World ViewPastor Jerry Gillis - July 3, 2016
We can demonstrate the hope of the Gospel in living lives of purity.
Community Group Study Notes
- The Scripture is clear about sexuality. For the unmarried disciple of Jesus, what does sexual purity look like? For the disciple of Jesus who is married, what does sexual purity look like?
- The Bible says, “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18). Why are we told to flee? What does that look like in every day life?
- As disciples of Jesus, how can we demonstrate the hope of the Gospel in living lives of purity? What difference will this make in our ability to share God’s Story of Grace?
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
Okay, so as we close our time in this series that we've been in, I've got a lot to say. Sometimes I have more to say than I have time to say, and so I have to kind of pare that down and you know, and I care. And there's other times that I have too much to say and I don't care. And that's today. So you're just going to have to be all in with me because I'm going to give you a lot of biblical material. I'm going to give you a lot to think about. And the good news is if you don't catch it all that's no problem. They'll post this on thechapel.com in the next few days and you'll be able to go back to this and use it as a resource, and I hope that it's helpful for you. I genuinely do. That's the goal of what I'm trying to here is I'm trying to be helpful to us in the body of Christ.
You know, this weekend, kind of this Independence Day weekend, every time we roll around to it I'm reasonably astonished at how much foresight our founding fathers actually had. In the documents that they wrote which are some of the more incredible documents just written by human beings that aren't divinely inspired necessarily, you know, but just written by human beings. It's remarkable how much foresight they had in terms of what a successful country should be based upon and look like and all of those kinds of things. And I'm also reminded at how incredibly how much foresight they had relative to what the pitfalls were that a country based on, that's a republic you know, like ours, could actually run into as well.
One writer named Os Guinness who you may or may not be familiar with, he's brilliant, he noted that in some of our founding fathers he called it a golden triangle of freedom that they would continually come back to. And that golden triangle was basically this: freedom, virtue and faith. And that's what they would all talk about that without, if there's no virtue, then there's really no freedom. And that virtue comes from a place, and that place that it comes from is a place of kind of propositional faith. And in fact, even people like Ben Franklin, and Os Guinness quoted Ben Franklin in what he wrote about this, Ben Franklin said that only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. Because he realized that the way that everything was set up, some of the founders of our country realized that the American Experiment cannot work without virtue, because all of these things hung on one another. Virtue was connected to freedom, and freedom was connected to faith, and faith and virtue were connected, and these things had to engage one another for there to be a successful country the way that we had established it. And it's interesting, the virtue that we embraced in the founding of America was without really debate, a Judeo-Christian ethic that was formed from some of the Judeo-Christian ethic that you would find in the Scripture, both the Hebrew and the Greek, so to speak language Scriptures, the Old and the New Testament.
Now the struggle with this is that if that's the case and that was the case in the way that they founded our country, what does that say about where we are today? Well, I just had an opportunity to hear from George Barna, and he's a researcher that does research, on religion in the United States and specifically Christianity in the United States, and he's maybe the most published researcher in that field, certainly the most popular. And he was talking about a book that is yet to come out, but he was relaying some information to some of us, and he said that in the United States there's only ten percent of American citizens that actually believe in absolute moral truth that comes from the Scripture. Ten percent. So, one out of ten. And then he said, but if you pair that into understanding how Christians, people who call themselves Christians, how they believe and what they do, that eighty-four percent of people that identify themselves as Christians base their decision-making, listen to this, base their choices and their decision-making on feelings instead of the revelation of Scripture. Eighty-four percent that call themselves Christians.
The evidence is no greater of that kind of thinking than in the arena of sexuality. The way I would describe the way that we're told to think about this is it's like a cultural python that has us in its grasp and is continuing to constrict and suffocate and bring into submission sometimes even those who believe the truth of the Scripture and they have been forced by a cultural thinking about sexuality into a particular frame of world view.
Now there are even some prominent Christian voices who talked about the idea of sexuality and they have basically said that ship has sailed. There's nothing we can do about it and that's that. I don't agree, but none the less that's kind of what they've said. There are Christian denominations, mainline denominations that have sold out teaching a world view that is centered on God as He's revealed in Jesus through the Scripture, and are now teaching kind of a whatever when it relates to sexuality. Then there are churches who have tried to remain faithful to the truth of the Scripture when it relates to sexuality but have forgotten the truth of Scripture about so many other things, like love and compassion and those kinds of things. And some of those churches who are holding what they say to the truth of how the Scripture talks about sexuality are in fact forgetting, being bigoted and mean and nasty. That's not good either. You might need to read that part too.
