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February 21, 2010
When Tolerance Becomes Intolerable – Part 5
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Revelation 2: 18-29

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This series provides insight into Jesus' master plan for the church today. We cannot afford to ignore what Jesus thinks of the church. You've Got Mail will help deepen your understanding of the church and the essential elements necessary to remain healthy, holy, and faithful in today's society.

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And go back to Revelations 2:18, the never ending sermon on the church at Thyatira. There’s one more to come. This might be a record. It’ll be part six by next week, but we’re actually in a little miniseries. We’re not so much exactly in the letter. I was using it to take a look at the issue of purity and fidelity within marriage and outside of marriage, and we’ll come back to look at it this morning. “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, these things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass. I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.
I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps my works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations.” Then Jesus here quotes from a messianic psalm, Psalm 2, which anticipates not only His first coming but His second coming. This takes us to the millennial kingdom when Jesus comes back to rule the nations, Revelation chapter 20:27 here. “He shall rule them with a rod of iron. They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels. I also have received from my father and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit is saying to the churches.”
A young man went to the barbershop one day. Following his haircut, he had a shave and a cute young lady gave him a manicure and he was attracted to her and so he started kind of flirting with her. He asked her, “Why don’t you go out with me tonight when you get done with work?” She said, “I can’t. I’m married.” The young wolf replied, “That doesn’t bother me. Just call your husband and tell him that you had to work late and then you and I can go out.” She replied, “Why don’t you tell him? He’s shaving you.” It’s a great illustration of the fact that sexual transgression is a cutthroat sin. Sexual transgression is a cutthroat sin. It is a sin that breaks hearts. It is a sin that dirties minds. It is a sin that weakens bodies. It is a sin that destroys marriages. It is a sin that cripples children. It is a sin, most of all, that offends a holy God. And it is a sin that if unrepented of, damns souls. There’s nothing casual about casual sex. The forbidden fruit of sexual sin is a poisoned apple.
And we’ve been coming to terms with that, coming to grips with that. We were introduced to that thought here in our exposition of the 7 Churches of Asia Minor. We’ve come to the church at Thyatira and lying at the bottom of Christ’s controversy with them is the fact that sexual sin had invaded this church. That their moral standards had been lowered. That they had indeed been seduced by a false prophetess who taught them that sexual immorality wasn’t a big deal. Jesus straightens that issue out in their minds. He promises to destroy Jezebel and those who committed adultery with her and even to kill the offspring. This is a very serious sin. We see it here in the promised discipline of Christ towards this church. And we have kind of camped there for a while and we’re going to do it again this morning and next Sunday morning because this is a real issue for all of us. None of us are beyond the reach of the allure of sexual temptation and we try to get our heads and our hearts around the fact that that sexual sin is serious. It’s a very serious sin.
It has certain costs and certain consequences to it that in fact other sins don’t carry with them. And we went, as an excursion from our text, over the 1 Corinthians chapter six, and I invite you to take your Bible and come with me there as we kind of look at this for the last time this morning. Because in 1 Corinthians chapter six, Paul outlines the serious nature of sexual sin beginning in verse 13. He shows us five things about sexual sin that should remind us how great of an offense it is to God and how great a danger it is to us. If you were with us, you’ll know that we have noted three things so far. When we commit sexual sin, we commit it with a body that’s destined for heaven. Our body’s destined for heaven, therefore, our bodies should be abusive operations for God’s will and God’s work in this world. You and I should keep our body for holy things and heavenly things because our body is destined to be glorified someday in the presence of Jesus Christ.
That’s what Paul says here, “Just as God raised Christ, so He will also raise us up by His power.” Our bodies are destined to be glorified in the presence of God someday, therefore even now under grace, by the blood of Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit, let’s use our bodies to glorify God now because that’s their destiny. Secondly, we saw that if you and I commit sexual sin, we join Christ to our sin. This was an amazing thought, wasn’t it? Paul reminds us that sex is glue. God intended the intimacy between now one man and one woman to be a bonding event and a bonding experience and you and I cannot join ourselves to someone casually without indisengaging, tearing our soul apart. Sex is powerful, it’s glue. And when we join ourselves to someone else in physical intimacy, we join our whole selves to them. You can’t park your soul outside of that event. That’s Paul’s argument here and he says, “And the Christian must remember, not only do the two become one, but since we’re one with Christ, are we going to join Christ to a harlot?”
