Culture introduced us to sex before we even knew how to handle it. Sexual sin and lust are the source of pain and regret for many of us, so it’s important to know the deadly dangers it can lead to. In this message, we talk about the cause of lust, what is costs us, and how we can cure it.
All right. Well, hey, welcome, everyone tuning in from around the country. Man, we are so hopeful and expectant and looking forward to the day we can all be together, but we're thankful for technology that allows us to be together now. We know everyone is walking through lots of challenges right now. You're not alone. God sees you. He hasn't left you, hasn't forsaken you. He cares about you. We care about you. And we're excited to continue this series tonight on the Seven Deadly Sins.
I have a few friends in the room…what's up, guys?…who are a part of our team who are here. So we're going to have some fun for the next 30 minutes or so. But let me bring everybody into my world a little bit. I was asked this weekend if I own a gun, and I said, "Yes." So I'll show you that. This is not a political statement or an attempt, but there is a gun that is not loaded. It doesn't even have a magazine in it. This is a Beretta .40-caliber gun. I guess if there's no magazine there's nothing in it.
It's a gun that stays in a safe in a very removed place up on my shelf in our master bedroom so that none of my children can get access to it, because while this thing has great benefits and can provide or do great things, in the hands of someone who doesn't know how to use it, it can be incredibly destructive, particularly as it relates to children.
The idea of my children stumbling on or finding that thing would be incredibly destructive, because they don't know how to handle a gun. They don't know what it's for. They wouldn't be able to use it, and if they did use it, it would likely be very, very destructive.
Now what does that have to do with anything we're talking about tonight? Well, just like that something I know because if it falls into the hands of a person who doesn't know how to use it or doesn't know what it's for or doesn't approach it with the same awareness of how destructive it could be, I protect it, or I keep it away. I keep in a place where someone cannot easily access it.
There's something else. There's a deadly sin that in all of our lives is something that for most of us we were exposed to well before we ever knew exactly how to handle it, what it was for, what to do with it. That's the sin of sexuality. Or that's sexual sin. Sex in general is not a sin, but for most of us, at an early age we bumped into an older sibling or a friend at school or somebody who began to tell us what sex is about, what sex is like.
Maybe somebody showed you pornography. Maybe you didn't stumble into your dad's closet and find a gun, but you stumbled somewhere in your house, and you found a Playboy magazine. Or you stumbled in, and you found somebody's search history, and you saw explicit content that was there well before you ever knew what it was for, and it began to shape, and it shaped all of us, as it relates to how we think about sex.
So we're going to spend the next 25-30 minutes talking about this issue, because just like stumbling onto a gun and not knowing how to use it or what it's for, handling it with the caution it deserves, many of us throughout our lives stumbled into sexuality, and we weren't taught what it's for and how to handle it appropriately.
So we're going to look at God's Word. What do I mean by most of us stumbled in? All of us had different experiences that shaped the way we think about sex. Maybe you bumped into a friend at school, and they showed you pornography for the very first time. They showed you a video that to this day you can still see some of the images. Maybe it was a person in your family, and they didn't just show you a picture, there was abuse that took place, and it has impacted you.
Maybe it was a friend on the bus on the way to school. You didn't know anything about what oral sex is, and they told you all about, "This is what oral sex is like." I don't know what your initial exposure and experience as it relates to the topic of lust or sexuality, but I do know the chances are you do, and you remember it.
I remember the first time I saw pornography. I was 12 years old. It was on a mission trip with our church. Think about that. We were in a hotel, and somebody put on one of the channels that had pornographic movies taking place. I can still to this day see the images I saw that day. It took my 20 seconds to see it, and 20 years later I still can't forget it.
Whatever your initial and early introduction to sexuality is, it has shaped you. It marked you. God, in his Word, over and over lays out the destructiveness of sex and understanding there's an appropriate context it's to take place in. It's not a bad thing in general, no more than a gun is a bad thing in general, but in the hands of a wrong person, or the hands of someone who doesn't understand how to use it, it can be incredibly deadly and destructive.
As a society, we are so sexualized, it's crazy. In terms of just the number of people who will get married and have slept with eight or more people already by the time they get married, it's just around 50 percent. The number of people who will get married and have never slept with anyone is between 3 and 5 percent. A very, very, very small minority.
The number of people who have a sexually transmitted disease among young adults, those who are listening, is one in three. If we were sitting in a packed room, that would mean every single person or someone to their right or to their left has an STD. It's no wonder that the #metoo movement exploded when you come to grips with things like the reality that every 98 seconds somebody is sexually assaulted. I mean, think about that. Every 98 seconds in America, according to RAINN, somebody is sexually assaulted.
