The devil has it all worked out. Bombard any country with sexual images, and he will get just about every person in the country to fall into some kind of lust at some time or other. I heard recently, of a school where the counsellors were giving out six condoms a week to the children!
It has taken the church a long time to get to the stage where teaching on how to cope is made practical. Bible school does not seem to equip pastors for helping people in the fight. I was amazed not long ago to have a conversation with a trainee pastor who had no idea at all that women might use pornograpy; yet one of my memories as a teen is the day 'Cosmopolitan' Magazine published a naked man.
Somehow, as Christians, we have been taught to keep quiet about these things. Yet, in the last year a good friend admitted to me that she had had an affair with someone, several came for help with masturbation issues, and conversation among those I am close to showed that at times temptation to fall in the area of lust is a real battle.
It is not surprising the battle is fierce. Western society is full of images that entice the eyes. Sex is used to sell, and thrown at us from every angle. Our kids are drawn in, and think that they can make out with anyone they like. Satan knows that he can transfer all sorts of things through the sexual act; and that soul ties can be made with ungodly people because whenever these things take place 'two become one.'
It all begins with the eyes or a feeling. I suspect any Christian who says they are perfect in this area, male or female, is lying. One of the best ways to fight temptation is to be real about what the temptation is. Living pure is a fight, and it is a tough battle. The pain and distress Christians feel if they fall is hard to bear. Too many times, had there been an atmostphere of openess within the church and church relationships, temptation would not have given birth to sin.
Mathew 5 27-29
28 But don't think you've preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices--they also corrupt.
29 "Let's not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here's what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile.
A simple walk down the high street can cause a Christian to fall! It is hard to live 'one eyed.' Being honest, and supporting one another gives us two eyes to walk with that are focused on the right things.
Jesus was hard on people in this area because He knew how hard it was to keep pure. He knew it was possible to access all the power of the Holy Spirit to help us overcome, but He never said it would be an easy fight. This is a battle. If the Christians won't get into the front line, then there is no hope. Nations can be won over to depravity if we will not fight. David slew Goliath, but he had the backing of the whole Israelite army behind him. If Goliath had made just one move to harm David, then they would have been shooting arrows. We all need at least one person in our lives we are close enough to to share the worst battles of our Christian walk.
2 Peter 1 3-4
3 Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received!
4 We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you--your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.
Get to know Jesus, and it all gets easier. The more we know of Him the less we are likely to be tempted.
Knowing Jesus intimately, and knowing the word of God thoroughly are the way to keep your back turned. You have the ticket to purity and freedom in your hand. Keep your back turned and walk through the gate.
10 Jesus stood up and spoke to her. "Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?"
11 "No one, Master."
"Neither do I," said Jesus. "Go on your way. From now on, don't sin."
One by one, they all walked away. Nobody wanted to condemn when faced with a challenge about their own heart. Actually, the men condemning this woman were cowards. They knew that if they said they had no sin, then they would be saying they were God. They weren't going to take the risk of being brought before the high priest and condemned. It was easier to agree they sinned, than to take beating, trial and possible execution. They weren't going to go through that for any woman! I don't think it was shame that made those men creep away. I think it was cowardice.
The woman and Jesus are left alone. There is no escape. She has been caught in the act. She can't pretend; there are witnesses.
How did her sin start? Maybe a lifetime of hurt and pain caused her to go down the wrong road. Maybe all those lovers she had were a way of seeking refuge from pain. Jesus still did not excuse the sin. He did not say to her, 'I understand,' - though we can be sure he did. He said "Go and sin no more."
Who got back on track? Not the men with their accusations and stones. They went back to whatever they were doing without the hope that they could overcome their faults. The woman caught in adultery heard that there was hope for her. Jesus said it: "Go and sin no more." He did not condemn her.
Hurt and past pain do not excuse sin, they can predispose us to certain actions, but the sin itself will hurt us more than the pain. There is hope however: if Jesus said: "go and sin no more," to a woman who was caught out in sin that was full blown, then surely even those who fight at a stage along the way, those who battle with lust, for example, can believe that it is possible to live in victory. So often, sexual sin arises out of needs from a hurt and damaged past. It is important to see that the sin will actually keep us tied into the past. NOW is always the moment to walk into the freedom you were meant to have.
1 John 2:1
1 I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin. But if anyone does sin, we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus.
2 When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good--not only ours, but the whole world's.
Wednesday's devotional probably seemed like a tall order to anyone fighting sexual sin! Jesus made it clear that victory is possible, but the reality is that along the way to freedom, many stumble and fall. What happens is that we know sometimes, that we should run away from the sin, but a lifetime of habit kicks in, and we feel like we are back where we started. At this point, so many feel there is no point in fighting the battle, and they give up on Jesus.
Notice the words: "Priest and Friend." What does a good friend do when you go to them and tell them you feel bad about something you have done? They don't tell you to get lost; they say they will help you. They stand with you so you can feel you are not fighting alone. Jesus is the best friend of all. He wants to help you in the fight. He knows how bad you feel when you find out the problem is not conquered,he has the right solution to the problem for you, and He wants to help.
1 John 2:1
15 Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you've sinned, you'll be forgiven--healed inside and out.
16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.
Outward sin is to do with a condition of the heart. There is no point in looking at a sin and confessing it, without also looking at the reason why you fell in the first place. Sin doesn't come from outside, it comes from a decision made within you. Identifying where the battle really began is not something we are meant to do alone.
It is often easier to confess anything else than to confess sexual sin. The devil loves to make us so embarrassed we will never tell because he knows that if we do, then Jesus is going to set us free. That is why it is so hard to be honest about these things and the whole area of sexual sin can grow so big.
Make sure that anyone you trust enough to confess to is really worthy of that trust. Choose someone who also wants to live right with Jesus. It isn't wrong to fight the same battle together if you are both convinced you are not right before God. Confession and repentance makes you both right with God, and as soon as that has taken place then the pair of you can work on staying free. Make sure the person you tell is someone who will act like Jesus, and neither condone the sin, or condemn you. The worst kind of Christian is one who, on hearing anothers confession, then justifies the sin. If you feel God has told you an action is wrong, then that action is wrong, no matter what others think. people do have varying views on some sexual practices, and the issue is not what others think but how God has spoken to you. Good friends will never go against what God has said to you in this area, they will tell you that they are not the right person for this particular confession if they feel differently.
If someone gives you a lecture rather than praying with you, then walk away. God will provide someone with more compassion who really wants to help you be free.
The greatest friend of all will be meeting with you and He has the power to set you free.
NEXT WEEK: WHEN YOU CAN'T LET GO OF THE PAST-Help for those who need to walk into their future.