I CORINTHIANS 6:18-20: “Flee sexual immorality! Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Why is sexual immorality such a big problem in the church? Statistics show that over 40% of pastors struggle with addictions to pornography. And if the shepherd of the flock is struggling, what does that mean about the flock?
From the beginning of time the enemy of our souls has used sexual immorality as a trap to cause God’s people to stumble. Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel. Balaam instead blessed them (Numbers 22-24). Balak was enraged and sent Balaam away. However, the rest of the Biblical record gives us insight into Balaam’s love of money and how he advised Balak to put a stumbling block in front of Israel to cause them to sin and lose God’s favor.
- “But I have a few things against you. You have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to place a stumbling block in front of the Israelites: to eat meat sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality.” Revelation 2:14 CSB
Balaam advised Balak to throw a pagan worship feast and to invite the Israelites. In the midst of drinking and celebration, when their defenses were down, they were tempted to enter into the pagan practices of sexual immorality, which was part of the pagan worship. This fall into immorality opened the door for Israel to adopt the worship of foreign gods and began the long downward spiral from God’s favor to their eventual exile into captivity.
The enemy still uses this tactic today. He tries to convince us – it’s only a movie, it’s only a party, it’s only what everyone else is doing. Inch by inch we lower our defenses. We begin to tolerate things that we once clearly believed were wrong. We begin to hang around with others who are also slipping from their convictions. This is done in an attempt to justify and appease our conscience. And, as we do this, we grieve the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
All sin grieves the Holy Spirit, but sexual sin attacks the very temple in which he lives – our bodies. When we give ourselves to sexual sin, or when we begin to justify it in the lives of others, we lower our spiritual defenses, we resist the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, and we become subject to even greater failures and addictive behaviors and thought patterns. This was true for the nation of Israel, and it is also true for the believer and the church.
Think of how many churches, how many marriages, how many children, and how many lives have been wrecked by the invasive power of sexual sin. Is it any wonder why we live in such a sexually permissive society. What our parents deemed as inappropriate, we have embraced as normal. And what we have embraced as normal, our children have viewed as puritanical and closed minded. We are on a slippery slope. Is there any hope!
I remember the words of the Apostle Paul in the seventh chapter of Romans.
- “So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.” Romans 7:21-25 CSB
Jesus Christ is our hope and our victory! What we could not do in the weakness of our flesh, He can do in the power of His life and His Spirit! He can deliver us from the root of our addiction and break the cycle of – sin, guilt, shame, and regret. Yet, this is not just a call to prayer, it is also a call to action. God’s grace is given to us so that we can make the right choices. We can choose the avenue of escape. Nothing, including sexual sin, is stronger than the Grace of God!
- “So, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall. No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 CSB
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he urges us to be very practical in our approach to sexual temptation.
- Paul calls us to view our bodies as a temple of the living God (I Corinthians 6:19), and not as an instrument of sin. This means that our walk with Christ is not simply a spiritual one. It is a surrender of our spirit, souls, and our body. We cannot grow spiritually without renewing our mind with the Word of God, and we must discipline our body through obedience to God’s commands as we are empowered by God’s grace.
- We are to affirm God’s provision of marriage as the proper place to find all expression and fulfillment of our sexual needs. This is a call to both men and women. If they cannot control their passions, the man and the woman are counseled to get married. In their marriage they are both to fulfill each other’s sexual needs as an expression of sacrificial love. They are not to withhold this expression of love, unless by mutual consent, and only for a preset period of time as they are devoted to prayer (I Corinthians 7)
- For the single person this is a call to surround yourself with godly friends. Do not assume you are too strong to fall. If you cannot control your online temptations, employ a filter, or deactivate social platforms that cause you to be tempted. Use common sense. If you hang around the donut shop, you are going to eat a donut. Don’t put yourself in situations where you will be tempted. Renew your mind with the Word of God. Make worship a regular part of your life. And don’t hide from the church if you fall. Become accountable to godly men and women who can walk with you into your victory!
Everyone has struggled with sexual sin and temptation. No one is outside of its allure. It is not the overt action that we must address first. Rather, it is the action of the mind and the heart. Sin considered, sin entertained, will become sin committed!
- “No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God,” since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15 CSB
Remember – Jesus came so that we could have life, and life abundantly. The enemy only comes to steal, kill, and to destroy. We have a choice. We can surrender our thoughts and our bodies to temptation, or we can call upon the grace of God, draw upon the Word of God, cry out to the Spirit of God, and surround ourselves with men and women of God. Victory was secured on the cross of Calvary! It is ours, but it is ours for a choice! God is calling us by His Word and His Spirit – choose freedom, choose victory, choose life!
- “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:5-9 CSB
In Jesus Name!