You add on top of that the porn industry. Thirty percent of the Internet is pornographic. A third of everything that is online. The porn industry globally is a $97 billion industry, making more than the MLB (Major League Baseball), NBA, and NFL combined. Child porn is a $3 billion industry. Eight out of 10 men between the ages of 18 and 30 view pornography monthly. One in five women view pornography monthly.
This is not, in other words, just a male problem. It's a problem that has affected and impacted all of us, and our understanding in the way we think about sex has been shaped for most of us by things other than God's Word. As much as we allow the world to speak in to how we think about sex and how we should operate on sex, the consequences will always be deadly and destructive because the world doesn't know how to think about sex. God created sex. He's the one who designed it, and he gave it for a particular purpose.
So tonight we're going to look at that. We're going to specifically talk about lust, and by lust, I mean sexual desire or actions that are outside of God's design. So all sexual sins. That includes sexting. That includes pornography. It includes having sex, oral sex, anal sex, any type of sex outside of marriage. Homosexual sex. Heterosexual sex. All of that would be included.
It includes the idea of lusting after someone in the gym when they walk by, and they're wearing Lululemon pants. It includes going to spin class and sitting in the back so you can get a better view of the people in the room. All of which would fall under the category of sexual sin. I think for most of us, we think, "That's not that big of a deal." God, in his Word, says it is a huge deal, not just because he's against sex…he's very pro-sex…but because the ways it has destructive consequences and will have and is having in our lives.
So we're going to look at the cause of sexual sin, or the cause of lust, the cost of lust, and then the cure we can find for lust. Thankfully, we're not the first society that was hypersexualized. This may shock you. People think the Bible is outdated. They're like, "Ah, this sexual stuff we have today, the Bible is just so old fashioned and crazy." There was a city when the Bible was written that makes what we do today, or makes the sexual nature of our society, look so tame compared to the way they operated back then.
That city was the city of Corinth. Corinth was a port city that had just over 100,000 people. It was a city similar to if you put New York and Las Vegas together. It was a port city, so lots of people came and went. They had a lot of money. It was one of the cities that, hey, what happens in Corinth stays in Corinth. Why would that be the case? Because they had a temple there called the temple to Aphrodite.
Aphrodite is the goddess in Greek literature, or Greeks at the time believed, who was the goddess of love and sex. She had 1,000 temple prostitutes who would have sex all day long, 24/7, or the temple was open 24/7, and they would collect dues from anyone who wanted to have sex. So people would frequent the town of Corinth to go sleep and essentially live out any of the fantasies they could ever imagine.
This was the city that because of the sexual nature of it, one scholar said it was the sexual capital of the ancient world. Because of the sexual nature of it, the term Corinthian became synonymous or associated with a girl who was like a call girl or a prostitute. Think about that. Like, "Hey, you don't want to mess around with her. She's a Corinthian." At that time they're singing songs, like, "Man, I'm in love with a Corinthian," because they associated just the sexuality of that town with anyone who lived there.
Now the apostle Paul loved this town. He spent more time in this town than any other town, or as much other than one other town, in Corinth. While he was there, different pagans, or people who didn't know God, had spent time with the prostitutes, they trusted in Christ, and now they're trying to live out their faith. Paul writes multiple letters to them, saying, "This is what it looks like to live out your faith in Christ." Into an incredibly sexualized city, he writes how they are to think and handle sexuality.
Tonight, we're going to look at a passage in 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, starting in verse 13, where he addresses and writes to a group of people who were so messed up sexually. Here's what they were doing. I'll give you some of the punch line we're about to read and go through. They weren't having sex with their wives; they would just go and have sex with the prostitutes. They didn't even think that this was that big of a deal. They didn't totally understand it, and Paul writes and says, "No, no, no. You don't understand what sex is."
They thought like a lot of us think. "Hey, it's not that big of a deal if I look at pornography. It's not hurting anybody." That's how they thought about prostitution, and Paul writes, "No, no, no, no. You don't understand what sex is." So we're going to dive in and look, starting at verse 13 at what he says to this group. We're jumping in the middle of the letter and conversation, so I'll explain what he's saying.
Paul writing. "You say, 'Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.'" So Paul is quoting one of their sayings of the town. "(This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can't say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality." Or sexual sin. It's just the word porneia, where we get pornography from. It's the whole bucket of anything sexual sin, which is sex in any way outside of marriage. You can't say your bodies were made for that.
