“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” // 1st Corinthians 6:18-20
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” // 1 Cor 6:19-20
As a former youth and small groups leader I’ve talked about dozens of topics. Girls, drugs, alcohol, school, obeying your folks, what it means to be a good Christian, pride & arrogance, hopes & dreams, future desires, encouragement & forgiveness; You name it, it’s probably come up in discussion before. But one topic always avoids the spotlight. For guys it’s bad because it’s an epidemic. For gals it’s bad because it’s never heard of. For both it’s a major root sin problem.
There, I said it. Taboo has been broken, social norms thrown out. And you know what? I’m glad. The statistics alone are shocking. Of course there’s the old joke that 98% of men do it and the other 2% are liars, but a recent and much more believable number is 61% of males admit they engage as well as 38% of women. That’s still staggering. But in order to understand my hate for the act, you must understand where I’m coming from. I’m coming in from a Christian point of view reinforced by the Bible. If that’s not your cup of tea I hope you read on regardless.
Society will tell us that this is a completely normal behavior, that it’s perfectly ok and that everyone does it. Do I really have to ask how many of you will jump off a bridge if everyone else did that too? Some people say it’s healthy, others that their doctors told them to. I don’t know why, but if you were told by your doc, then may the peace of God be on you, but make sure you have the right reasons at heart. Others don’t have a reason beyond the fact that they simply enjoy it.
And that is where sin steps in.
I started around my Junior year in High School. There are countless reasons as to why people start; peer pressure, experimenting, porn, etc; but there is only one reason why we keep going. That, my friends, is sin. Lust specifically.
“But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” // Matthew 5:28
Those are the words of Jesus himself. If you ever look at a woman with lust and desire, you’ve already committed sex with her to your soul. Now that was just for a look. Think about masturbation. You are now acting on your lust, not just looking, but acting on it. Willingly I may add. Some will argue that it’s all in your head, it’s made up. That doesn’t matter at all, sin is sin, and that gal in your head, well, you just sinned against her.
You see, every time I did it I had a huge wave of regret and self loathing wash over me immediately afterwards. Condemnation hung from me like chains. I felt like a wretch, a failure. The worst part was I couldn’t talk about it to anyone, couldn’t face those judging eyes. So I lived with it. I would have my weeks when I would do great and I would have days where I fell. Battles won, battles lost. I’m telling you this because I want you to know that you’re not alone. That others have gone through this war and won. It’s time to take control, to no longer follow your heart, but lead it.
Lust is hard to fight. Your human sin nature desires it more than anything. But that’s where our loving savior comes in, our valiant and courageous warrior of a God. We need to stop trying to fight this on our own, we need to rely on Christ’s strength, not our own.
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness… I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” // Eph 4:22, Gal 2:20
Hope is on the other side. I encourage you to find your best friend, your youth leader, a pastor, even your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife. Talk to them, confide in them. There is healing power in confessing your sins to one another. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)“
There is one more final point I have to make, one more truth that will hopefully awake you to the deceitfulness of this sin. How corrosive this lifestyle is.
This is a weapon for couples. This is a weapon to be utilized by both newfound lovers and longtime companions. The cold hard truth is that masturbating is cheating on your partner. That is what shocked me out of the habit.
I had been struggling since my junior year. Like I said, I had on and off victory, but it was never consistent; until I met Katie. Once I met her and vowed in my heart to pursue her for marriage, the Holy Spirit took hold of me and said, “Look Cole. I know you’ve been fighting, but now is the time to win. For your future wife. When you commit this sin you are committing adultery in your heart. That means you are cheating on Katie.”
I haven’t masturbated since. With ease.
Guys, porn goes hand in hand with this sin. In the same way, you are cheating on your girlfriend/wife. Stop it! Knock it off! It’s time to stand firm, as Paul exhorts us in 1 Cor16:13, “Be like men!” Stop cheating on your partner, stop replacing them with unfulfilling and fake delusions of a sin you can never catch. Satan will just lure you farther and farther along. I was lucky I never got into porn, others weren’t. This is a war we are fighting. It’s time to stand tall, be a warrior for God, for your wife, for yourself.
