Sex and Sanctification

Recently visiting a Christian men's breakfast associated with an evangelical church in the Boston area, the subject came up concerning materials appropriate for young people to read. One man advocated giving pornographic literature to teenagers (that is, sexual stories as opposed to pictures) to motivate them to read. He argued that getting young people to read is a higher priority than sexual purity as they are just going to have sex anyhow and nothing can be done about that.  Another experience I've had recently is that in looking for tenants, a large minority of such single men who openly called themselves "Christian" also openly call themselves "homosexual" or "bisexual". Increasingly throughout this country there is little difference in the attitudes and behaviors between "Christians" and non-Christians concerning sexual activity.

Sexual Purity is God's Explicit Will

The Bible advocates that sexual purity is one of the most important areas of application in the Christian life. Would you like to know God's will for your life? Of the few places in the New Testament which explicitly state what God's will there is this passage:
"It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;  and that 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." 1Thess 4:3-8

Many Christians are Deceived on this issue

If you are rejecting this instruction, you are rejecting God. Sexual purity in the Christian life is not optional. The sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God. Many Christians have been deceived on this issue.
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1Cor 6:9,10
Christians are not to be involved in sexual activity outside the confines of a marriage relationship. God has designed sexual activity to be limited to the marriage relationship.

If you are an adulterer, fornicator, masturbator, homosexual, or the like then you are not living the Christian life. You are failing in a significant way to follow the will of God. Take this seriously and deal with it.

The Deception of Slavery to Sin

Many deceived by Free Grace Theology not only have the viewpoint that there is not necessarily any correlation between a person's behavior and their salvation status, but also that Christians are slaves to sin and thus are excusable, whereas in fact Christians are no longer slaves to sin and there is no excuse to continue to sin. Consider even Jesus admonition to the adulterous woman of John 8. He told her, "Go now and leave your life of sin." He made no allowances for excuses. So also with the cripple of John 5, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." These can be taken as exhortations to Christians as well. It's your choice. You are free to chose to stop sinning.

Habit or Choice makes no difference

None of the passages condeming the sexually immoral make any distinction between those who feel reluctantly enslaved to sexual immorality versus those who intentionally accept it as a lifestyle choice.Habit or Choice makes no difference

Sexual Visualization

Men are particularly prone to fall into sexual immorality through sexual visualization. This may be either physical or mental visualization.
"But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."Matt 5:28
And consider what Jesus said right after that in verse 29 to indicate just how serious such a sin is,
"If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." Matt 5:29
This stuff is what Jesus says will get you thrown into hell, and as 1Cor 6:9,10 indicates Christians are deceived if they think then can live a sexually immoral life free from the fear of going to hell. (See also the deception of Free Grace Theology)

Job was aware of such temptation and came up with this application, "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl." Job 31:1

Make no provision for the flesh

"put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." Rom 13:14
Have you made provisions for your flesh to fulfill your lusts, such as a stash of pornography? Or are you dating and making provisions for privacy in hopes that sexual activity may take place? Are you buying condoms just in case sexual activity occurs. Or perhaps you're a masturbator and have provided sex toys for your flesh. Get rid of all that stuff. Plan on having no sexual activity at all outside the context of marriage. Make no provision for your flesh, no provision for any such sexual activities.

Conquering Sexual Immorality

The Bible commands "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." Col 3:5  It says, "Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people." Ephesians 5:3 And it says simply "Flee from sexual immorality." 1 Corinthians 6:18

While many Christian men recognize these facts and express the desire to be sexually pure, yet many excuse their sexually immoral behavior on the basis that they are too weak to overcome their sexually deviant habits. The New Testament makes no provision for such an excuse. It simply indicates that if you are sinning, then stop sinning. But of those who excuse themselves saying that they cannot stop sinning because they are slaves to their flesh, then what can we say?

While they may claim to believe in justification by faith, yet they walk in darkness. For they neither believe nor experience Jesus as Savior from their enslavement to sin as Paul indicates in Romans 6:11-15"Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!"

Those who have been born of God overcome sin due to the nature of regeneration.

"No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.  No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:6-9
The Bible indicates that one's assurance of salvation should be dependent upon the degree to which one behaves as a child of God.
"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:10
So "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you— unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2Cor 13:5

Non-Christians are enslaved to sin. Sin is the master of their house. But when one puts his faith in Christ as Lord he is saved from the mastery of sin because Christ becomes Lord of his house. Yes, sin still infests his house and thus there is is a battle going on. But the Christian has no excuse for submitting himself to obey his sinful nature. That nature has lost its mastery over the Christian.

So don't let sin deceive you into believing that it is still in charge. By faith overcome sin. "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world——our faith.  Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" 1John 5:4,5

If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, then you have the power to overcome sin. If you don't believe that, then you're not a believer.

The Way of Escape

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1Cor 10:13
Many Christian men may complain that they have yet to discover the way of escape with respect to sexual temptation, yet overcoming sexual temptation can be quite easy.
1. No excuses - stop believing that you're a slave to sexual sin.

2. Don't obsess over sexual sin. I remember a guy I was discipling who once came to me obsessing over his enslavement to sexual sin. You know, it really doesn't help to talk about it. Just stop sinning. I remember also see a Columbo episode in which, in investigating a murder, he did went to a group therapy clinic in which patients would talk about their sexual problems in a group setting. He thought they were pretty much nuts to try to solve such problems through discussion. Don't over analyze sexual problems. Just stop sinning.

