Sexual Sin, Part 4
First Thessalonians 4:1 says:
1 Thessalonians 4:1 – Finally brothers we instructed you how to live in order to please God…
That’s what we’re going to look at today, as to how we can please God. It goes on to say,
1 Thessalonians 4:2-3 – …as in fact you are now living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified, that you should avoid sexual immorality;
And then this part says,
1 Thessalonians 4:4 – … each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.
We’ll talk about learning to control our body and to keep our bodies from being moved into an area of sexual immorality. There’s a lot of Christians that deal with masturbation, with lust and looking. We’re going to talk today about how we can learn to control our bodies. It’s not just something that just disappears over night. It’s not like you’re baptized or you give yourself to God or you go in to pray and say, “God deal with my lust, deal with the inability of myself to control myself,” and expect it to disappear.
First Thessalonians 4:4 says that we have to learn to control our body—we have to steer away from those things that cause us to sin. We have to understand what things we need to put to death in each of our lives. Certain things cause other people to sin that don’t cause somebody else to sin. And we have to learn for ourselves what things about our life cause us to sin.
I know men that lust after looking at a Sears catalog. To other people that’s not even a problem at all. But each of us must learn how to control our body and to bring it under discipline by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:5 – Not in passion and lust like the heathen who do not know God. And in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
The warning is to Christians, not to non-Christians. It’s saying if we do not learn to control our bodies and we do not learn to live holy and righteous lives, and if we give ourselves over to the passion of lust that the world walks in, that God will punish us also. We’re not immune from it. Let us not think for a moment that we can somehow indulge our lusts or our passions or our thoughts and never bring those under the control of Jesus Christ and escape the wrath that is coming.
Paul was reminding us, especially in verse 8 that God has given us the Holy Spirit, and therefore, we ought to be able to live holy and righteous lives. We should be able to learn to control our own bodies.
He set the example of what purity and holiness is because God has given us His grace.
The first thing that we need to begin to do in order not to live lustful lives is to not think sexual thoughts. I’m going to give you about five things today. The first one is do not think sexual thoughts. Look at Colossians 3:1. You’re talking about the daily life of surrendering to God, of just simply taking your mind off the things of the world and focusing them upon God.
Colossians 3:1 – Since then you have been raised with Christ. Set your hearts on things above.
So ask yourself a question. How often do I think about things that are in heaven? How often do I think about the needs of Jesus Christ? How often do I think about heavenly things? Set your heart on things above. Where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think about where Jesus Christ is, about how He is there and allows you to have a relationship with Him.
Colossians 3:2 – Set your minds on things above.
Each day we should get up and take our minds and think about heavenly things. It’s because when we begin to focus in upon the earth and the people around us and those sorts of things, that’s when the lust and the passion begins to rise up within us. But if our mind is over here on something else besides sin then we’re going to be able to control our bodies. Because any disobedience of the body begins where? First of all in our hearts and in our minds. We begin to think, we begin to dwell upon those things, we begin to tantalize them and to bring them in. Eventually we commit the sin.
Colossians 3:3 – For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
And then verse 5 says what?
Colossians 3:5 – Put to death therefore what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality…
It’s the first thing he lists.
Colossians 3:5 – …impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
If you wait for sexual lust to die out you’ll be overcome by it. If you go to the prayer closet and you see God and just somehow magically wait for God to deliver you from that, you will be overcome by it. Not only do we set our minds on things above, not only do we trust in God’s Spirit, but we have to begin to do some things. And the thing that we begin to do is put to death the things that cause us to lust. To put to death the things and the attitudes of our heart and our minds, then go on and put those to death by the power of the Spirit. If you just simply wait for the Spirit to deliver you from them, you’ll never be delivered. You have to do some things.
You have to set your heart on things above. You have to put your mind on things above. Then you proceed to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh.
Colossians 3:6 – Because of these the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
You used to walk down that path where it was natural to lust without thinking anything bad about it. It was natural to walk in sexual immorality, evil desires—all those things. You turn and walk a different course and you begin to put your mind on other things in your heart and in other things and then the body begins to change. How do we learn to control our own bodies? By taking our minds and our hearts and putting them on things above and getting our mind off the things of the earth.