The key to all of this is to turn to Christ. It is only through His grace and provision that I can stand here today and say I’ve been pure for 7 months. It is through Him that I can be the man Katie deserves.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” // John 15:5-11
“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun,with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth,so that it might devour her child the moment he was born… This ancient serpent, the Devil and Satan; the one who deceives the whole world.” // Revelations 12:1-4,9
What’s the motivation behind abortion? It’s hard to come away from this passage without seeing who is behind our culture’s rush toward killing unborn children. Certainly, abortion is more than a political issue, it’s a highly personal situation involving crisis and tragedy on all sides. But death is Satan’s currency throughout history, his stock-in-trade. He loves to “kill and destroy,” unlike Jesus, who came that we might, “have life abundantly” ( John 10:10).
“The thief comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy. (John 10:10a)”
Don’t try to “Nerf” Satan. He isn’t someone to think lightly of or to taunt or ignore. No, Satan’s only goal on this Earth is to Steal our joy, kill our hope, and destroy our faith. He knows his time is coming when Jesus will cast him out and imprison him in eternal darkness, but boy he’s going to take as many humans as he can with him. I don’t understand the lighthearted nature our culture has taken to looking at sin and its wielder. As Sam so aptly said to Frodo, “He’s a villain! Why can’t you see it?!”
Our souls are at war. But this isn’t a fight we can win; in fact we already lost 2000 years ago when Adam and Eve fell. But we have hope, we have salvation, we have a future in Jesus. Jesus came into the world; not to condemn it, but to save it. Jesus told us that “I have come that you may have life and have it overflowing. (John 10:10b)” Jesus’ promise was twofold. He came to give us an abundance of life, a life so full that it overflows into those around us. Imagine pouring a pitcher of water into a sippy-cup. Overflowing. Jesus not only came to give us life, He promised to protect us from the greatest villain of our time. Hitler, Stalin, everyone pales in comparison to the evil of Satan. But in order for us to have an overflowing life, Jesus promised to protect us and fight for us.
It comes down to this. Once you accept Jesus into your heart and the Holy Spirit comes upon you, there isn’t any room for anything else. Jesus washed our souls clean. The only way a demonic forces can come back into your lives are if you invite them back in. It’s simple really; don’t engage in a lifestyle where sin can enter in and take hold. Jesus has given us so much life, why look for it anywhere else?
Worship is Sanctified //
“Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: those who sin sexually, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or thieves will not inherit God’s kingdom. Some of you were like this; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.” - 1 Corinthians 6:9-12
Paul puts a very hard line down for what sins were most prevalent in culture, both then and now. The man who wrote three-quarters of the New Testament is telling us that if you screw around sexually (meaning pre-marital or homosexual indulgence), if you love the excess of drugs and booze, if you covet or worship things that aren’t God like money or your car; you will be barred from heaven. God won’t let you in. You can’t go about and only apply the parts of the Bible that are convenient to you. It’s all or nothing, either you believe it’s all true or none of it is. It sounds hard because it is. But there is yet hope for us.
God offers us each complete and total restoration, forgiveness, and grace. All we have to do is accept Him; to confess with our lives and believe in our hearts that Jesus came to earth to ransom us from Satan’s grasp. That He died to pay for our sins and that He rose again to overthrow death forever. But when you receive this grace something else has to change. Saying you’re sorry doesn’t cut it; God wants to see repentance, a complete 180 from where you were. It doesn’t matter how many steps away from God you take, He’s only one step back.
“But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Cor 6:17, 19-20)” After you choose to follow Christ you become sanctified. Sanctification means to be “set apart for a specific purpose.” When you take the Spirit into your heart you are housing God Himself, not just the “essence of God”. The Holy Spirit is just as much a feeling, living person as Jesus and God. One of my friends likes to say that many Christians view the Trinity as, “Two and a Half Men.” The Holy Spirit is just as much God as Jesus is. That is a talk for another time, but we must walk our lives accordingly. Live a life worthy of their sacrifice because you were bought twiceover. First God made you and then He died again to save you. You have been set apart for God. It’s time to live like it.