Heath Lambert – It has never, ever, in the history of the universe been more convenient to destroy your soul, to ruin your family , and to bring reproach on Jesus Christ and His church

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Heath Lambert – The Power of Purity

Romans 6:1-14

Dr. Heath Lambert, author of „Finally Free” at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

There’s all kinds of difficulties with sexual immorality in the church. Pornography is just one. But, I am convinced that it is the most significant in the church. And the reason I think that is because in the old days, if you wanted to commit adultery, you had to do it with someone who could tell on you. Pornography solves that problem. It makes it possible for you to commit adultery with a woman whose lips are as silent as the grave. With the onslaught of internet pornography, it’s possible for anybody that wants to, to run around with hundreds and thousands of women. „And nobody has to know” is the lie.

In the past, being vigilant to be pure, meant being vigilant against a physical woman. Today, the people in our churches have to be vigilant against a phantom. Al Cooper, a sociologist, he was commenting in the late 90’s about the problem of pornography, and he said, „The problem with internet pornography in particular is 3 things: (1) Affordability (2) Accesability (3) Anonimity

You can get it cheap and nobody has to know.” For someone who is trying to get away with sexual immorality, it’s a deadly combination. For somebody who likes drinking that kind of poison, the internet is so handy, it’s so tidy. And so deadly. It has never, ever, in the history of the universe been more convenient to destroy your soul, to ruin your family , and to bring reproach on Jesus Christ and His church. This is not an abstract problem. It’s not a problem with the people out there. This is your problem. (READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW THE VIDEO)

The Power of Purity – Romans 6:1-14 from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

I speak to you today with a great deal of urgency and I am aware that I speak to you today in a time of crisis. These are dangerous days in our culture, these are dangerous days in our church. The specific thing I want to talk about with regard to that danger today, right now is the danger that the church faces with the epidemic problem of pornography. Pornography is not the only problem that the church faces, it’s not even the only problem with sexual immorality that the church faces. There’s all kinds of difficulties with sexual immorality in the church. Pornography is just one. But, I am convinced that it is the most significant in the church. And the reason I think that is because in the old days, if you wanted to commit adultery, you had to do it with someone who could tell on you. Pornography solves that problem. It makes it possible for you to commit adultery with a woman whose lips are as silent as the grave. With the onslaught of internet pornography, it’s possible for anybody that wants to, to run around with hundreds and thousands of women. „And nobody has to know” is the lie.

In the past, being vigilant to be pure, meant being vigilant against a physical woman. Today, the people in our churches have to be vigilant against a phantom. Al Cooper, a sociologist, he was commenting in the late 90’s about the problem of pornography, and he said, „The problem with internet pornography in particular is 3 things:

  1. Affordability
  2. Accesability
  3. Anonimity

You can get it cheap and nobody has to know.” For someone who is trying to get away with sexual immorality, it’s a deadly combination. For somebody who likes drinking that kind of poison, the internet is so handy, it’s so tidy. And so deadly. It has never, ever, in the history of the universe been more convenient to destroy your soul, to ruin your family , and to bring reproach on Jesus Christ and His church. This is not an abstract problem. It’s not a problem with the people out there. This is your problem.

At the risk of making this a little too uncomfortable, I know that there are people in this room who are struggling with pornography. It is absolutely impossible that this room is clear of people who don’t have an issue here. I don’t know who, I don’t want to make you suspicious, and I don’t want you creeped out looking at the person next to you. The goal is not suspicion, but, the goal is vigilance. And if we’re going to have to be vigilant, we’re gonna have to face facts. So, I want to speak, not about porn in general, not about culture in general. I want to speak to YOU. If you’re here, I take it that God wants you to be here and this is something God would have you hear. And so, I want to speak specifically to men. It’s not because there aren’t women in the room. It’s not that women do not struggle with porn, because they most certainly do. But, I want to speak to the men in the room who struggle with pornography, because God has raised you up to be leaders in your home. God has raised you up to be leaders in your church. And here’s the hard and fast reality.