"They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead." So Paul says, "Hey, you don't understand sex. You think it's just physical." And he uses one of their own sayings that clearly they'd associated it in the same way they thought about sex.
In other words, they at that time thought, "Hey, the stomach is made for food, food for the stomach. When I'm hungry, I have a stomach organ, and so I go and have the appetite, and I feed that appetite," which was also the way they thought about sex. "Just like I have a stomach organ, I have a sexual organ. So, not when I'm hungry, when I'm horny, I go and have sex. It's not that big of a deal. It's all just some physical thing." And Paul says that's because you don't understand what sex is.
But inside of this passage, he lays out and describes what's true then and is true now. The cause of sex is an appetite. They were wrongly handling that appetite. They thought it was like food. "If I'm hungry, I go to this; if I'm horny, I go have sex with a prostitute." Paul says, "No, no, no, no, no. That's not what it is."
The cause of lust or sexual sin, the first point, is that there's an appetite or a desire inside of every person, and every time we act in a way that's outside of God's design with that sexual desire, lust occurs, outside of God's design for sex and lust to take place in the context of marriage. Here's one of the things that a lot of Christians or a lot of people just think the Bible is anti-sex. God invented sex. He's all about it.
On the very first page, the very first command God gives as it relates to humanity is, "Hey, Adam, Eve, I created you. Here's what I want you to do. Rule number one. Be fruitful and multiply. Make babies." On page number two, from the very beginning, God is pro-sex. We're told he formed Adam, and he formed Eve, and he has them there together. They're standing in front, and Adam wakes up, and he sees his new wife there, and he's like, "Oh man!"
We're told he bursts out into song, and he begins to talk about this naked woman's body in front of him. It's before John Mayer was ever around. He goes into "Your Body Is a Wonderland." That's essentially what he does. He begins to describe this person. And God looks, and he says it was good. He's not anti-sex. He is incredibly pro-sex.
Proverbs 5:18-19 says, "Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love." That is a command in the Bible for you to always be captivated by your wife's breasts.
Think about that. People think God is a prude. He's not a prude. He wants to protect you from the danger of allowing that desire or that appetite to be used outside of his design, to be used like someone who doesn't understand how to use a gun because it can be incredibly dangerous or destructive to you and me.
Now that desire gets twisted, and we begin to want to take sex and lust after people who are not our wives or outside of the context of marriage, and that always brings forth something James, chapter 1 tells us. "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust." That lust takes him someplace. "Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death."
What does lust look like for us when he says, "Hey, lust takes you on a path somewhere"? Lust, in our context, can look like sexual thoughts, fantasizing about somebody at work, checking somebody out as they walk by and they're in some sort of leggings. It can look like going explicitly and looking at pornography. But you don't even have to go to porn sites. You can find it on an Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, movies, Netflix, sexting. Sexual sin, or lust. In that category is any type of sex outside of marriage, like I already said. Masturbation.
That desire is an appetite, just like the food they were eating was an appetite. You know what happens when you feed an appetite. It grows. We're going to talk about that more here in a second. But Paul is saying the cause of lust inside of you comes from an appetite or a desire that gets distorted, a desire that's not used in line with how it was designed to be used.
Really, just like Corinth… Here's the truth about all of us, man. We are all in this together. We live in a culture that is constantly, since the day we were born, been feeding us and fueling the distorted desire of sexuality, feeding every time I've seen pornographic images, or every time I watch a movie, and like 15 minutes in, the couple is shacking up and sleeping together. It feeds something as you relate to or as you begin to think about sex. The culture around us continually feeds this.
It feeds us this through the music we listen to. I mean, think about so many of the songs that come out. "That's What I Like" by Bruno Mars. "Yummy" that's coming out. You have that yummy. They have a good beat, but they're feeding something inside as it relates to sexualizing. "Savage." Netflix has a new show called Too Hot to Handle, about people and like, "Whoever cannot have sex first gets $100,000." Think about that. Game of Thrones. Everywhere you look. It's just being bombarded.
What's crazy is how desensitized I've become, we've all become to what a hundred years ago would've shocked someone. You think about what people who are… I'm not trying to hate on anybody who is at the swimming pool. When you go to the swimming pool, and you see bikinis, people a hundred years ago, like your great-grandparents, would've been like, "Why is that girl walking around in her underwear right now?" To us, it's totally normal. My point is not, you know, right or wrong or whatever; my point is we've become desensitized.
