I am pleased to announce the opening of the men’s ministry today. More information on the purpose and vision for this new ministry will be forthcoming. In the meantime we ask for your prayers. Today, we are going to look at sexual sin, purity and the Gospel. If you have topics you would like to see covered please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, along with your thoughts or questions on the article.
Sexual sin more than ever is running rampant in the Church. Men are falling by the wayside, and the result is marriages are ending, and churches are being weakened. The issue of sexual sin is a sensitive issue, which means many men would rather it be kept in the darkness, and not have it spoken of openly in the light of God’s presence. The problem with the attitude of keeping this sin in the darkness is that one will never overcome sexual sin with this attitude.
In order to demonstrate the scope of the problem with sexual sin consider the following statistics. The total porn industry revenue for 2006: $13.3 billion in the United States; $97 billion worldwide (Internet Filter Review). U.S. adult DVD/video rentals in 2005: almost 1 billion (Adult Video News). Hotel viewership for adult films: 55% (cbsnews.com).A 1996 Promise Keepers survey at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event. 51% of pastors say cyber-porn is a possible temptation. 37% say it is a current struggle (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, 12/2001). Over half of evangelical pastors admit viewing pornography last year. Roger Charman of Focus on the Family’s Pastoral Ministries reports that approximately 20 percent of the calls received on their Pastoral Care Line are for help with issues such as pornography and compulsive sexual behavior.
In a 2000 Christianity Today survey, 33% of clergy admitted to having visited a sexually explicit Web site. Of those who had visited a porn site, 53% had visited such sites “a few times” in the past year, and 18% visit sexually explicit sites between a couple of times a month and more than once a week. 29% of born again adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior (The Barna Group). 57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation (Christians and Sex Leadership Journal Survey, March 2005). In a Kinsey Institute survey, respondents were asked “Why do you use porn?” 72% said they used porn to masturbate/for physical release. 69% said they used it to sexually arouse themselves and/or others. 54% said out of curiosity. And 43% said, “because I can fantasize about things I would not necessarily want in real life.” 38% said to distract myself. The number one search term used at search engine sites is the word “sex”. Users searched for “sex” more than other terms such as “games,” “travel,” “music,” “jokes,” “cars,” “weather,” “health” and “jobs” combined. The study also found that “pornography/porno” was the fourth-most searched for subject. Alexa Research Use religion saves section on sexual sin and death by love for statistics.
The Problem of Sexual Sin
The issue of sexual sin is a difficult issue on many fronts. First, popular culture has a distorted view of sex, which means men are taught to view women in the wrong way—to view them not as persons, but as objects. The problem with the idea that women are objects is many, but at its root it is a complete distortion of the fact that Genesis 2:21-22 says, “The Lord God causes a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” The problem with the attitude that women are objects to be enjoyed is that it is a violation of the biblical teaching that God created people in His image and likeness. To put it another way; the attitude that woman are objects is a direct affront to God, His Word and therefore to His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
Secondly, sexual sin is a difficult issue as men naturally isolate and insulate themselves. By this, I do not mean that men are anti-social, or even that they are introverted. Men can have meaningful relationships with others, but while doing so will often keep their deep seated issues to themselves. Many men know what coming out into the Light will do; it will require that they humble themselves and face the humiliation for their sin. This is not something that men do well. Men do not like to have their pride humbled, and most men hate being humiliated. The second issue is a real issue in dealing with sexual sin because what men dealing with sexual sin need the most is to be humiliated for their sin in order to see it for what it is: nasty, degrading and a heinous crime against God and against their spouse or future wife.
Thirdly, the issue of sexual sin is a difficult issue is that it affects the identity of the man. Sexual sin in most cases defines the person. Christians are called to find their identity in the Lord Jesus Christ and not in the flesh. Just to clarify; when I am speaking of sexual sin, I am not singling out addictions to pornography, or homosexuality but rather sexual sin in general. All forms of sexual sin from homosexual sin to addiction to pornography to sleeping with anyone other than your spouse are sinful in the eyes of God.
Sexual sin defines the person, and in this case when the man is a believer in Christ they are doing what is contrary to Scripture; namely finding their identity and worth outside of Christ rather than in Christ. Where the believer finds their identity is hugely important. When Paul wrote his epistles to the churches he founded, he emphasized the believers’ identity in Christ before he got to the issues in the Church. Paul did this because he wanted to remind the believers of their identity in Christ before addressing their issues.
Sexual sin is a huge issue in the Church and not one to be treated lightly but rather with great sensitivity and compassion. Jesus modeled this kind of sensitive to the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery. Jesus had compassion toward these women while not approving of their sin. Jesus upheld His holiness while at the same time showing compassion to these women. Jesus the sinless Savior modeled for His disciples how to minister to those who are struggling with sexual sin by pointing people to Himself. Jesus knew perfectly well that the act of sexual sin has consequences, but He also knew that the sexual sin is, but a symptom of a larger issue—namely that the person is finding their identity in what is created rather than the Creator.
