Faithlife Sermons

The Struggle for Purity

Unmasking the Villains of your Heart  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:10
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Our Faithfulness to our Promises is a reflection of the faithfulness of our God.

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Do you realize that the first thought regarding sexuality originated with God? Before a single person was created, God determined that making man as male and female would be a good idea. And aren’t you glad He had that thought?
Yesterday I had the privilege of officiating my first wedding since becoming your pastor. There is something special and beautiful about young love.
But humans did not take long to twist or pervert God’s good idea. This Thursday many of us will be disappointed in our spouse that the warm-fuzzies of our honeymoon will not be properly rekindled on this Hallmark holiday.
To some of us this holiday will be downright painful as you face the reality that nobody has been willing to commit to you until death do us part; or the promises made at an altar have been broken and each mention of Valentine’s Day is a fresh dagger.
Today’s text reminds us that these painful experiences are not God’s design.
Exodus 20:14 ESV:2016
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
While this command is only 5 short words and, on the surface, it is one that the vast majority of us can say, “At least this is one that I haven’t broken.” Just like the railway to murder that we talked about last week, this one may be easier to break than we first thought.
Some think that this sermon may not be appropriate for children, but the best illustration of this command actually comes from a children’s story told by a pastor in Chicago.
One day, Sam's mother asked him what he would like to do for his birthday, which was going to be on the next Friday. "Well," said Sam, "I'd like to have a party and a sleepover and then go fishing with Dad in the morning."
When his mom asked who he wanted to come for the sleepover, Sam knew right away. "I want Johnny to come," he said. "He's my best friend, and I want it to be just the two of us."
So the next day Sam invited Johnny to the party. "It's my birthday on Friday," said Sam, "and I'd like you to come and stay for a sleepover, and then in the morning, we'll go fishing with my dad. It will just be the two of us. It will be awesome."
Johnny was really excited about the party plans, especially going to Sam's house for a sleepover.
"That will be great," he said.
"You will definitely come, right?" said Sam. "You're my best friend, and you are the only one I've invited."
"Of course I'll come," said Johnny, "I'll be there on Friday, I promise."
A few days before the party, Luke, another boy in the same class at school, spoke to Johnny.
"Hey, Johnny," he said. "I'm having a party and I'd really like you to come. We’re going to shoot bows and arrows, ride on 4-wheelers, then stay overnight at a hotel with a waterpark; everyone's going to be there!"
Johnny loved shooting, riding and swimming, and when he asked who else was invited, he found that his other friends were all going to Luke's party.
"That will be great," he said. "When is the party?"
"It's on Friday," said Luke.
Johnny didn't know what to do. He had promised to go to Sam's party, but now he felt like he wanted to go to Luke's as well.
Later that day, Johnny saw Sam on the playground.
"Look, Sam," he said, "I'm not sure if I can come to your party." "Why not?" said Sam.
"Why not?" said Sam.
"Luke asked me to go to his party and I really want to go there."
Sam didn't say anything, but later when he arrived home, he cried and cried. In fact, he couldn't stop crying. Sam's mother found him sobbing and wanted to know what was wrong.
"Johnny told me he was coming to my party," said Sam. "He promised. But now he doesn't want to come."
Then, after a while, Sam got angry.
"I don't care if Johnny doesn't come to my party. I hate him, and he's never going to be my best friend again."
Johnny wasn't happy either. He knew he couldn't go to two parties, and he had to make up his mind. So when he was getting ready for bed, he decided to ask his dad.
"Dad, I've got a problem. I promised I'd go to Sam's party on Friday, but now I've been invited to go to Luke's party as well. Luke's party is at the ranch. My other friends will be there and then they are having a sleepover at the hotel with a waterpark."
"Hmmm," said Johnny's dad. "You made a promise, and then you got what seems like a better offer. This is a big decision." Then his dad said, "Johnny, what if I got a better offer for a wife? You know, there are a lot of really smart women at my office, and some of them are really friendly."
"You can't do that, Dad," said Johnny. "You made a promise to Mom."
"That's right," his dad said, "and that's why it's really important that we learn to keep our promises, even when we are young."
Early the next morning, Johnny phoned Sam.
"Sam, I'm sorry I upset you by talking about Luke's party. If you still want me to come to your party, I'd really like to come."
Johnny had a blast at Sam's party. In fact, he had so much fun that he didn't even think about Luke's party, and the next morning Sam and Johnny caught a fish that was so big, it took the two of them to pull it in.
A few days later, Johnny got a note in the mail from Sam. It said, "Dear Johnny, thanks for making my party the best one I've ever had." It was the best party Johnny had ever been to as well. Johnny smiled to himself. He felt good inside, and he was so glad that he had kept his promise.