Not only that, we have robbed from people the ability to even have the privilege of, "Hey, the first time I ever saw a woman in her underwear was my wife, or a guy in his underwear was my husband," because you can't turn on the TV without seeing a Victoria's Secret commercial that comes through. You can't drive down the highway without seeing some guy in nothing but his underwear or just in pants. We've taken that. The culture around us has just fed it and fed it and fed it, and things that would've shocked people before has just become normal.
My point is not, you know, to even zoom in on those. I'm just saying we've all become so desensitized to it. It's like when I get in a hot tub… Anytime you get in a hot tub. You stay at my house; I don't have a hot tub. But anytime you get in one, it's first really hot, isn't it? And then what happens? You get used to it, and you go from like, "Ow, man, this is so hot," to, "This isn't that hot at all." That's just what happens, this sexualizing or sex has just been thrown in front of all of us.
It has also impacted the way women think about how to attract a guy. Man, my heart breaks for ladies who are told from the moment they're born, "Hey, the way you can catch a guy, or you need to find your value in how you look and how many curves you have, or what your curves look like." And they're told this is how you should catch a guy.
You may not even realize it, but by throwing on Instagram pictures of you in this bikini or, you know, the picture behind, or here's my leg gap, you're feeding into what it looks like as it relates to sexuality. And, dude, my heart breaks. I have a daughter, and I know all of those same lies and everything that is thrown at you is going to be thrown at her.
But as a bigger brother in Christ, here is an encouragement I would give you. If you catch a guy with your body, because you have that leg gap, because you have those boobs, you will lose him when you lose that leg gap, which is going to happen. You will lose him when gravity takes over, because you're catching…
When I go fishing…I was talking to my friend earlier…do you know that there are certain fish that will eat anything? Did you guys know this? Like most freshwater fish will eat anything. Then there are other fish, like saltwater fish, like mackerel. They're very selective in what they eat. So if you don't throw the right bait out there, they're not going to eat it. If you want to catch a guy with your body, you're going to catch a body snatcher. That's what you're going to catch. That's the type of guy you're going to catch.
You're not going to catch a mackerel who's like, "No, I'm looking for a godly girl." If you're the person who's throwing out and trying to use your body to catch someone, you're not going to catch the type of godly man I think you want, because godly men will see, "Man, there's a woman who's not being modest with her body right there. She's not mature in her faith." You're throwing bait that's not going to catch the type of guy you want. But all over our world, sexualization has taken place.
Furthermore, if all of that wasn't enough, being thrown at us constantly, what causes lust is oftentimes just our personal experience, our story. Some of you were sexually abused as a child, and it wasn't your fault, and you've struggled with same-sex attraction ever since. You were exposed to pornography, and that led you on a path where your friend just showed it to you one night on a sleepover, and you began to look at and look at it and look at it, and you have never gone a day since, or very few days, without seeing it. Just our experience in life fuels, it can feed and cause this.
Paul is saying it is an appetite, and he's about to tell them, "Do not feed that appetite outside of God's design." And here's why. Verse 15: "Don't you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don't you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, 'The two are united into one.' But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him."
I wish we had time to go into all the different, incredible things he's saying right here. But he says, "Hey, don't you realize that when you go down, you have sex with the prostitutes in the temple, you are joining and fusing your body together with that other person. Do you not understand exactly what you're doing?"
"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." Paul lays out and goes into the cost that lust or sexual sin has inside of our lives. He says, "Hey, look. Unlike the world where you think you just slept with a prostitute, it's not a big deal. When I'm hungry, I eat; when I'm horny, I have sex. No, no, no. It's a way bigger deal than that. You don't understand what sex is like."
He uses a word for joining or you're fused together. That's the word of gluing. Every time you have sex with a prostitute, you are gluing yourself to that person. Every time you have sex outside of marriage or inside of marriage, you are gluing yourself to that person. You are fastening. Eventually, if you guys break up, or if the relationship doesn't work out, you're going to rip each other apart and leave a little bit of you with them and a little bit of them with you.
He says, "You don't understand sex. It's not some flippant thing." The Bible teaches it's at a soul level that two people are bonded together in the act of sex. So he's saying, "Man, you guys are crazy. You can't go down there without experiencing consequences and sleep with prostitutes."
How does it have a cost inside of our own day and age today? In dating relationships, here's how it's going to cost you. Sex inside of the context of a dating relationship is going to keep you in a relationship you should not be in. It's going to keep you much longer in that relationship because, you know, had you not had sex, you would've dated maybe two months and been like, "Ah, I think we're done. This is over." You're going to date two years, and you're going to keep having sex.
