29 Mar

Lies the Devil Spreads About Sex Outside of Marriage

Sex is a very powerful reality.  It goes to the very core of what it means to be created male and female in the image of God.  Indeed, it is an awesome gift from God, created to be enjoyed as He has prescribed.

Given sex’s power, it’s a prime target for the devil to aim at.  If he can corrupt this powerful gift, then he can easily influence mankind away from God and righteousness.  So far, he’s doing an overwhelmingly successful job.

One of Satan’s best tools of corruption is the lie.  He did it in the Garden (Gen 3:1-5) and is doing it still today.  It’s what he does because that’s who he is.  As Jesus tells us in John 8:44, [The devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  He lies and then he prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking the one who will believe the lie so that he may devour them (1 Peter 5:8).

God has clearly told us in Scripture that sex outside of marriage is sinful.  The most direct verse on this truth is in Hebrews 13:4, Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.  “Fornication” is sex outside of marriage while you are single.  “Adultery” is sex outside of marriage while you are married.  God condemns both actions in this verse and the following verses:  1 Corinthians 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7).  However, the devil will lie to you, saying that sex outside of marriage is not sin.

So, we must shine light onto the lies—bust the lies if you will.  I’ve pulled together 13 lies the devil likes to spread about sex outside of marriage.

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Lie #1:  There is no God, so do whatever you want with your body.  I hate to break this to you (actually, I don’t hate it because I love you and truth), but there is God, and you will be held accountable by Him based upon His moral standards for your thoughts, attitudes, and actions.  He has given sex to be enjoyed only within marriage, and given the times, let me define biblical marriage:  a one-flesh, life-time union between one man and one woman based upon a covenant commitment to one other before God and society.  That’s where sex is to be thoroughly enjoyed.

Lie #2:  Everybody’s having sex outside of marriage.  No, they are not.  That’s how the devil wants it to look to you so that you’ll feel inferior, but that’s not reality.  But, let me ask this one pertinent question:  even if everybody else was having sex outside of marriage, do you really want to be like everybody else?  Jesus said to enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it, (Matthew 7:13-14).  The way of the majority of this world leads to destruction.  Be different!!!!

Lie #3:  If it feels good, it can’t be wrong.  Why not?  Pleasure and rightness are not equal unless you are a hedonist, who argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good.  Indeed, shooting heroine or robbing a bank may feel good, but they’re certainly wrong.  The question is not:  does this feel good?  The question is:  is this right in God’s eyes?  Sex outside of marriage may feel good momentarily, but it’s undoubtedly wrong in God’s eyes.

Lie #4:  Sex outside of marriage is freedom.  You are indeed exercising your ability to choose when you have sex outside of marriage, but it does not lead to freedom.  Again, as demonstrated above, sex outside of marriage is sin.  Listen to what Jesus reveals to us about the relationship between sin and freedom, Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin, (John 8:34).  So, sexual sin does not lead to freedom but rather to slavery.

Lie #5:  There is such a thing as safe sex outside of marriage.  First of all, there’s no such thing as safe sex, period.  What society means by “safe sex” is:  sexual activity in which people take precautions to protect themselves against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.  But, let’s be honest—there is no such thing as safe sex.  You can take every precaution in the world and still end up pregnant or contract an STD.  Sure, your chances of these things can be reduced, but no form of “safe sex” is 100% effective.  Therefore, there is no such thing as “safe” sex, only “safer” sex.

But, are pregnancy and STDs all that you’re trying to avoid?  It shouldn’t be.  God commands us through Paul to abstain from every form of evil, (1 Thessalonians 5:22).  Sex outside of marriage is sin, and sin is evil.  Therefore, we should abstain from sex outside of marriage.  So, not only is there no “safe sex” outside of marriage.  There’s no righteous sex outside of marriage.  The adjective “Safe” is meant to make us think that sex outside of marriage is both healthy and moral, but in reality it’s neither.  Here’s a great article on the lie of “safe sex” written in 1991 after the news broke that Magic Johnson had contracted HIV.

Lie #6:  As long as I don’t have vaginal intercourse outside of marriage, it’s okay.  We love to rationalize our sin, don’t we?  We draw these fake boundaries to justify what we want to do.  We like to draw the line at vaginal intercourse so that we can feel better about doing whatever else we want to do with our orifices and hands.   I’m not trying to be course—just real.  Manual sex, oral sex, and anal sex are still sexually immoral outside of marriage.  One could even make a strong argument that anal sex even within marriage is still sexually immoral.  Stop trying to justify sin!  Sex is more than just vaginal intercourse and should be kept within marriage.