Keep your Promises (Matt 5:27-28)

If last week’s command revolved around the sanctity of life due to image-bearing, this week’s command is the sanctity of the home based on promise-keeping.
Matthew 5:27–28 ESV:2016
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Both in mind & body

1. At the very moment that God was giving this command to Moses, Aaron was crafting a golden calf at the bottom of the Mountain. Gen 32:6 says that sat down to eat and drink and “rose up to play” that play is described in v.31 as “a great sin” which some see as a polite way of saying “acted sexually inappropriate”.
2. Jesus describe His society as an adulterous generation, history records that prostitution and pedophilia were both rampant in the Roman Empire. I don’t know if those societies or ours is more sexualized.
3. America is a major producer of pornography for the whole world, sex-trafficking is a huge problem, and we live in an environment where it is extremely difficult to be pure in our minds, in our hearts, and in our behavior.
4. Purity of thought and of life is one of our greatest struggles.
5. Can I share with you some advice I heard over 30 years ago? “Sex outside of marriage will either ruin a good relationship or prolong a bad one.”
Transition: One of the lies of the Evil One is that sexual misbehavior is without consequences. So far I’ve said a lot about the negatives of breaking this command, but let me speak about the positives of keeping this command.

God’s Good Gift of Our Sexuality

Honor the Marriage Bed (Hebrews 13:4)

1. God designed two persons to complement each other. God created the woman from the man, taking the rib from Adam, so that when He brought the man and the woman together in the first marriage. When Adam woke from his sleep and saw Eve in all of her natural beauty, the Scripture doesn’t say that he needed any additional instruction on what to do next.
2. The book of Hebrews tells us that "marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure" (Hebrews 13:4). The reason that it should be kept pure is that it is pure.
3. There is no guilt or shame when our sexuality is expressed as God intends, within marriage.

One Flesh (Genesis 2:24)

Genesis 2:24 ESV:2016
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
1. Becoming one flesh is more than a union of two bodies. It is a joining together of two minds, two hearts, and two wills-the partnership of two souls and two spirits. This unity begins at marriage, but God's purpose is that it should continue, grow, and develop as the marriage matures.
2. When a person is joined in faith to Jesus Christ, he or she is justified. Justification is a decisive event by which you are forever bonded to Christ. But that union is only the beginning of your sanctification, which is the lifelong process by which you grow in your relationship with Him.
3. That's how it is with becoming one flesh. It is a decisive event by which you are forever bonded with the one to whom you have given your pledge. But it is also the beginning of a lifelong process of growing together in body, mind, heart, and soul and pursuing unity.
Relationships can get into difficulties if one partner is interested in being one in body, but they don't have a lot of interest in being one in mind, soul, and spirit. Or if one is interested in being one in mind, soul, and spirit, but they don't have a lot of interest in physical intimacy. God has joined these things together, and they should never be separated. That is the lunacy of what the world calls “friends with benefits” and is why cohabitation before marriage is never a good idea.
4. In a study done by the non-Christian Journal of Marriage and Family just published in September 2018. They conclude “Premarital cohabitation has short‐term benefits and longer term costs for marital stability.”[i]

The Pressure of Fallen Sexuality

1. When we take God's gift and use it outside of marriage, either with another person or on our own, then we abuse God's good gift, and we lose sight of its purpose.
2. The rapid growth of pornography in our time has encouraged many to take sex into a private world in which it is no longer an expression of love, but rather a means of gratification.
In a book entitled, God's Good Life, David Field describes sex on your own as the spiritual equivalent of glue sniffing.1 It's a brilliant analogy. The purpose of glue is to bind two things together. When glue is used for that purpose, it is a marvelous thing. But if a person goes off on his own and uses glue to get high, he is perverting its purpose. That's not what it is for, and if you use it like that, you do damage to yourself.
3. When sex is reduced to a means of gratification, it becomes a self-serving indulgence rather than an expression of love. The great irony is that when this happens, the gift that God gave for the purpose of deepening a relationship ends up having precisely the opposite effect. Instead of deepening the union, it introduces resentment.
4. If we begin to view sexual expression as an outlet for tension rather than an expression of love, God's good gift will be abused.
Transition: To those who have experienced the pain and brokenness of unbiblical relationships...