So we kind of find ourselves in this interesting time and place, and we have to ask ourselves what does a God-centered world view of sexuality actually look like? And that's what I want to discuss today. And to get there I figured that we're just going to start at the beginning, all right? So if you have your Bible you can open it up to page one or page two, depending on where you're at there. If you've got, you know, a mobile device that's fine, you know, it's easier to find, you don't have to turn anything. I like pages, but some people like light, and so that's cool either way, I'm good with it. Just find your copy, because I'm going to talk to you really about three primary things related to human sexuality that I want us to look at.
And I'm to ask you as I already told you, I'm going to ask you to go all in with me. Think with me, go with me on this journey of thinking through what the Scripture has to say. And if, in fact, I overwhelm you at times with too much in terms of information or Scripture I apologize in advance sort of, not really. But you can go back and you can look at this and maybe take some of this in.
So the first thing that I want us to understand in terms of a God-centered world view of human sexuality is the Diving Design. That's why we're starting in the book of Genesis because from there is where everything flows, all right? The Divine Design. Let me start in Genesis chapter one verse number 27 and then I'm going to hop over to Genesis 2. Listen to what it says in 1:27. "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Alright, we talked about the image of God a few weeks ago, and representative of the image of God is both male and female, that's important to understand.
Then in chapter 2, verses 18 through 24 it says: "The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name." I'm just curious how he got to hippopotamus, but none the less. "So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. And the man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman' for she was taken out of man." That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."
Now the reason that I want to begin here is because when we open up, for instance in chapter one, earlier in chapter one you know the kind of beginning of Genesis, right? God created the heavens and the earth, earths form was empty, darkness covered the surface of the deep. You know the story, right? And so that story gives us an interesting relationship of a few things. It talks to us about unity within diversity. In other words, some things that are different yet complimentary that work together. So when you're reading chapter one, here's what you see. You see heaven and earth, different yet complimentary working together. You see land and sea, different yet complimentary working together. You see God and humanity, different yet complimentary and working together. And here's what you see specifically, you see male and female different yet complimentary working together.
You see, in the very beginning in the divine design, there is a picture of sexual complementarity between male and female that is actually described in this union or what we would call reunion of the two. Remember, woman was taken out of the side of man according to the way the Scripture narrates this for us, is taken out of the side of man and then now there is someone who is complimentary to the man, because none of the animals as you remember that he was naming, the hippopotamuses and all the other ones, right, none of them were suitable. So now there is one like him, but not like him that is complimentary, and the two now form a union or a reunion since she came out of him, it is a reunion where the two become one flesh. This is what the idea is because that idea of union is talking also about sexual complementarity that the two actually become one and they were designed for that purpose.
All right, this is a part of what we understand when we get to this idea of the Divine Design. And the reason I bring it up first is because this is what the writers of Scripture all through the Old and New Testament, they keep coming back to this. This is where they keep coming back to. Jesus and Paul and John, they all keep coming back to this. This is why it's important for us to start here at the very beginning, because it is the Divine Design, the grand ideal that God has created for human flourishing and for the good of humanity, man and woman in a committed union, a marriage as we would call it, that is what the Divine Design looks like in the context of Scripture. And by the way, it is what now the rest of Scripture measures against, so that later on when you're reading in Genesis chapter 19 or chapter 38 when you're seeing what is termed abhorrent sexual behavior, it is because that sexual behavior is being compared to the Divine Design. Are you following what I'm saying? All right. Very important for us to grab hold of.
Now, if we fast-forward just a little bit outside of the book of Genesis when God then ultimately in the book of Exodus creates a people for himself called Israel, God gives very specific instructions as to how the people of Israel are to live. Some of you have read some of those instructions. He gets so specific he talks about the sexual ethics of what the people of God ought to look like. In fact, where you'll find it if you just want to jot it down you can, it's in Leviticus 18, and let me summarize it for you in case you're not going to go home and read it, right, when I tell you to. All right? I'm going to follow most of you home and see if you do it, but whatever.
