ďUnbelief & LustĒGenesis 39:1-21†† 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8†† Nov. 25, 2007

 

SCRIPTURE INTRO:In a sermon series on unbelief.

The thesis of this series is that whenever sins crop up in our livesó

†† whether attitudinal or behavioraló

†† itís a sign of lurking, growing, unbelief in God.

The flip side of the coin, the positive side is that all righteousness,

†† all good deeds in our lives come from faith in God,

†† in his word, both the promises and the warnings.

 

So the way to fight sin in our lives is to battle unbelief,

†† and the way to pursue righteousness and holiness and love,

†† is to fight the good fight of faith.

 

Each week, weíre looking at passages in which believers

†† are struggling with certain sins, trace those sins back to unbelief,

†† and then show how faith helps us overcome.

 

Weíve looked at despondency and at discontent.

†† This morning weíre looking at lust.


INTRO:What is lust?Lust is simply the idolatry of sex.

Through lust, sex becomes an idol that fallen men and women serve

†† in order to find fulfillment apart from a relationship with the God himself.

 

Lust is not just noticing another personís physical beauty or attractiveness.

†† The Bible itself calls attention to the physical beauty of womenó

†† like Sarah and Rachel and Bathsheba and Estheró

†† and to the handsomeness of men, like Joseph, Saul and David.

 

And lust is not just sexual desire.

†† Once again, the Bible affirms sexual desire as part of Godís good creation.

†† He created us as sexual beingsómale and female.

 

But lust is sexual desire out of control.

†† It is a distortion and twisting of sexual desire as God intended it to be,

†† so that it becomes a craving for the things that God forbids.

 

Lust uses people in a self-serving way.

†† Other people become objects that exist for your satisfaction.

†† A person in the grip of lust is driven by a desire to get personal pleasure

†† from a person rather than a desire to serve that person.

Lust is all about taking and giving nothing back.

 

Lust is the first step of all sexual sinsóboth physical and mental

†† and it is the opposite of chastity and purity.

 

And contrary to the common myth, itís not just a temptation for men.

†† The Bibleís warnings about lust are addressed to both men and women.

Itís true that lust usually makes a different appeal to men and women.

†† For men, itís usually the promise of pleasure and power

†† and for women itís usually the promise of affirmation.

 

A manís lust is usually physical, and a womanís lust is usually relational.

Or, as one preacher put it:

†† Men lust, and women lust to be lusted after.

 

But itís still the same sex idolatry, rooted in unbelief.

†† Unbelief in God, his promises, his warnings, and all he has told us

†† about the way he has created us to live before him and with one another.

The world has never regarded lust as a sin against God.

†† There might be certain sexual behaviors that are frowned upon,

†† but the idea that it offends God for me to let my sexual desires

†† go where they want to in my mindóthat doesnít make sense.

Who cares what I think?What does it matter?Who does it hurt?

 

But as Christians, we know better.

†† We know that God demands that we love him and our neighbors,

†† with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.

One of the ways we love him, is through purity of mindó

†† and that means fighting lust.

 

How do you do it?

Point in this sermon series is that sin rooted in unbeliefó

†† and so it is by belief, by faith, that we fight against lust.

 

So letís look at this subject.Iíll be referring to several passages.

Three points for fighting lust.

 

1.You must believe Godís purposes for sex.

2.You must believe Godís warnings about lust.

3.You must believe Godís promises of grace.


MP#1You must believe Godís purposes for sex.

The fight of faith against lust begins by believing what God tells us

†† about his purposes for sex.We are surrounded by lies about sex.

†† We want to believe those lies.They appeal to us.

It takes faith to say:Iím going to believe what God says, and not what world says.

†† So, what does God say about the purposes of sex?Two things.

 

1.The purpose of sex is to symbolize, affirm, and renew marriage.

In marriage, two lives become one.

†† Sex is the symbol of that union of two lives.

 

But it is even more than thatóit is an affirmation of that union.

Sex is a way of saying with your body:

†† I am united with you in every way,

†† physically, emotionally, spiritually, legally, economically, socially.

†† Iím giving myself totally to you, and you are giving yourself totally to me.

And through sex, the marriage covenant is renewed.

 

When Potipharís wife said to Joseph, Come to bed with me.

†† He said:I canít do this, you are my masterís wife.

†† Joseph was not saying, If you werenít married, we could go to bed.

He was saying:Youíre not my wife.Iím not your husband.

†† He was affirming Godís clear teaching on sex.

And the Bible is absolutely clear.

†† The purpose of sex is to symbolize, affirm, and renew

†† the complete, exclusive life union between a man and a womanómarriage.