Christ Came to Redeem us Completely (1 Thess 4:4)

1. Some have the mistaken idea that Jesus came to offer salvation for eternity, but for the here and now, you just have to buck up and try harder. This could not be further from the truth! Jesus’ salvation is not only a future promise, it is a current reality!
Philippians 2:13 ESV:2016
13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
During Sunday School the Library class has been studying the parables of Jesus. One of the points of discussion has been if the kingdom of God is here now, or if it is a future promise. I think most of us have concluded that Jesus offers a new way of life already that is a glimpse of what the not yet kingdom will be.
2. Jesus’ redemption offers us real victory over temptation right now! Regarding your sexuality, The Bible says it is God’s will…
1 Thessalonians 4:4 ESV:2016
4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
Transition: I would like to give you 2 practical ways to do this.

Cultivate Love for Christ (Gen 39:9)

1. The Old Testament tells us the story of the tempting of Joseph, a young man away from home in a foreign country, where nobody knew him. Joseph was single in Egypt and had landed a promising job as the business manager in the household of an extremely rich man by the name of Potiphar.
Potiphar's wife took a liking to Joseph and tried to seduce him. Joseph refused, but Potiphar's wife was not easily discouraged. Day after day she would appear, giving him the eye and trying to entice him. The pressure was relentless.
2. The Bible records the single strategy that sustained Joseph and enabled him to stand throughout the entire time of this temptation: Joseph said, "How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:9). He called the temptation "sin," and he saw the wound that it would bring to the heart of God.
3. If you are going to overcome the power of temptation, the first step is to identify the activity to which you are being tempted as sin. Having been redeemed from sin by the blood of Jesus, how could you go back and do this to Him?
4. Joseph saw that his temptation was not a private issue between himself and Potiphar's wife, or even between himself and Potiphar. It was an issue between Joseph and the Lord.
5. As long as you are saying that your temptation is no big deal, you will never change. But once you come to the place of saying, "This matters to God so it matters to me," then you will be able to stand even under great pressure.

Walk in the Spirit (2 Tim 2:22 & Titus 2:12)

1. In some temptations we are told to resist the Devil, and he will flee. But when it comes to lustful temptations, the command is different—Flee!
2 Timothy 2:22 ESV:2016
22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
Titus 2:12 ESV:2016
12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
One of the blessing of the weather we’ve been experiencing recently is that we don’t have to deal with bees, wasps or mosquitos! But imagine for a moment if you were having a family picnic and just as you gathered to eat a swarm of bees begins to circle your table. What do you do? Do you form a prayer circle and ask the Lord to remove the bees? Most of us would grab a can of spray or a swatter or a newspaper and we would go into action or we would pack up and leave.
There is a time for prayer and there is time for action-- Sexual temptation is one of those times for action!

The Struggle to Forgive (Luke 15)

1. If your family has been devastated by this sin, there are 2 mountains that need to be climbed. One person faces the challenge of true repentance, and others face the challenge of true forgiveness.
2. In Jesus’ parable of the lost/prodigal son. One son had to learn to genuinely repent of his “riotous living” and the other son had to learn to genuinely forgive his brother’s sin.
3. In the biblical story the father was eager to accept the repentant son and was disappointed in the older brother’s struggle to forgive.
4. When repentance and forgiveness meet, healing begins!

Conclusion:

Some of us have deep trust issues because our parents and our own romantic relationship have not been examples of the promise keeping and faithfulness that I’m describing today. We find it hard to trust others because we’ve been let down in the past.
But Jesus is one who does love COMPLETELY and FAITHFULLY and who is one in whom we can place our ultimate trust. His Word says “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” and that is a promise you can take to the bank!!
[i] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jomf.12530
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