Matthew Holst – The Wisdom of Sex

Perhaps now, more than ever, Christians need wisdom to process the multitude of temptations to sexual sin with which they are confronted. While it is true that sexual sin has always been a problem in the church, there should be little doubt that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are a seemingly ubiquitous danger for Christians today.

The Puritans were well-known for their diagnosis of sin. In fact, it might be one of their lasting legacies. Some modern theologians (e.g. see this and this) have continued that pattern of examining the Christian life by seeking to uncover the root issues which lie behind our external sins. Of course, Scripture itself is the main source for uncovering both surface and root issues. Below are several biblical principles by which we may guard ourselves from sexual sin.

1. Sexual sin is idolatry: The Apostle Paul tells us this plainly in Colossians 3:5: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry.” That is to say, sexual immorality–whether on a screen or in person–is a replacement god. Nothing should be more appalling and grevious for the sincere Christian, than to turn his or her back on Christ and bow down to another god. That is precisely what we do, however, in idolatry. We de-throne Almighty God and replace him with pornography; or fantasy; or adultery.

2. Sexual sin occurs when we fail to “keep our heart.” Proverbs 4:23-27 provides us with a powerful warning and encouragement to help us keep our hearts pure. “Keep the heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life” (Prov 4:23). The next verses tell us what that looks like: v 24 watch what you and others say; v 25 watch what you look at; v 26 watch what you think about and vs 27 watch where you go. That is to say, if we are not always keeping guard over our senses, we allow ourselves to become subject to wickedness. We strangle the ministry of the Spirit in our lives (c.f. Prov 4:23 & John 7:37), giving ourselves to impurity, through which the Spirit will never work.

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Owen Strachan – The High Cost of Free Porn

Terry Crews is a successful man: former NFL player, television star, person of seemingly impossible muscle density. But Crews is unusual for another reason: in a sexualized culture, he spoke up not long ago about the harm caused by his pornography addiction. “Every time I watched it, I was walled off,” Crews confessed in a video posted online. “It was like another brick that came between me and my wife.”

Crews’s testimony caused a strong reaction on social media. Many noted the destructive personal effects of pornography, effects that cannot be denied. But there is a greater dimension to pornography’s destructiveness. Even free porn comes at an excruciatingly high cost. Beyond severe psychological and social consequences, pornography hinders Jesus’s mission in the world. Here are three ways this takes place, with a word of hope for sinners like us.

1. Pornography hinders the mission of God in our own lives.

God has much work he wants to do through his people. He does not employ perfect people in his kingdom; every believer, all those who have been given a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17), must still battle with the “old man” on a daily basis (Colossians 3:9–10). We yearn to shed our sin, but until God accomplishes this, we live in a state of vigilance. We exercise a zero-tolerance policy against our flesh (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5).

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Dave Jenkins – Overcoming An Addiction to Pornography & Embracing Purity

My sophomore year in high school, I was approached by a number of people who told me that no matter what I wanted, whether it was drugs or pornography, I could have it whenever I wanted. At this time, I was a youth leader not only at church but also at my high school leading a bible study. Even though I became a believer when I was four and started to sense God’s call to pastoral ministry as early as age six, I was still very immature in my faith at this time and not very knowledgeable about Christianity. As time wore on, I became very depressed as I witnessed the painful divorce of my parents, and I caved into pornography. It was a slow slide into pornography for me, but once it began, it was incredibly addictive. While no one knew of my struggle in high school, I hid in shame as I regularly watched pornography and lived a double life. It was not until my freshmen year in college, when I was asked to be on staff at a church, that I confessed my sin of pornography to the pastor. He responded by saying that I should step down immediately from all leadership responsibilities.

While this event transpired over ten years ago, I have often reflected on how God has led me by the Spirit in the process of progressive sanctification and on what He has taught me. This reflection leads me to write this article on what purity looks like in the home, in the church,
in the workplace, and on the internet. As we go through this topic, I want you to understand that I am not just giving you steps on how to move past this on your own, but rather grounding everything I am saying in the Word of God. I believe the only way to overcome an addiction to pornography is to recognize that it is idolatry, and as such, needs to be repented of. Once you have repented of this addiction, you need to recalibrate your heart and mind with the gospel by reading, studying, and meditating on the Word of God both individually and corporately.