No, that’s unthinkable that you and I would do that. Then we saw thirdly that sexual sin carries with it a heavy price physically and psychologically. Physically and psychologically, sexual sin takes a heavier toll on our bodies than any other sin. It is a unique sin. It is a grave sin. It is a great sin, and with it there comes physical hurt and psychological damage. Just ask anybody who’s had to grapple with this issue. I encourage you to get the CD if you missed last Sunday morning’s message, but we’re picking up where we left off. He’s got two more arguments here, two more bullets in his gun. So let’s pick up here in 1 Corinthians 6 and let’s go down to verse 19. This is the fourth argument, “And do you not know?” Okay, wants them to know certain things. Here’s another thing he wants them to know. “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have from God and you are not your own?” Paul’s fourth plea regarding a cross engendered Christ-centered purity is that the Holy Spirit has made of us a habitation and a home.
What a radical truth. And you have to understand this in the context of that day where you had the temple, this great edifice dominating the skyline of the city of Jerusalem and up until Jesus came, that’s where people went to worship, but Jesus said, didn’t He to the woman at the well and John 4? “There’s coming a day when you won’t have to go up to this mountain or come to this place.” And that day has come. Jesus has died for our sins. According to the scriptures, He rose on the third day and He had to leave that the spirit might come and the spirit has come. And the spirit of God has come to make a home and a habitation of you and me. Somebody should say amen.
Congregation (10:14):
Philip De Courcy (10:15):
God has made us His residence. That’s a powerful, powerful thought. See, Paul is snowballing here in his argumentation, a Christian’s body belongs to the Lord. He told us that in verse 13 and 14. A Christian’s body is a member of Christ’s body, he told us that in verses 15 and 16. And now he’s saying, and a Christian’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. There are no mere Christians. You and I are the temple of God. Our bodies are not simply physical shells. Try and remember that your body is not a physical shell or a set of clothes. It’s a sacred edifice. And what’s true of the church as a whole, because Paul describes the whole church in 1 Corinthians 3:16 as the temple of God so it’s true of the Christian individually. You and I need to keep this in mind. There needs to almost be a wow factor when we meet another Christian because God has made of them a home. I don’t know about you, but I’ve visited some spectacular homes in my lifetime. I’ve stood outside Buckingham Palace in London. I have stood inside John Knox’s home in Scotland.
I have stood on the door of John Calvin’s home in France. I’ve taken like you have, the Hollywood Stars tour over in North Hollywood and stopped outside different Hollywood stars’ homes. This last year I was at the Biltmore Estates in North Carolina, one of the biggest homes in America built by the Vanderbilts and what an edifice. And I myself, I know you don’t believe this, but I have stood inside the Oval Office in the White House. I’ve visited a lot of big homes and important places and yet I’ve tried to remind myself just as I thought about all the places I’ve visited that actually the Bible says here that I’m a temple of the Holy Spirit. And every time I meet a Christian, when you and I talk to each other and engage each other, there needs to be a wow factor because I’m looking into the eyes that are really windows into the soul of a man who’s in union with the spirit of God. That’s a fantastic thought. That’s a revolutionary radical thought. The temple of God in Jerusalem is no longer the structure in which God dwells. In the Old Testament, God had a temple for His people, but in the New Testament God has a people for His temple.
People like to go and visit holy sights. You’re a holy sight. When you stand somewhere, it’s sacred ground because you’re the temple of the Holy Spirit and that should bring a seriousness and a sacredness and a joy and an excitement to all that we do. God has changed the dress in terms of His residency. God lives in us in flesh and blood and in a sense when you touch the body of a believer, you touch heaven. In fact, I will not spend a lot of time here, but it is interesting. There’s two Greek words available to Paul here when he talks about the temple, [inaudible 00:13:53] and naus. The word [inaudible 00:13:58] describes the outer temple, the whole structure itself from the outer court to the inner court. Naus is the word that’s used for the holy place. You know a little bit of your Bible and you know that at the tabernacle in the temple there was a place divided by a curtain that only the high priest could go into once a year. That curtain was torn right when Jesus died reminding us that we are now all priests and we have become a temple. We don’t need Levitical priests and we don’t need Roman priests.
We have been me priests in Christ and our bodies have become the temple. Guess what word Paul uses here? Your body. Do you not know your body is the naus, the holy of hollies for God? That’s powerful and that reminds you and I of a profound implication which Paul makes here in the context of sexual immorality. Sexual sin, write this down and think about it. Sexual sin is desecration. Sexual sin is desecration because if you and I are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we’re a holy sight, we’re sacred ground, we’re in dwelled by God’s spirit. Then when you and I give ourselves in an immoral act with our bodies, we’re desecrating that which is holy and set apart for the Lord’s use. I think you have been following the story I have, of somebody’s burning down churches in Texas. And can raises our hands up in horror. I mean, what kind of wharf mind would burn down churches in communities? And yet we forget that sexual immorality is a form of desecration. Sexual sin is sacrilege.
