Grace is the only antidote strong enough to overcome men’s toxic shame over their sexual lust.
Grace is the only motivation compelling enough to pick fallen men up, when lust has bloodied them, and send them back into the arena to fight again.
Grace is the only force potent enough to change the heart desires that lead us into sexual sin.
The Power of Sexual Desire
Strong, urgent, forceful, and impatient, the sex drive dominates the mind and body of every healthy male. Like it or not, that’s the way it is. Strong sexual feelings are common to all normal men. They are determined more by hormones than by evil desire. Archibald Hart, The Sexual Man
Why do you think God created the sex drive in men to be so strong?
Do you think this is a good thing or bad thing?
Read Gen. 2:24-25. 24For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Notice that sexual union described in the first sentence is linked with the intimacy described in the second sentence.
Sexual union is the celebration of the loving intimacy for which God designed marriage.
Sexual union is similar to the sacrament of communion. We physically eat the bread and drink the wine to celebrate a spiritual reality—our heart’s need to feed on Christ.
Sexual union is the outward, physical, joining of two bodies, that celebrates the inner spiritual reality of joining two hearts.
God has hardwired men with a sexual appetite that is strong enough to overcome their natural independence and drive them to a woman where their human need for intimacy and love is met.
This intimacy of body and soul is so powerful and so risky that God protects it by placing it in the context of the covenant of marriage, which requires public vows of a life-long commitment to each other.
Joining bodies without joining lives in marriage is condemned by God as wrong. Joining lives in marriage without, joining bodies in sex is also condemned as wrong. In Christianity, body and soul belong together.
I Thes. 4:3-5. 3It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.
Contrast the Christian approach to sexual desire with the pagan approach.
Why would not knowing God lead to passionate lust?
Notice the contrast between “control his own body” and “passionate lust,” (which means, literally, “over-desire.”) The result of the fall is that our sexual desires are out of control.
For many men the sex drive feels like a volcano. Explosive and unpredictable, it continues to burn deep down in the groin, even when there is no reason for it. It may be dormant for a while, only grumbling occasionally. But it awakens sooner or later, and when it erupts it can lay waste to everything in its path including honor, reputation, families, virginity, fidelity, chastity, good intentions, life-long promises, and spiritual commitments. Archibald Hart, The Sexual Man
n what ways do you think a volcano is or is not a good metaphor for our sex drive?
Read Matt. 5:27-29. 27"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
What was Jesus’ view of lust?
Why do you think he took lust so seriously?
4 Ways Sin Has Polluted Our Sexual Nature
A. Fallen man takes nakedness outside the confines of marriage.
Only doctors, morticians, and husbands have any business looking at a woman’s naked body.
A woman has no business revealing her body in public.
Our bodies are not dirty or shameful; they are private.
B. Fallen man takes sex outside the confines of marriage.
The Greek word, “porneia,” which is translated, “sexual immorality,” refers to sex with anyone other than one’s spouse.
Some rationalize that intimate touching, oral sex, anything short of intercourse--is permissible. But that is not God’s view.
Sexual touching is part of the sexual intimacy reserved for marriage and is intended to awaken the desire for full intercourse.
Read Song of Songs 2:7. 7Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love before its time.
Read Ezekiel 23:3. 3They became prostitutes in Egypt, engaging in prostitution from their youth. In that land their breasts were fondled and their virgin bosoms caressed.
C. Our sinful nature also damages our sexual relationship within monogamous marriage.
Christian couples often feel rejected, used, misunderstood, and sexually unsatisfied in their marriage. Very few Christian couples are given any help working through their sexual misunderstandings and differences.
83% of women feel their husbands don’t even know the basic needs of a woman for oneness or how to provide intimacy for them.
A large majority of female divorcees say that their married years were the loneliest years of their lives. Steve Arterburn & Fred Stoeker, Every Woman’s Desire.
Two thirds of married men, therefore, complained of insufficient sex because their partner wasn’t ready (interested), and my clinical work supports this.
When a survey of men were asked, “Do you feel that women understand a man’s sex drive,” over 4 out of 5 (83%) answered, “no.” Hart, The Sexual Man
D. Fallen men want sexual pleasure without the hard work of emotional intimacy with a real woman.
The sinful nature of both single and married men easily defaults to wanting the benefits of femininity—sexual pleasure, but without the risk and work of real involvement with a real woman.
