“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or 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.”
It’s right there in black and white. DON’T DO IT! And that message has been brought down upon us for generations. And usually with limited success. Just look at the number of teen pregnancies worldwide. The growing number of children born out of wed lock. The porn problem that affects too many men. It’s obvious that the message to stay sexually pure just isn’t getting through. Why is this? Why instead of more people waiting for marriage it’s less? Why has the porn problem become an epidemic? Why are there so many single mothers living with the regret of a one-night stand that had lifelong consequences? Or even worse, why are so many women screaming “my body, my choice” as they murder their unborn children? If you read those last few sentences and thought “whoa, he’s being a bit harsh and judgey” you’ve reached the core of the problem.
I remember growing up for many reasons I had a really low self-esteem. I was the typical nice guy. Going out of my way to try to keep everyone happy but screaming on the inside because I felt like I didn’t matter. I lived for people’s validation and affirmation. A habit that followed me into my 20’s and 30’s stopping me from growing and causing a lot of damage to my marriage and other relationships. I was living the harsh reality that so many lost people do; I was living for the world’s acceptance and dying from its rejection. I was raised with God in my life and I knew that he loved me. But I didn’t have a personal relationship with him through Jesus. And as such, I was always looking the wrong way to find my sense of worth.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
1 Peter 2:9
A big part of my problem was that my identity wasn’t grounded in who God has called me but rather my own thoughts and perceptions of myself that could quite easily change every hour or more. A lot of men are like this. Possibly because of their own father issues, maybe because of the mixed messages society throws at us, we’re all confused and don’t really know how to make sense of anything, let alone our own identity. So, when temptation comes along – and it will – we usually get it wrong. We might hold out for a while but eventually we’ll fall to the trap in front of us. From pornography to premarital sex or even extra marital sex, we will all fall to the trap unless we’re grounded and fully immersed in Christ at all times. Once we stop being “sinners saved by grace” and move to “more than conquerors and co heirs”, “his holy temple”, “a royal priesthood”, “the righteousness of God in Christ” and “a new creation”, we will have within us the foundation to win the battle against the next temptation that comes our way. When we accept our identity, we are free to boldly live out that identity and walk in true victory.
“But what about David?” I hear you ask. Yes it’s true, the greatest king of Israel, “a man after God’s own heart” gave in to the lusts and passions of the flesh. And then he tried to cover it up. And then he tried again. And finally, he did cover it up by having one of his most loyal soldiers killed. There is a lesson here for all of us; If we’re not following God even for a second, we’re following ourselves. When we follow ourselves, we forget who we are. When we forget who we are, we make choices that go against what we would normally do and then we can either cover it up or confess it and bring it to the light.
David thought he’d got away with it. He saw Bathsheba, gave into his desires and took her as his own. Then as happens with all of us, the consequences of his actions came back to bite him hard. So he tried a few different ways to cover it up. He sent for Uriah to come back from the war in the hopes he would sleep with his wife. When that didn’t work, he got him drunk thinking surely he’ll sleep with her now. When that didn’t work, he had him killed. He would’ve gotten away with it to. But “there is nothing hidden that won’t be revealed. There is nothing secret that will not come to light.” Even if nobody else knows, you know and God knows. When God decides to show the world who you really are, there are two options; double down, keep denying it and suffer more consequences or confess your sin and receive his forgiveness. There will still be consequences just as there were for David and Bathsheba. But there is also forgiveness and redemption for the one who will come back to him willing to be made whole again.
“You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever.”
The reason so many people fall into this trap, more so than the love of money, drugs or any other evil, is because we all have an overwhelming desire to be loved, accepted and experience the pleasures and joys that intimacy can bring. In a world that’s constantly chasing the next fix, God IS your fix. Now and forever. Chase him always. He will fill you with love. He will fill you with joy. He will fill you with pleasure. To borrow a popular phrase from today’s culture, he is your best friend with benefits.