It’s taking the holy and profaning it. Fornication characterized the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love in Corinth. But you know what? Sexual immorality should never take place in the temple of the Holy Spirit. Have you ever thought about meeting somewhere here on this property for an illicit encounter? Have you? You say, pastor, don’t go there. I think we’d all like to assume that thought wouldn’t enter any one of our minds. I don’t want to think even about that, but do think about the fact that should you let your moral guard down and get involved in premarital or extramarital sex, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Because you are the church and your body is the temple and sexual sin is an act of sacrilege and desecration. And so those two thoughts are not that far apart. And I think sometimes we forget that sexual sin is an abuse of God’s property. Our body belongs to God and to our spouses if we’re married, not to anyone else. That’s his fourth argument. Here’s the fifth argument, is to piggyback of this one.
For you, verse 20, “You were bought at a price and therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit which are God’s.” Given all that he has said, the message should be getting through by now loud and clear that our bodies are not ours to sin with. Our bodies belong to the Lord. Our bodies are part of the body of Christ. Our bodies are now a temple of the Holy Spirit in this dispensation. Yeah, these bodies are Christ’s because He bought them with a price and although Paul does not specify what that price was, we know what it was, don’t we? As we read the New Testament, it was the blood of God’s own son. 1 Peter 1:19, “We are not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” Acts 20:28 where Paul encourages shepherds to be shepherds, to be among the flock, pastoring them, leading them by example. And he says, “Hey, you need to do that because it’s your job to guard the flock and be among the flock and lead the flock. This flock bought by the blood of God.”
We belong to Him. We’re not our own. Listen, because our culture tells us the opposite, we are not free to do with ourselves what we want to do with ourselves. That’s not the issue publicly speaking. We are free to do what God wants us, which is true freedom because the bird was made for the air and the fish was made for the ocean and the soul of man was made for God and the body. We were made by God and for God and true freedom comes in servitude to Jesus Christ. We are not our own. We are not free to do what we want. If we’ll do what God wants, bet we’ll find true freedom. If we do what we want, I’ll tell you what we’ll find. We’ll not find freedom, we’ll find bondage. We’ll find ourselves imprisoned to our impulses and desires. Life is at its best when it’s lived according to the maker’s manual. We who were originally made to reflect God’s image have been bought back after Adam’s sin, bought back in Christ and now we are to take those bodies and glorify God with them. They were made to reflect his image and now in Christ they are been bought again to glorify Him.
Our bodies must be instruments of righteousness and I think you get the point then, right? Our bodies are not ours to give away then in forbidden sexual pursuit or pleasure. We cannot take that which belongs to Christ and join it to another outside the will of God and against the purposes of redemption. See, when it comes to sex and sexuality, you’ve only got one option and that is to abstain from sexual immorality and to possess your body in honor. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, if you’re single, that means you keep your body for another. If you’re dating, that means you keep your hands off your date because her body’s not yours. According to 1 Corinthians 7, our bodies belong to our spouses and nobody else. And what are we doing? Perhaps playing with another man’s property because many dating relationships never end up in marriage. If we’re single, we need to keep our bodies for another. And if we’re dating, we need to keep our hands to ourselves. And if we’re married, we need to keep our bodies solely for the pleasure of our spouse and drink water from our own well.
That’s what we read in Proverbs 5:15 and that’s simply euphemism for having sex with your own wife. She’s your well of life and happiness and joy and you’re her well of sexual fulfillment and friendship. A young actress was talking to an old minister at a social gala. They were talking about a number of things and the conversation changed towards the change in moral climate. And the minister asked the young actress, “Let me ask you a question, would you sleep or live with a man if he offered you a million dollars?” The girl said, “A girl would be foolish not to.” Minister nodded and said, “Well, tell me this. Would you sleep or live with a man if he offered you $50?” To which a young actress replied, “What kind of girl do you take me for?” To which the minister applied, “We already know what kind of girl you are. We’re just trying to determine the price.” You’d like to have been to the right side of that conversation. You see, those who have been bought with the blood of Christ are not for sale at any price because their bodies are not theirs.
