Summary: Resolve to choose a life of purity by imitating God in love, light, and wisdom.
Series: Resolutions Worth Keeping
Title: Purity in a Sensual Culture
Text: Ephesians 5:1-5, 8-12, 15-16
Truth: Resolve to choose a life of purity by imitating God in love, light, and wisdom.
Aim: To choose to imitate God by living a life of purity.
The owner of a plant that manufactured soap for washroom dispensers was sitting next to a minister at a civic club luncheon. “The gospel you preach hasn’t done much good, Reverend,” he said cynically, “There’s still lots of wickedness around.” The minister smiled. “And I’ve observed that soap hasn’t done much good in the world. I still see a lot of dirty people around.” Not to be outdone, the business man said, “Well, that’s because soap isn’t useful unless it’s applied.” “Exactly,” agreed the minister, “and that’s the way it is with the gospel I preach.”
In Ephesians 5 Paul is urging Christians to apply the Gospel. Ephesians describes God’s purpose of creating a new society through a new people, the believers in Christ. Chapters 1-3 are the theological or doctrinal section. He describes the spiritual blessings Christians receive in Christ: We get a new life; we are different people than before. Chapters 4-6 are the practical applications which show how this new life transforms the everyday life of a believer.
The world of the Greeks and Romans was as sexually permissive as the world of today—perhaps more so. Cicero, the Roman philosopher, admitted one could argue that a young man should not visit prostitutes, but he pointed out that the act was lawful and had always been so. He further argued that young men had always behaved in this manner and such sexual freedom was accepted. Paul’s converts in Asia were coming out of that context and had no example of Christian living to follow until he and his companions brought them the Gospel. The people lived in a very immoral, impure, sensual culture. So Paul had to explain to the new Christians how to live the Christian life.
In the summer of 2007 a survey was taken among evangelical ministry professionals on the subject of sexual addiction. The survey was offered at the end of an article on teaching about sex from the pulpit by Ted Roberts. The survey was written by renowned sex addiction expert Patrick Carnes. A total of 283 people took the assessment. Sexual addiction behavior was characterized as sexual behavior that a person cannot control, that produces shame, and that the person continues even when confronted with negative consequences. On the Carnes scale a rating of 13 signifies a person has a sexual addiction. The average score for those who took the survey was 13.05. That means the average respondent has a problem.
Ted Roberts said he was not surprised by the results. He said, “When I speak at churches and conferences [on the subject], it’s just a given that 60 to 90 percent of the men will acknowledge they’re losing the battle.” What concerns Roberts the most is that 12- to 17-year-olds are the biggest consumers of pornography in the United States, indicating that the next generation of spiritual leaders is in need of help.
What may be the most surprising statistic came from women. There were 60 women who took the survey. Their average score was 17.92, nearly six points higher than the average man. Women’s relationships are much more profoundly affected by their sexual addiction than men’s. According to Roberts, 40 percent of women on the internet are involved in cyber sex behavior. He said, “The church is behind the times in thinking this is a guy’s problem. It’s destroying our children. It’s eating women alive now. And men are barely breathing.”
One of the stewardships from God is the use of our bodies. Like the Ephesians, we live in a very sensual culture. I am not so naïve to think this is not a problem with some of the members of our church. As your pastor I want to help you. Here is what I offer: I will teach you what the Bible says about purity; I will help you find a program or counselor that will assist you in breaking your faulty thinking and impure behavior. But you must resolve to choose a life of purity by imitating God in love, light, and wisdom. This is what Paul called the Ephesians to do.
First, resolve to choose a life of purity by imitating God in love.
I. RESOLVE TO CHOOSE A LIFE OF PURITY BY IMITATING GOD IN LOVE (EPH. 5:1-5)
(1) Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. (2) And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. (3) But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. (4) And coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. (5) For know and recognize this: no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God.