Married men who feel distant from their wives find self-sex easier than taking the risk of initiating sex with their wives.
The Playboy mansion was built on the proceeds of men’s desire to have sex with themselves while looking at pictures of perfected nude women. Compulsive masturbation, built on fantasy and pornography is a quick escape from intimacy. The compulsive masturbator is without the ability to develop genuine intimacy skills. Sex becomes a one-sided process of self-gratification. The addict would rather masturbate than take the time to develop a relationship. Expecting marriage to eliminate the drive to masturbate, the addict soon finds that intimate sex is too much trouble and returns to the compulsion. Stephen Arterburn, “When Sex Becomes an Addiction”
Wives are designed to be sexually responsive to a real man, who takes the risk of pursuing and loving her.
The Internet and cable provide easy access to sexual pleasure without any emotional connection to a real woman required.
What was new to you, or stands out in the material you’ve read so far?
Someone has said that the root issue with lust is that we want to be our own god—determining for ourselves when, where, and how we will get sexual pleasure for ourselves. Would you agree or disagree? What would you add to this assessment?
Read Gal.6:7-8. 7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
What do you think Paul means by, “God cannot be mocked?”
Even though forgiven, if Christians sow to please their sinful nature, what does Paul tell us will be the certain result?
How does this principle apply to our battle with lust?
The Price Tag of Sexual Sin
You should know by now that sexual sin ravages everyone connected with it. If you’re entertaining lust, you’re dancing on a cliff. Take concrete action now while you can. “Lust, when it is conceived, brings forth sin, and sin brings forth death” (James 1:15.) Joe Dallas Every Man’s Battle Seminar
A. Sexual sin’s shame drives us away from God, who is the answer to our deepest longings.
Shame makes us want to hide from God.
Read Gen. 3:8. 8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Shame breaks our fellowship with God.
This break in our life-line to God’s love cuts us off from the love our hearts need to function properly.
Read 1 Cor. 6:13. 13But you cannot say that our physical body was made for sexual promiscuity; it was made for God and God is the answer to our deepest longings. (J. B Phillips)
Paul’s advice to those struggling with sexual sin at Corinth was not, “Stop it!” It was, “the false intimacy of illicit sex doesn’t satisfy your deepest intimacy needs; these are met through intimacy with God.”
The more the well of our intimacy needs is filled through fellowship with Christ, the less thirsty we will be for the polluted waters of illicit sexual pleasure.
Read John 15:9. 9Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. (NASB)
How do you think sexual sin gets in the way of “abiding” in Christ’s love?
B. Surrendering to lust inflames our sexual desire, making it harder to resist
temptation next time.
At the University of California, Irvine, Dr. James L. McGaugh has conducted research suggesting that memories of experiences that occurred at times of emotional arousal (including sexual arousal) are difficult to erase. Dr. McGaugh’s findings suggest that a person’s memories of sexually arousing experiences get locked into the brain by the chemical epinephrine. And once there, the memories are difficult to forget. Thus powerful, sexual memories keep reappearing on his mind’s memory screen—stimulating and arousing him. Every time he masturbates to those fantasies, he is like one of Pavlov’s dogs, rewarded by his orgasm, which reinforces the memory. Jerry Kirk, “How Pornography Harms”
he more we indulge your lustful appetite the stronger that appetite becomes.
Every experience of sexual sin, adds another picture to the memory gallery drawn upon for sinful sexual fantasies in the future.
Yale sociologist Neil Bennett finds that cohabiting women are 80% more likely to separate or divorce than those who did not live with a man before marriage. Glen T. Stanton, 1995
. Sexual involvement before marriage damages future marriage.
D. The use of pornography trains us to separate sexual pleasure from heart connection with a real woman.
Most single men believe the myth that marriage will cure their pornography habit. It does not.
100% of the time, those with a pornography habit find that the craving for pornography returns sometime after they get married.
When a man ejaculates, his brain receives its maximum chemical reward. Whatever he looks at while having an ejaculation is what he will sexually “glue” to. Whatever his eyes focus on when he sexually releases—a person, image or object—will become etched in his brain as a photographic attachment towards that person, image, or object. I call it ‘sex glue.’ After a period of time having sex with the same person, when he sees her, he is going to feel attached to her.