Lie #7:  Sex is dirty.  No, sex is a gift from God and is in no way dirty if experienced the way He intended.  As it was said about Adam and Eve in the Garden, And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed, (Genesis 2:25).  There’s no shame in sex if it’s experienced in its proper context—between a husband and wife.  I grew up near the South Union Shaker Village just outside of Bowling Green, KY.  I’m not sure if you’ve heard of the Shakers (or the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, as they call themselves), but they were and are a heretical Christian sect that jumped off the proverbial Orthodox Train in many ways.  One of the ways is that they saw sex itself as immoral.  They banned marriage and sex both.  What a tragedy in missing God’s design and gift to mankind in sex!

Lie #8:  Sex is no big deal.  This lie is one of Satan’s greatest!  He wants us to make light of something sacred.  Sex is a one-flesh union, intertwining the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of humanity.  It’s a BIG DEAL!  Furthermore, sex outside of marriage is an even bigger deal because it’s sinful, and sin is a BIG DEAL.  Finally, we cannot divorce sex from what sex creates, namely a precious child.  Even though getting pregnant is not your goal, it’s very good possibility.  Therefore, you’d better believe that sex is a big deal!

Lie #9:  We’re just animals, so follow your instincts and have sex whenever and however you want.  This lie comes straight from the atheistic, evolutionary worldview.  You are not an animal.  You are human being—a special creation of the highest order and made in the image of God himself.  Animals have not been endued by their Creator with moral abilities, which leads to moral expectations, but you have, and God expects you to act morally.  Yes, you very well may have “instincts,” but you are to discipline yourself toward godliness.  As God tells us through Paul, For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God, (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).  I pray you do so!

Lie #10:  God surely wouldn’t expect me to wait until I’m married.  While it’s true that societal norms are pushing marriage further back, even seeing the average person marrying in their late 20s, God’s standard has not changed.  Yes, the late 20s is long after puberty brings about the strong urges toward sex, but sex is still to be enjoyed only within marriage.  That means that you’ll need a Holy Spirit-powered dose of self-control.  But, as God tells us through Paul, But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion, (1 Corinthians 7:9).  He’s primarily talking about young widows here, but it’s true for any person.  If you cannot control yourself, marry a godly spouse and have all the sex you desire.  But, if marriage is not your desire, then abstain from sex because God expects you to wait until marriage.

Lie #11:  I’ll die if I don’t have sex.  Let’s turn to a chapter from the book of General Revelation to bust this lie.  The reproductive system, which enables you to have sex, is one of many organ systems in your body.  In fact, it’s one of 10.  There’s also the circulatory, digestive, endocrine, integumentary, muscular, nervous, respiratory, skeletal, and urinary/excretory systems.  I know, TMI, but I’m trying to prove a point here.  Did you know that out of all 10 body systems, there’s only one that you can live without?  Can you guess which one it is?  Yep, you guessed it—the reproductive system.  In fact, due to health complications, many people have their reproductive system partially removed at some point in their lives and do just fine.

So, you will not die if you don’t have sex.  You might feel like you’ll die, but remember what I said about self-control in #10.

Lie #12:  Starting sex early in a relationship will help you get to know one another better and enhance intimacy in your relationship.  The truth is that sex early in a relationship will actually hinder you from getting to know one another because it will cloud how you see each other.  You’ll end up just being attracted to the sex and not really the person.  You’ll overlook problems and incompatibilities because the sex is good.  It’ll cause you big problems down the road because your relationship will be built upon sex, and when the sex fades (it always fades!!), you’ll be stuck with regret.

True intimacy is found when you learn to love the opposite sex for whom they are and not just for their body and what they can do for you.  You need a best friend, not a friend with benefits.

Lie #13:  I’ve already had sex outside marriage, and since I’ve already messed up, I should just continue.  Excuse me?  What?  That’s a great piece of rationalization.  The devil loves when you think this way!

