Called to Sexual Integrity
Because God has hardwired men to respond to visual stimulation, today, the men in our congregations must battle for sexual purity in an unprecedented era of sexual temptation. Never before has pornography been so easy to view. Never before has the content of simple TV commercials and “family hour” TV shows flooded our family rooms with provocative images and ideas that start our sexual engine running. We are bombarded daily with such unwanted stimuli. For this reason, during 2007, we will have a regular column in GITG, which highlights key Biblical principles for making progress in this battle.
Article originally appeared in “Get in the Game”
a periodic email communication from CEP
January/February 2007 Vol. 3 No.1
TRACING SEXUAL SIN TO ITS ROOT
It is sometimes thought that Jesus was adding something new to the prohibitions of the Law when he commanded us not to lust after another man’s wife. But, in fact, this prohibition is in the Decalogue, itself. The tenth commandment prohibits coveting our neighbor’s wife and the Hebrew word for covet is also translated lust after. The same is true in the New Testament. EPITHUMEO, which means literally, over-desire, is translated both as lusting and coveting. So, lusting after another man’s wife has always been prohibited by God’s moral law.
Lust is a matter of the desires of the heart, and we must begin the battle for sexual purity here-at the level of our desires. The root sin of lust is idolatry. It is looking to sexual sin to satisfy the desires in our hearts. RTS professor Steve Childers makes this clear.
To Paul, mankind’s root problem is not merely an external. behavioral problem-it is an internal problem of the heart. Paul believed that one of the primary reasons human hearts are not more transformed is because the affections of people’s hearts have been captured by idols that grip them and steal their hearts’ affection away from God. Spiritual Dynamics Class Notes
The root sin is that we have chosen to go outside the boundaries of the kingdom of God to look for pleasure in the land of idols. Illicit sexual pleasure feels good, relieves boredom, medicates pain, soothes our stress. Such payoffs can be nearly impossible to resist.
The most effective way to combat sexual sin over the long haul is to chip away at its roots. So, how do we chip away at our tendency to look to the idol of illicit sexual pleasure to satisfy our longings? We must look to the true God to satisfy those longings instead.
There are two ways we need to look to God to satisfy our longings instead of to the false God of illicit sexual pleasure. First, we must surrender our sexual desires to him and trust him to be the one to see that they are satisfied in a righteous way or give us the grace to go with them unmet. Second, we must learn to delight our heart in the Lord, himself, because he alone can satisfy our deepest longings.
No matter what your situation, when sexual desire is aroused, take it to the altar and ask God to provide for those desires to be satisfied. If you are single, pray for a wife, and seek wise counsel concerning the lessons you need to learn before marriage. When you feel sexual desire being awakened, channel that desire into a fervent prayer for your future wife. If you are married, Scripture is clear that passionate love-making with your wife is a key to overcoming temptation. (See Prov. 5:15-20, I Cor. 7:5) If there is a sexual misconnect with your wife (which is very common among Christian husbands and wives,) take this concern to the Lord, as well. He wants you to have a passionate love life. Surrendering your sexual appetite to God and trusting him to meet your desires is the quality of meekness. As the third beatitude, this is a foundational quality for the Christian life.
When Paul was addressing the sexual immorality of the Corinthians, he cut to the root of the matter in 6:13, when he tells them, “You were made for God and God is the answer to your deepest longings.” John Piper gets it right, when he says,
One reason lust reigns in so many is that Christ has so little appeal. You were created to treasure Christ with all your heart-more than you treasure sex or sugar. If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph. Plead with God for the satisfaction you don’t have. Quote Psalm 14, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we might rejoice and be glad all our days.” Then, look, look, LOOK at the most magnificent person in the universe until you see him the way he is.
There is no instant solution to overcoming sexual lust. Our sexuality is very deeply rooted, and equally deeply rooted is our sinful nature. We believe in radical depravity. Sinful habit patterns that took years to build are not easily rooted out. But, in the long run, the most effective way to strengthen the purity of your heart is to steadily chip away at its idols. In this case, that means trusting your sexual desires to your master, and being intentional about delighting your soul in him.