Romans 13:14 is a real good passage to keep us from falling into sin:
Romans 13:14 – Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
You know what it is. We start fantasizing; we begin to think about other things in our mind about what we want to do, about how we can please our flesh. Those are the times to begin to cut off those thoughts. That we already know that we begin to think those thoughts and it really doesn’t have to be sexual immorality, it could be anything opposed to the Spirit. But we’re talking about sexual immorality today. You clothe yourself with Jesus Christ. You get your mind on things above. You get your hearts filled with the Lord and then you begin to put to death, you begin to keep out those thoughts that lead you into sexual immorality. And I don’t care if that battle goes on all day or not. I don’t care if you are looking at a woman and you turn over here to avoid that woman and somebody else is there—you just keep turning your head until your heart becomes pure. “Rather clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Learn how to avoid sexual immorality. And we begin to do that by not thinking about how to gratify that sin.
Ephesians 4:17 – So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord…
And we need to do that with each other. We need to insist on it. With whomever you meet who claims to be a Christian, with whatever church you are in, you need to stand up and insist on this in the Lord. If we ever expect to keep sexual immorality from getting out of hand within the body, if we ever expect to keep ourselves pure with one another, within the body, within our own lives, we must insist that these things be there. Let’s look at it.
Ephesians 4:17 – So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do…
Our lives should be totally different.
Ephesians 4:18 – …and in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
It’s like he’s saying, “Christians, wake up, soften your heart. Do not live as the Gentiles do. Do not live in that passion. I insist on it, I demand it, this is what it is supposed to be in Christ Jesus.” And we need to do that with one another. We need to write Ephesians to each other whenever we meet. Whatever church you go into, with whoever we’re with in fellowship, we should insist upon these things in the Lord.
Ephesians 4:19 – Having lost all sensitivity…
Feel no sense of guilt or shame, or condemnation or that something should change. And how many churches are like that, and how many Christians are like that? They’ve lost that sensitivity to whatever is proper and holy. You walk into church and see how the women are dressed and how the men are dressed, you can tell there’s no sensitivity to what is really wrong.
Ephesians 4:19 – Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.
It’s almost as though he’s saying some people do. Some people are taught in the gospel that it’s proper to be impure. You just tolerate those things. That’s just a part of who we are. That will never really change. That’s just legalism to lay down some rule about the way we dress or the way we act. But you didn’t come to know Christ that way.
Ephesians 4:21 – Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.
Surely you understand what it really means to be pure in Jesus.
Ephesians 4:22 – You were taught with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.
Now again I want to repeat that when desires are deceitful that means you don’t know that they’re unclean. You have to walk in the light. You have to be on the narrow road. You have to be at least around other people who will point out and say, “That is wicked, that is evil,” because we don’t see it ourselves. Many of us have to be convinced of sin.
I’ve studied with a lot of people walking away saying, “You know they really believe what they’re telling me is true and good.”
Ephesians 4:22-24 – You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
And we have to deal with lust. We have to deal with passion. We have to deal with sexual immorality. You can’t just simply pray, walk away from it, and expect it to disappear. We must order our lives. You have to sit down and think for yourself, what causes me to sin? What causes me to lust? What is a stumbling block for me? And you begin to clean your life up and order your life in such a way that that doesn’t lead to your sin. You learn to control your body. You learn to steer away from those things that cause you to sin. You put on Jesus Christ. That is, you put on the will of God in your life. You understand what He wants you to do. You understand, this is what Jesus wants me to accomplish today, and you give yourself to it.
Look at Philippians 4:8. One of the greatest battles I think we face is bringing our mind under control of the Spirit. Especially in relationship to lust. It’s like trying not to think about something. You have that sense that it’s impossible to keep your mind on what you want it to be on. Yet it is possible because of the Holy Spirit, and because of grace.
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellence or praise worthy— think about such things.
You could spare yourself a bad attitude if you lived this out.
Philippians 4:9 – Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice.
Now that’s the kind of life we’re to live with one another. You see, lust and sexual immorality is not a matter of just one individual, it’s a matter of the whole body. We see that all the way through scripture. If the body is pure then it is going to demand purity upon everybody else. And we need to be able to say to one another, “Whatever you have seen in me, whatever you have learned from me, whatever you have received from me, put that into practice. And guess what? The peace of God will be with you.” That’s the kind of righteous lives we need to live. That’s the kind of righteous lives we need to demand from one another. Especially from our teachers, elders, or leaders or whoever. Think about such things. Whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable.
