Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Tag: sexual immorality

The biggest threat to your eternal rewards

Nothing wrecks a believer’s life faster than sexual immorality.  The author of Hebrews knew that, and he gave this warning to his readers:

Hebrews 12:16-17
And make sure that there isn’t any sexually immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for a single meal.  For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, even though he sought it with tears, because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance.


There are portions of our lives where there are no take-backs.  We can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.  Sexual purity is one of them.  The author equates sexual immorality with godlessness (i.e. – acting like there is no God).  Both of these behaviors are selfish; they can completely wreck a believer’s life and witness.  By using Esau as an example, the original recipients of this letter would have recognized the seriousness of our choices in these areas.

As a first-born, Esau was automatically entitled to a double portion of his parents’ estate and guaranteed that he would inherit the role of patriarch in the family’s lineage and decision making.  However, Esau thought so little of this inheritance that he was willing to trade all the future rights and privileges of a firstborn son…to fill his immediate, temporal appetite.  Sexual temptation is also like that.  The immediate appetite is satisfied…but the actions cannot be undone, our life’s course is altered, and the inheritance is lost…no matter how many tears we shed.

Does that mean if a Christian indulges in an affair that he or she are out of the family? 
Will God stop blessing them? 
Will they lose all inheritance?

No, they are not cast out of the family, but there will be permanent consequences – in this life, and in eternity future.  Esau is still our example for how we resolve our questions:

After trading away his future inheritance to fulfill his right-now appetite, Esau eventually returned to his father and repented of his actions, saying he would be content with any remaining blessing his father was able to grant him. 

From there, we find that Esau went on in life and was blessed by God – he even has his own chapter of family lineage and prosperity in Genesis 36.  However…Esau never regained his rights of firstborn inheritance.  Throughout the entire Bible and for all of eternity, the nation of Israel does not list Esau as one of their patriarchs.  Additionally, we consistently find God identifying Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…but we never find God describing Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau.

Because of his choices, Esau missed out on blessings and opportunities – both in this life and in eternity.  And the author of Hebrews is telling us that OUR sexual purity has that level of importance in God’s eyes.  However, if we blow it…all is not lost…some inheritance will be, but not all opportunity to earn more in the future.

Remember what the author taught us earlier:

Hebrews 4:15-16
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.


There is grace to help us when we are being sexually tempted and we can receive mercy when we fail.  Our relationship with God will remain intact; however, the consequences of our sexual sin will echo throughout eternity.

Keep Pressing,
Ken
 

Solomon's biggest warning

After telling his son that the most important thing for him to do is to guard his heart, Solomon gives his son the longest warning on any one topic in the book of Proverbs.  For almost three entire chapters, Solomon warns his son about the dangers of breaking the seventh commandment God gave to Moses.

Proverbs 5:1-8
My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen closely to my understanding
so that you may maintain discretion and your lips safeguard knowledge.

Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil,
in the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death; her steps head straight for Sheol.
She doesn’t consider the path of life; she doesn’t know that her ways are unstable.

So now, my sons, listen to me, and don’t turn away from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her.  Don’t go near the door of her house.

The words from the lips of the forbidden woman are seductively enticing – and deadly dangerous.  The young man has a choice – whose words will he listen to?  The smooth words of forbidden woman or the wisdom of Solomon?

Solomon gives the best defense against the siren’s song – don’t go near the door of her house.

If she is purposely avoided, then her smooth words cannot ensnare him.  However, if he foolishly gives in to this temptation, Solomon warns that it will cost him severely:

Proverbs 5:9-14
Otherwise, you will give up your vitality to others and your years to someone cruel;
strangers will drain your resources, and your earnings will end up in a foreigner’s house.
At the end of your life, you will lament when your physical body has been consumed,
and you will say,

“How I hated discipline, and how my heart despised correction.
I didn’t obey my teachers or listen closely to my mentors.
I was on the verge of complete ruin before he entire community.”

If he gives in to her temptations, the young man will not be able to undo the path his life will go down.  Any profit will go to another, and he will only be left with regret.  The destruction to himself, his family, and his community cannot be undone.

We see this play out today as well.  Sexual sin is one of the greatest destructive forces in today’s society.  “Sex sells” is what we’re told, and the numbers don’t lie – advertisers prey upon our inability to control our sexual appetite.  The world’s system is set up to ensnare both men and women.

