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Lust vs. Love; Greed vs. Gratitude

Ephesians 5:3-5

May 1, 2016

“Christian morality was not designed to steal our pleasure but to preserve it.”

God gives good gifts. Satan counterfeits God’s good gifts. He twists and corrupts them, substituting his own poisonous versions. He says his version is better, but ultimately it leaves us empty and broken. Sex is good; God invented it! Temptation tries to lure us away from God’s best for us and cause us to be satisfied with something less.

Sexual sin is not the unforgivable sin, nor is it something that only touches unbelievers. As God’s people, we commit to not shun the one who struggles with sexual sin. To be accepted in the church, however, the one in sin must see it as sin and struggle against it. There is healing, restoration and forgiveness, but we are told to flee immorality.

The Greek word for immorality is porneia. It means any type of sexual aberration. It includes sex before marriage, adultery, homosexual acts, and any type of deviancy from God’s guidelines for sex. Sex is the act of marriage. It is worth waiting for and it is worth protecting. Inside of marriage, it is a great gift with the potential to bring life; but outside of marriage it is crippling and destructive.

We are commanded to guard not only against sexual immorality itself, but also against any kind of impurity or greed. Impurity is the thought life that leads to immorality. It includes entertaining sinful thoughts, flirting with sin, using pornography, and talking dirty. Sex, as the act of marriage, is to be other-focused and God-glorifying; but sexual immorality is an expression of greedy self-indulgence. It is not satisfied with what it has been given but is self-seeking, dissatisfied and demanding, always thinking that the grass is greener somewhere else.

Paul tells Christians that we are separated for something better. Sexual sin is not to have an acceptable place in the Christian life or community. Don’t allow it to take root in your heart and life. Stop it! Turn off the internet! Avert your eyes! Filthiness, silly talk and crude joking about sex should not have a place among God’s holy people. Foolish and demeaning talk about sex dishonors your spouse or future spouse. Joking about sexual deviancy is not funny. Those who are trapped in sexual sin are in bondage. They should have our compassion, not our mockery.

Instead of obscenity, foolish talk and coarse joking in the Christian community, Paul says there should be thanksgiving. The cure for greed is gratitude; to forget gratitude is to breed greed. Christians should be thankful for God’s good gift of sex and not settle for less than God’s best for it. We should celebrate and enjoy sex within marriage but refrain from it outside of marriage. Immorality cheapens and degrades sex.

Our society will tolerate anything except any kind of restriction on its desires. We have all kinds of convenient excuses for our sin. It’s only natural. I was born this way. Everyone else does it. The words might be impure, but the music is great. It won’t hurt anybody. I need/deserve this. It helps me. It keeps me from doing something worse. God will forgive me. But Paul gives a very stern and serious warning to the church: Those who indulge in sexual sin and refuse to repent have no place in the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:16-21). The church must call its members to repentance. Sexual sin is serious! It must stop! It will damn your soul if you persist and don’t repent!

As Christians, we must fight for joy in this area. We are children of the light. We don’t belong to ourselves. We need to see temptation for what it really is—Satan’s counterfeit. It is a trap. Any fool can get into sin, but no fool can get out! You can’t get out by the effort of your own flesh. You must see it as sin; confess it and repent. God is able to help and to deliver you.

Sex is God’s good gift, but it is to be reserved for marriage. It is worth waiting for. Rejoice in it. Enjoy it. Treasure it. Preserve it.

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