Summary: Lust and pornography are enemies that want to destroy men and women of God. This sermon aims to give the listener some weapons to use in the battle.
Conlict of the mind
The challenge to keep your mind pure is a battle that many Christian men and women struggle with. This is particularly in the area of lust and pornography. This is an area that has caused many great men and women of God to fall. Only recently, Ted Haggard, the founder and pastor of a 14,000 strong church in America had to resign because he had lost this battle with lust. Even David, a man described in the Bible as ‘a man after Gods own heart’, fell to the sin of lust.
I want to start this evening by defining what offends God and what doesn’t. What is sin, and what is sexual immorality? The Bible makes it clear that there are three aspects to every sin. Firstly, there is a sinful temptation or desire. Secondly there is our thought pattern, that is allowing ourselves to think about and dwell upon that sinful desire. Finally there are our actions.
Temptations Thoughts Actions
When it comes to sin, some people think that you only offend God by your actions. This was a common perception at the time of Jesus. The Pharisees taught against performing a sinful act, but anything less than actually committing that act was acceptable. Jesus makes it clear that this view is overly liberal. He says that it is not only a sin to commit murder, but it is also a sin simply to have hateful thoughts against you brother. In relation to sexual immorality, in Matthew 5:28 Jesus says, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” NIV. Jesus makes it clear that we can sin against God not only by our actions, but also, by what we allow ourselves to think about.
On the other hand there are some Christians who beat themselves up because of their temptations. We live in bodies that have many desires. Desire is something that God created us to have. Desire is necessary in order to live. God created us with a desire to eat so that our bodies would be healthy. He created us with a desire for sex so that we might have children. Since the fall of Adam and Eve some of those desires have become sinful desires. Temptation comes when we have the opportunity to sin in a way that our natural bodies desire. In Matthew chapter four, Jesus has been fasting for forty days. His body would have desired food and so the devil comes along and tries to persuade Jesus to misuse his power in order to meet his desire. Jesus has a natural desire, and an opportunity to sin, and therefore He is tempted. Jesus faced not only this temptation but every temptation known to man.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. NIV
Therefore we know that temptation is not sin. The Bible therefore makes it clear that we sin the moment we allow ourselves to dwell on those temptations. Let me put that into a practical situation.
Peter is a married man. He works in an office with several women. One of those women, named Amanda, is very attractive and a few years younger than Peter. Peter works next to Amanda and chats to her most days. Peter finds the woman very attractive and naturally wants to look at her chest and backside every time she walks into the room. Peter wants to stay faithful to his wife and resists the urges to look at her in this manner. After two weeks Peter stops resisting the urge, thinking to himself, ‘there is no harm in window shopping.’ Every time she walks into the room Peter looks at her and thinks about her in a sexual manner, but never makes any attempt to chat her up. A couple of months later Peter starts to realise that Amanda also finds him attractive and they begin ‘harmless flirting.’ At a Christmas party Peter and Amanda have a Christmas kiss that lasts a little longer than they originally intended. Within a few weeks Peter and Amanda are meeting regularly and are having sexual intercourse.
Question: At what point does Peter sin commit the sin of adultery?
Answer: Peter sins when he starts to look at Amanda in a sexual manner. Up to that point Peter is tempted but is resisting that temptation. After this point Peter is continuing and deepening the sin.
I want to look therefore at Biblical and practical steps that we can take to resist temptation, and avoid lust, whether it is with somebody that we meet or with a pornographic image.