We find ourselves in the midst of a culture that is awash in sexual sin. Ironically, there are very few resources available to help people deal with this vexing problem. Some books minimize sexual sin and even ignore their pernicious effects on the lives of people. Other books address the subject aggressively but fail to subject it to the weight of biblical revelation. Instead of approaching sexual sin through the lens of the gospel, it is dealt with psychologically, which in the final analysis is unhelpful.
John D. Street offers a different approach; one that is biblical, timely, and practical in Passions of the Heart: Passions of the Heart: Biblical Counsel for Stubborn Sexual Sins. The book is arranged in three parts.
Part One: The Nature of the Heart and Its Passions
Dr. Street sets the stage by helping readers understand the complex nature of the human heart. If the human heart is an “idol factory,” as Calvin says, this section shines the spotlight on the idols that are produced daily in hearts and lives around the world.
The author aims to highlight the deception nature of the heart. Such a view runs counter to the conventional wisdom that says lays claim to the autonomous heart. I need, “Trusting your feelings and allowing them to dictate your choices is the dogma of the day.” Ultimately, trusting one’s heart will lead to catastrophe and ultimately, damnation. True repentance is evidenced by the pursuit of purity, righteous indignation, pursuing holy fear, deep desire for God, zeal for truth, and a desire for justice.
The author shows how “heart idolatry” manifests itself and how the end result is enslavement, in this case, sexual sin.
Part Two: The Motivations of Sexual Idolatry
The author digs deeper into the heart of sexual sin by revealing its hidden motivations. Various desires such as self-pity, discontentment, anger, and fear are exposed as sinful motivations that undergird sexual sin.
A helpful diagnostic test is offered that helps clarify heart motivations. Honest interaction is sure to lead to spiritual benefits, including a conscience which is cleansed and freedom from sin’s guilt.
Part Three: The Characteristics of a Pure Heart
The final section proves to be the most helpful as Dr. Street sets forth the criteria for lasting heart change, which is found exclusively in the gospel: “The gospel is intended to be not only a message of salvation to the unbeliever but also an ongoing message of change for the believer.” In my mind, this observation is missing in many churches. As a result, it is neglected in many Christian lives.
The gospel reveals sin, and applying the truth of the gospel brings death to the flesh. Street adds, “The heart ruled by sexual lust must be ministered to in such a faithful and determined way that the Holy Spirit may use the gospel to transform the enslaved person by the power of God. This is the beginning of lasting change from stubborn and enslaving sexual sin.”
Passions of the Heart: Biblical Counsel for Stubborn Sexual Sins contains a wealth of biblical resources that will both equip biblical counselors and challenge sexual sinners to turn from their sin and cast all their hope upon their Savior, banking on his redemptive benefits found in the gospel.