Isn’t it just like God to design something that would make you totally happy with the wife he designed for you? This is the original thought God had in mind with this process—that as a man, you would obey his command and not have sex until marriage. Then, after marriage, you would start having sexual releases just with her. And when you look at her during sexual experience, WHAM! You are glued to her. Over a short period of time she becomes your only chemical reinforcement for your sexual experience, and you are totally happy with her regardless of her height, weight, or proportions. Dr. Doug Weiss, Sex, Men, and God
elf-sex, which indulges in lustful fantasies and pornography, builds the neuro-pathways in the brain that cause us to bond with an impersonal object—the image of our lust.
Such behavior trains us to experience detached, impersonal, sex that is just physical.
The most distinctive characteristic of a woman’s sexual nature is that her desire for sex is not awakened until there is a personal, relational, spiritual/emotional connection.
Women are designed by God in a way that makes detached, impersonal, one-dimensional sex unfulfilling for them.
Men who are losing the battle with porn and self-sex prior to marriage or during marriage are thus training themselves to make sex unfulfilling for their present or future wives.
E. Repeated exposure to pornographic images deadens the heart.
Like a computer virus that has the ability to hide its presence from the user while it systematically destroys the hard drive, sexual sin dulls the conscience, while it systematically ravages the heart.
A deadened heart leads to boredom, emptiness, and loneliness.
It cools our passion for Christ and his purpose for your life.
We start to lose the feeling of closeness to God that we’ve had in the past.
Our desensitized heart hinders our ability to connect emotionally with our
girlfriend or wife, which is what she wants most.
As addiction continues, it dulls the deeper passions of our hearts for other people and other things. Addiction opposes love. It nails the energy of our longings to someone or something—a person, place, substance, behavior or belief. And the addictive object or central activity works; it provides relief from living in the midst of messy relationships, so we want more and more of it. Dr. Sharon Hersh, The Last Addiction
Read Eph. 4:17-19. 17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
What does Paul say is the relationship between the hardening of our hearts, losing sensitivity, and surrendering to sensuality?
F. Every return to sexual sin takes you closer to sexual addiction.
Paul says sexual sin as a sin “against the body.”
Sexual release produces unparalleled chemical reactions in the body.
During sex, chemicals called endorphins and encephalins rush to the excitement center (preoptic neuron) of a man’s brain, filling it to the highest possible level… Men who take risks such as sky diving, bungee jumping, or deep sea diving utilize the same part of the brain as sex does. However, sex, by far, produces the greatest chemical release, making his brain and body feel their absolute best. Dr. Doug Weiss, Sex, Men, and God.
Over time, Illicit sex creates a craving that the body can’t do without.
The brain is actually reprogrammed to crave sexual pleasure.
Once stimulation occurs, the body DEMANDS sexual fulfillment.
However, It takes more erotic images to get the same result. A bloated sexual appetite demands more and more to be satiated.
The body is hooked.
Slavery is in sight.
Some idols hook our bodily passions and desires. This group of addictions include drugs (legal and illegal), alcohol, sexual sin and food. These idolatries can provide physical pleasure, relieve physical tension, and soothe physical desires. Such payoffs can be difficult to resist. Ed Welch, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave
What would you say to a Christian guy who dismisses the danger of looking at porn with the statement, “Yeah, I struggle some with the Internet, but doesn’t everybody?
There are many Christian men surrendering to the lure of pornography who have lost so many battles that they have given up trying to fight But there is hope for us all!
Read Rom. 7:21-25. 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Escaping the slavery of lust does not happen by just trying harder, beating ourselves up more when we fail, or finding the three secret steps to overcoming lust. The only force powerful enough to rescue us is the Gospel of Jesus Christ transforming our hearts. That is the subject of the rest of our studies.
“Moral Purity Toolbox,” CD by David Delk, www.maninthemirror.com
“Sex, Men, and God,” Doug Weiss, MP3 along with many other resources, www.sexaddict.com
The Sexual Man, Archibald Hart, book, www.cepbookstore.com.
Grace Is The Only Antidote Powerful Enough
To Overcome Toxic Shame
Pete had been a Christian nearly all his life, but since his teen years he had been losing the battle with pornography. Desperately he fought his lust, but every new solution was temporary. Praying harder didn’t work. Feeling worse afterwards didn’t work. Getting married didn’t even work. Feeling alone and ashamed, Pete struggled for years; but his bondage only increased.