Fourthly, the issue of sexual sin is a Gospel issue. After telling the Corinthians in 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 that the unrighteous will not receive the Kingdom of God, nor will idolaters, adultery, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God, Paul in 1st Corinthians 6:11 says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” After telling the Corinthians what the consequences for such behavior would be, Paul reminds the believers of their identity in Christ; washed, sanctified and justified just as he did in 1st Corinthians 1:2, “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.”
Sexual sin is a Gospel issue, because the Gospel; not sexual sin ought to define the believer in Christ. Sexual sin affects marriages, because it hurts the spouse affected by the sexual sin by causing him/her to feel that they are not loved and valued by their spouse. Sexual sin hurts men because it hinders their growth in Christ by robbing them of their joy in the Lord and effectiveness in His service. Sexual sin hurts the Church because it weakness and cheapens the effectiveness of believers individually and churches corporately in their witness to the world. Most importantly sexual sin is a Gospel issue because the believer who commits sexual sin demonstrates that they love sin rather than the Savior of sinners.
Fifthly, sexual sin dismisses the holiness of God and the seriousness of purity within the marriage relationship. Jesus died on the Cross for sinners, which means He died for sins of all kinds; including sexual sin. Every sin transgresses God’s law, which means every sin is offensive to the holiness of God, and thus demands His justice. The Lord Jesus Christ took the place of sinners on the Cross and now offers His righteousness to sinners. This is a righteousness no one deserves, and is granted to sinners through death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The Christian is one who has passed from death to life, which means that they are put to death the deeds of the flesh because of their new identity as an adopted child of God.
The man who commits sexual sin demonstrates that they do not understand the holiness of God or the seriousness of purity that God calls them to. God saves His people in order for them to demonstrate His holiness in the world. The fact that Christ died to appease the holiness and wrath of God means that in order to shine brightly for God as His witnesses in the world His people need to put to death their sin and put on the Lord Jesus Christ in their pursuit of purity and growth in the grace of God. It is precisely at this point that many men (and believers in general) fail to appropriate their identity in Christ, which is why I want to briefly discuss how to overcome sexual sin.
Overcoming Sexual Sin
The first way to put sexual sin to death is by understanding at the heart of sexual sin is idolatry. Idolatry is worshipping anything other than God. The best way to deal with idolatry is to understand what the Gospel is and what it demands. The Gospel demands our complete allegiance and devotion. The Gospel is not a call to embrace our sin but rather is a call to embrace the sinless Savior who died for sin. The Savior calls for His disciples to take up the Cross and follow Him in all of life, which means the Gospel is for all of life.
Finally, to overcome sexual sin men need to be accountable to other godly believers. It is important to qualify that last sentence by saying that a man should never be accountable to another woman and a woman should never be accountable to another man. A man should be accountable to another man, and a woman should be accountable to another woman.
The first step is the most important step, but the second step is equally important because often times a man may be serious about overcoming sexual sin, but end up falling back into sin because they don’t have the support of others. In order for men to live in the Light they need others to walk alongside of them by living in community in the context of the local Church. Christians are called to walk alongside of each other and to bear each other’s burdens in community with each other. I also strongly encourage those who are dealing with sexual sin of any kind to discuss this issue with your Pastor, an elder or a deacon in your local church, and also to find a godly mature Christian counselor.
I understand that sexual sin is a difficult and sensitive issue, which is why I’m writing on it. Sexual sin in the Church is robbing the Church of many good men. Sexual sin grieves the Holy Spirit who gives men and women gifts to serve and strengthen the Church in its mission to make disciples. Sexual sin robs God of glory because Jesus is the Savior of sinners and He longs to save those who are broken by sin, and make them whole with His Gospel. Sexual sin hurts evangelism and missions because it robs the effectiveness of those who are called to such ministries. Sexual sin affects Pastors, ministry leaders, Bible College and seminary students many of whom struggle silently for years in sexual sin and never overcome sexual sin.
Sexual sin is not what God wants from His people. Sexual sin hurts the Church, and affects its mission of making disciples. God saves broken people and then uses them for His glory. Perhaps you have been broken by sexual sin. You may think today that the story of your life is sexual sin or some other kind of sin, but I writing today to tell you that this is exactly what the devil wants you to believe. Sexual sin is not your story; there is a greater story; the Gospel. Jesus truly saves sinners from all kinds of sin. Jesus redeems people from all kinds of sin, and delivers them by His grace, for His glory in order to spread the fame of His Gospel to the nations.
The real question today is this, “Will you as men who profess to love Christ take seriously the call of the Gospel to abandon all including whatever “sins” you have and take up your Cross?” The Gospel is not a call to be comfortable or even to cuddle up to your favorite pet sin, but rather is a call to abandon your sin, count the cost, put on the Lord Jesus, and take up your Cross and follow Him. I pray today men that you would take seriously the call to count the cost of following Jesus and reflecting the Gospel in all of life. Finally, I pray for those who are broken by sexual sin that you would meet the Savior of sinners who transforms sinners by His grace for His glory in order to use then to advance His Kingdom, and His fame to the nations.