 

That brings us to the second purpose of sexóitís even bigger.

2.The purpose of sex is to reveal and illustrate Christís love for the church.

Paul says it most clearly in Ephesians:

Quotes Genesis 2:ďTherefore a man will leave his father and mother,

†† and be united to his wife (that marriage) and the two will become one flesh (sex).

†† Then he says:ďThis is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church.Ē

 

Christís love for his bride, the church is an exclusive, committed union,

†† just as God intends marriage to be.

Jesus has bound himself to you.His affections do not wander.

†† He doesnít think about other brides.

 

He has determined that he will live with you and you with him foreveró

†† talking about eternal life and eternal security.

 

Itís interesting that Joseph gave two reasons for not sleeping with Potipharís wife.

†† Youíre not my wife.How could I do this and sin against God?

Joseph knew the exclusive love of the Lord for his people.

†† Knew that marriage pointed to Godís love and union with him personally.

†† And so sex outside of marriage would sin against Godís love.

 

Christís love for the church is the joy of being known, delighted in, and accepted.

Thatís the joy of marriage and the joy of sex in marriageó

†† to be known by someone who delights in you, accepts you,

†† with all your imperfections and shortcomings.

Salvation is not just being forgiven, and back to square one with God.

†† Ok, youíre forgiven, you better be good.

†† It means that he knows you, delights in you.

 

So what does it mean when people have sex outside of marriage?

C.S. Lewis put it best.

Having sex without marriage is like tasting and eating food, then vomiting it up.

†† Itís unnatural for people to separate eating from digestion.

†† But some people do itówe call it bulimia.

I crave food, I crave the taste of it, the eating of itó

†† but I donít want it to become part of me.Donít want it to change me.

 

Thatís sex apart from marriage.

I want your body, but I donít want my life bound up with your life.

†† I donít want to be bound to you legally, socially, emotionally.

†† I want to make own decisions.I donít want you to become a part of me.

†† I donít want to bind my future with yours.Itís eating the food and vomiting it up.

 

Godís purpose so much more beautiful.

†† A man and a woman, saying to each other with their bodiesó

†† I am yours and you are mine completely.

†† I want you to come in to me and be a part of me and change me.

And that in a bigger way pointing to Jesusí exclusive, permanent,

†† affirming, delighting love for you.

Believe what God says about sex, use it against the lies of the world.

†† Itís essential in your fight against lust.


MP#2You must believe Godís warnings about lust.

One of the ways that the Lord helps you is through warnings.

†† This isnít the most important way he helps youóweíll get to that.

†† But he does warn you and you ought to know his warnings and pay attention.

Thatís part of living by faith.To remember Godís warnings.Three.

 

1.Lust can never be satisfied.

Lust demands more from sex than it is able to give.

†† Thatís true of all idolatry.It makes promises it canít keep.

Remember sex is a picture of greater realities.

†† To get to the reality, you have to know God,

†† you have to come into the circle of his love.

 

But the more you feed your lust,

†† the more you let your mind dwell on sinful desires,

†† the more you imagine the things that God forbids

†† the more discontented you will become.

And rather than making you full and satisfied,

†† more and more hungry, less and less satisfied.

 

A number of years ago I befriended a man here in Cullman

†† who was addicted to crack cocaine.I know nothing about the drug world.

†† Asked him onceódescribe your addiction to me.

He pointed to the table and saidóif there was a line of crack on the tableó

†† I would start smoking it,

†† I wouldnít sleep, I wouldnít eat, I wouldnít go to bathroom until finishedó

†† and when I was done, I would feel terrible and would want some more.

Lust is also a desire that is out of control.

 

Thatís the reason lust can lead to such anger.

†† When Potipharís wife was frustratedóshe didnít say, oh welló

†† she tried to murder Joseph.She accused him of a capital crime.

Only reason not put to death, Lord intervened.

 

Thatís why lust can destroy a marriage.

†† A spouse canít provide the infinite pleasure and affirmation that lust demands.

†† And no other man or woman can either.

†† Lust is idolatry and idolatry is never satisfied.

 

2.Lust will send you to hell.

Paul, 1 Thessalonians says Lord will punish men for lustó

†† ďHe who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God

†† who gives you his Holy Spirit.Ē

If you reject Godís instructions to fight lust and sexual immoralityó

†† then you reject God and his Holy Spirit.

Rejecting the Holy Spirit is a way the Bible describes spiritual death.

 

Jesus, in Matthew 5 says that if you look on a woman with lust,

†† committed adultery.If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.

†† Better to enter heaven maimed, than hell with both eyes.