Romans 8:5 tells us about the battle that’s going on. And you simply have to decide which one you’re going to walk in. Listen, there is no easy way to deal with lust. Anybody that tells you that they have an easy way, don’t believe them, it’s a lie, it’ll never happen.
First Peter talks about that we have to suffer in our body to be through with sin. It is no easy battle to deal with passion, with lust, with feelings of being alone, whatever it is you struggle with, it’s not an easy thing but it is conquerable. And we can win if we give ourselves to God for it.
Romans 8:5 – Those who live according to sinful nature have their mind set on what that nature desires.
There are Christians that I know go on and on and all they’re thinking about is how they can please their sinful nature. And eventually they give up even being a Christian. They have their mind set on what they want to do, hoping the Spirit is in line with that. Listen, even if my sinful nature agrees with the Holy Spirit it’s opposed to the Holy Spirit. The two have nothing in common. If the sinful nature says, “Move to Colorado,” and the Holy Spirit says, “Move to Colorado,” you can be sure that sinful nature is totally opposed to what that Spirit called me to do. Because the sinful nature is here to ski and back pack and do other things, not the Holy Spirit.
A sinful nature is opposed to God. And those that have their minds on what they want to do, that is their sinful nature and who they are. They are not in Christ Jesus. They’re going to lose a relationship anyway. But those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their mind set on what the Spirit desires. You have to get up in the morning and say, “God what is your will. What is it the Spirit wants to work?” And you give yourself, you put on the mind of Christ. You clothe yourself with Jesus Christ and you put your mind on things above and your heart where it needs to be and you give yourself to the work and the will of God.
Romans 8:6 – The mind of the sinful man is death…
And we’ve experienced that death. Not a physical death where there is nothingness, but a death where it’s one continual lust after another. You know what it is. You get one little lustful thought here and before long you’re in a couple of hours of lust. I’ve lusted to the point that I can’t sleep at night and you just can’t stop it. Once it begins to go it’s overwhelming. That kind of death. A continual falling from God. A continual impurity. A continual lust for more.
Romans 8:6 – The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.
You have to surrender. A very simple thing, isn’t it? You simply have to say, “God, my mind is Yours.” That’s why I get so worried at people saying, “But God gave me a mind to use.” Yes, let’s tack on, “He gave me a mind to use to surrender to Him.”
Romans 8:7-8 – The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by their sinful nature cannot please God.
If you’re seeking to follow God by what you want to do in your sinful mind, there is no way you will ever please God.
You ever get that feeling like you can’t do anything right? And very often the case is because you walk by the sinful mind. You walk by doing what you want to do in a religious sort of way and you come to the conclusion, “Anything I do isn’t right.” It can be, but not always, but it can be because you’re seeking to serve God by your own thoughts and your own mind and it will never be right. If you’re lucky enough to have other people around you to point that out then you can get in tune with the Spirit.
There are a couple of things Romans brings up. The first one is, “Let your mind be controlled by the Spirit.” And the second thing, verse 5 says to have your desire set on what the Spirit desires. And that’s our second point. Get busy serving Jesus and you won’t have too much time to lust.
Look at Romans 12:11. A lot of us fall into lust and passions and thinking about fulfilling the desires of the sinful nature because we’re not busy doing the Lord’s work. We’re just kind of neutral there. We haven’t really committed the adultery yet but we’re not really busy doing the Lord’s work either. If you’re neutral, if you’re kind of in the middle, you’ll be taken over by the lust. You’ve got to get busy.
Romans 12:11 – Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Now we can all live that, can’t we? If we get busy doing the things we should do we won’t have time to do the things we shouldn’t do. If our mind is on the things that we should be doing we won’t have time to think about the things that we shouldn’t be thinking about doing. Never lose that zeal to be doing what God called you to do. Even if it’s waiting upon God. You give yourself fully to what God has called you to do and then you don’t have the time to think about things that you shouldn’t think about or even do the things you shouldn’t do.
Romans 12:11 – Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
So many people fall away from God because they never got busy. It’s that simple. They built their house on the sand.
You know that’s not a story that Jesus came to bring so that your kids can buy nice little story books. Jesus really did mean that a man who hears what He says, puts it into practice and builds his house is like a man who builds on a rock. If you don’t do what Jesus calls you to do, you might have a nice looking house but it’s going to tumble in one day with a great crash.