3. But Make it a priority. If God's will for your life is sexual purity then make it a measure of your sanctification. Yes there are other aspects of sanctification, but if you're involved in sexual immorality then how much do they really matter. The Bible puts a high priority on sexual purity and strongly condemns sexual immorality.

4. Avoid unnecessary contact with women. This is somewhat of a "Well Duh!?" If a person has a drinking problem, it doesn't help if he regularly goes to bars. Don't disciple women on an individual basis. Older women can disciple the younger women. As for dating, don't do anything that you wouldn't feel free to tell your future wife, even if she may not turn out to be the one you're dating. Do nothing which you may later regret. Sex is reserved for marriage.

5. Most significant of all, and I would say the primary way of escape from sexual temptation is simply DISTRACTION. That is, to set one's heart and mind away from the the object of lust to something which is good and edifying. The Bible instructs us, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things." Php 4:8

Lust is primarily a battle for the mind. If you feel a lustful thought coming on, then simply think about something else. Obviously I'm referring to something else which is neither sinful nor related to sex or women. In fact why not plan beforehand to have something else to think about - a distracting thought - and agree that if temptation comes that you will distract your mind with that thought or question or area of meditation. What is it unrelated to sex which interests you. You might think of some sport, or issue of theology, math, science, or issue at work or at home, or even simply an object. There's lots of things to think about. An object is the easiest thing. Just physically looking at some non-sexual object and thinking about it, analyzing it, engineering it in your mind is usually more than sufficient to distract one from sexual temptation.

If that is not enough distraction then you need to involved other senses, but again they must be non-sexual in nature. Touching a physical object or listening or even smell - these are all immediately available and can provide further distraction. It's important to be alert and react immediately to temptations. God may also provide his own distraction for you, though it may be in the form of pain. Even Paul experienced that, "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." 2Cor 12:7 Pain is a great distraction, but it's often devalued in hedonistic sects of Christianity so common today. In fact if you find you don't have the self-control to distract your thoughts then maybe you should pray that God will grace you with some chronic pain. This is also another reason to rejoice in suffering, "for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin." 1Peter 4:1 In fact you should learn to hate your former lusts. Teach your heart to reckon contemptously those feelings which formerly enslaved you. God speaks of sin as being abominable and unclean in his sight. So should we.

The Power of the Fear of God

Under the New Covenant one of the provisions God has made for us to overcome sin is imparting to those born of God a fear of God.
"And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me." Jer 32:40
While Antinomian Free Grace Theology does affirm the eternal security inherent in this and similar promises as I also affirm, that theology has become an enemy of Sanctification in its attempt to eliminate a genuine fear of God in the Christian community. It rejects the concept advocated in the second part of the New Covenant, as is also expressed in Jer 31:33 "I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts." Yet this is the nature of regeneration. In contrast to Free Grace Theology, it is written of Biblical grace that "the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." 1Tim 2:11,12
The Perseverance of the Saints is not the same as the concept of Eternal Security, though both are true. Of those born of God under the New Covenant it can both be said, "Once saved, always saved" AND ALSO "Once saved it is inevitable that such people will persevere in a faith and a lifestyle consistent with that faith to the end, due to the nature of regeneration."
But if it's natural for sheep to behave as sheep, then why have commands? Because that regenerate nature is activated by commands.That is, it is naturally submissive and fears God's judgment, but if it's not given commands then there is nothing to be submissive to, nor does it experience the power of the fear of God if it is taught to ignore the coming judgment. For even as the redeemed, "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." 2 Cor 5:10

Therefore "let us not commit sexual immorality, as some of (the Israelites) did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell." 1Cor 10:8 For sexual immorality has spread like a plague in the Christian community.

Homosexuality

There are a number of verses that deal with homosexuality. In fact Romans 1 even deals with lesbians along with male homosexuals.
"For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due." Rom 1:26,27
"Homosexual Christianity" is an oxymoron. As Isaiah says of idolators so also with homosexuals, "They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand." Is 44:18 They don't read the Bible in the sense in which it was written.  They interpret passages on homosexuality as only speaking to particular types of homosexuality, which they claim don't apply to them. For example in this passage in Romans they will say that this only applies to those who are not "naturally" homosexuals, but rather who start off heterosexual and later turn into homosexual. But they themselves claim to be "natural" homosexuals and so they claim the passage doesn't apply to them. Of course many of the rest of us Christians can see in them the very corruption of their thinking which Paul speaks of earlier in that same chapter. So also they claim that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was simply inhospitality, but the Bible says, "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." Jude 1:7

But rather than argue further over such passages let's consider something even more basic which logically eliminates homosexuality as a valid Christian lifestyle, namely

1. The Bible indicates that Christians should not even be engaged in any sexual activity outside of marriage.

2. The Bible indicates that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The first applies not only to homosexuals, but to all the sexually immoral.
Concerning the second point, Jesus says concerning marriage, "Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?" Matt 19:4,5 In fact all the verses dealing with marriage indicate that it is between a husband and wife (not between two husbands or two wives) and that the husband is male and the wife female.
But of the "homosexual Christians" and others such Christians who advocate immorality it could be said that "certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord."Jude 1:4 That is, as Paul says, "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good." Titus 1:16

Dealing with Immoral Christians

"I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked man from among you.'" 1 Corinthians 5:11
Therefore don't associate with sexual deviants who call themselves "Christian". They need to either change their behavior or stop calling themselves "Christians", else the Biblical mandate compels the rest of us to disassociate with them. And as for dealing with pedophiles or other such people who lead young Christians down the path of sexual immorality Jesus says, "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." Matt 18:6

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015