Their bodies belong to the Lord. Their bodies are part of the body of Christ. Their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and their bodies belong to Jesus Christ. Five reasons here as to why you and I need to grasp the fact that sexual sin is serious because we commit it with a body destined for heaven. We join Christ to our sin. We pay a heavy price physically and psychologically. We defile God’s temple and we defraud God’s son. Now, let’s for a few moments go back to Revelation chapter two and then we’re going to go somewhere else. But we’ve looked at the progression, we’ve looked at the transgression. Now I want us to look at the aggression, the aggression. And that takes us into verses 24 through 29, “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan as they say, I will put on you no other burden but hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes and keeps my works until the end, to him, I will give power over the nations.
He shall rule them with a rod of iron. He shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.” And Jesus promises again, “That which I received from my father. I’ll give to you and I’ll give to you the morning star.” The text now is moving from the thought of transgression to aggression and what we have in mind here is Jesus’ future return, the great smackdown with our world gone wild when Jesus comes back to put an end of man’s rebellion and lawlessness and He will deal with the lawless one Himself. He seems to be an abridgment of all Godless history And so do the rest in Thyatira, that’s those who weren’t her children, that’s those who weren’t in adultery with her. It’s the faithful remnant, those not touched by this sin of sexual immorality. Those who hadn’t surrendered their Christian beliefs, who didn’t hold it as doctrine and those who hadn’t surrendered their Christian behavior and sank down to the depths of Satan. Those who had fought one more round and as Jesus comes and finds others falling, He finds a group within the church who are not falling.
They have not been overcome by the world, but by their faith they have overcome the world. He calls them the overcomers, doesn’t He? In verse 26. And to the overcomers, He says, “There’s come in a day when I will overcome and if you won’t surrender your belief or your behavior, you’re going to enter into my victory someday. You are going to reign with me. If you don’t let sin reign in your body, you’ll reign with me in the kingdom.” That’s the argument here. Now, I’ll explain that a lot more next week, but here’s the point I want us to get and it’ll kind of be a turning point for the remainder of the sermon this morning. Jesus was saying, “Look, your present faithfulness and your present fidelity in the matters of morality and sexuality, it will lead to future reward. As Jezebel and her litter will pay for their sins retrospectively, so the remnant will be repaid for their faithfulness prospectively.” That’s what He’s saying here. Here’s the point if you wanted to put it in a memorable form.
You control yourself now and someday later when I control all things you will enter into my reign and my reward. Control yourself now because someday I’m going to control all things. There is no freedom in lawlessness, only judgment and bondage. But you make a slave of yourself to me and you will enter into eternal freedom and favor. That’s what he’s saying here, isn’t He? Okay, to those who haven’t bought into the doctrine, those who haven’t fallen into the depths of Satan, I’m going to put no other burden on you other than we’ll get to it in a moment, hold fast what you have till I come. Remain standing. And here’s how you remain standing. Here’s how you persevere. Remember that your present faithfulness, even with the trouble that it brings and the cost that you have to pay, will be worthwhile in the future. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is famous for saying this, “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”
I love that quote because that’s says something to the Christian. You and I can be extraordinarily patient and we can persevere because we will get our own way in the end. Jesus is going to reign, where the sun does its success of journey’s run and we will enter into His kingdom and His reign and it will be worth it all when we see Jesus. And when you’re before the computer screen or there’s a situation at work, or you’re dealing with a struggle in your heart, remember that. Fight through, fight one more round because in the end it will be worth it. The temporary pleasure isn’t worth it. The cost that comes run to bite you isn’t worth it, but present faithfulness in the light of ultimate reward is worth it. Control yourselves, He says, because someday I’m going to control all things. He says this, “Look, I’m not going to put any other burden on you.” That’s an interesting phrase, no other burden.
It seems to assume that there was a burden on them and most common [inaudible 00:29:40] agree that this seems to clearly… He goes back to Acts chapter 15. Go back to Acts 15:29. This is the council of Jerusalem, the church’s meeting in a crisis, the fledgling early church. The Judaizers are wreaking havoc among some of the young churches. Some are arguing that in order to be a full Christian, you need to be a partial Jew. You need to be circumcised, you need to come under some of the restrictions and regulations of the Mosaic Law. And so they sit down under the spirit before the word and they come to this conclusion, no, we’re not going to put that on the Gentiles. Circumcision’s for the covenant people of Israel, the Jew by birth and by nature. So they come up with this. Look at chapter 15:29, look at the wording. In fact, let’s back up into verse 28. “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these things necessary, that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled and from sexual immorality.”