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Jason DeRouchie – If Your Right Hand Causes You to Sin

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Sexual intimacy within marriage is a beautiful gift from God. It’s an outlet for play and passion, and it nurtures closeness with your spouse, supplying a unique context for giving and receiving love. But as with all God’s good gifts (1 Timothy 4:4), the devil seeks “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). His perversions are deeply grieving, and the scars can be lasting.

As a father, I long for my children to enjoy the bond of marriage without the baggage of past sexual sin. Yet as a church leader and a college and seminary professor, I know full well how rarely people maintain purity.

Glorify God in Your Body

Honoring God with our bodies must be the pursuit of every believer. As Paul asserts in 1 Corinthians 6:19–20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Masturbation involves the stimulation of genitalia (usually with the hand) for sexual pleasure and in a way that often climaxes in orgasm. My focus in this article is to clarify biblically why engaging in such activity outside the marriage bed is sinful and should, therefore, be avoided. Whereas there may be a place for masturbation in marital love-making, my use of the term here is restricted to independent acts apart from one’s spouse.

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David Prince – Ingratitude, Ethics, and Porn?

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We tend to think about thankfulness as something we know we should have, especially in regard to the big blessings in life: family, spouse, friends, church, and so on, but it often remains a broad abstraction. Nevertheless, we think of it as something we do occasionally, while giving ourselves permission is the daily course of our lives to grumble and complain. In other words, the functional culture of our lives is frustration and ingratitude, even though we pledge to do better now and then.

Sometimes we hear calls to be thankful, we think, I could be thankful, if…, but that is not being thankful, it is being entitled. We take life for granted more often than we take it with gratitude. The Scripture consistently commands believers to “be thankful,” because what frees us to be thankful, the gospel, has already happened outside of us. Biblically, thankfulness is rooted in the past promise of the gospel, but it is not relegated to the past, it stretches into eternity as all gospel promises are fully consummated.

For all of our occasional bravado, at best we do not tend to think thankfulness is all that significant to our lives. At worst, we think of thankfulness in everything as weakness, a character flaw even. How often have you heard someone counseled that thankfulness was the key to their sanctification or someone with a porn problem pointed toward their ingratitude? Have you heard sermons on how to fight for thankfulness in a world that mocks it? You haven’t, have you? Why not?

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Randy Alcorn – Parents: It’s Time to Wake Up About Pornography, Sexting, and Your Children

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While speaking about sexual purity at my church several years ago, I told parents that if they’re going to let their children have unrestricted Internet access in the privacy of their own rooms, through computers, tablets, phones, or any other device they might as well buy thousands of pornographic magazines and stack them in their children’s closets and say, “Don’t ever look at those.” It amounts to the same thing.

After my message, a sincere Christian mother came up to me. She was offended by my warning to parents not to allow their children to have unmonitored Internet access.

“I can’t believe you said that,” she began. “My son has Internet access in his room, and I trust him! He’s a good boy.”

I told her, “I was once a seventh grade boy. I’ll tell you right now, you think you’re honoring your son by trusting him, but you are setting him up for a fall. You could hand him a gun, and his life might turn out better than if you just hand him over to the Internet.”

If this strikes you as an overstatement, you simply do not understand the devastating effects of pornography. The great majority of children, especially boys but also girls, who are allowed access to pornography will view it, either inadvertently or purposefully, and many of those will become addicted to it, ruining their lives and in many cases ruining their future marriages.

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Marshall Segal – Never Harmless, Never Private, Never Safe: Fighting Porn with Superior Pleasure

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I know the enticing enslavement of pornography firsthand. I fought and lost, on and off, through high school and college. I clicked on my first pornographic site in the sixth grade when a classmate sent me an email and disguised the link to look like something for a project.

At different times during that next decade of battling my sin, experiencing small victories and often as many defeats, I had the thought that marriage might cure me. In the back of my head, I thought I just needed a wife to satisfy all my sexual desire and impatience. So I allowed myself to dive into relationship after relationship, knowing I hadn’t dealt with the impurity that plagued me.

The reality was that no relationship could have ever solved my sexual sin — no relationship, that is, except for knowing Christ. I was looking to girlfriends, and to the hope of a future wife, to fill a craving only God could fill. I was focusing on self-discipline, dating, and marriage, when God was trying to teach me about joy and show me where to find real pleasure.