1 Timothy 5:11, it talks about women who become idle. Idleness and sexual immorality seem to go hand in hand. In 1 Timothy 5:11 he’s talking about younger widows. And he says:
1 Timothy 5:11 – As for younger widows, do not put them on list. For when they essential desires overcome their dedication to Christ they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.
You see their mind wasn’t first of all on Jesus Christ. That first commitment and love to Him. Their minds and their hearts were not upon Him. They break their first pledge. They break the relationship with Jesus Christ and they want to marry and fulfill their fleshly desires.
1 Timothy 5:13 – Besides, they get in the habit of being idle…
Just kind of hanging around, really doing nothing. No real zeal, no love for God, you can see why you give way to the world. If we’re not hungry for the Lord, if we’re not doing His will, if there’s not that desire there, what do you think is going to take us over? Human beings are not the kind of people who can just sit and do nothing, as a rule. Your vacations you know are anything but vacations. How often do people come back saying, “I need a vacation from my vacation”? Because nobody goes and rests. Besides, “they get into the habit of being idle and going from house to house. And not only do they become idlers but also gossips and busybodies. Saying things they ought not to.” (1 Timothy 5:13
1 Timothy 5:14-15 – So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.
All of our sensual desires, all of our sexual desires, all of our lust, they turn away from God. They turn away from Jesus Christ and they want to marry and fall into that sin.
Look at Proverbs 18:9. If you’re not working in the Lord and you’re not zealously pursuing whatever it is He has for you to do, you might as well become a Satan worshipper. Because you destroy the work of God.
Proverbs 18:9 – One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.
You can’t be neutral in God. The workers are few in the first place, and there’s plenty for all of you to do. I guarantee you if you say to God each morning, “God, I’ll do whatever you call me to do,” there will not be enough hours in the day to get it done.
Proverbs 24:27 – Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that build your own house.
Most people build their own house, put themselves together and then worry about the fields of the Lord. In Proverbs it tells us first of all to get our concerns about the work of Jesus Christ and then worry about where you’re going to sleep and when you’re going to eat and what you’re going to do. Finish your outdoor work. Get your fields ready, get everything ready to do the work out in the Lord that you need to do. After that, after all that is completed, after you’ve surrendered everything to God, then build your house. Get busy with the things of the Lord and you won’t have so much time to lust.
The third thing is, let God deal with your heart. It’s not going to do any good just to get busy. Is it? I mean first of all, you lay down and go to sleep at night you can’t be very well busy. Somebody’s got to change your mind. Somebody’s got to change your heart so that even then it’s pure. Even David says through the watches of the night my heart thinks about you. I mean to have that kind of pure heart that doesn’t think about anything else but the Lord, even when you sleep. For who of us are able to control our minds when we sleep?
Look at Matthew 15:19. You know, that’s not just a simple little point to put down. Don’t put down, number three, let God deal with your heart. I mean that’s almost ridiculous. I mean, let God deal with your heart. Let Him wrestle with it. Let Him crucify, let Him do some work there. Let Him box you in a corner. Let Him rebuke you. Let Him do the work that He wants to do. I know it hurts and I know it’s a struggle and God will box you in, He’ll let you be miserable, but let Him do it. Let Him deal with your heart however He wants to deal with it. This is not some nice little point, “Well, God, Tim preached a sermon, this is his third point so I’m going to do it. Deal with my heart.” That’s not how God does it. He deals with your heart. And when He deals with it He’s a fine surgeon. He knows exactly how to cut that heart to pieces. Let Him do it.
If we ever expect to have any lasting peace—I mean we can make a rule that all the women wear dresses up to here and down to there—it would never change the heart. The lust would never really disappear.
Matthew 15:19 – From out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man “unclean,” but eating with unwashed hands does not make him “unclean.”
It’s not the outward things that we can blame. We can’t say that we live in more wicked times and every time we turn around everything has a sexual connotation to it. It’s right here in the heart that allows those things to even have their effect. Give me a pure heart and those things won’t be able to get in. Give me a heart devoted to the Lord, put my mind on things above and I’ll be appalled by those things I see. I’ll be indignant by them.
Colossians 2:20 talks about a group of people who will have the women wear long dresses in order to try to deal with lust. Or the old thing where at camp the girls swim during one hour and the men swim another hour, as if that’s really going to do away with lust. You make the rule but if you want to lust, you know what happens, you find a way around the rule. Kind of ridiculous.