One weekend, he attended a seminar on sexual purity with his friend. On the way home Pete was even more overwhelmed with feelings of condemnation, and hypocrisy. He knew he had to bring his sin into the light to get help; but the thought of his wife and kids finding out about his secret life was too humiliating to consider. Pete’s friend listened compassionately. But it was the last conversation he would have with Pete. The next weekend, Pete committed suicide.
Pete was a troubled man. The problems that drove him to end his life included more than lust. Yet, his shame over his pornography addiction seemed, outwardly, to push him over the edge. Gary Yagel, Allegiance: Building A Foundation of Loyalty to God
What do you think is the relationship between guilt and shame?
How does a man’s shame over his sexual sin affect his walk with God?
If the secret sexual thoughts of our mind were flashed up on a screen for everyone to see, we would bury our heads in shame. How would we ever look our children, our wives, our friends in the eye again? How could any human want anything to do with us, much less a holy God? Ibid
Why do we feel this way, when the Bible says that in Christ our sins are forgiven?
Shame Poisons The Heart
A. Shame convinces us that God tolerates us but doesn’t like us.
Satan, the “accuser of the brethren,” wants to destroy our relationship with God by mercilessly loading guilt onto our sagging backs.
He knows that our feelings of shame over our sexual sin can either convince us that we are so dirty that a holy God wants nothing to do with us, or make us obsessed with trying to earn his love by being good. In both cases, we believe God’s fundamental attitude towards us is rejection.
Which of the above two responses to shame do you tend towards?
If you believe a person’s fundamental attitude towards you is rejection, how will that affect your relationship with him?
How effective is Satan’s shame strategy in turning Christian men away from seeking God and his love? Why is this strategy so successful?
Apart from the gospel of grace, we default to our self-savior theology, “I obey, therefore I am accepted by God. Since I don’t obey, a holy God loathes me.”
Hanging our heads in shame takes us away from Christ, in the opposite direction of what we need for our hearts to be changed.
But if we remember that God is the lifter of our heads (Ps 3:3) then we will raise our eyes to see the affection in his own. When we see that his regard for us does not waver, then his grace will quicken our steps, strengthen our hearts, and delight our souls to carry on. Bryan Chapell, Holiness By Grace
B. Shame erodes our willingness to fight.
You can only beat your head against the wall and lose so many times before you give up.
Unable to defeat sexual sin, we can make peace with it. We just stuff it into a private closet of our lives that no one knows about.
Making peace with a little illicit sexual pleasure once in a while is the opposite of hungering and thirsting for righteousness, which our Lord commands us to do as his followers.
Since sexual sin dulls our conscience anyway, we begin to excuse our sexual sin.
C. Shame drives us into isolation because we fear being found out.
Before Adam and Eve sinned, they were naked and unashamed
After they sinned, the hid from God.
God made coverings for Adam and Eve to hide their nakedness.
We’ve been covering the private things we’re ashamed of ever since.
We may admit struggling with lust like all guys do, but not let anyone close enough to discover the real extent of our involvement with porn.
We are hiding, every last one of us. Well aware that we, too (like Adam), are not what we were meant to be, desperately afraid of exposure, terrified of being seen for what we are and are not, we have run off into the bushes. We hide at the office, in the gym, behind the newspaper, and mostly behind our personality. Most of what you encounter when you meet a man is a façade, an elaborate fig leaf, a brilliant disguise.” John Eldredge, Wild at Heart
Do you think most men are aware that they are hiding?
Why do we do it?
The masks we wear to hide our shameful struggles prevent us from authentic, strength-building, connection to other believers.
We stay shallow and superficial with our brothers in Christ.
We lose countless battles because God never intended us to fight our spiritual battles alone.
The Only Power Great Enough To Overcome
Shame Is the Gospel
“Only those who know that God will love them even if they don’t get better will ever get any better.” Steve Brown, Lecture, DMin Class
A. The Gospel is that you are more sinful and flawed than your lust proves yet more accepted, and loved than you can imagine.
When our sin leaves us feeling dirty and ashamed we need to stand under the shower of God’s truth and let grace wash over us. We need to daily preach the gospel to ourselves.
Believers are doubly declared to be legally righteous. First, we are justified through Christ’s death. He atoned for our sins. He paid the penalty. There is no more wrath of God left for us. He spent it on Christ at the cross!