But let me summarize it for you. The whole chapter is about sexual ethics, and here's what God says to his people. He says basically, alright, first no sex with family members. Now he starts, it's not just generic, hey no sex with family members. It's like no sex with, and he starts naming specific people in family. No incestuous relationships and so you've got verse after verse after verse about various family members like leave your sister alone, do not be involved with your mom. This is what Leviticus is talking about, alright. So no sex with family members. Then he moves on and talks about no sex with anyone outside of your marriage relationship. So your neighbor's wife or husband, no. He's talking about that. Then he follows that with no sex with animals. That's in the Bible. Apparently there was a need to address that when people maybe had seen the way that others around them that were not the people of God were living with an unbounded sexual lust that couldn't be fulfilled in anything and so it spread to whatever. So he says no sex with animals. And also says, no sexual involvement with the same gender. In fact, when you read in Leviticus 18 in verse number 22 it says this: "Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable."
So in fact, what you have in Leviticus 18 is you've got a large swath describing all sorts of things that are outside the purview of the Divine Design described in Genesis chapter one and two. And anything that falls outside of that, God says no, that's out of bounds. This is what I have designed you for, alright?
Now, when you move forward you also see God taking seriously the idea of gender. That it's not only about the idea of sexual immorality that he's describing but he actually cares deeply about peoples' identity referencing gender. So much so that in Deuteronomy chapter 22 God paints this picture: "A woman must not wear men's clothing not a man wear woman's clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this." Now there's much to say about this verse because you read it and initially go, whoa. There's much to say about this verse but fundamentally what's happening here is there are people who are actively rebelling against God confusing the gender that God has actually made in Divine Design. And God says don't do that.
In fact, if you want to read, you can just jot this down I'm not going to take you there, but in 1 Corinthians 11 you can see some parallels there, because Paul is actually addressing the way that men and women in their culture at Corinth either wear their hair as long or covered heads and all that kind of stuff. It was a cultural reminder we're not trying to bend genders here, that needs to be distinct. Whatever else you're doing with this passage of 1 Corinthians 11, it's a reminder that Good is saying I take the gender seriously because they together are reflective of the image of God that you see in the Divine Design, and there is meant to be a sexual complementarity between male and female.
Now when we continue this idea of the Divine Design into the New Testament we see Jesus do something really, really interesting. In fact, in Mark chapter number 7 listen to what Jesus said. He said, "For it's from within, out of a person's heart that evil thoughts come - sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly." Now obviously, we could talk about any one of those things for a long period of time, but in that category list that Jesus talks about, things that are kind of defiling that are coming out of our hearts three of those reference something related to sexual engagement. And what Jesus does is he sums it all up with the first statement. Stay with me here, wake up. A couple of you are snoozing, I saw you and I just decided to tell you. So wake up, I'm not looking at you right now because I don't want you to see that I saw that. And I see you through the camera in the East Worship Center. Third row, red shirt. Get up, don't make me do this again.
Alright, so Jesus takes a term and the term he uses is sexual immorality. It's in the Greek language pornea. It's where we get our word pornographic or pornography. That's part of where that root comes from. What Jesus is doing when he uses the term sexual immorality is he's using a summary term to describe, listen to this, to describe everything Leviticus 18 was talking about. So Jesus is carrying over the sexual ethics teaching of Leviticus 18 into the New Covenant time frame and he is functionally saying I'm going to use a term that is an umbrella term, sexual immorality. Anything that is outside of the Divine Design I can describe this way. And that might be promiscuity, hetero or homosexual activity that's outside the designs of marriage. Anything along that line. Adultery, fornication all can be summed up in pornea. Sexual immorality, a big term.
So Jesus makes that very clear. What you see Jesus doing in Matthew chapter 19 when he's asked a question about divorce is now Jesus actually appeals to Divine Design and teaches us something that I don't want you to miss. Here's what it says in Matthew 19. "There were some Pharisees that came to test him." Bad idea by the way, Jesus has never flunked a test. And "They asked, is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason? Haven't you read, Jesus replied, that in the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh." Didn't we just read that in Genesis, right? He's appealing to the Divine Design. "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." "Why then," the Pharisees asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" And Jesus said "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard but it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality," (pornea, anything that's outside of the bounds of the Divine Design) "and marries another woman commits adultery." And the disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry." And Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others."
Pause for a second. Everybody know what a Eunuch is? Okay, fantastic. How should I address this? So I tell you what, your neighbor probably knows, and you could ask them and if you don't know them it would be a tremendous way to get to know them. So a eunuch is someone, a male who has, who has been disassociated with his sexual reproductive opportunities. How was that? Thank you. I'm trying to be a grownup about all of this, right?
So he says, "There are eunuchs who are born that way, there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others--and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."
