In Isaiah 55:8, God declared that His ways are not our ways, as anyone who seeks to learn and obey Gods ways soon discovers. God views things very differently than we do and there is simply no area where this is more apparent than on the subject of our sexuality. On this particular topic God seems especially old-fashioned, restrictive, even unreasonable. If the seventh commandment (Ex 20:14) werent difficult enough, Jesus demands a level of obedience in the Sermon on the Mount that extends even to the private thoughts of our minds. Physical loyalty in marriage or celibacy in singleness can be difficult but is humanly attainable. However, the demand for complete mental loyalty seems to be asking too much, particularly for those of us living in the massively sexualized culture of the U.S. Yet, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we know our loving Lord does not ask us to do things that will be impossible, nor does He expect us to attempt such changes without the assistance of the Holy Spirit. So we can do this. And since we know obedience always brings blessing we want to obey. First, well honestly face His commands. Next, well ask why He cares about not only what we do sexually but what we think, and finally well consider ten practical steps to freedom so we can love our spouse or live purposefully as a single person.
A. Some Definitions
1. Adultery: sexual intercourse with the spouse or betrothed of another. Sexually violating someones marriage covenant (physically, mentally, or emotionally).
2. Fornication: to use a prostitute. Any illicit sexual activity with someone whos not married. Finding sexual fulfillment outside of marriage.
3. Lust: the desire for sex (often today: the eager desire for illicit sex).
B. Why did Jesus give us this command?
1. (v 27) Jesus is reminding us of Gods eternal standard
- You shall not commit adultery (Ex 20:14, the seventh commandment)
- Grace doesnt mean these moral standards disappear. It means He continues to forgive us while were learning to obey them.
2. (v 28) Jesus is driving us into the arms of grace. Hes proving:
theres none righteous, no not one (Ro 3:10-18).
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Ro 3:23)
- God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all (Ro 11:32)
3. (vs. 29, 30) Jesus is warning us about the power of this addiction.
- This has the power to take you to hell.
- Take whatever steps are necessary to get free.
- Dont tolerate its existence in your life.
C. Why does Jesus care if we lust?
If God created us as sexual beings and gave us the drive to be fruitful and multiply (Ge 1:27, 28) why does He forbid us to lust after people were not married to?
1. Lust is disloyal: marriage promises mental and emotional loyalty, not just physical.
- It is an unloving betrayal of someone who has trusted their heart to us (or will trust their heart to us).
- Were to be covenant-keepers like God
- Were to love one another like He loves us, and Hes loyal
2. Lust is a destructive addiction; it erodes the image of God in us and in the way we see others.
- It reduces us to animal-like behavior
- It causes us to ignore the humanity of others and see them only as bodies
3. Lust breeds discontent and rejection toward ones spouse.
- The devil uses lust to break up families.
- The family is a small church. Each has an anointing and a calling for service. By dividing families the devil steals our spiritual fruit.
4. Lust prevents the conception of children who would otherwise be born.
- Future generations who will never exist.
- Pr 5:9, 10, 15-17
you will give your vigor to others
5. Lust becomes a deadly substitute to finding fulfillment in God.
- Eph 5:18, 19
- Lonely, tired, rejected, angry, depressed, confused, bored, or ashamed people must find relief somewhere. Doing nothing is not an option. Either we learn to find relief in God or well turn to an addictive substitute.
6. Lust strips us of boldness to pray and witness
- The devil isnt tempting us to give us some forbidden pleasure, hes strategically shaming us so well lack faith (you will recognize a pattern to the attacks).
7. Lust lures us to destruction
- The devil will never let up. If I keep giving in hell keep dragging me deeper until I commit something so shocking Ill end up in prison, losing my marriage, ruining my career, and in time Satan hopes Ill commit suicide.
8. Lust forms soul-ties that torment us
- My flesh marries many others and Im left with longings that can never be satisfied.
- 1Co 6:16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says. The two shall become one flesh.
- 1Co 6:18 Flee immorality. Every other sin a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
9. Lust has the power to carry us away from Christ.
- 1Co 6:9-10
- 1Co 9:27 I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after having preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
10. Lust isolates those who are single
- It makes it harder for a single person to be married (the spirit of lust shows)
11. Lust hinders the devotion of a single person
- 1Co 7:32-35
- It leaves unfruitful those who have the potential to be the most fruitful
D. Who can be freed from lust?
1. Those who are desperate, who truly want to be free.
2. Those who see the damage, hate the bondage, and want to please Jesus more than experience forbidden pleasures.
E. How can I be freed from lust?
1. Ask for the gift of repentance and then repent often.
- He 12:16, 17
- Dont excuse it, hate it! (see it for the thief it is)
2. Reckon yourself free
- Ro 6:6-14; 8:12; Col 3:5
- Always remember the truth: youre free!
3. Receive deliverance
- Lust opens us to demonic control.
- An addiction forms in the flesh and our minds are deceived by lies.
4. Fast away the appetite
- Dont feed it, starve it! Finding relief through indulgence only makes it harder to stop the next time.
- Starve the lust a day at a time until new habits are formed.
- I fought to get it out, now I fight to keep it out (Roy Hicks, Jr.).
- Our bodies remain vulnerable to temptation so we must be vigilant.
5. Verbal address
- Dont receive it, refuse it!
- Speak a brief command (No!, in Jesus name . . .) as soon as you recognize whats happening.
- Dont dialogue with it.
6. Redirect your thoughts
- Dont fight it, flee it!
- Ro 8:6 . . . the mind set on the flesh . . .
- Willfully move your thought off the temptation and onto Christ (envision His cross, His face, His blood . . . )
7. Regularly confess your sins to others.
- Dont hide it, confess it!
- Jas 5:16-18
- You cant escape this alone. You need to regularly confess to others who are trustworthy and mature enough not to be injured by what they hear.
- Confession restores righteous authority.
- L.T.G. (Life Transformation Group)
8. Pray daily to be led away from temptation
- Mt 6:13 . . . Lead us not into temptation
- Dont endure it, avoid it!
- Look for the escape which God will provide (1Co 10:13)
- God will show us how to avoid being trapped again.
9. Journal your prayers and record His answers.
- This builds faith as we recognize His answers to our prayers.
Our sexuality is a gift from God and is meant to be a beautiful part of life. It helps draw a husband and wife together, and becomes a holy sacrifice unto the Lord for the single person. Lust is a rebellious and demonically inspired use of this gift which destroys Gods plans for us. Thankfully we can be free from lusts control by diligently using the resources God gives us.
1. Read Genesis 2:18-25. What insights do you find here into the relationship between husbands and wives?
2. Read 1Cor 7:7, 8, 32-35. What is the special benefit to being single according to Paul?