Our society is steeped in sex. Movies and television, advertising and internet, wherever we turn we are confronted by sexual imagery. Many Christians have compromised themselves and continue to compromise in this.
Yet Jesus says,
Matthew 5:28 NKJV
But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
We are led astray by our own desires and enticed. Our desires lead to thoughts which lead to words and then plans and actions. Jesus was warning us to fight our desires early.
Men divorce their wives when the sex dries up and act offended when challenged Biblically. They want what they want and try to use scripture to prop up their desires and insist on their marital rights. They respond with offense and argue that they are being abused and neglected because the scripture says:
1 Corinthians 7:4 NKJV
The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Yet the Scripture teaches us we are to love our wives as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25). I do not see Christ forcing us to worship Him. Instead I see that we should desire to please Him as He desires to please us.
Our culture is trying to tell us that sex is our right, but the Bible teaches that sex is a privilege that is reserved for a husband and his wife. The prevailing attitude of the world is that we should not be expected to live without sex. Yet the Scripture is emphatic that we should learn to live without sex and many other things as well.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 NKJV
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
God commanded Jeremiah not to marry (Jer 16:2). Neither Jesus (Mt 19:7-12) nor Paul nor Barnabas married (1 Cor. 7:1-9). They remained celibate.
In Jewish culture, even the married were expected to be celibate two weeks out of each month because they were not permitted to touch their wives during her menstrual period or for a week after her period ended (Lev. 15:19-33). Furthermore, ALL the Apostles were Orthodox Jews.
Biblically, not only is sex outside of marriage forbidden, but sex within marriage is limited. Marriage is not an all you can eat buffet. We are expected to show restraint within marriage.
People don’t like saying ‘no’ to themselves and frankly, some people never do. They may claim to be Christians but they are deceiving themselves. If you do not deny yourself, you cannot be Christ’s disciple.
Mark 8:34-37 NKJV
When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
The Christian life is hard; sometimes agonizing. We shouldn’t be surprised (1 Peter 4:12). It’s hard because denying our fallen selves is hard. I think it is funny when atheists argue that I need faith as a crutch because I am weak. Yet they have no reason to exercise their willpower or learn how to reign in their thoughts or deny themselves the things they desire. They do not understand the agony of self-denial. Their belief allows them to live as they please.
But then there are plenty of people who attend church who do not understand either. Behind the whole affirming church movement is the idea that sex is a right. They believe that if only sex in marriage is affirmed by Scripture then gay people need the right to marry to please God. They are totally missing God because they believe that sex is their right.
Jesus says, “No. Self-denial is the key.” We are called to agree with Jesus and say. “Not my will but YOURS be done”—no matter how hard that may seem.
In a hetero marriage there is always a conflict between the two over sex because any two people have differing appetites. Not only that but one or the other will not be healthy enough for sex at times during life, particularly as we grow older and desire fades. This is not a sufficient cause for divorce. Jesus never leaves us or forsakes us—even when we are too old and weak to worship Him as vigorously as we once did.
Self-denial is so important to pleasing God! The Jews were commanded to be kosher—to live a fasted life. They were commanded to not partake of the things that everyone else indulged themselves in.
We are not under kosher laws because we are not descended from Jacob but the principle remains. We cannot do whatever we please and inherit the kingdom of God. We have to learn to say ‘no’ to ourselves. We have to learn to say ‘no’ to ungodliness (Titus 2:12)—which is anything that doesn’t conform to who God is.
So Peter writes to us and says:
1 Peter 2:11 NKJV
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul…
Our fleshly desires war against our souls—whether for food or drink, wealth, prestige and power, or for sex. We are warned that those who do not say ‘no’ to themselves in these areas will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
Romans 13:14 NKJV
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
It strikes me that the affirming church is guilty of the same sin as the homosexual. They cannot imagine saying ‘no’ to their own lusts and so cannot say ‘no’ to others with differing lusts.
Why do I write these things? I care too much to remain silent and because there are many who seem to think that God loves them too much to send them to hell. God does indeed love us all so much that He doesn’t desire for any of us to perish. It is why He sent His Son to die for us. Death was necessary because the crime is so evil and wicked—all sin is a crime against God.
But God denies Himself and lives by His standards and not His feelings. God has standards and has paid the price of those standards for those who repent and believe (belief is more than thinking; it requires action) but those who do not repent and believe are condemned (Mark 16:16).
The Law in the Old Testament is not really about God’s rules for men. The Law contains God’s rules for Himself. He holds Himself to this standard and Jesus Christ fulfilled this standard. We are called to imitate God as dear children (Eph 5:1).
One passage in the Old Testament describes a heartbreaking rule God has set for Himself:
Deuteronomy 21:18-21 NKJV
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.
We do not love our children the way God loves us. Jonah tells us that God explained why He did not destroy Nineveh and I will paraphrase “You are crying about a vine that you did not plant, cultivate or water, that grew up in a day and died overnight. Yet these people in the city of Nineveh, I fashioned each in their mother’s womb and I have watched over them day and night ever since. There are 125,000 children who do not even know the difference between right and wrong and what about their livestock? Don’t you know that I care even about their livestock? (Jonah 4:4-10 Paraphrased)”
God withholds His judgment because God loves and describes Himself as a Father who, even when His son has done terrible things, still sees the good in His son—until there is no good remaining and must finally admit it and bring His son to judgment. His wrath will be fierce because He cares so much and the son has chosen willful disobedience and forced the Father to act against His own child.
God will judge. God will live up to His Word. God keeps all His promises—even the not-so-precious promises that warn us of wrath, judgment, hell and an eternity in the lake of fire.
God’s sons imitate their Father. He denies Himself. The Son also denies Himself. Those who believe on the Son also deny themselves—showing themselves to be children of God (1 John 3:7-10).
Every one of us ultimately has the choice of whether or not we imitate our earthly parents or rebel and choose a different pattern. Our parents can be ungodly and we can choose to make God our Father. Our parents can be godly and we can choose to reject their God and live according to our own appetites and desires.
Become like a little child. Choose to make God your Father and imitate Him or choose to do as you please and imitate the devil. It is your choice. Look around. What are you becoming?
About the Author
Ken Van Horn has been a pastor for over 25 years–only two years of which was full-time ministry. He has worked as an electrical contractor, editor, probate judge, web developer, consultant and recently completed “A Greater Reward” based upon what the Holy Spirit revealed to him while serving as a judge concerning the work of justice and the imminent Judgment Seat of Christ.
He is currently developing a start up church in Cusseta, Georgia and does itinerant ministry when available.
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