Now, we have been studying this letter for some weeks so you better be able to answer this question. Two of those things are mentioned, aren’t they, in this letter to the church at Thyatira? She has seduced my servants into what? Eating food sacrificed to idols. Acts 15:29 forbids it. And she seduced my servants into sexual immorality. Acts 15:29 forbids it. Of the four stipulations mentioned by the apostles back there, Jesus addresses two of them here in the church at Thyatira. And so when He says this guys hold fast, stand up for Jesus as soldiers of the cross. I put no other burden on you. I just want you to stop eating food sacrifice to idols and I want you to stop committing sexual immorality. And as we saw last week, there’s a special emphasis on sexual immorality for although Jesus in Revelation 2 addresses both those issues, sexual immorality and food eaten that was given the idols, He does single out sexual immorality because when he calls Jezebel to repentance, He singles out the act of sexual immorality and He singles out those who have committed adultery with her and His promise is to throw them into great tribulation.
So here’s the point, and I’m setting myself up for a few minutes here and in segue into the next Sunday morning. In this aggression, this future aggression spoken up by Christ, the millennial kingdom and this challenge to control ourselves because someday He’s going to control all things. Don’t run with the herd, don’t go with the crowd because someday that crowd and that herd is going to face a returning vengeful Christ. So His point here is what? Persevere in purity, hold fast, stand tall, don’t fall over. And I think the big issue is sexual immorality. And remember back in 1 Corinthians 6:18, in the middle of those five reasons to consider sexual sin serious, Paul says what? 1 Corinthians 6:18 he says this, “Flee sexual immorality.” It’s a present tense imperative. Keep on fleeing, keep on fighting. It’s a strong command. It conjures up the idea of Joseph, doesn’t it? Fleeing from Potiphar’s wife, leaving his coat, keeping his character. You and I are to flee from sexual immorality and leave no forwarding address.
Now, there’s young people here this morning. I see many of you. Here’s a good question. How far is too far? In fact it’s not a good question, actually. It’s a wrong question. That’s not the question to ask, how far can I go? It seems to be how far can you flee? That’s the issue in the New Testament. Don’t trust yourself because your self can’t be trusted. Stay as far away from that which entices you to inflame passions too early in your life, passions you’re not ready to express or fulfill. Flee it. And what’s true for young people is true for any one of us. We’re all fighting either premarital sex or extramarital sex or abnormal sex. Shouldn’t be named once among us. We need as the church to be fleeing and not leaving the world a forwarding address. That’s God’s will for us. You’ll get it over in 1 Thessalonians 4:3. 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God.” You’ve been wondering what the will of God for you is, I’ll give you a big part of it. Here it is. This is the will of God for you, your sanctification, your holiness, okay? That you should abstain from sexual immorality.
I mean, you got to get up every morning and realize, okay, there’s many thing God wants me to do today. There’s many things He’s called me to be today, that Jesus saved of me for a purpose and here’s one of them. Today, Sunday morning and then when you get up in the morning Monday morning, I have got to abstain from sexual immorality. That’s the game plan for this week, okay? That’s one of the big players in God’s kingdom and you and I need to keep that in front of us all the time. We are to abstain from sexual immorality. And please don’t be thinking that that simply means the illicit sexual act. That can be illicit foreplay, that can be dirty lustful thinking, that can be a whole host of things. This isn’t just a virgin body, this is a virgin mind. This is a virgin life. That’s what it means to avoid or abstain from sexual immorality. And you and I must indeed persevere in purity. And starting this morning, I’m going to look at a number of ways you and I can do that. We need to learn how to tackle this sin.
Remember the Reggie White of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Minister of Defense as he was known? He was actually also a lay preacher. Well, on one occasion during a particular game, Reggie was beating his blocker continually. The ball would be snapped. Reggie would’ve hit the blocker. He had sacked the quarterback. Next play, he’d make an inside run. The quarterback would go down again. He would defeat his blocker every time. So after a series of these and knocking the blocker over for one more time, Reggie came back, put his hand out to the blocker, pulled him to his feet, and as he did so, he said this like a good Christian, “Jesus loves you and I love you, but you’ve got to learn how to block.” We’ve all got to learn how to block the tackle of sexual temptation. Let’s make a start. Keep writing notes, keep getting the CDs, give these out to friends and family. Number one, and this is where we want to start, be biblically balanced. When it comes to sex and sexuality and dealing with it both in the good and the bad, be biblically balanced.