Colossians 2:20-21 – Since you died with Christ the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belong to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.
I can give you all kinds of outward things to do that I make up but that’s not going to change your heart, is it? I can even give you scripture about outward things to change but that’s not going to change your heart. God tried that with the law and it doesn’t work.
Colossians 2:23 – Such regulations, indeed, have an appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed. . .
And this is the key: “self-imposed.” Self-imposed. We can come along with a lot of rules and in fact, Sharon just talked to her mom and her mom is going to church where the women are not allowed to cut their hair, they wear it in a bun in the back. You know that kind of church they go to, no make-up, I don’t know what other kind of rules but there’s just a whole list of things. It never changes the heart. It never really gets to the heart. That’s not saying that we’re not going to live holy lives but it means that if we change the heart, guess what else is going to change? The outward. And we’ll know what’s proper and we’ll know what’s holy without making a rule that says everybody has to wear a brown dress or a black dress or the men have to dress this way.
Colossians 2:23 – Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom…
They look right, they look proper.
Colossians 2:23 – …with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Let me tell you, if you regulate things so that nobody can commit adultery the lust will come out in something else, maybe toward food. I mean you just can’t stop the sinful nature. God has to come along and deal with your heart and that’s what you’re going to have to learn to deal with. And we’re going to have to pray and ask God that if it’s necessary you let other people in the body know your heart. Whatever it takes that God might deal with our hearts.
The third thing and the way to deal with sexual sin, we’ve looked at it a little bit, is just to run from it. You just got to run. And that’s what most of us don’t do. We just hang around.
Look at 1 Corinthians 6:18. It says, “Flee from sexual immorality.” You just got to run.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 – All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Over and over again we see two things. We see God saying, “Look, my wrath is coming against those with disobedience.” And we see God telling us to be pure in relationship to sexual things and in relationship to lust.
Run from sexual sin. Flee it. Avoid it. Stay away from it. Whatever it takes for you, get away from it. Get it conquered, deal with it. Resolve, and say, “God, I’m going to conquer this today. We will win against it.” And no matter how many times you fall, no matter how many thoughts you allow to get in, get back up and conquer and fight the battle.
In Matthew 5:6 it says, “Blessed are those hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
You cannot, and I can’t emphasize this enough, we just cannot be a people sitting down praying, asking God to deliver us from the sin. We have to run from them. We have to flee. We have to put our mind on things above.
In Proverbs 16:26 it says this, go ahead and turn there. You knew what Matthew 5:6 said. But look at Proverbs 16:26. Now you remember that the younger widows gave up their first pledge. They became idle, they became busybodies. They just kind of sat down and began to think about what they want to do. And a good measurement of how much we love God and how well we’re going to conquer lust is Proverbs 16:26.
Proverbs 16:26 – The laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Let that hunger for righteousness and that thirst for God drive you to conquer lust and sexual sin. Yes, that battle is going to be there and we’re all going to have to struggle with it but let the hunger to know Jesus Christ overcome the desire to allow those things in your life. “The laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on” so that he searches after God and seeks it to put it to death.
Number four. The fourth thing we need to do is we need to guard each other. Look at Hebrews 3:12. We’ll look at these a little bit in detail but I want to back up and just bring those together so that we can deal with sexual sin. We’ve got to guard each other. When one person commits sexual sin in the body the whole body to a certain degree is responsible. If they didn’t do anything to stop that when it first began in terms of thoughts and attitudes of the heart, then they are accountable, very much, for when that man or that woman commits that sin. In Hebrews 3:12 it says to “see to it,” that’s the goal you have in Christ Jesus. I get kind of worried about people always praying and wanting to know what God’s will is when there are so many things we can know just from right here to keep ourselves busy. He’ll work out all the fine details.
Hebrews 3:12-13 – See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it’s called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
See to it that none of us has any sinful immorality among us. Each of us is responsible to make sure that there’s not even a hint in the way that somebody else dresses or how they act or how they greet one another. We need to make sure that everybody greets everybody with a holy kiss. It’s our responsibility to do so. And really it’s not our responsibility—that sounds like a rule, that sounds like law, legalism. I mean our hunger and our thirst for righteousness and purity in the body should drive us to make sure everything is pure, shouldn’t it? It shouldn’t be a matter of me writing a rule up here that says, “See to it that nobody is sexually immoral.” Or, “Make sure there is no impurity in it.” “I want everybody to obey the rule.” That should come from our own hearts saying, “We cannot allow these sins to go on. We have enough of a struggle with the world bringing it in, let alone allowing it in the church or even in our own lives with one another.”