If our homes and our churches are to be pure, then they’re going to be led by men who are pure. And if they are not, then they won’t be. And I’m so concerned when I pray for you. And I pray for you all the time. I don’t even know most of you, but when I pray for you, as I do all of the time, I am praying that you will stop doing what you are doing, if you’re in here and you’ve got a problem with porn. And here’s what you’re doing: Every time you do it, you sip, sip, sip on poison and you are storing consequences. Maybe nobody knows right now. But they will. It is the nature of sin to ooze out of the boundaries that we create for it. My concern for you is: You’re here because you wanna be a Godly man. You wanna be a Godly husband, you wanna be a Godly father, you wanna be a Godly minister of Jesus in the church. And what you’re doing is destroying all of it. And you don’t even see it yet.

Now, if you’re here, I take it you know it. I don’t need to persuade you that this is wrong. You know it’s wrong. You know you’re living a lie. You know you need to quit. But you just don’t know how. And what you need is not a lecture about how it’s wrong, but you need somebody to give you some resources to be different. And this is what it’s about. This is me, talking to you, trying to give you some resources, because if we tell you, if anybody says, „Be pure. It’s a pornographic culture and you need to get pure!” Good luck with that. The reality is that being pure requires power. You have to have resources and energy if you are to be vigilant against the pornographic onslaught in which we are living. And, Romans 6 is about that power. And this is what the apostle Paul says (8:00):

Romans 6:1-14

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of uswho have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We wereburied therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, butpresent yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Here’s what Romans 6 is about. When you read commentators and you listen to preachers talk about Romans 5 and Romans 6, they regularly highlight the flow that exists between those 2 chapters. Though, pay attention, especially to Romans 5:20-21 – Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. And what commentators regularly do, rightly, is they show how the connection between Romans 5 and Romans 6 does not lead to a lawless Gospel.

The hypothetical argument that the apostle Paul responds to is, „Ok, if I want grace, if I need grace, I can’t outsin my need for it. Grace always superabounds above my sins. So, whenever I sin, I get more grace. And so, hey, if I wanna experience God’s grace, I’ve got it. I’ll just keep sinning. And then, I’ll get more grace. So the ticket to more grace is more sin.” And the apostle Paul says, „No. Grace does not lead to more sin.” The argument is that grace ought to lead to obedience. That’s the argument of Romans 5-6. But, here’s what I’m eager for you to see this afternoon. I am eager for you to see that this is not just about rhetoric. I’m eager for you to see that what Paul is doing is more than building a strong argument. He’s doing more than unfolding logical progression.

In Romans 6, the apostle Paul is communicating power, for you to overcome, by the grace of Jesus, the sin that is in your life. And today, I specifically wanna apply it to the power that you have from Jesus to live a pure life, in the midst of porn everywhere. So, 3 things about Romans 6 that communicate power for purity:

1. The facts of Romans 6

I want you to see the power for purity in the facts of Romans 6. This passage communicates powerful information for you. Paul wants to provide facts that will fuel your vigilance to be pure. And he gives 2 facts for us to consider in the first 10 verses of Romans 6.

  1. First fact: You are dead. The whole point of the first 10 verses is that you’re dead to sin and you cannot live in it anymore. And your baptism is your signification of your reality. He says, „How can we, who died to sin, still live in it? Do you not know that all of uswho have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We wereburied therefore with him by baptism into death, Baptism is the point of reference because Paul doesn’t know any unbaptized believers. And so, he used the baptism as the point of reference to talk about our conversion. And he says, „If you’ve been baptized, you’re a Christian, and you’re dead. The death that you’ve died, what is that? Seems like I’m alive. Seems like my heart is beating. What is the death that I’ve died? Well, verse 6 says the death is the death of the old self being crucified.  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. The death that we died in Christ is the death of our old self. Romans 5 sets up 2 heads for the human race. There is Adam, as a head. And, there is Christ as a head. And all of humanity is under one of those 2 heads. For believers, Adam signifies the old self, who they were before they came to know Christ. And, Jesus signifies the new self, stands for the new person, who they have become in Christ. The old self is who we were in Adam, so old person is a redemptive historical category, it’s a redemptive historical designation and it refers to the fact that our representative head used to be Adam. And he’s no longer our head. Jesus Christ is our head. Our old self was crucified to make something happen, in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing (verse 6).(16:56) Notes from the first half hour.
Reclame

Pornography – What’s at risk when people think they can maintain a life of Christian discipleship while continuing to view pornography?

