honestly at your lifestyle and seeing what situations are leaving you more open to sexual sin than you may have realized. Are there situations in your workplace, maybe on a business trip or in a place that you volunteer, or at social gatherings where you have regular contact with a person that is attractive to you (other than your spouse of cours)? Listen to me?don?t ever, ever, ever spend time alone with that person!! Do something to change or alter that situation so that it doesn?t leave you open to start the slide towards sexual sin. Young people hear me as well. Having sex before marriage is against God?s moral standards and this point applies to you as well. Don?t allow yourself to be in a situation where you are more open to sexual sin than you may have realized?

Acknowledge your vulnerability, look for the situations that leave you open to temptation and choose your friends wisely.

Studies have shown over and over that when affairs occur they happen with three groups of people. They happen either with co-workers. They happen with family members. Or they happen with friends. You cannot control who your family is. They?re your family. You?re stuck with them. You can?t do anything about that. You can?t control all the time who you work with. But you can control who your friends are.

1 Corinthians 15:33 “Bad companions ruin good character.” Just as we were talking about the process of what you think about will affect how you feel and eventually affect how you behave. If you hang out with people that do not share the same values that you do, if you hang out with people who don?t have a standard of God?s sense of morality and monogamy the way that you do, if you hang out with them, over a period of time you will find your own standards lessening. Now when I say this I?m not saying isolate yourself from these people because how will we share Jesus with people we don?t have connections with ? BUT your most trusted and valued friendships should not be found among people who don?t share the same moral values you have!! You?ll find yourself finding acceptable things that you wouldn?t have if you were hanging out with people who had the same standards. Be careful of the friends you choose.

Also, Monitor your media intake. We can have garbage disposals in our kitchen but we now have garbage dispensers in our TV sets and even on the Internet. The Internet can be used for a lot of great things but one of the really negative things that it has brought into our lives is it dumps garbage into our homes if we?re not careful. And now with email spam there?s even more garbage readily dispensed before our eyes. You need to set a filter on your Internet. Don?t make it easy for yourself or for your kids to pipe porn into your house. Don?t do that. Kids are smart enough and you?re probably smart enough to put the filter on you?re smart enough to disengage the filter. Everybody knows how to take them off but don?t make it easy. Don?t make it so that with a click of a button you can bring pornography into your home. It becomes a trap, something that?s very degrading and will ruin your personal life.

If you want help in knowing how to filter the internet or to handle spammed pornographic emails in your inbox come and talk to me and I?d be glad to help you out.

One last thing as we?re looking at ways you can minimize the opportunities. Decide that you?re going to live a life above reproach. Ephesians 5:3 “But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality”. People who are not believers, who don?t claim to be Christians, they?re not calling themselves Christians, they don?t consider themselves Christians, they can do just about anything and nobody says very much. But you let somebody who says that they?re a Christian or claims to have a relationship with God do something wrong, the whole world rises up and begins to judge them. You think that?s not fair. Shouldn?t we be held to the same standards?

The truth is no. The Bible says that as people who call on the name of Jesus Christ, who call themselves Christians, we are to live lives of such purity there shouldn?t even be a hint of sexual immorality about our lives. People would have to make up stories about us to accuse us of doing anything wrong.

So as we?re looking at these choices, make sure that you?ve made a commitment to God?s standard. Get serious about managing your mind. Minimize the opportunities. Then one last step about how to have clear thinking about sex?

4. Magnify the consequences

Magnify the consequences of ignoring God, not doing what He says, of sin. If you want a good antidote to stop you dead in your tracks from the lure of any kind of temptation, pause a minute and think, “What will I be giving up if I give in to this?” Think of the consequences. When you?re tempted you don?t think clearly. You allow the moment?s pleasure, the moment?s drive, impulse, desire, whatever cause you to forget what you?re going to be giving up. You need to just pause and remind yourself of the devastation and the destruction that sexual sin causes in lives.

Hollywood has desensitized and romanticized and glamorized illicit sex. James Bond pops from bed to bed to bed having a great old time and nobody goes back and asks any of those women, “How do you feel now? Were you hurt? Were you burned? Do you feel used? Do you feel cheap?” Hollywood never shows the downside of illicit sex. It just makes it all look so great and grand.

The truth is, nothing destroys, harms, hurts your spirit, your soul, your emotions, your relationships, your future, your past, your memories like failure in this area. The scars tend to be permanent. The shame tends to linger on. The sense of loss to everybody involved is enormous. People will say, “If only I could turn back the hands of time. If only I could just back it up, rewind the tape. What was I thinking in that moment? It?s like I took my brains and put them on the shelf for a minute. What was I thinking?”