Ephesians 5:3 – But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity…
Nobody should be able to possibly dare suggest in the way that we conduct ourselves, the way we talk, the way we are, that there is any type of sexual sin going on or any chance for it. They should know that each person is a wall, each person is a pillar, each person is a large “no” to sexual sin.
When visitors come in, when the vile come in, when people who are supposedly in Christ Jesus come here, they need to know they cannot get away with that kind of sin. I’ve been in churches like that, where men and women flirt and people know it’s going on, but nobody says anything, nobody does anything and it just continues to grow. There should not even be a hint of sexual immorality. We have to guard each other. All of us are weak in relationship to that. All of us have those lusts or those passions. It’s not like any of us should hide in the corner and pretend that nobody else thinks we have a struggle. If you have a struggle in your own heart, guess what? Other people have the same struggle. And if you conquered it they can conquer it also. We have to guard each other. We have to expect that kind of purity from each other if we expect to win over lust.
Look at Exodus 22:19. I want to stop here kind of in the middle of the sermon and talk about what’s wrong. What sexual things are wrong in the eyes of the Lord? A lot of people really don’t know any more. I’m just going to talk about large things. You know, the things that should be totally obvious to everybody. Later on maybe we’ll get to the fine details of what’s proper dress or conduct and those kind of things, but for now let’s just look at the very gross things that God comes down and He says, “These things are wrong.” Now I want you to remember something. Man is so dark that God had to lay down the law or he wouldn’t have known it was wrong. That was the purpose for the law. So the things that God is saying are not obvious to the human race.
Exodus 22:19 – Anyone who has sexual relationships with an animal must be put to death.
That is were VD came from, by the way, it came from sheep. Men used to have sexual relationships with their sheep and God says they must be put to death. And we’ll see in more detail that God says that the animals are to be put to death and the man is to be put to death. Lots of good reasons, because VD would begin to occur. Leviticus 18:6 says, and I love this passage,
Leviticus 18:6 – No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relationships.
Leviticus 18:6 – I am the Lord.
Guys don’t need any other reason that that, right? That’s why I love that one.
Leviticus 18:6 – No one is to approach any close relative to have any sexual relationships. I am the Lord.
Close of the conversation. He goes on to say,
Leviticus 18:7 – Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have sexual relations with her. Do not have sexual relationships with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father. Do not have sexual relationships with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere. Do not have sexual relationships with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, that would dishonor you. Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father, she is your sister.
I just want to remind you for a moment when scripture says to treat sisters with absolute purity as your sister it means without any sexual connotations at all.
Leviticus 18:12 – Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister. She is your father’s close relative. Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, because she is your mother’s close relative. Do not dishonor your father’s brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt.
I mean it is amazing how God has to go down and specify all the reasons and all the things we’re to avoid. He just simply cannot come along and say, “Be pure.” He’s not going to say, “I’m God. I love you. I’ll be your father, just do whatever is right,” because it’s not in a man’s heart to do what’s right. Why do you think there has to be leadership within a church, a leader that stands up and says, “These things are improper, these things are holy. This dress is acceptable or it isn’t”? Without laying all kinds of rules and legalisms, it’s because it’s not natural to our heart. We have to put our minds on the things of the Spirit. If we try to serve God with a sinful nature then all kinds of other things creep in.
Leviticus 18:15 – Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; do not have relations with her. Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother.
Again, we see the connotation that sexual sin is not just a matter of indulging passion but it wounds other people. How often does God say, “But it would offend your father, it would dishonor your sister or whoever”? Let’s read on.
Leviticus 18:17-19 – Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness. Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living. Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanliness of her monthly period.
God gives reasons later on.
Leviticus 18:20-23 – Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her. Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of the Lord your God. I am the Lord. Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.
I think we lose sight of what is proper and what is holy. These are the gross things, let alone to getting down to just being pure and holy in everything we do. And don’t think just because you haven’t committed those that other people haven’t. There are people in the body who have indulged themselves in those kinds of perversions. It’s not important who but it is important what lingers in all of our hearts and given enough time we would all commit the same sins. Lust and its passion, you start there but it leads to other things because there must be a continual desire for more.