Maybe you’ve heard, “You can’t unring the bell,” or “You can’t uncrack the egg.”  It’s true.  You can’t.  However, while it’s true that you can’t erase your past, the condemnation for you past sin can be erased.  Seek forgiveness from God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ so that it will be erased, and then repent of that sin.  In other words, go the other direction.  If you were having sex, stop having sex.  Sin no more!  That’s exactly what Jesus told a woman who was caught having sex outside of marriage.  He told her, I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more, (John 8:11).  Jesus is saying the same thing to you as well if you’ll only ask God to forgive you through Jesus and then have as your goal to sin no more.

May you tell the devil to shut his lying mouth so that you may enjoy the great gift of sex from God in the way that He has designed!

28 Mar

How to Pray for Revival, Pt 2

Today, we continue with the final six prayer points leading to revival.  See the first six here.

7.  Recognize God’s uniqueness
Isaiah declared to God, For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him, (Isaiah 64:4).  There is no one like our God!  You should spend time adoring God for His manifold glory—His all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present attributes; His perfect love, perfect wisdom, perfect justice; and so much more.  He stands above all other gods!  Indeed, He is the only true God.  All others are figments of depraved imagination.  Recognize God’s uniqueness for the joy of your soul!

8.  Acknowledge God’s love for righteousness
Did you know that God hates some things?  He certainly does.  You see, in order to love something, you must hate the opposite.  God loves righteousness.  Therefore, He hates unrighteousness, sin.  Given this truth, God rewards those that love what He loves.  As Isaiah points it out in his prayer, You meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways, (Isaiah 64:5).  As you pray for revival, acknowledge God’s love for righteousness, and ask Him to help you do the same.

9.  Confess your utter depravity
You are corrupt, and so am I.  Sin has tainted every aspect of our being, especially our moral being, leaving us devastated and destitute.  Do you see yourself in this way?  If revival is coming, you must!  Isaiah confessed to God:

  • Behold, You were angry, for we sinned, We continued in them a long time; And shall we be saved?  For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on Your name, who arouses himself to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us into the power of our iniquities, (Isaiah 64:5-7).

Even our righteous deeds are corrupted because we do then with a depraved heart.  Would you bring yourself low so that Christ could lift you up?  Would see yourself as bankrupt and then throw yourself onto the mercy of God?  Confess to God your utter depravity, and watch God begin to pour out a blessing!

10.  Pledge submission to God
Isaiah declared, But now, O LORD, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand, (Isaiah 64:8).  What awesome imagery!  He’s depicting submission here.  Clay is tender and malleable in the potter’s hands, letting the potter shape however he sees fit.  That’s how we are to always be with God, but especially as we seek His face for revival.  Yield to Him!  “God, make me and use me as You see fit.”  Pledge submission to Him.

11.  Petition for forgiveness
Isaiah does something here that is absolutely necessary.  He says, Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD, Nor remember iniquity forever, (Isaiah 64:9).  In other words, “Father, forgive me of my sins.”  We can’t earn God’s favor.  Our debt is too large.  Therefore, the only option is forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the act by God of releasing you, a sinner, from the condemnation, bitterness, and anger your sin deserves.  What a sweet thought!  Ask Him for it!

12.  Appeal to God’s great love for His glory and for us
Isaiah closes out his prayer by appealing to God’s great love.  He says:

  • Behold, look now, all of us are Your people. Your holy cities have become a wilderness, Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and beautiful house, Where our fathers praised You, Has been burned by fire; And all our precious things have become a ruin. Will You restrain Yourself at these things, O LORD? Will You keep silent and afflict us beyond measure? (Isaiah 64:9-12).

He’s trying to stir God up.  We are Your people!  This is Your country!  This is Your house!  He’s calling out God in His love to move in their midst and restore them.

Don’t be afraid to appeal to God’s great love for His glory.  Friend, the most loving thing toward us that God could do is love His glory.  So, stir God up to move in your midst for the glory of His name.

But, don’t forget to appeal to His great love for you as well.  If you are in Christ, you are His people, and because of the great love with which He loved you, He sacrificed His only-begotten Son for you and made you alive with Christ (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:4-5).  For God’s glory and in light of His love for us, God will pour out revival.  Pray for it!

27 Mar

How to Pray for Revival, Pt 1

As you look at your own heart, are you in need of a revival?  Your local congregation?  The larger church universal?  Is there a great need for revival in our midst?

