Sexual sin is profoundly offensive to God and he attaches dire consequences to those who practice it. In the Old Testament under Mosaic law, adultery was punishable by death. And the Bible is full of grave warnings promising destruction to those who are sexually immoral.
The book of Proverbs is full of these warnings: “The lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol” (5:3-5); “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself” (6:32); “All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life” (7:22-23).
1 Corinthians 6:9 asks, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, ….will inherit the kingdom of God.” In Galatians, the apostle states, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, ….. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (5:19) this is echoed in Ephesians 5:5. Colossians 3:5 has an urgency to it: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” And John includes those who are sexually immoral as those whose “portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.” (Rev 21:8)
I quote these texts because we live in a culture which more and more is convinced that there are no nasty consequences to sexual sin. Television stations are forbidden to air cigarette advertisements because smoking is harmful to children’s health, and yet they are perfectly free to lure those children into sexual sin which will not only devastate their earthly life but destroy their eternal soul. We need to hear the Word simply to awaken us to the devastating consequences of unrepentant sexual sin.
Sexual sin is death. Porn is poison for your soul. Making out with your boyfriend or girlfriend is the same. Just because you manage to drink the poison in secret, doesn’t mean you’ve escaped the deadly effects. In fact, not getting caught could be the worst thing that could happen to you. Sexual sin is never harmless. It is deadly both for this life and for the life to come. Those who are in the grip of unrepentant sexual sin have no inheritance in the kingdom of God. The Scriptures could not be more clear.
IV. Hope For Sexual Sinners
We need to face the reality of our sexual sins and transgressions. This past summer, Craig Troxel spoke at our family camp on the issue of the “heart,” biblically speaking. He spent some time explaining the various ways the Bible talks about sin: Sin, iniquity, and transgression.
Sin is falling short of what we know to be required. God requires perfect sexual obedience. We have all failed. No matter how “pure” you may think yourself to be, none of us has fulfilled the demands of the law. We have all done things we know God forbids and failed to live sexually as God desires.
Iniquity relates to twisted desire. We have twisted God’s good gift and made it perverse by seeing sexuality as something to please ourselves, something to be used for our end, our pleasure, rather than for God’s glory. We allowed sexual desire to rule us and make us perverts in thought and action.
Transgression relates to our will. We have all made choices absolutely contrary to God’s command. We have rebelled against his stated desire. Whether it be flagrant adultery, sex before marriage, internet pornography, sexual fantasy, romance novels, sexual images we allow ourselves to view via movies and entertainment, dirty jokes we tell or laugh at, we have made choices, cold, solid choices to see or think or do what God forbids. We are sexually immoral men and women and we live amidst a sexually immoral people.
If a history your violations of this command were publicly displayed who would not be covered with shame? I say this not to wound you, but to humble and even encourage you. I want to humble and convict those who have become comfortable in your sexual sin. It has become a unwanted but “normal” part of your life. You wish it were different, sometimes you are deeply convicted, but the sin goes on. You are sinning with your boyfriend or girlfriend. You are looking at pornography. You are allowing yourself to look lustfully at women. You are reading romance novels. You are sinning in your marriage either by making a god of sex or by refusing to give yourself in love to your spouse. It is real. It is sin. It is not okay. God calls you to repent.
I want to encourage those of you who see this as sin, who despise its presence in your life and are grieved at your weakness. Some of you here this morning think you are all alone in your sexual failures and sin. Some of you have given up the fight. You accept very small victories in the midst of great failures and you don’t expect much more.
Jesus came to rescue sexual sinners. He befriended prostitutes. He spoke gospel truth to the Samaritan woman, a woman who had had five husbands and was now living with her boyfriend. When Jesus comes he reveals the sin—and pardons those who confess and trust in him. His word exposes us. His Spirit convicts us. But his gospel welcomes us, cleanses us and transforms us.
Jesus came to do what we refused to do. He honored God with his body. He used his earthly body at every step for its created purpose: to glorify his Father in heaven. He used his masculinity to sacrificially bless others. He used his muscles and sinews and blood as a sacrifice to bear the sin of man. He was exposed before God bearing our shame so we could be robed in his innocence and righteousness. His blood poured out to cleanse us from the stain of our sexual sin. He sacrificed his body to nurture life. And he invites us to taste the freedom his redemption. All that is required is an honest appraisal of the wickedness of our sexual sin—a turning away from it to Jesus.
That may be costly. Get rid of the smart phone, break off the sinful relationship. Distance yourself from ungodly friends. Stay home from the company party. Throw away the trashy novels. Refuse risqué movies. Get rid of immodest clothing. Get internet accountability. If you have to, get rid of the internet. Millions of people have lived happily without it, and millions will go to hell because of it. You will never change as long as you continue the same patterns, the same relationships, the same behavior.
But most importantly, learn the gospel. Put on Jesus. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Rom. 13:14) “The grace of God teaches us to say no to ungodliness,” said Thomas Chalmers, in a sermon entitled, “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” He explains how the gospel frees us to love what is pure and to choose what is holy. But we must believe the gospel! We must believe that God is willing to pardon us and cleanse us fully and freely as a gift to be received by faith alone in Christ alone. And the more free the gospel the greater the sanctifying power. Chalmers says,
“The object of the gospel is both to pacify the sinner’s conscience and to purify his heart, and it is of importance to observe that what mars one of these objects mars the other also. The best way of casting out an impure affection is to admit a pure one, and by the love of what is good to expel the love of what is evil. Thus it is that the freer the gospel the more sanctifying is the gospel; and the more it is received as a doctrine of grace the more it will be felt as a doctrine according to godliness.”
There is great hope and help for people like us: people who have perverted our minds and violated our bodies and stained our souls with sexual sin. Confess the truth. Believe the gospel. And walk in the freedom of sexual godliness.