Moral Purity in Marriage

Dr. Russell Moore – You will encounter sexual temptation in your marriage. It is not a question of whether you will encounter sexual temptation, you will encounter sexual temptation when the satanic powers see two who become one flesh, what they see is a living, breathing,  organic display of what they hate the most, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Whatever sexual temptation will come into your marriage is not about you, it is about something that has been going on for millennia and something that was purposed and planned in the mind of God before the cosmos ever was. Your struggle and your battle is precisely what the serpent offers in the garden when he says to the woman, simultaneously, „See yourself as an animal”. She’s been given dominion, the Bible says, over all the beasts of the fields and now she is taking direction from a beast of the field. And also, „See yourself as a god. You can decide what is good and evil”. You will face this throughout your marriage because this is exactly what the apostle Paul is talking about when he says the issue with sexual purity is not simply about self control, although it is about self control. It is about a kind of self control that is doing warfare against the temptation of Satan.

Paul has been going through this entire letter, talking to them about the dangers out there, in the spiritual world. He talks about sexual morality, he talks about sexual fidelity and he says, „Don’t you understand that there is something spiritual happening here?

ADULTERY – Almost anybody in this room can look around and see the kind of carnage that takes place in the lives of even the people that you know. Some of you have pastors who preached the Gospel to you , or baptized you and were later destroyed because of an adulterous affair. Sexual immorality is not something that suddenly happens to you, sexual immorality is part of a conspiracy and a plot to work with you in your sin in order to, as the book of proverbs says, trap you like an animal who is caught.  Paul says, „Flee from sexual immorality. Be warned about joining yourself in adultery”. And why is that the case?  It’s because this warning applies to all of the people of God. We typically think that sexual temptation and sexual opportunity happen to sexy people. That is not the way that it happens. And I have seen so many men who have left beautiful, godly wives for women that you would not even notice if you passed them in the hallway. This is not a matter of how sexy someone is. The Satanic powers are noticing you. They are watching you. Especially those of you who have stood up and said, „I am pursuing God’s call upon my life, to stand and to speak for Christ, in proclaiming the oracles of God.” They will do anything to see to it that the Gospel is discredited by your animalistic impulses. Most people who find themselves drawn into adultery, are not drawn into adultery because they are so oversexed. Most of them, instead find them selves in that place because marriage is a mission, it’s an economy. It’s an order that has been put together and it is hard labor together to bring forth the bread from the earth and to be fruitful and multiply, and to raise up the next generation and to get along with one another through all of these sufferings and all of this strife.  Notice what the apostle Paul says here, it is shockingly radical „You belong to each other”. He does not simply say, „Flee adultery”. He says something significant here. He says, „Husbands, your body belongs to your wife. And wives, your body belongs to your husband”. Do you realize what a shocking statement that is?

(2) FORNICATION – When you change the biblical name ‘fornication’ which is something that is evil, to ‘premarital sex’ you are changing it to something that signifies it is just a matter of timing. There are some ways that fornication mimics the conjugal union of sex. When you have two that are joining themselves together, outside of that life long covenant, you are picturing something other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The fornication is not simply something that is timed badly. The fornication is a spiritual act that is joining you and attaching you in some mystical way to another person, in a way that communicates a ‘Christ who is not faithful to His bride’. That is not just immoral, that is blasphemy. One of the significant issues that we face in our churches is that we have an entire generation of young people who are able to cover over and to callous their consciences by being technical virgins, by justifying to themselves acts of rebellion against God as somehow being acceptable and somehow being justifiable in a way that not only stores up sin, but also devastates the functioning christian conscience. And often, even those teenagers and young single adults in our churches, who are remaining faithful in sexual purity are doing so more out of risk avoidance than out of a commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God has revealed that fornicators will not enter the kingdom of God. One of the things we have in our church and possibly in your marriage is that we don’t really believe that. And we really do not see the spiritual war that is going on at this point, because we assume it’s premarital sex, so once the marriage takes place, the issue is now resolved. Some of you in your marriages right now are experiencing deadness and mistrust, and conflict because you, husband led that woman into fornication and you have never gotten to the point of repentance before God for evil. Everything that you said to her, to convince her that this was justifiable, every act of hiddenness that you took to manage your own hiddenness and to cover over your sin, yo will be able to do just as easily, again with some other woman. „She’s the love of my life!” You’ll feel that way about some other woman some day. „We were just so carried away”. You’ll be carried away again, like that. „The timing was so wrong, we were so young”. „My wife just doesn’t understand me and I’m at a time in my life when I really need this relationship”. Until you get to the point, specifically men, where you, as a former fornicator get on your knees with your wife and say, „I am guilty of not protecting you, of not exercising Godly headship over you, of not loving you as Christ loved the church, and I repent before God and I repent before you”. You will never understand what the scripture is talking about when it says, „you were washed, you were freed”. The problem is that we assume that because the problem is in the past, that the issue is over, but, nothing drives 2 people further apart than sinning together. Your wife, men, may not trust you right now because she knows her parents couldn’t trust you then. Until that is dealt with, with the kind of heart that cries out, „Lord have mercy and free me and wash me”, you will never find the kind of spiritual power and freedom in your marriage that  you so desperately need.