Here’s what I mean by revival.  Stephen Olford says, “Revival is an invasion from heaven that brings a conscious awareness of God.”  Vance Havner once said that, “Revival is the church falling in love with Jesus all over again.”  I say that revival is hearts being set aflame with love for Christ.

So again, is there a great need for revival in our midst?  I would say that that’s indeed the case.  We need a fresh zeal for God, which only comes through a fresh anointing of God, so that we’ll delight exceedingly in God.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that revival is the work of God, but there’s also no doubt whatsoever that God sends revival to a people who are hungry for it.  As you get desperate for revival, you cry out to God as a beggar, and then He mightily supplies.

If you are hungry for revival, I want to help you cry out to God in your desperation.  I want to help you pray for revival, and I want to help you pray for revival biblically.

One of the key passages exemplifying for us how to pray for revival is Isaiah 63:15-64:12.  The nation of Israel was in dire need of revival as it had come under the strong discipline of God for spiritual apathy, apostasy, and adultery.  The prophet’s prayer is very instructive for us.

1.  Ask God to take notice of your situation
Isaiah prayed, Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation (Isaiah 63:15).  God is an all-knowing, all-seeing God, but you should invite Him to focus in on you, to fix His gaze on you.  Surely the glories of His heavenly abode are more pleasing, but if you’ll only invite Him to take notice of what’s happening with you, perhaps He’ll be moved to compassion.

2.  Beg God to not restrain Himself from you, His covenant people
Isaiah continued, Where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me. For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not recognize us. You, O LORD, are our Father, Our Redeemer from of old is Your name, (Isaiah 63:15-16).  Clearly, the nation of Israel is God’s covenant people, but did you know that if you are in Jesus Christ, you are part of God’s covenant people as well?  Indeed, you are.  He has set His covenantal affection on you.  Remind the Lord of that truth, and ask Him to withhold nothing good, especially Himself.  Trust me:  if the Lord freely gives of Himself, you will lack in nothing good!

3.  Admit that you have strayed from God’s desire for your life
The prophet admitted to God, For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not recognize us, (Isaiah 63:16).  Israel had strayed so far God that their forefather Abraham wouldn’t recognize them.  Is that true of you?  You have been called to be conformed to the spiritual image of Jesus Christ, but do you look anything like Him spiritually?  You should, but if you don’t, admit that to God.  Don’t try to hide stuff from God.  Rather, be transparent before the One before whom you are actually already spiritually naked.

4.  Plead that God would grant repentance instead of giving you over to a reprobate mind
Isaiah utters some hard words here.  He says:

  • Why, O LORD, do You cause us to stray from Your ways And harden our heart from fearing You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage.Your holy people possessed Your sanctuary for a little while, our adversaries have trodden it down.We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, like those who were not called by Your name, (Isaiah 63:17-19).

God hardened the hearts of Israel in their sin.  It’s a scary thought, but you’d better believe that God can do that.  You see, repentance (the ability to turn from sin) is itself is a gift of God.  Therefore, He doesn’t have to give it.  Paul clearly explains as much in 2 Timothy 2:24-26:

  • The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Instead of granting repentance, God could very well give you over to a reprobate mind.  We see Paul explaining how this works in Romans 1:24-32:

  • Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Friend, the thought of being turned over to a reprobate mind should scare you and me to death.  Sin is serious, and we should dare not touch it, lest we never turn from it.  Therefore, in light of your sin, plead that God would grant to you repentance and not turn you over to a reprobate mind.

5.  Call on God to manifest His presence so you’ll be affected
I love the imagery here in Isaiah 64:1-2, Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence— as fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil— to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!  Isaiah is calling on God to make a difference in the life of his people, to affect them in some glorious way.  Set us ablaze and cause us to boil, God.  If God would manifest His presence, you’d better believe that you would never be the same thereafter.  Glory to God for making Himself known in our lives!

6.  Invite God to blow your mind
Isaiah comments, When You did awesome things which we did not expect, You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence, (Isaiah 64:3).  Friend, God is totally able to go above and way beyond your expectations.  He’s able to totally blow your mind in all.  Would ask Him to?  Would you ask Him to something that seems impossible?  Heal that disease?  Save that hard lost person?  Give you just a glimpse of Himself?  Invite God to blow your mind, and then ready yourself to be amazed!

Tomorrow, I’ll post the final six prayer points for revival.  Get on your knees in prayer to God!