“You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14 ESV)
Over the years here at Bethel, we’ve tried to preach purity and grace and we want to do the same here. But if we make grace a license for sin, we are failing to understand the seriousness with which God takes sexual sin. So how should we look at this? Like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game. Whoever wins, wins because they have great offense and great defense. Here’s what I mean:
Defense: Taking Heed of the Immediate and Eternal Consequences of Sexual Sin
- “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”(Hebrews 13:4)
- “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18 NLT)
- “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.He will accept no compensation; he will refuse though you multiply gifts.”(Proverbs 6:32-35 ESV)
Sex is so consequential. In marriage, it is a wonderful glue and celebration of covenantal love. Outside of marriage, it is a destroyer. If King David would have considered for a moment all that his adultery with Bathsheba was going to cost him, do you think he would have done it anyway?
This is the irrationality of sexual sin: when we are captured by temptation we are blind to the inevitable consequences. We don’t break the Ten Commandments, they break us. When we are in the grip of temptation, the consequences seem insignificant, if only we can have those few moments of pleasure!
All sin is this way, but sexual sin is the most grievous example because the consequences are so severe. We may not think so. That pornography on the computer screen when you are alone may seem inconsequential. Sin seeks any entry point and then spreads like a cancer in our soul. The sexualized heart slowly degrades dignity, self-respect, and the ability to relate in a healthy way to the opposite sex. It provides the torture of the lustful eye and a constant state of guilt.
If we will keep sex and marriage sacred, we have to have a great defense. We must also remind ourselves of the devastating consequences of giving in.
Offense: Celebrate Marriage and Marital Intimacy
My own story of being a bachelor till just a year or so ago meant marrying people, attending marriage receptions, preaching sermons on sex and marriage, all from a distance. Let me pause and just acknowledge that for singles who want to be married, this is a great difficulty. It makes you want to wear black to weddings.
The Bible celebrates sex within God’s design. Did you know that? You might say, “I suppose you are going to tell me there is a book of the Bible on it or something.” Yes, there is! There’s a whole book of the Bible (The Song of Solomon) celebrating in poetic—yet erotic terms—marital, sexual intimacy.
We have to remember that sex is not the devil’s idea or Hugh Hefner’s. Sex is God’s idea. One huge step on the offense is for marriage and sexual union to be celebrated and enjoyed. What if Christian marriages were known for having the happiest and healthiest physical relationships?
I don’t think we should do what some churches do and use gratuitous sex talk to fill the seats. But I do think we shouldn’t blush about the subject. Sex is God’s territory. Married couples, perhaps the most powerful evangelistic thing you can communicate to your neighbor and family members is that your marriage is loving, serving, and yes, passionate.
This means living the gospel out in our marriages with love and grace so that passion can remain part of it. But sex is so important in our culture. When they see Christian singles who value marriage so highly and hold sex so highly that they strive for purity, it’s powerful. When they see Christian marriages of grace and gospel, it’s powerful and makes the Daytona Beach spring break sex scene seem cheap and pitiful.
When they see in a church a redemptive community where sexual sins and bondage of the past is forgiven and overcome, it’s powerful. When the church opens its arms to people no matter what their sexual past, loves them, and points them to new life in Christ, it’s powerful. That was the church at Corinth with all their sexual baggage.
“Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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.”(1 Corinthians 6:9-11, emphasis added)
Just like breaking all the other commands, sexual sin is sin Jesus died for, which means if we confess it, and turn from it, we can walk in the newness of life God offers through his Son Jesus.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Additional Scriptures taken from Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
©2014 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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