We'd probably sin less if we spent less time thinking about our sins, sexual or otherwise, and more time meditating on the love and holiness of God." - Kevin DeYoung
That quote by Kevin DeYoung is key to our battle again all types of sin. Sexual sin is often one of those “dragon” sins that is so difficult to slay. Sexual immorality is rampant in today's culture and sadly it is a tremendous sin within the church. Statistics on pornography usage are so saddening - even among church leaders. According to Covenant Eyes, a respectable online accountability company, there have been over 3.1 billion searches for internet pornography since 2015. (covenanteyes.com/pornstats/)
One cannot help but to be bombarded with sexual temptation given the amount of sex on television, movies, the internet and even on billboards. I know all too well the lure of sexual temptation through the internet, television and magazines. I struggled with (or more like wallowed in) internet pornography for many years and know how wicked and evil this sin truly is. It's first and foremost a sin against Christ and then against yourself and others. The Lord rescued me from the bondage of this sin and I can rejoice in Him that I have been free from it for quite some time now. But I also know all too well the reality of the remnants of the sinful flesh that believers continue to battle with. I'd be foolish to let my guard down! We are called to be ever-vigilant and set barriers to protect our eyes, hearts and minds from the temptations that are common to all mankind. No one is immune to temptation! As Robert Murray-McCheyne put it, "The seed of every sin known to man is in my heart."
Victory over sin inevitably comes down to finding your joy fully in Christ than in anything else and fighting the good fight of faith through the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. It also comes down to preaching the gospel constantly to yourself, renewing your mind in the truths of Scripture (Romans 12:1-3) and doing exactly what Scripture tells us to do: walk by the Spirit and by grace put to death the deeds of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
We are to make war with sin and be willing to cut out the things in our lives that cause us to stumble and be tempted. (Matthew 5:29-30) The battle against sin for a Christian is not "letting go and let God". It is a renewed life of constant war and vigilance against sin. The Christian life is not easy - you are now at war with your self, the world and Satan. The great English preacher Charles Spurgeon called those three things the "unholy trinity".
However, the glorious truth is that it is by Christ's Spirit that we make that war. We fight, but He is the One who gives the strength and power to fight. Since the Scriptures are the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), the more you are saturated in the Word the more equipped you are to fight sin!
Alexander Smellie rightly has written, “This is how I grow holy. While indeed I am bidden to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, it must not be as if everything depended on me. It must rather be by a perpetual faith in Him, and a perpetual prayer to Him, who works in me to will and to do according to His good purpose! The battle is not mine, but His. He sows the seed, and He ripens the harvest. He lays the foundation, and He puts the top-stone in its fitting place.”
We must renew our minds in the great truth that while we are called to make war with sin, that war and victory is made possible through our union with Christ. Preach the truth to yourself that you have died with Christ and have been raised with Christ. You are now dead to the power of sin and alive to Christ. The old man (the sinful nature) is not totally eradicated, but it no longer has the power it did.
In Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness. Victory comes through the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work fueled by the truths of Scripture. If we're honest with ourselves, pornography is a dire issue that plagues the lives of many - especially men. I've been reading an excellent book entitled The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung. In this book he steps through the Heidelberg Catechism giving a wonderful exposition of this wonderful catechism of faith. In his discussion of the seventh commandment he nails it on the head concerning the correct way a Christian must handle sexual temptation. This passage has helped me immensely in the battle against sexual sin and I wanted to share this excerpt from his book. I pray it helps you as well if you are entangled in this sin:
“'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ (Matt. 5:8). This has been the most helpful verse for me in fighting lust and the temptation to sexual immorality. We need to fight desire with desire. Satan tempts us by holding out something that will be pleasurable to us. We aren't tempted to gorge ourselves on liverwurst, because for most it doesn't hold out the promise of great pleasure. But sex does. Pornography does. A second look does. The Bible gives us many weapons to fight temptation. We need to fight the fleeting pleasure of sexual sin with the far greater, more abiding pleasure of knowing God. The fight for sexual purity is the fight of faith. It may sound like nothing but hard work and gritting your teeth, the very opposite of faith. But faith is at the heart of this struggle. Do we believe that a glimpse of God is better than a glimpse of skin? Do we believe that God's steadfast love is better than life. (Psalm 63:3) We'd probably sin less if we spent less time thinking about our sins, sexual or otherwise, and more time meditating on the love and holiness of God." - Kevin DeYoung, The Good News We Almost Forgot
How true is this! May we see that sin (especially sexual sin) is truly a "fleeting pleasure" (Hebrews 11:25) that can never satisfy and will always destroy. Of highest importance, it is an offense and an affront to the Living Holy God. D.A. Carson gives us excellent counsel:
“What makes sin sin, what makes it so profoundly heinous, what makes it so deeply repugnant and culpable, is that it is [an] offense against God. We dare not forget that the first commandment, according to Jesus, is the commandment to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength. This the first sin - first sequentially, first in fundamental importance – is not to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength. It is the sin we always commit when we commit any other sin. At the most profound level, whenever we sin, God is the most offended party. If, like David, we commit adultery, God is the most offended party. If we cheat on our income taxes, God is the most offended party. If we puff ourselves up in pride, indulge in slander, demean a colleague, or nurture bitterness, God is the most offended party. If we watch porn on the internet, God is the most offended party.” - D.A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
Believers need to be reminded of the truth that they are seated in the heavenly places with Christ (Ephesians 2:6). How shall we who have died to sin continue to live in it? (Rom. 6:2) May our minds and hearts be drawn upward to Christ to see that to desire Him above all is the true ever-flowing wellspring of peace, joy and eternal contentment. (Colossians 3:2)
You may be reading this and struggling with pornography and sexual sin and desiring more than anything complete deliverance from it. I know your battle and I know your struggle. You're not alone in this battle and there is victory in Christ for His glory.
I encourage you to find a brother or sister in Christ that you can be accountable to. Talk with your pastor and share your struggles. Remember that absolutely no temptation has come that is not common to man. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Ultimately it's a need for the Great Physician to cut deep and to cause you to love Christ infinitely more than your sin. Believers are called to hate sin because it is against Christ and contrary to their new identity in Christ. Cry out to Him for that transformation. Look to Christ more than your sin!
I think it’s appropriate to let Thomas Brooks, the great puritan to give us some great counsel to close:
“Those spots which a Christian finds in his own heart can only be washed out in the blood of the Lamb. ‘Oh,’ says such a poor soul, ‘I pray—and yet I sin; I resolve against sin—and yet I sin; I combat against sin—and yet I am carried captive by sin; I have left no outward means unattempted—and yet after all, my sins are too hard for me; after all my sweating, striving, and weeping—I am carried down the stream.’ It is not our strong resolutions or purposes which will be able to overmaster these enemies.There is nothing now but the actings of faith upon a crucified Christ, which will take off this burden from the soul of man. You must make use of your graces to draw virtue from Christ; now faith must touch the hem of Christ’s garment—or you will never be healed.” - Thomas Brooks
Fight the good fight of faith! (1 Timothy 6:12)
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