The reason that is is because sex is bonding. It's sticky. It bonds you together. It makes it harder to leave. Even the relationship that everyone is saying, "Hey, I don't think he's really good for you, or I don't think she's really good for you," because sex is in there, it bonds you to that person and keeps you in that relationship longer. It doesn't end after two months with like, "Ah, nice to know you. I'm moving on." It ends two years later with heartbreak and heartache and pain and regret, because sex is sticky.
It was created to be, which is why it's such an amazing thing in the context of marriage because it continues to bond these two people who have promised and pledged their lives to one another. "Hey, till death do us part. I'm in it with you." And it bonds. Every time you have sex, it bonds you to that person.
But that's also why it's really dangerous outside of the context of marriage because here's what sometimes people think. They hear from pastors, and maybe even pastors have told them, "Do you know what? Sex outside of marriage is not nearly as great as inside of marriage, and it's just not going to be that fun, so don't do it." That's not what the Bible says.
The problem with sex outside of marriage is not that it's bad; it's that it is so good because sex is so good. So you're going to experience sex and be bonded with someone who is not your husband or who is not your wife, and you're going to be glued in some way to that person. The problem isn't that it's so bad. It's going to be good, because sex is good.
The problem is because it is so good it bonds you to that person who almost always ends up ripping, because the relationship doesn't work out, and you end up ripping up part of you, and they get a part of you, and you leave with a part of them. The problem over time becomes like this. This is duct tape. If I take this duct tape, and I put it on my arm…this is going to hurt…it rips off hair. If I continue to do that, and I take it on another person, and I put it on their arm, and I attach it, and I rip it off, and I attach it, and I rip it off, every single time I do, a little piece of that person is coming with me.
Do you know what happens over time? It eventually stops being sticky anymore. That's exactly what happens in the context of sex. That's why so many people have sexually dysfunctional relationships, because over and over and over they've bonded themselves to so many different people.
Now God can heal and do anything because there's no sin that's more powerful than Jesus, including sex. But apart from his Spirit, is it any wonder when you look around at our world and know relationships just don't seem to last? Could it be because of so much sex that has taken place outside of the context of marriage and some of that bonding has no longer had its stickiness or bonding present in there?
It'll harm your future marriage, because however many sexual partners you've had, your spouse is going to know them, probably want to know them, find themselves insecure comparing themselves, wondering what you're thinking about them compared to other sexual partners you've had in your past. You're harming, and there's a cost that comes every time sex is introduced. When you introduce it, you make the relationship less likely to go the distance or in the long run, not more likely.
There's a cost that comes with lust and sexual sin to our world. I mean, just think about if you take the Bible, throw it away, and you just then begin to go objective, and you're like, "Huh, if I was God, what would I teach about sex? Would I just say, 'Hey, free for all. Everyone sleep together all the time'? Or would I say, 'No, sex should take place in the context of marriage?'"
Well, even if you look around, and you're like, "Well, what happens as a byproduct of people sleeping around? It's not that big of a deal," do you know how many lives are lost every year because of sex outside of marriage? A least a million. There were a million abortions last year. That's around 3,000 babies a day. Those are not happy couples, white picket fence, who are getting an abortion. It's people who got pregnant and didn't want to have the baby. Out of lust, a life literally was lost. Three thousand babies today.
Think about the fact that STDs… Now one in three people have an STD. After years of a decline, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis are all back with a vengeance, the vast majority of which being contracted by Millennials. Ten million Millennials this year, or young adults from the ages of 18-30, are going to contract an STD. That's in addition to the ones who got them last year, ones who will get them next year.
One in five people are living with HIV and have not been diagnosed. Seventy-five percent of women with chlamydia don't even know it. Thirty-five percent of Americans who have herpes don't know it. One in eight people have herpes.
If you were God, truly, what would you do with sex? Knowing all the pain? Knowing all the emotional pain it has caused in people's lives? Knowing all the shame and guilt people carry for the rest of their lives because they had an abortion? Knowing all the different ways it has impacted and destroyed relationships, destroyed marriages, when it's taken outside of his design in marriage? What would you do?
Could anyone claim God was good if he didn't say sex was designed in the context of marriage? It has a point and a purpose, and it is powerful, and it is a gift. Or it can be a curse if it's in the wrong hands, like a gun in the hands of a child. As bad as you think you are, and, "This guy doesn't know what he's talking about. You know, I need to find out if I'm sexually compatible," you're a child who's holding a gun. You do not know what you are doing. You're not responsible or mature enough to handle it, and you should give it to an adult who knows what to do with it.