Why am I talking about this, this morning? Because I care about you. And because this can blow your life quicker than almost anything else. People will throw away their kids, their wives, their husbands, their families, their reputation, their friends, all kinds of stuff, because they?re not thinking clearly.

Now I don?t know where you folks are in your marriages. But I would suspect that either theres someone here who is in a difficult marriage or some of you who have been through difficult times in your marriage. A time where things haven?t turned out the way you planned and if the truth were known you?re disappointed in your marriage. You feel unfulfilled. You feel, I have a right to? this, that, and on and on. And you?ve been looking around. Maybe you?ve done something. Maybe you haven?t yet. Maybe you haven?t crossed that line, I don?t know. But I will say this. You?re not here by accident. God brought you here today so He could say to you, “Don?t do it. Don?t do it!”

You may be a single adult and you?re so lonely and desiring of a relationship that you?re ready to almost do anything with anybody for a little comfort and intimacy. Don?t do it. Don?t!

Remember the story of Esau in the Bible? Esau gave up his entire family inheritance for a bowl of cereal. He allowed the momentary hunger of his body to give up what was rightfully his for the rest of his life and he exchanged the rest of his life?s inheritance for one momentary pleasure ? a bowl of cereal.

I wonder how many of you have ever been tempted to walk out on everything you?ve got. Turn your back on kids, turn your back on a husband or wife, your reputation, whatever because somebody paid attention to you. The Bible says this, “Anyone who commits adultery doesn?t have any sense. He?s just destroying himself.” The Bible says in Proverbs 6:26 “Immorality may cost you your life.” Today that could be literal! With AIDS and all the sexually transmitted disease that could be literally true.

I have been married to KerryAnne now for 8 years and 4 months. By the grace of God and by my commitments and the accountability of good Christian friends she is the only woman I have ever been intimate with. I intend to keep it that way. By the grace of God and my commitments and the accountability of other friends, I intend to be faithful to her the rest of my life no matter what happens. Why? For three very important reasons.

I love Jesus Christ.

I love Him with all my heart. I owe my life to Him, my eternal salvation, my forgiveness. He died on the cross for me. When Jesus Christ stretched out His hands on the cross and they nailed Him, what were they nailing Him there for? He was paying for my sin. I don’t want to commit any more that need to be paid for or at least as few as possible. I love Jesus Christ. Why would I want to drive another nail into His hands?

I love my wife. And I love my kids.

The thought of disappointing them, of looking into their faces and seeing the horror and shock when they discovered my sin, to think of that is almost unbearable. I can?t imagine the kind of pain I would feel betraying the people I love the most in that way.

I have a healthy fear of the judgment of God.

Friends, God is not just some Santa Claus allowing you to do whatever you want (“Boys will be boys!”) The Bible says this, “God will judge the sexually immoral.” God doesn?t make rules and then say, “Go ahead and break them and get away with it.” I cannot kid myself. This is serious business. It?s what put Jesus on the cross. I will not get away with it. There are people who will say, “I know God will forgive me. I know it?s wrong but I know God will forgive me. So I’m going to go ahead and do it.” What kind of idiot do you think God is? Really! “I know it?s wrong but I know God will forgive me. I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway.” Do you think God?s stupid? If you think that about God you don?t understand the grace of God at all. You?re way off. Your thinking is very fuzzy. The Bible says “Whatever you sow you will reap.” It?s inevitable. You plant seeds you?re going to get a harvest. It may be delayed but it will be there.

Now God will never change His standard. Premarital sex is unacceptable to God. It always has been. It always will be. All the opinion polls of the world aren?t going to change that. Living together and not being married is unacceptable to God. It always has been. It always will be. Adultery ? let?s not be nice and call it an affair. It?s adultery. Adultery is unacceptable to God. It always has been. It always will be. Pornography, homosexuality or any sexual thing that?s outside of between a husband and a wife in marriage is always wrong. People may giggle about it, laugh at it, joke about it, make comedy about it but they?re not going to laugh one day. One day they?re going to stand before God and explain why they thought they were smarter than God. Why in the face of God they said, “I know You said not to do this but I’m going to do this. Because I know more than You, God.” That is the height of arrogance. Adultery is the ultimate act of selfishness. There is nothing more selfish than adultery. “I don?t care what?s going to happen to my spouse, my kids, my friends, my marriage. I’m going to do what I want to do.” It?s selfishness pure and simple.

If you have fallen or stumbled or engaged in any of these activities, you?ve come to the right place. You?re hanging out with a bunch of people who?ve blown it. You, right now, are sitting next to a whole bunch of sinners. They?re sitting next to a bigger one! Nobody has batted 1000. Nobody?s perfect. Everybody has made mistakes. Everyone has sinned. That?s why we all need a Savior. The good news is regardless of what happened yesterday or last week or last month or ten years ago, you can start over, you can wipe the slate clean, you can have like a secondary virginity. You can have healing and wholeness and relief from memories and forgiveness that God wants to give you. He?s waiting. What is the path back to purity? Four steps.