Dr. Heath Lambert, author of „Finally Free” at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’d answer that (question) like this:

The men I’m doing ministry with, who are coming to me and saying, „I have this incredible struggle with pornography, I’ve been stuck for a long time and I don’t know how to get out of it.” By the time I’m having this conversation with someone, I’m actually encouraged. That doesn’t freak me out at all, I’m really encouraged when you’ve got a guy who says, „Let me open up my life and tell you what’s going on.” The people that concern me are the people that I’m not talking to. People that aren’t talking to the pastor, that aren’t talking to somebody else, because those are the people who are destroying their ministry, or their future ministry. They’re destroying their marriage and family, or their future marriage and family.

Because the way sin works, is it destroys. The lie of internet pornography is ‘, I’ll do this little thing over here, and it’s nasty, and it’s ugly, but I get finished with it and I cover it up, and I’ll go back to the rest of my life.” And the problem is that sin doesn’t stay covered up. You think you can control it, and you cannot control it. And it will break out, it will ruin your life.

And the tragedy of that is that the worst consequences are actually the ones that are stored up over a long amount of time. And so, these men who are doing this are sipping on poison that is eventually going to kill their ministry efforts and their efforts at marriage and family. They’re literally destroying their lives and their effectiveness for Christ, and they don’t even understand it. (Photos via Amazon)

See the 2 min video here – https://vimeo.com/73385832

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(2) For those seeking to overcome pornography, 

what practical measures are commonly missing from their strategy?

See the 2 min video here – https://vimeo.com/73385831

See Parts 3 & 4 also which answer the following questions:

Part 3 – How can people identify whether their sorrow over sin is godly sorrow or worldly sorrow?

See the 2 min video here – https://vimeo.com/73385833

That’s a great question, and where so much of the action is. Because you can have 2 people that are both sobbing, that are begging to be different, that are both begging you to help them and they swear they’re gonna change from now on. And you don’t know if either of them, or any of them, if they’re serious about it, if that’s the kind of change that will last. And so, this is why Paul’s language in 2 Corinthian 7 is so helpful, because he makes a distinction between these 2 kinds of sorrow. There’s Godly sorrow that leads to life and peace and there is worldly sorrow that leads to death and despair. And the difference is fundamentally, whether the sorrow is about you and your kingdom, or about Jesus and His kingdom. If you’re sad because you got found out, if you’re sad because of the consequences, that is the kind of sorrow that will kill you. The Bible is very clear on this. But if you’re sad over your sin because God’s law has been broken, because you’ve grieved the Holy Spirit, then that is the kind of sorrow that indicates that you’re turning the corner because it indicates that you’re moving from yourself, in your own lust, which is why you looked at the porn to begin with, towards God and His kingdom. And the markers between those are a number that I mention in the book. But, just a few that I’d mention here that are most significant are:

  1. Do you have the willingness to reach out to others for help? Do you have the willingness to expose yourself and bring the darkness into the light?
  2. Do you have the willingness to accept the consequences? Are you willing to have your wife be upset?
  3. Are you willing to tell your parents and have them cut off your internet privileges?
  4. Are you willing to lose your job at your church because of being sexually immoral?

People who are willing to face the consequences are people who are demonstrating that their sorrow is the Godly kind that leads to life.

Part 4 – How are pastors particularly vulnerable to pornography, and what are the dangers?

See the 2 min video here – https://vimeo.com/73385834

There is a recent statistic out that says that 75% of pastors do nothing to make themselves accountable to anyone with regard to pornography. That’s terrible. I don’t think I wanna make a law here, where the Bible leaves people free, but I think I wanna say that in this pornographic age, it is reckless and irresponsible for a minister of the Gospel to take no measures to insulate themselves from pornography, for this reason: Pornography is looking for you. You don’t even have to think, „Oh, I might struggle with this.” Pornography is looking for you. There’s all this research that the porn industry is engaging in marketing , and in paying all kinds of things to attract people that aren’t currently looking at it. They’re spending millions and billions of dollars to get you in. And pastors that are really concerned to protect themselves and their families, and their flock from this real silent killer, need to be serious about putting some kind of accountability measures in their life, whether it’s just an accountability partner to say, „Hey, here’s where I’m struggling. Here’s some areas where you can pray with me.” Certainly, internet filters and protection on tablet devices and phones. That’s something that everybody can do, but I say that particularly for pastors since that recent statistic is so high.

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