One of the fears I have in a message like this is that you and I would overreact. Don’t overreact and flee from sex. We’re told in the Bible to flee from sexual immorality, not to flee from sex at the right time and the right place with the right person. Sex is a gift. It’s a pleasurable thing and God intended it to be that. And as Christians, we shouldn’t speak with embarrassment. We should certainly speak with a certain decorum, but we shouldn’t speak with embarrassment. The Bible isn’t silent on the issues of sex and sexuality. God doesn’t want this blessing to be turned into a curse in your life and my life. God intends for most of us to enjoy sexual union and physical intimacy and to thank Him for it. Have you thanked God recently for that in your prayers? Why not? It’s one of the gifts and fruits of His creation. He doesn’t want us to be spoiled by immoral or illicit sex. No, heterosexual, monogamous, covenant love between couples in marriage is a beautiful thing.
You know what Proverbs says? Proverbs 18:22, “A man who finds a wife finds a good thing.” And one of the good things he’ll find with his wife his sexual intimacy because when God made the man and woman male and female and He brought them together throughout that week, we hear this word again and again and again. It’s good, it’s good, it’s good. It’s not good that man should be alone, so for Adam comes Eve. They come together and we’re back to it’s good, it’s very good. So let’s be biblically balanced. Let’s not overreact and flee from sex. In the original creation, everything that God did was good and intended for good and that included the coming together of Adam and Eve, not Steve, into sexual union. For the two shall become one flesh. And there’s no guilt attached in the Bible to proper sexuality and sex, no guilt whatsoever. In fact, there’s a celebration of it in one book. If you weren’t there last Sunday night, you missed a treat with Pastor Chris Mueller, that CD should be available soon enough.
He did a message on romantic love from the book of the Song of Solomon, a book which celebrates romantic love. And it’s quite detailed, so much so that young Jewish men weren’t allowed to read it until they were pretty well full developed in mind and body. The Bible’s not embarrassed by this issue. Not only is the act good, but the fruit is good. I don’t have time to turn to these, but do you realize there are several reasons that God gave us the gift of sex? One, intimacy and knowledge, Genesis 4:1. You read that when Adam and Eve came together, it says they knew each other. That’s one of the euphemisms for the sexual act, knowledge. They knew each other. There’s an intimacy there. There’s a mystery there and that’s one of the reasons God gave us that gift. We get to know each other in a very intimate way. Oneness, Genesis 2:24. Comfort, Genesis 24:67. Procreation or the creation of life. Go forth and multiply, Genesis 1:28. Recreation and pleasure. See, there are those even within Christian traditions that argue that sex was only for procreation. No it wasn’t. It was for recreation.
Read the book of Proverbs chapter five. Solomon’s talking to his son and he’s saying, “Hey, don’t listen to the seductress.” Be careful about the hottie at school because she’s a trap. She’s an endless pet of trouble and trial and what’s true for a son would be true for a girl, but he says, “Hey, you keep yourself for your wife someday and drink water from your own well and let her…” This is the word of God, not me, the word of God. “Let her breasts satisfy you and be enraptured by her love.” Enraptured. When they just lose their way and look like they’re being snatched by some alien and they’re walking about not knowing who they are because they’re beginning to get a sense of how intoxicating love can be in its full expression within marriage. It’s a very pleasurable thing. The Bible says that. And then it helps us to avoid temptation. Post-fall, Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 that it’s better to marry than to burn, better to marry than to burn.
One of the rules of marriage is to give an outlet for these sexual desires and passions, and therefore one of the blessings of being in a marriage is that you have a God-given and God-ordained outlet for that which is good and natural. Sex was God’s idea. Okay? Not Hugh Hefner. He knows nothing, nothing about sex. God’s idea is that sex is a good thing and given for good purposes. Sex was God’s idea. Fashioned for marriage, intended for intimacy, created for procreation and designed for pleasure. Sex at the right time with the right person in the right context is good and beautiful and in that way is like fire. Okay? A fire in a hearth on a Saturday night with a good movie and a bowl of popcorn and your loved one right in your arms on the couch. That’s a good thing. It’s warm, it’s inviting. You’re glad that you’re done with your week’s work and that’s a moment to enter into and enjoy. But if your kid’s out in your carriage lighting matches by a kerosene lamp, not a good thing.
Same with sex. Fire in its place is good, warm and inviting far outside its place is devastating. Sex is the world defines it as bad. Sex is the Bible defines it as good and is to be commanded and celebrated. Let’s not overreact and every parent of a teenager needs to strike that balance. Talk about the prohibitions and the dangers and the costs, but also talk about how it is a good thing. Fight pleasure with pleasure and have that son or that daughter keep themselves for that great night when God will allow them to taste the good wine of love in the arms of someone they have committed to for the rest of their life in purity and virginity. That’s a beautiful thing. And every parent needs to be careful because we can overreact and all we ever talk about in relation to sex is the negative. There’s always a danger to that. We can become prudish. We can become disobedient to God’s cultural mandates.