The cost is clear all over our world. The cost of pornography. What is the cost of pornography? Emotionally, it compromises you because it trains your body not to bond with a person but with yourself. It trains you to want variety, which doesn't prepare you for monogamy. I need a blonde, a brunette, a redhead, multiple, and eventually it's an appetite you just continue feeding, and it grows.
John Mayer did an interview with Playboy magazine, and he talked about pornography, and here's what he said. John Mayer, despite having slept with some of the most beautiful women in the world, says, "Honestly, real sex doesn't do it for me anymore. Pornography is what I go to."
Here's what he said. "Internet pornography has absolutely changed my generation's expectations." "You seem very fond of pornography," Playboy said. "When I watch porn, if it's not hot enough, I'll make up backstories in my mind. […] This is my problem now: Rather than meet somebody new…" Like a person. "…I would rather go home and replay the amazing experiences I've already had. […] What that explains is that I'm more comfortable in my imagination than I am in actual human discovery."
Over time, that appetite got fed and fed and fed, and it made him less human. It made him less prone to experiencing God's design for sex, and now he just has to come up with fantasies and make them up in his own head because they're not explicit enough. That's tragic. It's sad. There's still hope even for John Mayer. God can heal anything. There is no sin that is more powerful than Jesus, which is why Paul said early in the verse…
I mean, this isn't even in my notes, but if you go back, it says, "And Jesus will raise from the dead your bodies." If God has power over a dead person's body, how much more power does he have over a living person's body, that he can heal, restore, bring freedom to? But there's clearly a cost that our world is experiencing. It's like, there's sex everywhere, but almost all of it, if we follow it and act on it, leads to death.
It's like this. These are two pitchers of water. They look very similar. One is regular freshwater. This one is saltwater. You can't really tell, but that's what's inside. They look strikingly similar in so many different ways. Seventy percent of the world is covered in water. Did you guys know that? Seventy percent. Do you know what percentage of that water is drinkable? It's 1.2 percent. In other words, there's a lot of saltwater everywhere around you. There's very little freshwater.
What's interesting about this is…I don't know if you realize it…if you drink saltwater, it won't quench your thirst. It just makes you more thirsty, and eventually it'll kill you. Truly. The leading cause of people dying… When they've studied people who get shipwrecked, or they're on a raft, and they're floating through the ocean, the number one reason they die is not because they ran out of water or it didn't rain and they couldn't drink something.
They got so thirsty, they eventually thought, "I'm going to drink this saltwater," and that salt came in, and it dehydrated them further, and they got thirstier and thirstier, and the salt came in. It acted against toxins in there, and it killed them. They're surrounded by water in the middle of the ocean, yet all of it will kill them if they drink it.
It's really a great analogy for what sex in our culture is like. There's water everywhere, as Tim Keller has said, but not a drop to drink. And they look so similar. You know, like, "Sex in marriage, sex outside of marriage. It looks really similar, right?" But one leads to pain and death and heartbreak, and one leads to life.
God says, "I love you. I'm not anti-sex. I'm pro-sex. I made sex." That's like Steve Jobs being anti-iPhone. That's insane. He's pro-you, so he wants you to experience and drink the one that will always lead to life, not the one that's going to lead you to pain and shame and regret and hurt, but to life.
Finally, Paul lays out really the cure as it relates to sexual sin and lust. Verse 18: "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." So run from sexual sin. "Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body." He says you're not your own; your body is God's.
Honor with your body. I'm going to come back to that in a second, but he says you were bought at a high price. Don't sell yourself short. Don't sell the worth and the value you have short to someone who doesn't appreciate and know and understand what sex is for. Then he goes into an additional… And I've never connected this till I was reading it this week.
Right after he goes into, "Don't do that, but here's what you should do," he says this in verse 2 of chapter 7. At the end of chapter 6, and remember when the Bible was written, there weren't chapters. That number wasn't exactly there. Those were added later to make it easier to flip around. So Paul finishes, "Honor God with your body," and then he goes right into this.
"But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his wife's sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband's needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations…"
So Paul says, "As it relates to sexual sin, sex outside of marriage, run from it. Flee from it." Other times, Paul is like, "Resist the Devil. Stand firm. Be on guard." When it comes to sex, he says, "Run! Run!" So he says, "Run from it," and then he says, "Understand how valuable you are. Then pursue Christ and pursue marriage." The cure for sexual sin or cure for lust involves that we would flee. How do I flee? How do I honor God with my body?