God offers you the chance to come clean and start over if first you repent. What does that mean? Change your mind. To repent means to agree with God. You quit making excuses and rationalizations. You quit saying, “I made a mistake. I stumbled. It was a blooper.” No. It was disobedience. God said don?t do it and you did it anyway. Call it what it is. Disobedience. I willfully chose to do what I wanted to do rather than what God had said was best for me. Say, “God, I’m sorry. You?re right and I was wrong.” You take action immediately and do whatever it takes to come back to God. And you come back to Him quickly. Right now. If you?re in a relationship, either premarital or extra-marital, you need to make that thing right instantly. In an adulterous affair, you need to quit cold turkey, cut it off, no more contact. It?s not like weaning yourself with a nicotine patch. It?s bamm! Over today! No more contact. If you have to move out of the area, change jobs, you do that. Your soul is more important than your job. Deal ruthlessly with it. If you need some help, come and talk to me and I?ll work with you to see that you deal with it. It?s not going to be easy.

2. You receive forgiveness. God is waiting to forgive you and cleanse you and restore you. You can be released from past shame and past guilt and past regrets. The good thing about that is when you start going down God?s path instead of the path I was talking about earlier, you can be forgiven and then you can learn to forgive yourself. Let me tell you why that?s good. Your body is often smarter than you. When we carry unresolved guilt, unforgiven things in our lives, our body keeps score. Some of you have been sick over and over and over. You have all kinds of other problems like you have unrealistic fears, phobias, anxiety, panic attacks, all kinds of physical ailments, all kinds of other emotional ailments. Many of those can be caused by unresolved guilt. I’m not saying all of it is but a lot of it is. Doctors say they can clear out most of the hospitals if they knew how to help people get rid of their guilt. Your body?s keeping score even when your mind?s telling you, “It?s ok. It?s all right.” Your body knows it?s not. You weren?t wired to go the opposite way of God. He wired you to go His way. Receive forgiveness and feel the joy. Even if there were no heaven, it would be wonderful becoming a believer just to have a clear conscious and forgiveness and joy and peace where there was shame and regret.

3. Refocus and replace. Turn your back away from the things you know you shouldn?t be watching or filling your mind with. None of us would ever invite a couple to come over and sit in our living room at night and watch them as they engage in illicit sex. But we do it every night of the week with the television. “Come in and have illicit sex right here in my living room,” is what you?re doing. When you rent that video tape that?s what you?re doing. Why would you fill your mind to something that?s totally contrary to what Jesus Christ died on the cross for? Make a commitment to living a morally pure life the rest of your life, which means you will only have sex to someone you?re married to. You want the blessing of God on your life.

You say, “That sounds good but I don?t think I can do it. I’m just too weak. I’m not strong enough.” Then you need to do number four.

4. Request help daily. Commit your life to Jesus Christ and ask Him to help you manage this most powerful drive in your life. He gave it to you and He can help you. What do you do when you?re tempted? God has given us a wonderful promise. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says this, “Remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience [in other words, everybody here in this room has been sexually tempted. Everybody here. The temptations that come into your life, sexual or otherwise, they?re no different than what others experience. They?re all common] and God is faithful. When you are tempted He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.” When you?re tempted you believe three things: One, believe that God has seen it before. It?s common. He?s not shocked. Who do you think gave you your emotions? Who do you think gave you your sexual drives and desires? He?s not shocked when you?re tempted. Second, believe that God will limit their intensity. Three, believe that God will make a way out.

Trust God by taking these four choices.

God gave you your sexual drive and used properly it bonds a husband and wife together physically, emotionally and spiritually. Used improperly it destroys marriages and families, it damages self esteem, it fills you with insecurities, it creates misery, guilt, shame, depression not mentioning all the diseases that promiscuity has given us in our society. God?s way is always the best way and you can get back on track today, right now. Maybe you?ve realized that you need to get serious about your thoughts. You?ve thought they were harmless fantasies. They?re not as I pointed out. Maybe you?ve developed an emotional attachment to somebody who?s not your spouse and you need to nip it in the bud right now. Maybe your marriage has been shaken by an affair and you need to stop it cold turkey and you need to come back to God. The good news is you can do something about it. Your church is here to help you because we?re all in the same boat. Your marriage is like a boat. It?s like a ship out on the sea. Maybe your ship is starting to sink. What you need to do is haul your marriage-ship back into dry dock for refitting and repairing. Once it?s refitted it will sail farther and further and faster than at any previous time.

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