So here's what Jesus did. They asked him a question on divorce, and he taught us about sexual ethics, and he taught us about the Divine of Design. And here's what he said based on-- you've heard of the Logic Principle, the Law of Excluded Middle. Here's what the Law of Excluded Middle means: It means that it takes away everything but two choices. It's this or it's that. There is no third option. There's no multiple options here, it's this or it's that. And Jesus says it's either marriage, male and female that he appeals to in the Divine Design to express sexual intimacy in union, or it is a life of singleness in commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ in celibacy and chaste, faithful to the Living God. Those are your options, there's not a third way. Jesus leaves that out. So, Jesus is appealing to the Divine Design there.
Now Jesus goes on later in many other teachings to talk about things that are devastating to the way we live, and various sin that causes exclusion from the kingdom of God. And then what Paul does is Paul picks up on that in his writings and begins to talk about some of those same things that people will not be inheriting the kingdom of God based on these following things that come from basically an unregenerated life.
Listen to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 6. He says: "Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived." Listen to how he begins: "Neither the sexually immoral not idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
Now Paul is excruciatingly detailed in what he talks about here, particularly as it relates to sexual identity and ethics. Paul actually talks about when he talks about men who have sex with men, Paul is actually referring to, in the Greek language he uses two different terms, one that describes the active partner and one that describes the passive partner. It's that specific in the Greek language. I know that's astonishing to hear, but when you read it in English you see it kind of this way, but in the Greek language it's extraordinary in how focused the attention is. And he also uses a term there, arsenokoitai, which is a term that is a borrowed term connected to Leviticus chapter number 18 and 20 where he's actually using language, listen to this, he's using the language of Leviticus 18 and 20 in terms of sexual ethics to describe what he's talking about in the New Testament. Why would Paul do that? Because he knew Jesus did. He knew Jesus had carried over that sexual ethics from Leviticus 18 and chapter 20 and pulled it into a new covenant, and so Paul does exactly the same thing in this context.
What's beautiful about this passage is he also talks about the hope of transformation. So there are these people that are swindlers, and thieves, and adulterers, and homosexually active, and those kinds of things, and Paul says this is what some of you were. But you've been washed. You've been changed. You've been transformed. It's a beautiful picture of hope that we'll talk about in just a moment.
But do you know what this passage in 1 Corinthians 16 also does? It helps us a little bit later on to see a theology of the body. In other words, that the body actually matters. I've heard it a million times. Why would a God up there care about what we do, out bodies, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And it's almost this gnostic dualism that says spirit good, body bad. Who really cares about this? It's what's going on the inside and you go, wait a minute. You're not three different things. You're one thing. God's made you whole, and you have to consider biology and genetics and spirit and flesh and all of who you are. It's all you, right? And so he cares about all of that. And we lose that sometimes in this idea of our theology of the body.
In fact, if we go back to the divine design we see something extraordinary. Look at chapter 2 verse number 21. You're already there - you're parked there, right? Just keep your car parked at Genesis chapter 2 and 3, and then I'm going to take you out of the car, put you in my car and go some different places then I'll bring you back to your place, all right? So Genesis chapter 2, verse 21 says, "So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs," (or he took from the man's side it also says in the Hebrew text) "and then closed up the place with flesh."
Now here's what's so cool. Listen to what I'm about to tell you. The description here in the Hebrew language about the side of the man is a Hebrew word - tsela. it's t-s-e-l-a, not s-e-l-a-h, selah that you see at some of the Psalms that mean think about that, or ponder this, or whatever, you know? This is tsela. You go home and practice your Hebrew. T-s-e-l-a. Here's why this is important - because when that term is used right there, every other time that it is used in the Scripture - except one that's an outlier describing something - every other time it's used, it's describing sacred architecture. The Ark of the Covenant, the Temple, both the physical and the eschatological temple that Ezekiel talks about. So the reminder here in the book of Genesis is that this word is something that denotes sacred architecture - that the human body that God has made is actually sacred - that God has made this holy and supposed to be used for Him.
Now here's the beauty. Paul knew the divine design and how God had intended that. And that's why when Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 where we just read fills that out a little bit more in the text - listen to what he says. He says, you say, (he's talking to the Corinthians) - you say, "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both." And by the way - pause right there - he's implying that they're also going to say, sex for the body and the body for sex. Who really cares, right? Because they're making that kind of argument. But then notice what he says. He says the body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Were you going to take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit." Flee from sexual immorality. Al other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. Why do you think Paul is filling out this theology of the body and how it's sacred? Because he understood the divine design and he even appeals to it in what he's writing. These are super important for us to grab hold of.