If you genuinely want to be free from pornography, I need you to listen to the next five minutes. If you genuinely want to experience freedom from a sexual relationship you know is toxic… You don't want to be in that relationship, you don't want to keep slipping up, you want it to work, but you keep finding yourself crossing boundaries, and his hand going up your shirt or your hand going down his pants, going farther than you wanted to go, here's what you have to do.
I'm going to be really clear. I'm going to spell it out. There are three letters. CPR. If you want to bring life into places where because of sexual sin there's death that is there, it involves you taking action and doing the following three things. CPR. And it will breathe life.
First, confess. James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed." Confess at a thought level. "I had lustful thoughts today. There was somebody, a coworker who walked over, she bent over, and I took a second look, and I wanted to take a third. Will you pray for me? Because I don't want to keep going down that path."
"I clicked on an image on Instagram. There was somebody who followed me, and honestly, I was like, 'Who is this?' and she just had a lot of cleavage, and I wanted to see it. I need to confess that and get that out there."
"I clicked on pornography, and I need you to know that. I need you to pray for me. I want to take steps to get rid of that."
"My boyfriend and I went farther, my girlfriend and I went farther, than we wanted to go." If you want to experience freedom, you have to bring it into the light to other believers. If you want to experience healing, it involves you bringing that into the light to other believers.
Secondly, pursue. What do you pursue? Pursue Christ. Pursue healing. Some of you need to take six months, and you don't need to date anybody at least. Maybe a year. You need to get healthy. You need to prioritize your relationship with Jesus first and foremost.
What else do you pursue? A marriage. Others of you, you're in a place where you've been walking with Christ, you're doing well, and you need to just get married. There are so many godly guys and so many godly girls out there, and you probably need to just go, "Man, I'm going to make the decision. I'm going to move in a direction of marriage."
It's one of the things Paul says is a protection and gift from God in our lives against sexual immorality. Is marriage for everybody? No. Should everyone who's listening right now get married? No. A lot of you guys are not healthy, but some of you are.
Then, finally, remove access. This is the run. Jesus said something very similar as it relates to fleeing sexual sin, getting rid of it, going to extreme measures. Remove access to that relationship, to wherever you're accessing porn. Maybe you need to get off social media. You need to stop watching Netflix. Jesus said in Matthew, chapter 5,
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away."
If you want to heal and experience freedom from pornography, this will be the test. This is the thing that will do it. And I know a lot of people listening who don't, but there's a lot of men who are saying, "I'm sick and tired of doing this. I don't want to do this anymore." You probably need to get rid of your smartphone. If you don't, you need to get Covenant Eyes and block everything.
You need to have somebody in your life who takes away the ability to download apps, takes away the ability to access social media. You take away Safari. You get Covenant Eyes, which is a software that filters and then an accountability system. Just go to covenanteyes.com. I cannot encourage it enough. I've spent hundreds of dollars over the past 12 years involved in Covenant Eyes. It's some of the best $9.99 a month I could spend.
Others of you, you need to get rid of Netflix because you're going on and you're watching things, and it brings nudity, and it just triggers something in your mind, triggers you, and you go back like a dog to his vomit. You have to remove access.
If we were in person, and you told me, "Hey, I just don't want to look at porn. I feel like it's been a big struggle," and I asked you the question, "How are you accessing it?" and you said your phone, and then you pulled out your phone, and it's a smartphone, you are not taking extreme enough measures. How badly do you want to get well? Because if you do, it's possible.
In summary, the cause of lust is distorted desire, the cost of lust is life and love, and the cure for lust is allowing the Holy Spirit to bring CPR into your life, that you would confess, pursue, and remove access.
Do you know what's funny about a safe? It is people keep guns in safes. It's really not the only thing they keep in there. What else do we keep in there? Things that are valuable. Money. I mean, an heirloom. Maybe a watch. Maybe something that was handed down. We keep things that are valuable because we know not just powerful things need to be protected; things that are valuable need to be protected.
Far more valuable than anything you could put in a safe is your life. A crucial part of your life is your sexuality. If you don't get this thing right, there will be all types of aspects of your life where if you're not sexually healthy, you're not going to experience what God has for you. And you can always get another watch. You can always get more money. You can always get any of the valuable things you would put in here you try to protect.
Equally as important is that you would protect your sexual life, your sexuality, that you would preserve and protect it for the context of marriage. I know a lot of you, you're listening, and you're like, "Wait, you know, I've already messed up so many different times," and I know this is a huge lie.