Leviticus 20:15 – If a man has sexual relations with an animal he must be put to death and you must kill the animal. If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They must be cut off before the eyes of their people. He has dishonored his sister and he will be held responsible.
Now I don’t even want you to go home and look in the commentary that explains genetically it would cause problems. Okay? God didn’t tell me it would cause problems genetically. The point is He said it and He said it dishonors. For whatever reason, I don’t care. I get so tired when you say, “Well, there were medical reasons or good legalistic reasons why you couldn’t eat pork and all that stuff.” No, it’s just enough that God says it. If He wants to tell me why, I’ll be happy to know why. But He doesn’t always say why and we don’t have to know why.
Leviticus 20:18-19 – Both of them must be cut off from their people. Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible.
You see when they brought the woman to Jesus to be stoned for committing adultery, the law says that the man and the woman are to be stoned. So let’s keep in mind that both are held responsible, it’s not just the woman’s fault.
Look at Deuteronomy 27:1. Because these are some things we need to say Amen to. Because the whole body is the whole church as a whole community. Did you ever notice in the law how everybody is responsible to be sure that everything is to be kept clean and pure? I mean even in the old law you couldn’t say, “Well, it’s just between me and God. If God wants to destroy me He’ll do it.” Always the whole camp was affected. Even when the leadership sinned the whole camp was affected.
Deuteronomy 27:1-3 – Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people: “Keep all of these commands that I give you today. When you cross the Jordan into the land the Lord your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster. Write on them all of the words of this law when you have crossed over to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers promised you.”
When anybody becomes a Christian they just simply set up the word of the Lord before them that whenever they look and say, “I’ve entered this land,” it was by the word of the Lord they entered. And it is by the word of the Lord they stay, isn’t it?
That’s why once saved always saved gospel is wrong. Once you enter in by the word you have to live according to that word or you wind up back on the other side. You’re destroyed by that word.
Deuteronomy 27:4-5 – And when you have crossed the Jordan, set up these stones on Mount Ebal, as I commanded you today, and coat them with plaster. Build there an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones. Do not use any iron tool upon them.
That is, God’s word is complete as it is. You don’t need an iron tool called a commentary. You don’t need all man’s extra things that he adds in, it’s just complete as it is. It’s perfect enough.
Deuteronomy 27:6 – Build the altar of the Lord your God with field stones and offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God.
The stones are complete as God made them, they’re field stones. It’s His handiwork, who can improve upon it? It might be more beautiful to our eyes or our hearts but it doesn’t make it any more beautiful to God, does it? If God creates something and it’s perfect, though it be a stone, and we alter that stone, we make that which is perfect imperfect, haven’t we? The word is complete as it is.
Deuteronomy 27:7 – Sacrifice fellowship offerings there, eating them and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord your God.
We’re again talking about a festival, aren’t we? We’re not talking about some heavy legalistic rule, some forward legalism, some impossible command that says “Don’t lust,” and there’s no power there. This is all to be done with rejoicing. Say, “I’m finally free of all those things.” And I can be free.
Deuteronomy 27:8 – And you shall write very clearly all the words of this law on these stones you have set up.
There is to be no little commentary asides that says, “Well, that was for back then.” Or, “This is what he really meant over here.” Very clearly this is what the word says.
Deuteronomy 27:9 – Then Moses and the priests who are Levites said to all Israel, “Be silent, O Israel, and listen! You have now become the people of the Lord your God.”
That calls for silence. That calls for rejoicing. It calls for awe. You have now become a people belonging to the Lord. That ought to cause us to rejoice.
Deuteronomy 27:10-15 – “Obey the Lord your God and follow his commands and decrees that I give you today.” On the same day Moses commanded the people: “When you have crossed the Jordan these tribes shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people. And the Levites shall recite to all the people of Israel in a loud voice, ‘Cursed is the man who carves an image or casts an idol—a thing detestable to the Lord, the work of the craftsman’s hands—and sets it up in secret’ and all the people shall say ‘Amen!’”
He tells them what should be in their heart.