If we consider its ultimate cost, what that moment of pleasure will take from us in this life and in the next, we can see why Solomon spends the next two chapters continuing his warning.

Proverbs 5:20-23
Why, my son, would you be infatuated with a forbidden woman
or embrace the breast of a stranger?
For a man’s ways are before the Lord’s eyes,
and He considers all his paths.

A wicked man’s iniquities entrap him;
he is entangled in the ropes of his own sin.
He will die because there is no instruction,
and be lost because of his great stupidity.

Sexual sin is a great stupidity.  It cannot be simply managed or contained.  The only safe way to deal with it is to take Solomon’s advice and don’t go near the temptation.  Avoid it, because you don’t want to pay everything it will ultimately cost you.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Some habits need to die

As Paul transitions from teaching the Colossian believers about God to teaching them practical ways to live out their relationship with God, there is a very specific concept that he wishes to convey to his readers.  Paul tells them that when we trust that Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins, we are identifying with His death and also identifying with His resurrected life.

Colossians 3:2-4
Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God.  When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Since we have died with Christ to the elemental forces of this world, there are some habits and ways of our previous life that need to die also. 

Colossians 3:5-7
Therefore, put to death whatever in you is worldly: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, God’s wrath comes on the disobedient, and you once walked in these things when you were living in them.

Just as our past sins were counted against Jesus and were buried in His tomb, our sinful lifestyles and thinking habits also need to die.  Paul gets real specific about what choices and behaviors will stir up God’s wrath, and his warning here makes it clear that believers can still struggle with these issues.

Don’t skip over Paul’s list just because he starts with sexual immorality.  If we have never had a full-blown affair, it doesn’t mean we’re completely immune from it happening.  In fact, if we continue down Paul’s list, we find a dangerously linked chain of motivations…with the root of sexual immorality being something we all struggle with.

The preceding behavior to committing sexual immorality is to tolerate a level of impurity in our lives.  The Greek word for impurity relates to moral filthiness, especially in regard to sexual sin.  Behind the moral filthiness is lust, which is an inordinate affection or improper passion that we cultivate in our thoughts.  Lust is always born out of evil desires – when we nurture a craving and desire for what is forbidden. 

Paul then relates these evil desires back to greed.  We typically think of greed when it comes to money; however, at its core greed is a selfish, burning desire to acquire more of something or a coveting of what isn’t rightfully yours.  The deeply buried root to all of this is idolatryGreed starts in us whenever we trust something or someone more than we trust in God, because at that point we are giving ourselves to an idol.

From this chain of behaviors, we can clearly see how one thing leads to another…how a mistrust of God can lead us all the way down the path to sexual immorality.  It doesn’t happen overnight…the process is typically subtle, until one day we wake up wondering how it all happened.

Paul’s point is that wherever you find yourself on the spectrum, at that point you need to kill it.  The process cannot be allowed to continue to grow until we reach full-blown rebellion in sexual immorality.  Up until this point, the sinful progression and most of the damage done is specific to our own lives.  When we give into the sin of sexual immorality, there is going to be a significant amount of permanent damage done to all relationships in our own life and in the life of anyone who participates with us. 

The key to aborting this cycle is in Paul’s direction to put to death whatever in you is worldly.  To put to death is an active, action choice we can make.  The Greek word means to cut off, starve off, and deprive of power.  Whatever behavior or thought-process in our lives that is leading us down this path needs to be completely abandoned.  We must make the choice to cut off and starve these feelings. 

A few ways to practically do this:

·          Avoid the internet when you’re bored late at night
·          Avoid getting infatuated with new acquaintances of the opposite sex
·        Avoid comparing your spouse to others
·        Install Covenant Eyes or some other accountability software
·        Relationship issues are not discussed with someone of the opposite sex
·        Choose contentment with what we have – both things and relationships

There are many other ways to deprive power from this sinful cycle.  There are also many ministries aimed at providing help, as we all deal these desires.  We must talk to safe, Godly friends about where we’re struggling.  Making a list of situations to avoid will help, but the best way to put to death whatever in you is worldly is to replace those things with setting your mind on what is above.

What we dwell on, what we think about, will ultimately direct our actions.

Keep Pressing,
Ken