Now to finish this idea of the divine design - because I'm walking you basically all the way through the Scripture - let me get you to the end. The book of the Revelation. When you get to the end, you see all things being made new, right? Here's what's beautiful. In Genesis, at the very beginning, you see the way that God designed things and the way he created things to be in perfect shalom with him - this peace holistically with him. And then in Revelation you see that because of the work of Jesus and his return, what happens is he makes everything brand new. It's a beautiful picture, almost like a restoration to an Edenic - a Garden of Eden kind of time - right? You see those pictures popping up in Revelation 21 and 22. But unless we forget that the very design that God had from the outset - he still carries into new creation.
Here's what the revelator says in Revelation 21. He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral (pornos), those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." So a reminder that the way God designed it is the way God fulfills it. This is why it's important for us to start when we talk about a biblical, or God-centered world view of human sexuality, we have to start with divine design.
But let me give you a second thing that we have to think about - sin's consequences. Right there in the book of Genesis where we're reading about the divine design, we also see a serpent picturing the enemy - the devil - who is tempting Adam and Eve, right? Remember, God said to them have fun. Go nuts. Live life. Be free. Eat what you want. Except for this. Just leave that alone. Everything else is yours. Have at it. Enjoy life. Well, the enemy comes and he tempts and then Eve gives in and you see what it says in Genesis chapter 3, verses 6 and 7. "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves."
See what happened here was there was an interruption of shalom, an interruption of everything the way that God had designed for it to be because sin had now entered in, and that meant relational brokenness between humanity and God and between humans in terms of one another. And it meant personal brokenness, and as a result of that, it means sexual brokenness. You see what happens when sin starts to give itself full life, is it brings us into all kinds of a myriad of brokennesses. There is so much brokenness with sin. We forget about sin sometimes. Sin will always take you further than you want to go. And it will always cost you more than you want to pay. Always. Somebody said it this way one time: Sin fascinates, and then it assassinates. That's what sin does. You don't play with it because it's the antithesis of what God's desire is for human flourishing and for the human heart.
And so what we see when Paul picks up this subject of sin and its consequences and what it does in the book of Romans when he starts to unpack that, he actually connects - and he could connect a lot of things to where it leads you - but it leads you into sexual brokenness and he talks about it. Listen to what Paul says in Romans chapter 1 - and by the way, in Romans chapter 1 you hear all of these echoes of Genesis chapter 1. He says for although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Does that sound familiar? Birds and animals and reptiles - that's Genesis chapter 1. Theologians call this an intertextual echo - that you're reading it, but you're hearing echoes of Genesis chapter 1. Paul is basically saying in this context, hey, God has a divine design but people now because of sin are giving in to this idea, and creating images that they are worshiping and maybe that's another human form - another image instead of worshiping the creator who is to be worshipped forever.
And so what happens? How does God respond to this? Look at verse 24 and 25 of Romans chapter 1. Therefore God gave them over in their sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather then the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen. So they embraced this idolatry - that there is something more satisfying to them than God, and they walk themselves into sexual impurity and begin the degrading of their bodies with sexual impurity, and do you know what happens? God allows that to run its course in the lives of people, because ultimately they're going to pay a penalty for that because it's against human flourishing because this is how God has designed them.
So what happens to them? Well they just continue to go further and degrade. Listen to what it says in verse 26 and 27. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. (In other words, it was reciprocal.) Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. What you see at this point is just full-blown sexual rebellion. God has a design. We have fundamentally rejected God as creator and worship other things - whatever those might be - and now we've taken ourselves to a place of fundamental sexual rebellion. This is how Paul unpacks this in the book of Romans. Sin has consequences.
But here's the good news - it's the third thing. There is hope in the Gospel. This is the great news. There is hope in the Gospel. So in Genesis where you parked your car, after sin - you'd seen the consequences of sin and now that there was brokenness - relational brokenness, personal brokenness, and ultimately that would rebound in sexual brokenness - what happens in Genesis chapter 3, verses 13-15, listen for the hope here. The Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." So the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
Do you know that in Genesis chapter 3 that we have the first seed of the Gospel of Jesus? That right there we've got this hope. Sin has broken in and it has consequences and it has affected the world, and here's what God says to the enemy of our soul. He says okay, I've seen what you've done here. You've brought in an interruption in our world, but I'm going to deal with that because the offspring of the woman is going to crush your head even though you are going to strike his heel. You may think that you have won a blow when he goes to the cross and they are driving nails through that heel. But it is for the purpose of rising from the dead to squash your head. That is what the seed of the Gospel says.