I've talked to so many people, and they're like, "Hey, once you have sex, you know, it's kind of like it's done for me. I'm over it." It's not done. It's not over. Whatever is in the rearview mirror, God is not done with you yet, and he offers forgiveness and restoration, and whatever is behind you, you don't even need to worry about it anymore.
But today, you have the decision, "Am I going to protect myself? Am I going to pursue healing? Protect my sexuality? I'm not sleeping with anybody else until I get married. I'm not looking at pornography ever again. I'm making the decision I am not going to be influenced by what the world says. I'm going to follow what God invites me to and experience in the context of marriage, what he designed, which is intimacy and sex and lust to take place."
You are so valuable. In this passage…and I'm landing here…Paul says, "You were bought with a price." You begin to wonder, "What's he talking about? Why does he use that imagery? What price?" You know right outside of Corinth, there was a slave trade, or a prostitution place, where you could go, and they could buy and purchase prostitutes. He uses the imagery his audience would've known and been familiar with of, "Oh yeah, you were bought with a price. Just like you can go over there, and you can buy one of the prostitutes."
People could go, they could purchase a prostitute, which had to have been seen as damaged goods. Do you know what they could do? They could set them free? They could make them their wife. They could do anything. Paul invokes this imagery, and he says, "This is what God has done with you." You are someone who didn't deserve to be purchased. You were like the damaged goods of prostitutes. You and myself and every person who ever lived. Despite all of that, God gave his life, because that's how valuable you are to him.
He was willing to purchase people who didn't deserve it. He didn't just purchase it with some cash from a safe; with his own life. You are so valuable. You can get another… Anything you would put in here, you do not get another you. Are you going to choose to protect your sexual life or not? One of the lies you're going to have to get over is the fact that you're done, or God is done with you, or because of what you've done, he would be done with you.
The reason we know that doesn't have to define you is how this passage started. In other words, do you know what the verses right before this passage are? You've probably heard these before if you've been in church. This is right before he goes into, "Now stop sleeping with prostitutes." "Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God."
If Paul stopped there, there'd be no hope for me or for most of us. If you've done any of these, you don't get in. Look at what he says next. "Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
Think about what he is saying. He's about to talk to men who were sleeping with prostitutes, and he says, "You were sexually immoral. Now you're righteous. Now you're cleansed. Now you're holy. That's who you are." Wait a second, Paul. You're about to tell them to stop sleeping with prostitutes. They're righteous? Holy? Cleansed? Yes because they called on the name of Jesus. Their past, their sin, all of it doesn't define them; Jesus does. What he did on the cross did and does, and it doesn't define you.
Now is Paul saying, "Just keep sleeping with prostitutes"? No, his point is sexual sin hurts you every single time. You don't stop sleeping with prostitutes because it'll keep you out heaven. Not accepting Jesus keeps people out of heaven. You stop sleeping with prostitutes, and you stop having sex outside of the context of marriage because it only damages you. It hurts you every time. That's his point.
The point is that those things don't define you. They don't have to define you if you have trusted in Jesus. And now he has invited you not to go and continue to live a life of sin. Paul says in Romans, chapter 6, "Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!" The people who love God turn from those things because they know it's drinking poison.
But if that's a part of your past, if it's a part of your present, if you've trusted in Christ, you are washed, you are cleansed, you are made holy. And now he has invited you to the life you want, to the future marriage you want, to experience CPR and breathing back into life, to confession, pursuing Jesus, and to removing access and repenting. The choice is yours, and the choice is mine. What am I going to do? Let me pray.
Father, I pray for every person who is listening to this message right now and who will listen in the days ahead who has been deeply wounded as it relates to sexuality, as it relates to relationships where sex was a part of it, and it really scarred them. I pray for every person who has seen images we don't even want to see, that we just can't even get rid of in our head. Those who were sexually abused and hurt and wounded that you right now by your Spirit would bring healing, would breathe life, would perform CPR on your people.
Would you help us, God, to be marked by a life that resembles our Savior, that doesn't pursue purity because it gets us into heaven, but pursues purity because it's accessing life? Would you form amazing marriages for the lives of the people in this room and people who are listening outside, anchored together with other people of God? Would you make us all more like Jesus? Would you help us?
I pray for anyone who feels shame and guilt and emotions you don't want them to feel. You want them to be led to recognize they, just like all of us, were unworthy prostitutes, unworthy of being loved and cared for, and you purchased us. You brought us into a relationship with you. You set us free, and we can walk in that. In Christ's name, I pray, amen.