Understand whatís at stakeólust is a deadly sin.

†† Jesus is saying, if you donít fight lust, you wonít go to heaven, go to hell.

 

Someone may ask:Does this mean a person can lose his salvation?

†† No.This is just another way of saying that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ.

†† What is faith?What is true, saving faith that gets you to heaven?

True saving faith is always sin-fighting faith.

 

If you donít fight lust, then you donít have faith.

Because the fight for sexual purity is faith.

†† Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:

†† ďFight the good fight of faith: take hold of eternal life.Ē

 

There are countless church-going people, especially in the Bible Belt

†† who think that faith in God is one thing and the fight for holiness is another thing.

Faith gets you to heaven, holiness gets you rewards.

†† So the battle for obedience is optional, fighting sin is optional,

†† because only a profession of faith is necessary for salvation.

Even if I donít fight sin, Iíll still get to heaven because I have faith in Christ.

 

But our response to that must beóno you donít.

The battle for obedience is faith in Christ.

†† The Gospel is Godís victory over sin in our lives, not his tolerance of sin.

 

Jesus says:ďBlessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.Ē

†† That is Godís demand, and itís also Godís giftó

And that brings us to the third point.


MP#3You must believe Godís promises of grace.

So far in this sermon, everything Iíve said is true,

†† in needed to be said and we need to know it.

But if I stopped here, this would be a totally worthless sermon.

 

And this is the reasonóyou will always fail if you try to fight lust

†† with prohibitions and threats aloneóeven if they come out of the Bible.

In other words, if all you have to go on is that the Bible says sex is for marriage,

†† and that if you give in to lust you will be unsatisfied and go to helló

†† that wouldnít help you very much.

 

Because you canít fight lust with prohibitions and threats.

†† they just weigh you down and scare youóbut donít give you any power.

And on top of that, judged by the standards of Jesus weíre all guilty.

†† Is there anyone here who is not?

The only thing that will give you strength to fight lust and overcome it,

†† is believing the promises of Godís grace.

 

Let me tell you two stories about lust and Godís grace.

First is in the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 12.

†† David saw Bathsheba bathing, he lusted, he acted on his lust.

†† She got pregnant.To cover up their affair, he arranged for Uriah her husband

†† to be killed in battleóyou know the story.

 

But the prophet Nathan cameóconfronted DavidóYou are the man.

†† David confessed his sin to Nathan and to Godóembraced Godís mercy.

Nathan said, you will not dieóbut the son born to you and Bathsheba will die.

†† Why did his son have to die?

†† Was it punishment for Davidís sin?

†† Was God saying, Iíll forgive, but I want you to suffer some?

 

No, much deeper than that.

†† One of those great OT foreshadowings of Christ.

†† Davidís son died as a substitute for his fatherís lust.

In dying, that son of David pointed forward to another Son of David.

†† Jesus also died as a substitute for your lust.

†† He took the death and damnation so that you can receive Godís mercy.

 

Trust in him, and he will forgive you.

†† Meditate on his suffering and death for you and that will give you strength

†† to fight against lust and every other sin.

 

Second story is in the New Testament, in John 8.

†† Woman brought before Jesus who was caught in adultery.

†† Moses commanded us to stone a person guilty of this sexual sin.

It was a political set up, Pharisees trying to trap Jesusóhe knew it.

†† Remember what Jesus did, bent down, began to write in the dust.

†† Donít know what he wrote, but it shamed men, one by one, they left.

 

Then he said to the woman.Does no one condemn you?

†† Sir, no one.

†† Neither do I condemn you.Go and sin no more.

 

How could Jesus say that?How could he sayóyouíre guiltyóyouíve sinned.

†† Youíve lusted and committed adulteryóthe law contemns you to death,

†† and yet he didnít condemn her but drove her accusers away?

Jesus always upheld the law of God, he kept it perfectly.

†† So how could he say to heróyouíre guilty but not condemned?

 

He was able to say that because he took her condemnation.

He didnít condemn her because he knew that he would take

†† the stones that she deserved, and the nails, and the deathó

†† so that in his sight, and in Godís sight she could be holy and blameless.

And this was not a forgiveness that left her unchanged.

†† Because then Jesus saidóGo and sin no more.

 

Jesus comes to you in the same way today.

Lust and sexual sin are a terrible weightó

†† the accusations of Satan and your own conscience can weigh you down.

†† The standards of God and the warnings against lust can be a burden and terror.

 

But when you believe the promises of God, come to Christ,

†† you can know that you are washed clean by his death,

†† and are enabled to fight lust to the death,

†† and live a pure life in mind and body, by the power of the Holy Spirit.