Second, through Christ’s life, his perfect record is imputed to us. The Spirit of God has erased Jesus’ name at the top of his straight A moral report card, written our name in with permanent ink, and thrown our old report card away. Christ’s straight A report card is not so inadequate that we have to earn a few A’s of our own!
Read Rom. 3:21-25. 21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
Read Rom. 8:1-4. 1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
What do these verses teach about a believer’s ability to exhaust God’s willingness to forgive him? What about the thousandth time we masturbated after telling God we were sorry?
What do these verses teach about overcoming the shame of our sin?
In your own life, what have you learned about overcoming shame by the truth of the gospel?
The gospel is not a gate but a path. It is an epicenter, not a milestone. Steve Childers, “Spiritual Dynamics for Leaders, DMin Syllabus,” RTS.
If you were asked, “How do I get the gospel from my head to my heart,” what would you say?
“We can only change permanently as we take the gospel more deeply into our understanding and hearts.” Tim Keller, The Prodigal God
B. Through the Gospel we are redeemed from seeking to be our own savior
Overcoming lust does not happen by just trying harder. The gospel is that I cannot be my own savior. The gospel is that righteousness is not FROM me but FROM God.
Read Rom. 1: 16-17. 16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."
Biblically understood, the word, “righteousness,” does not refer only to our justification, the act by which God declares us legally righteous. It also refers to our sanctification—our growth in holiness. Who is the source of both kinds of righteousness?
Grace empowers us to say, “The righteousness I need to please God and feel good about myself ain’t coming from me!” The gospel is that righteousness is from God.
The Gospel is that in recognizing our spiritual poverty we receive the riches of the kingdom.
Read Matt. 5:3. 3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Read James 4:6. 6"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
How would you summarize the message of these 2 verses?
Why is it so hard for men to admit our weaknesses?
C. The Gospel frees us to repeatedly take our sinful hearts to Christ for cleansing and renewal.
Read Psalm 32:1-5. 1Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. 3When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
5Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD "—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
What are some of the blessings of the one whose sin is covered?
What is the cost of ignoring our sin?
D. The Gospel’s assurance of God’s unconditional love gives us the courage to have authentic friendships with Christian brothers
Read Heb. 10:19-25. 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
This text starts out with having confidence to draw near to God and ends with encouraging one another. What do you think is the relationship between these two?
You do not have to know the details of a brother’s struggles with lust to be an encouragement and support to him.
“I’ve been struggling with lust” is enough to be able to respond, “I’m struggling too. Let’s pray for each other. By the way, don’t forget Christ loves you, brother, more than you can ever know-- even when you fail him!!”
How can we help each other preach the gospel to ourselves (remind each other of God’s unconditional love) every day?
What else can we do to encourage each other?
Next week, we begin to discuss how the gospel of grace changes our hearts.
Close In prayer.
Allegiance: Building A Foundation of Loyalty to God, Gary Yagel, 30 day men’s devotional to help
men take grace from their head to their heart, www.forgingbonds.org
“Dangerous Freedom” Pete Alwinson, men’s seminar sponsor by Key Life, www.keylife.org
“Gospel Man Conferences,” Harvey Kirkpatrick, regional conferences, www.thegospelman.com
Holiness By Grace, Bryan Chapel, book, www.cepbookstore.com
Grace Persuades Me God Likes Me
What you think of this statement: “Christianity is not behavior modification; it is heart transformation?”
If this study could give you four steps to take next Thursday afternoon at 2:00, so you would never have to battle lust again, every one of you would take them. Men want simple, quick, clear cut, concrete solutions to our problems. Unfortunately lust is not a problem that can be dealt with that way, because it is an issue of the heart.
Read Luke 6:45. 45The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.
If an apple tree owner were upset because his tree keep producing bad apples and decided to solve the problem by stapling good apples to the branches of the tree, what would you say he doesn’t understand?
This study does not empower you to staple sexual purity onto your image as a Christian. Our struggle with sexual impurity is a struggle with the cancer of sin in our heart. Bandaids don’t work; the battle must be fought at the level of our desires. And heart transformation takes a long time. The Gospel, however, is up to the challenge!!!
Through The Gospel Our Life Support
Line Is Re-Connected to Christ
A. Shame and guilt keep sending a toxic message to our hearts: God wants nothing to do with you.
When Peter saw Jesus’ miracle of filling their nets with fish, notice his response to Jesus.
