When you come to faith in Christ, you become a target of the enemy. Not because of you, but because of the Name you carry. There are three areas where we do battle; areas that are opposed to the will of God.
The domain of darkness - the area of deception and destruction
The world system - the area of desensitization and relaxation
The fleshy nature - the area of rationalization and temptation
Sex is an area used by the enemy to deceive, tempt, desensitize and destroy. We tell ourselves stories, usually false but very powerful, that rationalize our thoughts and actions. Jesus has a different take...
Matt 5:27-30 (CSB) 27 “You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. 28 But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Ouch! Here are some big thoughts on this passage - to you if you follow Jesus, and for your consideration if you don't.
SEX IS SACRED
Dr Brian Simmons (TPT creator) notes that the Aramaic word that Jesus would have used for adultery really incorporates any sexual act. You could paraphrase it this way "Keep all sexual acts inside the covenant of marriage".
Many (sexual) relationships today are consumeristic.
Independence is important,
Given physically but not fully
Needs are more important than the relationship
Authenticity is not complete because it is not a safe zone (there is a risk it could end)
Long-term commitment is a phobia
The Bible is most definitely pro-sex and sexual desire when it is within its intended place - the marriage covenant. It is a covenant good, not a consumer good ( as Tim Keller says). It is sacred (a sacrament if you will) because it is a physical expression of an invisible reality - a life that has been fully and completely given. It is like a fire; beautiful in its designated place, but destructive when fueled by the wind in a forest.
LUST IS A LIAR
Jesus points out that the attitude counts as much as the action. Lust, really is sexual idolatry, as it elevates created things over the Creator (Rom 1:24-25). It overpromises and underdelivers, much like the car that I bought some years back, not knowing it was accidentally damaged. Had I known the trouble it would cause, I would have never gone through with the deal.
Don't only think of the stereotypical man whose look becomes a leering stare. Lust is far more inclusive than that. The Greek word used for lust is the same as for coveting, greed, or desire. It is FAST.
Fantasies - If only I had...
Addictive - the temporary fix keeps you going back for more
Selfish - it is only about you and your desires
Tyrannical - it becomes controlling
Lust tells a lie, that it will bring you the satisfaction you really want.
To defeat lust, you need to RECOGNISE the lie that you are believing. REPENT of it - which means to ask God to help you change the way you think. REPLACE the lie with truth - that the only place you will find what you really desire is not in a place at all, but rather in the person of Jesus.
DRIFT IS DANGEROUS
Jesus calls for drastic action to be taken to change a trajectory otherwise headed to gehenna - a picture of unquenchable thirst and unfulfilled desire.
Most people don't decide to get all tangled up in sexual idolatry. As the writer of Hebrews points out, sin ensnares easily (Heb 12:1) It happens slowly over time. You drift into it. You can't drift out though. You have to decide to take drastic action to get untangled.
Once we were tiger fishing on the Zambezi, drifting with the current in a small boat. We got distracted, and almost too late, we realized we were drifting toward danger. A tree caught on a sandbank, on which there were crocodiles and elephants. Just in the nick of time we got the engine started and managed to avoid the death trap!
Sexual idolatry looks like
Sexual acts outside of the marriage covenant
Pornography and masturbation. By the way, based on stats from Project Exodus 79% of young adult men and 76% of young adult women admit to using pornography monthly. 10% of visitors to porn sites each month are under the age of 10.
Believing the lie that you need to have sex to be happy
Expecting that your partner will meet ALL of your needs
Fantasizing about the day that you will be with him or her and have the house and the car... that then you will be happy
So, how do you fight this?
Against the domain of darkness:
Grow into the power of PRAYER and the power of the word, to take down strongholds and live from the victory that Christ has won. This is about authority, and understanding what Jesus has achieved.
Key verse: Col 1:12-13
Against the world system:
Take your cue of the BIBLE as your truth, rather than the news or your social feed. Set some healthy BOUNDARIES - you may need to remove out some things from your watchlist, or cut some ties with certain people. This is about changing the way that you think.
Key verse: Rom 12:2
Against the fleshly nature:
Start putting some spiritual PRACTICES in place. Aren't we talking about the flesh? Yes! Spiritual practices are ones that fuel the spirit and starve the flesh. Things like prayer, fasting, regularly attending church and life groups, silence and solitude, giving, and so on.
Get some PEOPLE around you that can encourage you and keep you accountable. If you are not sure where to start, this would be a great first step. Reach out for help. You can get in touch with us at Free Church. We know what it's like to struggle, and we can help. We are also connected to Urban Recovery. Urban Recovery has recovery support groups that meet online and in person, to help people affected by addiction. More details here The truth is that in Christ, the flesh has been crucified, but in faith, you live that out and remind it that it is indeed dead to you.
Key verse: Gal 2:20
In Jesus, and through the Church, there is help, hope and healing.
Sexual integrity is something that is TOV. It's good, and it's how God intended it to be.