I like the words here of Vaughan Roberts, Church of England minister, a friend of ours is actually on his staff. He says this in his book, Turning Points, “We have managed to give the impression that God is against sex in some Christian circles and the great heroes are virgins. The implication being there is something inherently wrong about sex. No doubt it was such a negative teaching that led to the behavior of one Victorian bride who reputedly drugged herself on her wedding night and laughed a note for her husband, which read, do your worst.” What? This is a good gift from a good God and in the right place at the right time with the right person. It’s as far away from that kind of thinking as you and I could imagine. Give me five minutes. Second thought, love your spouse passionately and physically. Love your spouse passionately and physically. Let’s go over to 1 Corinthians chapter seven, and let me read it from the Living translation. Go there, stay there for the last five minutes or so here. 1 Corinthians 7:2.

“Because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy, which is her right as a married woman, nor should the wife deprive her husband. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband and the husband also gives authority over his body to his wife. So do not deprive each other of sexual relations. The only exception to this rule would be the agreement of both husband and wife to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited period so that they can give themselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, they should come together again so that see it won’t be able to tempt them because of their lack of self-control. This is only my suggestion, it’s not meant to be an absolute rule. I wish everybody could get along without being married just as I do, but we are not all the same. God gives some the gift of marriage and to others, He gives the gift of singleness.
Now, I say to those who aren’t married and to the widows, it’s better to stay unmarried just as I am. But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust.” That is one of the most critical passages in sex and sexuality in the New Testament. Some day it deserves a fuller treatment by me, but we’re making an argument, we’re learning to tackle like Reggie White said to the blocker. And one way we learn to tackle is have a balanced view. Celebrate sex as God intends it. Don’t become prudish or overreact. And secondly, love your spouse passionately and physically. You see God intended sex for the reason of protection. As we have noted, sex was God’s idea, fashioned for marriage, intended for intimacy, created for procreation, designed for pleasure, and to add one more purpose, for protection. That Paul’s argument here, isn’t it? In verse two, because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman should have her own husband. Marriage is God’s loving provision for sexual fulfillment.
The fact is that God has not graced all of us with the gift of singleness or celibacy. Paul argues here, you’ve heard him here towards the end of those verses. Hey, I wish that the widows and the unmarried would stay as I am. And he’ll go on later in this book to say, hey, there’s an advantage to singleness. You can give yourself to the Lord in an undistracted fashion. But he realize that that’s not for everybody. In fact, I would argue that’s not for the majority, but God does grace some with singleness and that doesn’t even need to be a lifetime grace. It can be a gift for a period of time. And so to the young singles in our church, don’t throw your singleness away. It is a gift. It’s not a prison sentence. And if you’ve got passions and you realize, you know what? I really need to find myself a partner chosen by God. That’s good. Paul says that, it’s better to marry than to burn. But Paul says here that we don’t all have that gift.
That’s why, by the way, it’s a misguided policy of the Catholic Church to force its priests and its nuns all into celibacy. They may not all have that gift. That’s why they’ve got all kinds of scandals going on because they’re trying to fit a round pig into a square hole. Some are called to celibacy, but not all. Most of us aren’t and so God has provided marriage with a man or a woman of His choosing and our choosing and that gives us an outlet for sexual passion. Notice those words, that each couple shouldn’t deprive each other. The husband’s body’s not his and the wife’s body’s not hers. What’s the feminist mantra? This is my body. No, if you are a believer, it’s God’s body and if you’re married, it’s your husband’s body. But Paul says, “Hey, and what you want to do then is give yourselves to each other in sexual pleasure.” I’ll say no more than that because that’s what the text is saying. Pleasure each other husband and wife. That’s God’s natural outlet. Render a faction. Consent to this.
There’s no place for sexual abstinence within marriage. That was a problem at Corinth. He says, “Don’t deprive each other.” He says, “There might come a time when you both agree for a period of time to abstain from food perhaps and perhaps even sex so that you can step back and focus on a spiritual pursuit or a season of prayer.” But he says, “Don’t do that for long because Satan will get in on that. Only do it for a period of time, a short period of time.” Because sexual abstinence and celibacy within marriage is unbiblical, it’s unbiblical. Sexual relationships should be a relished and a regular part of a Christian marriage, and I underlined the word regular because that’s the implication of the text. But maybe some in Corinth were wondering, do I stay intimate with my unsaved spouse now that I’m a Christian? Or perhaps some of them having been up at the temple of Aphrodite, were overreacting to their gross sins of the past. And all they can associate with sex is godlessness and idolatry and muck and mire and it needs all to be hosed down in their minds.