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R. C. Sproul – Blessed Are the Pure in Heart, for They Shall See God

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Jesus said that those who are pure at their very core are the ones who will see God. In 1 John, we see the promise of the beatific vision: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1a). John introduced this section of his epistle with an expression of Apostolic amazement. The thing that is so incredible and astonishing is that people who are not pure in heart are adopted into the family of God. We simply do not qualify for that relationship in terms of our own character; nevertheless, we are called the children of God.

John goes on to say:

The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (3:1b-3).

People often have questions about what things will be like in heaven. What will we be like? Will we know each other? Will we appear to be the same age that we were when we died? Or will we have glorified bodies that somehow are ageless? How will we occupy our time? We are always puzzled by these things, and John was puzzled too, for he said, “What we will be has not yet appeared.” We are given glimpses of what heaven will be like, but we don’t have a complete picture of what to expect when we cross over to the other side. John was cognizant of the limits of our knowledge, and even the limits of the revelation that he received about these matters from the Lord, but He doesn’t leave us groping in the darkness. We don’t yet know what we will be like, but this much we do know: we will be like Him, that is, Christ.

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Liz Wann – A Letter to My Sons About Pornography

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My Dear Sons,

The eye beholds much good and evil in this life. Beholding leads to becoming. What we continually put before our eyes and minds will shape and determine who we are. Images either tell the truth or lie, but they all speak. On top of this, our natural eyes are lustful things not easily satisfied (1 John 2:16). One lustful look can change us. One look can feed the monster within so that it rears up its ugly head looking for more.

“Feed me,” he says. His appetite is fierce and unsatisfied. One look leads to another, and then to many more.

This is the kingdom of sexual lust — a world of soft porn and free porn — and secrets contained in cleared web browsers. What you behold, boys, you become. If you steep your tea too long, it becomes bitter. Likewise, if you sit and soak in pornographic fantasies, your life will have a bitter taste. At first the flavors might taste sweet, but bitterness will always be the end result. And the bitterness will be shared someday in your interactions with girls: how you think about girls, talk to girls, treat girls, and pursue girls.

A Wicked Education in Sex

Pornography misshapes your vision of girls, whether you realize it or not. And one day, pornography might affect your future wife. The women gleaming on the computer screen may not directly feel the effects of your lust, but they will indirectly, as you fuel the industry that enslaves and trafficks them.

But the images cannot feel the painful grief and loss a wife feels when her husband’s hidden sins are inevitably revealed. I plead with you to not let the tea steep that long; to not let one look turn into thousands of looks over the course of years. If this happens, you will taste the bitterness, my sons, and you will want to spit it out.

Lust distorts the glory of both biblical manhood and womanhood; it goes against the divine mandate in the garden of Eden. Men are to care for women — and provide and protect with humble strength — not exploit and dominate. Women are strong, capable, and your equal, not objects to be used and discarded.

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Jimmy Needham – The Real Battle for Sexual Purity

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I used to look at pornography nearly every day for a decade. But for the past twelve years, by God’s grace, I have not visited a single porn site.

For many battling addiction, that sentence embodies what we’re striving for. That sentence, however, is not a success story.

As we all know by now, lust manifesting in addiction to pornography is rampant in our tech-savvy culture, and sadly it’s little different among Christians. I’m in weekly conversations with college guys at our church who are fighting hard against lust and porn addiction.

It’s interesting for me to hear how people talk about their struggle. Often when they share, they frame it in terms of “how long it’s been” since their last encounter with porn. The room rejoices with those who haven’t had an incident in a while, and we spout off advice to the ones who have. You can almost see the ranking system build before your eyes: The most recent sinner cowers on the bottom with the lowest score, while the one with the longest record of abstinence stands tall at the top.

But we may have it more wrong than we think. Why? Because our actions don’t always reveal our hearts.

Dirty Dishes

If you were looking for the most moral people of Christ’s day, you would look no further than the Pharisees — fasting, tithing, praying, obeying. Yet when Jesus has a chance to speak to them he says this:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” (Matthew 23:25–26)
For these religious leaders, holiness was only skin-deep. Their deeds were moral, but their hearts were evil. Jesus understood that what you could see in a person’s life often says very little about the condition of a person’s spiritual life. If God was merely after behavior modification, Jesus would have praised the Pharisees. Instead, they received some of Jesus’s harshest words of all.

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