Deuteronomy 27:16-26 – “Cursed is the man who dishonors his father or his mother.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” “Cursed is the man who moves his neighbor’s boundary stone.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” “Cursed is the man who leads the blind astray on the road.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” “Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless, the widow.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” “Cursed is the man who sleeps with his father’s wife because he dishonors his father’s bed.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” “Cursed is the man who has sexual relations with any animal.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” “Cursed is the man who sleeps with his sister, the daughter of his father or daughter of his mother.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” “Cursed is the man who sleeps with his mother-in-law.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” “Cursed is the man who kills his neighbor secretly.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” “Cursed is the man who takes a bribe to kill an innocent person.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” “Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
It’s not enough for us to read and look at all these things without demanding that they be lived out. And there should be just a resounding Amen in everybody’s heart and life.
The fifth way to avoid sexual immorality is to think about hell. Think about judgment. In Romans 1:26 it tells us to think about the judgment to come in relationship to sexual immorality. We don’t think enough about hell and yet we need to dwell and think about the fact that men who commit sexual immorality, women who commit sexual immorality, those of us who continue to entertain lustful thoughts and never seek to put them to death will go to hell. How often do we see in all the scriptures written to Christians, “I warn you, God will punish anyone who does this”?
Romans 1:26-32 – Because of this God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God he gave them over to a depraved mind to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossipers, slanders, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful. They invent ways of doing evil and they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
We need to think about hell. We need to lay before our eyes the moment of sexual immorality that we would commit compared to an eternity in hell. We need to do what Acts says, and that is to live our lives in the fear of the Lord. Is it really worth a few moments of pleasure, of fleshly satisfaction, compared to being in heaven or compared to going to hell forever? Is it really worth that? Reading on to Romans 2:1 it says,
Romans 2:1 – You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
You can’t point to the homosexuals. You can’t point to the lesbians, you can’t point to the other people who outwardly commit that sin without dealing with your own heart, is what he’s saying. You have no right to do so.
Romans 2:2-3 – Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?
Do we think as Christians that if we indulge our minds and our hearts on things of the world and lust of the flesh that we will somehow escape the judgment that is to come? That somehow maybe the homosexual offender is worse off? He uses the worst example he could use. He’s saying men are inflamed with lust for one another, and then he goes on to point out the fact that you do the same thing. You indulge in lust and you think you’re going to escape the wrath? We need to think about hell. We’ll avoid a lot of sexual immorality if we do.
Romans 2:3-4 – So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
Okay, maybe you think you’re going to escape. Maybe you think you’re under God’s grace. Fine. But then “do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” We can praise God that we’re not destroyed at the first lustful thought we get. Or when we misuse our bodies in a way that’s not proper. But that kindness and that tolerance and that patience that He shows us is to give us room to repent so that we don’t do it again.
Romans 2:5 – But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourselves for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed.
And he’s talking to Christians. He’s talking to believers. Granted, God answers your prayer. Granted, He gives you joy and He gives you peace. But He’s giving you room to repent so that we are not a people filled with lustful thoughts. That we’re not in tune with our bodies, and we’re not thinking about gratifying the desires of the sinful nature. Giving us time to cry and weep before God and to humble ourselves before God and say, “God, cleanse my heart. Purify my heart.”
Romans 2:6-9 – God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
Fine, you crossed over into the land. The law is there, it’s clearly written, but it’s time to be pure. It’s time to be holy. You have now become God’s people. And everybody is to say “Amen” to everything that is in the word. These things should not be committed. They should not be tolerated. See to it. May there be no hint of sexual immorality.
Revelation 21:8 – But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, and all liars—their place will be in a fiery lake of burning sulfur.
This is a second death. But avoid sexual immorality and think a little more about hell. Hopefully that will lead us to repent and not to tolerate and not to show contempt for God’s mercy that does save us.
Let’s go ahead and pray:
Father, we do ask that You cleanse our hearts. And, Father, as we pray and ask You to do those things we resolve right now to put our minds and our hearts on things above. And as we look towards Your throne, Father, and toward the love and the open arms that You have for us we keep in mind, Father, in the back of our hearts the fire that rages behind us. The burning sulfur, Father, that reaches high. The men and the women, Father, who have been brought down, Father, because of sexual pleasure. The men and women being tormented, Father, forever and ever. And then, Father, when we’ve been there a million years we’ve only begun. That there would be no rest, Father, from that pain. And we look toward You, Father, that You would show us what Your will is that we might be busy doing Your work. And that You especially might give us the heart of Jesus, Father. And when we see sexual things and when lust begins to rise up, Father, and when the world begins to tempt, that instead of being drawn to those things, Father, we would be indignant and be indignant from the heart, oh Lord. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.