Sexuality defines my generation. Our identities are wrapped in our sexual preferences, our self-worth is defined by the state of our latest relationships, and hidden secrets isolate us from close friends and family. But I think similar problems affect all generations, not just my own.
IS SEXUAL SIN THAT BIG OF A DEAL?
Pornography addiction. Premarital sex. Lust. Homosexual attraction. Extramarital affair. Do you ever feel like sins are “ranked” in their importance, and that all of the ones having to do with sex are the worst? None of us is immune from the temptation to choose what is easy and pleasurable over what is holy and life-giving.
Culture demands that we fulfill our wants and desires, unapologetically revealing our “truest selves” to the world. We are encouraged to become hedonists, pursuing pleasure and happiness at all costs. Without perspective, it can seem like God is uncompassionate to us when He sets us apart with certain standards by which to live our lives. Why wouldn’t God want us to just be happy?
You may have decided to read this blog post because something doesn’t feel right anymore. What originally was enjoyable, fun, and freeing now feels like a rock in your stomach. Sin is enticing and exciting. But under the surface, it is poisoning and destructive.
In infinite wisdom and goodness, our God, much like a caring parent, sets up guardrails to keep us from harming ourselves. Sexual sin carries so much weight because even after we repent and receive forgiveness, we still have the scars of our actions. The cravings of addiction may dull, but they do not go away. Attractions linger. Time doesn’t erase the memories that fill you with regret and shame.
So yes, sexual sin is a big deal. Sin of any kind separates us from God. Sexual sin spoils God’s perfect intention for sex, intimacy, and the relationships we are meant to enjoy. Anything outside of God’s design for sex is outside of His best for us. We should value God’s design for sex and our relationships, being wise to set up safeguards and to live lives that are pleasing to God.
So…what if you (or, I mean, your friend) have already crossed a line? What if you’re living a life of habitual sexual sin? Is it too late?
GRACE UPON GRACE
Knowing the weight and the cost of sexual sin, we may begin to hear the whisper of the Enemy that there is no recovery, no treatment, no cleansing, no redemption. This is a lie! There is nothing we can do to extinguish the love of God. (See Romans 8:1) We’re just not that powerful. Jon Weese notes, “There is more grace in God than sin in people.”
“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ,” (John 1:16-17).
You cannot take away what has already transpired. But you can declare a fresh start with the mercies of God. They are new every single morning. Ask God for forgiveness. Ask for forgiveness from those affected by your actions. Accept forgiveness. Then live like it.
Repentance alone does not take away our desire for sin. The deeper we go into sexual sin, the more enslaved we become. Therefore, we must be intentional to keep from backsliding. With the power and grace of Christ, we can be freed from the sin that entangles our lives and our hearts. Start here:
1. Name it. If you want to give up your sexual sin, you have to say it out loud. Speak it to God. Recount it to a trusted friend who wants to help you look more like Christ. Hear it in your own voice with your own ears! Sin breeds in the darkness. Bring it in to the light of day, and it loses its power. Naming it will also lead you into action…
2. Alter your environment. Saying it is the start. You must physically remove yourself from the situations where sexual sin takes place. Do you need to start leaving your electronics in the living room at night? Should you stop coming back to your apartment with your partner after dates? Is it time to let your spouse have access to your private messages? Should you stop watching those movies, end that friendship, or find a new favorite coffee shop? If it removes you from a tempting situation, YES! Be a proactive participant in your liberation.
3. Find accountability. That trusted individual who listened to you confess your sin can also hold you to a new standard. Give them permission to check in with you on a regular basis. Promise to be honest with them. Ask them to help you set up safeguards. Listen as they challenge you to change things you won’t want to. We can’t break out of bondage alone. Solomon tells us that “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up,” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
4. Receive grace (and keep receiving it). If you fall back into sin and need to start over, start over. Do not ever let the Enemy convince you that you are too far gone or that God has run out of grace. Do not ever let the Enemy define you by your sin. Receive grace from God and receive grace from your brothers and sisters in Christ. “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light.” (Ephesians 5:8)
Do you know the weight that is removed by repentance? Do you know the lengths God went to free you from the sin that seeks to destroy you? It is by God’s grace we have been saved, friends. Embrace it fully.