(3) PORNOGRAPHY. The apostle Paul doesn’t speak to pornography directly here, but he speaks to porneia, to sexual immorality. And this issue has become almost ubiquitous to such a degree that pornography in terms of spiritual warfare has been weaponized, including in our churches. Now, when a couple comes into my church and says, „We don’t know what’s wrong in our marriage, we just don’t have any intimacy, we don’t have sex with each other anymore, we just feel cold, I immediately say, „How long has the porn been going on? ” Husband usually looks at me like I’m an Old Testament prophet or a new age psychic. It is because it happens so often and with such regularity and it always has the same satanic results. PORNOGRAPHY IS UNIQUELY SATANIC BECAUSE IT DRIVES YOU TOWARDS INSATIABILITY. Nobody in the history of the world has said, „Ok Ive seen my porn”. Porn, by definition drives you further and further and further towards intimacy . WHy? Because it is an occultic pull upon you that is driving you towards the kind of mystery  and the kind of intimacy  that you are designed to find in the one flesh union and it severs that away from real life, covenant, flesh and blood love in such a way that you become numbed over to the joy of sexual intimacy itself. PORNOGRAPHY LURES YOU IN WITH SEXINESS, and then TOTALLY EVISCERATES YOUR CAPACITY  FOR SEXUAL INTIMACY. So much so, that there may even be men in this room  who are so captured by pornography that you are not even able to have sex with your wife without retrieving for yourself images that you have archived from porn. If you do not see how desperate and how sad and how pathetic and how pitiful that situation is, you will never find freedom. When you put yourself in the orbit of pornography, you are not just viewing material, you are joining yourself with a digital prostitute. Someone who is paid to create a sexual arousal in you, you are doing exactly what the apostle Paul is warning about in Corinth, when he says, „Don’t go up there to the temple prostitutes. What will happen when you get there, no matter how you cover over it, no matter how you keep it hidden, something spiritual has happened in the most wicked sort of way. Pornography will move in and destroy you because it will start to create you into the kind of person for whom intimacy is simply body parts rubbing together, not one flesh. And you will ultimately find yourself, when you have seen every image you want to see, when you have read every word you want to have read, like Esau, vomiting up the red stuff that he craved so badly. Pornography has some of you enslaved, precisely because the satanic powers love to work by helping you to hide your sin.

The power that Satan has over you is only two fold. Satan’s power is to take those things the God has created for good in your life, including the impulse towards intimacy and to twist it slightly away from its intended object, so that you become more and more entrapped and enslaved in your own deception. That you are exactly in the situation the apostle Paul speaks of as unbelievers, „Following after the prince of the power of the air, through the passions of the body and of the mind”. The only other power he has is Revelation 12- to accuse the brothers. Some of you are staying in hiding right now when you are at the place in your life where if there is enough of the sense of the urgency of the situation, you can save your life. , you can save your marriage, but you are hiding in the bushes back there where our prehistoric parents are. But, there is a voice through the word of God speaking as it does in every generation that asks the question, „Adam, where are you?”

The only way that you will break yourself free from the pull toward immorality is to come out of hiding. „Lord have mercy upon me, the sinner”.  And the only way that the power of Satan can be defeated is first of all, by recognizing that the goodness that God has given you in that one flesh union in your marriage is to point you to something that is even better news than that. So that the very act of holding that husband, holding that wife, crying and weeping in repentance together, that very act is a physical picture of what the apostle Paul says to the church at Colossae, when he says, „All of that legal record of our condemnation, that list of thoughts and intents, and archived internet histories has been nailed to His cross, disarming the principalities and powers by making a public display  of them.

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