And they need to see, this is a gift from God. Enjoy it in its proper place. But celibacy within marriage is therefore forbidden unless mutually agreed upon. And you and I need to grasp that. This is something we need to apply as we close. A bull work against sexual impurity is the passionate and physical love between spouses. Now, I want you to note something, less I be misunderstood or Paul be misunderstood. This passage doesn’t sanction sex on demand. Your body’s mine, I want it. It’s not what Paul is saying. In fact, he uses the word render a faction. He uses the word consent. So this is not an excuse for sex on demand within marriage. In fact, no partner would want a passive partner. The sexual act is about oneness, intimacy, union. The last thing we want to do is demand because that’s so far from the intent of the act itself. But in saying that, while this passage is no excuse for a bully, it does not allow the husband to regularly say, “Not tonight Josephine.” Or for the woman to say, “I’ve got a headache.” It’s meant to be part of the relationship.
It’s one of the ways by which we protect ourselves and we strengthen our marriages. Proverbs 5:15-19, that’s the whole intent. “Drink water from your own well, son.” Don’t disperse your water down the street. We don’t want to get too graphic because it is pretty graphic. The image of water may even be the image of a man’s seed. He’s saying, “You know what? Water’s precious. You wouldn’t go throwing it down the street and all over the city, would you?” Same thing. Find yourself a covenant wife. Drink water from your own well. Enjoy her, her only. Let her breasts satisfy you and enter into that with relish and regularity, celebrating God’s goodness. It will protect you and it will pleasure you. The greatest lover in the world is the man or woman who can satisfy one partner over a lifetime. Going from bed to bed, well, any dirty dog can do that. Drink water from your own well. Love your spouse physically and passionately. As the team come forward, I believe I heard Charles Swindoll once tell this story of him being somewhere at a conference or speaking.
And as he got into the elevator to go to his room, he was joined by a couple of women who made their intentions pretty clear. And Charles Swindoll realized he needed to get out there as fast as he could. So he wasn’t at his floor, but he punched the button again, got out a floor or too early. As the doors open, he stepped out, he turned to the ladies and he said this, “No, thank you. I get the real thing at home.” That’s Christian. That’s biblical. See, that’s the bull work. Be biblically balanced and love your spouse passionately and physically. Let’s pray. Lord, we come to you this morning and we thank you for the journey we’re on these Sunday mornings. Not always easy to hear, certainly not easy to preach, but it is something that must be preached and it is something that must be heard. And God, there’s not one of us that this isn’t a common temptation to. Some of us have got issues, some of us have got baggage, some of us have got present struggles, but we thank you for your word. It’s the maker’s manual. It speaks to all the issues of life. And may we heed it this morning.
Oh God, remind us that our bodies are your temple bought by the blood of Christ. May we treat our bodies with a certain sacredness. May we not abuse them through sleeplessness, through overeating, through lack of care, through sexual immorality. God, help us indeed to have a biblical view of our body, a body that will be raised forever. Lord, help us to be mindful of your design and idea on sex. We thank you that it is a gift and a good thing. We celebrate your love for us in that kind of love. We thank you for our spouses, those that are married, and the joy we find in each other. Help us to render a faction. Help us indeed to give ourselves to each other passionately and physically in Christ for the good of society, for the joy of our own hearts, for the example to our kids, and for the protection of our purity. To our singles, we thank you for the them being here this morning. May they be content in their singleness. May they, as we’ll see a bit more next week, be willing to wait it just as Jesus told us to wait for the millennial kingdom.
Because present faithfulness is based on future reward. Help them to be presently faithful, knowing that if they’ll keep themselves, their marriage will be stronger and their joys will be greater, and they’ll certainly bring joy to your own heart. Lord, we just pray you’ll help us to hide this word in our hearts that we may not sin against you. And if we have, and we do, God, help us to repent quickly, help us to repent truly, help us to put a distance between that action and our repentance. Help us indeed to change our ways by the power of the spirit of God. Help us indeed to enjoy the freedom of sins forgiven and conscience cleansed in the blood of Jesus Christ. He is our only hope. He is our only rock. And these things we pray in His name. And everybody said amen.