Read Luke 5:8-9. 8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" 9For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken.
In what ways do you identify or not identify with Peter’s response to Jesus?
B. The gospel overcomes that toxic message: We are not only declared righteous, we are loved and desired by God.
God does not just tolerate us, he wants us.
The gospel restores us to the purpose for which we were made—an intimate love relationship with the God of the universe.
It is through that love relationship that our heart is changed
“When we finally understand that God isn’t mad at us any more we become free to concentrate on love and growth instead of trying to appease him” Henry Coud, John Townsend, How People Grow
Assured of God’s love, we want to walk with him and grow to know him.
Read John 17:3. 3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
In what sense is knowing God the essence of life?
As we grow to know the true God, we fulfill the first two commandments. More and more, we will 1) worship the true god and 2) replace our false mental images of him with true ones. These true images then enable us to trust and love him more.
There is no shortcut to holiness. As we walk in God’s love, we grow to love him more than we love sin.
Read Eph. 3:16-21. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
In verses 16-19, identify the various phrases in these verses that describe our connection to Christ.
How do you think these verses, which describe our connection to Christ, relate to verses 20-21, which describe the immeasurable power we need to overcome sexual temptation?
C. The Gospel convinces us that we are objects of God’s affection.
What would you say to a brother in Christ who says this: “I know God loves me—that’s his job, to love everybody. We’re even supposed to love our enemies. And I know he forgives me because Christ died for my sins. But when I surrender AGAIN to lust, I don’t think he likes me very much?”
“What would it feel like in your heart to know that God not only accepts you, but that he richly enjoys you? To know that your company is his pleasure, your fellowship his joy, your face his delight? What effect would that have on how you think about God, yourself, others.” Scotty Smith, Objects of His Affection
ead Zephaniah 3:17. 1The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
Despite our dirty hearts, the truth is that God does want something to do with us. In fact we are his delight. He loves interacting with us.
If we really believed this truth how would it impact our hearts?
Read I John 3:1 1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are.
Take a moment and identify a few of the benefits to a child who grows up in a home with a strong love connection to his father.
John teaches us the truth of adoption. Not only has God destroyed the barrier of guilt that separated us from himself by sending Christ to atone for our sin. He continues in his work of drawing us to himself through the cords of love by adopting us into his very family. In the strongest possible way, God is saying that he has done what is needed for us to be close to him.
“Justification is a forensic idea, conceived in terms of law, and viewing God as judge... But contrast this, now, with adoption. Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father. In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship, and establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection, and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the father is a greater.” J. I. Packer, Knowing God
The whole point to the gospel is restoring us to the love relationship with God for which we were created.
This love relationship is one in which God delights in us! Husbands delight in their brides. Fathers delight in their children.
The gospel does more than tell us God loves us; it convinces us that he wants us. Only knowing that God wants us can satisfy the deep-rooted thirst for love and intimacy that is designed into our hearts.
The more we satisfy our thirst for love through intimacy with God, the less vulnerable we are to the pull of sexual temptation, because the temptation of Illicit sexual pleasure is ultimately a craving for false intimacy.
Understanding this connection is essential for overcoming sexual sin. So, let’s look at this connection in more detail.
Our Sexual Desires Flow Out of Our Deepest
Yearnings For Intimacy & Love
A. Sexual desire is intertwined with our thirst for intimacy.
Read Gen. 2:24-25. 24For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
True intimacy is being naked, body and soul, but feeling no shame
The experience of nakedness, alone, deepens intimacy.
Nakedness assumes intimacy. It assumes that the person who has disrobed in your presence trusts you. They’re willing to let you see their beauty and their imperfections. We do that with people we believe will love and accept us, warts and all. Perkins, When Good Men are Tempted
So intertwined is nakedness with intimacy that gazing upon a woman’s inviting naked body gives a sense of intimacy. But outside of marriage, it is counterfeit intimacy.
I believe naked women are beautiful because their nakedness tells a man, “I’m here for you. I’m yours. I’ve bared myself for your eyes.” That unspoken—or spoken statement tells a man he is safe. It tells him he is loved. It tells him someone wants to be intimate with him.
Because nakedness presupposes intimacy, seeing a naked woman provides men with an intimate connection—even if it’s a superficial one. Ibid.
Our sinful nature urges us to satisfy the God-given craving for intimacy in a sinful way—through an illicit sexual encounter, real or imaginary.
Fantasy seems to be much safer than risking emotions in unpredictable relationships and suffering the pain that real intimacy can cause. For a brief moment, the centerfold or prostitute is enthralled with the sex addict. Acceptance is unconditional. Rejection is not possible. Sex is a conquest, imaginary or real and abates the terrifying sense of not belonging. Dr. Harry Schaumburg, False Intimacy
The counterfeit emotions that accompany an illicit sexual release seem to momentarily satisfy this yearning for intimacy. Illicit sex becomes the idol we look to in order to satisfy the desires of our heart.
However, such false intimacy never satisfies, but instead breeds guilt, loneliness, and shame. These only heighten the feelings of emptiness and loneliness, driving us right back to our sexual fantasy world again.
B. God designed the intimacy of marriage to be a foretaste of the richer intimacy to be ours when we are united to Christ, our bridegroom.
Read Eph. 5:31-32. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Notice that Paul’s mention of the sexual union of marriage in verse 31, takes him, in his thoughts, directly to the union of Christ and his bride, in verse 32. Do you think most Christians see their relationship with Christ as the primary place to go to have their need for love and intimacy met, or do they look for love and intimacy other places? Why?
Intimacy in marriage, with all its emotional and sexual pleasure, is just an appetizer. Intimacy with Christ is the real meal.
C. Since our sexual appetite is part of our yearning for intimacy, the best antidote to lust is to satisfy our deepest heart longing for intimacy through a close love-relationship with Christ.
One reason lust reigns in so many is that Christ has so little appeal. You were created to treasure Christ with all your heart—more than you treasure sex or sugar. If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph. Plead with God for the satisfaction you don’t have. Quote Psalm 14, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we might rejoice and be glad all our days.” Then, look, look, LOOK at the most magnificent person in the universe until you see him the way he is. John Piper, Desiring God
Read I Cor. 6:13-20. 13The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." 17But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. 8Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
When Paul argues in verse 13, “the body is not meant for sexual immorality,” I would have expected him to continue “because the body was meant for righteous sex.” What does he say instead (at the end of verse 13)?
Paul looks beneath the sexual appetite that is driving the Corinthians to immorality and sees the hunger for intimacy. That human hunger, says Paul, is meant to be satisfied by God. That is why J. B. Phillips’ paraphrases of verse 13b is so good. "You cannot say that your physical body was made for sexual immorality. It was made for God and God is the answer to our deepest longings."
As Paul continues his argument against sexual sin, his argument is based on this parallel between human sexual union and union with Christ our bridegroom. Christ spiritually unites our body to himself by dwelling in our body, just as surely as a husband unites his wife’s body to himself by coming inside of her. That is why uniting with a prostitute is committing adultery against Christ.
Look at verses 15-20 and identify the expressions that refer to bodily union.
Paul says the answer to the temptation to illicit sex is union with Christ our true bridegroom. The common hunger beneath both is the craving for intimate love.
The more our hunger for intimacy is met through union with Christ, the less we are tempted to gratify our desires through a cheap substitute--looking at porn, masturbation, or an illicit sexual relationship.
What difference does this truth make in the battle with lust?
In my life, I've learned that I have to keep drinking gulps of intimacy and love in my relationship with God or else the polluted water of sinful sexual gratification will appeal too much to my thirst. Gary Yagel, Called to Sexual Integrity.
What have you learned over the years about building a closer relationship with Christ?
How can you help each other stay close to Christ during the week?
Desiring God, John Piper, book, www.cepbookstore.com
Objects of His Affection, Scotty Smith, book, www.cepbookstore.com
The Prodigal God, Tim Keller, book, www.cepbookstore.com
The Sacred Romance, Curtis and Eldredge, book, www.ransomedheart.com
Grace Gives Me The Courage to Face The
Heart Issues Beneath Lust
Spiritual change is more a consequence of what our hearts love than of what our hands do. Bryan Chapel, Holiness by Grace
iving by grace is living not because of external pressure, obligation, or expectation. It is living from the heart.
What have you learned about how the Christian faith changes what your heart loves?
Read Matthew 15:19. 18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
Read Prov. 4:23. 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
What do these verses say about the relationship between your heart and your life?
If your behavior is not what you want, where should you look for the solution?