And here's the beauty of that. The beauty of that is those of us who are made in the image of God, who have been marred by sin can be renewed in the image of God through faith in Jesus. The one who died for our sin and our brokenness and who rose from the dead - we can be remade in the person of Jesus. And when he does that, he actually creates pictures - when he restores that brokenness, he creates pictures of even what sexual wholeness is supposed to look like. One of those pictures is marriage and the other picture is singleness, just like Jesus said.
And in marriage you see the picture, right? Paul talks about it in Ephesians chapter 5. Remember when he talks about husbands and wives? Listen to what he says in verse 31. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. Where'd that come from? Divine design - Genesis, right? This is a profound mystery, Paul says, but I am talking about Christ and the church. In other words this whole thing, this whole sexual complementarity of marriage between a man and a woman and their union is actually depicting the faithfulness of the bridegroom to his bride. Christ and the Church. That's what it's intended to tell the world. That's why it's important to preserve that union.
But also, there's another picture. Because Jesus, when he talked about this identity in terms of sexual - how we outwork our sexual wholeness - he said that's either going to be in the context of marriage, or it's going to be in holy singleness. And do you know that when we get to the book of Revelation, we've got another picture of the Church? And the picture of the Church in Revelation - remember we went through the book of Revelation in 8 weeks - the entire book - those of you that were here. And you remember every single thing that I said in that teaching. But in Revelation chapter 14, verse number 4, listen to this. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.
You see, there's another group - the Church is actually pictured - listen to this - the Church is actually not pictured in a marriage. Do you know why? Listen to this: because marriage between human beings is not the eternal norm. Marriage in terms of the eternal norm will be the Church with the bridegroom. That's the picture. But what is this picture that's given? This is given of a virgin, so to speak. Someone unmarried who is holy and faithful. And just as marriage depicts the faithfulness of Christ to the Church, singleness is supposed to give a picture to the world of the faithfulness of the Church to Christ.
So whether you're married or single in this room, you've got great hope in that context and no matter what it is you may be dealing with from a sexual temptation standpoint, you've got hope because of the reality of the Gospel. The Gospel can change you. It may be that you deal with lust. The Gospel can change you. It may be that you're dealing with pornography. It may be that you have wrestled through adultery. Maybe you have same sex attractions. Maybe you're promiscuous as a single adult.
What do you do? What do you do in light of all of this? Listen very carefully. This isn't rocket science. I'm going to tell you what the Scripture says you do. You repent and you surrender to Jesus. That's what you do. Repentance just means I'm going to turn from what I'm doing and turn to Jesus and surrender myself to him. Jesus is Lord over your sexuality. He's Lord over everything. Everything.
You know the thing with repentance is that sometimes we repent so generically that we don't know what we're really saying or doing. You know, God, if I've ever done anything to hurt your feelings, then...That's kind of where we end up. Here's what I want to encourage you to do. Name your sin and agree with God about it. That's what repentance is. Repentance is agreeing with God about what is not good for us and what He says.
I was really encouraged, not in this, but in the outcome. I have a friend who I've known for a number of years who is in ministry and he's living in another state. He got involved in some bad stuff and he was unfaithful to his wife and those kinds of things. He's not here local. He lives in another state. He sent me an email. I've been praying for him and trusting that God was going to work in his life. He sent me an email and I'm not going to tell you in any way - you'll never know who this would be. But I want you to listen to the first few lines and I'll tell you why I was encouraged by it.
He said, good morning, Pastor Jerry. I wanted to reach out to you when I felt the time was right to do so. I've not been in a good place for quite some time for that to occur. I want to share some things with you in this email about my journey over the past year. I want to start by letting you know that I'm powerless over my human condition, and it's led me to many sinful behaviors such as adultery, lying, manipulation, deceitfulness, arrogance, pride, lust, stealing, idolatry and many more. It went on to talk about how God is rescuing him, the help that he's getting, his family's being put back together. He's getting great counsel and he's being receptive to it, responsive to it. So it's a redemptive email, and I'm grateful for that. But do you know why I was encouraged? Because he was serious about his sin and he was naming it. And he was repenting of it, and he was dealing with it, and that was important for him to heal. And so if that's your need, then that's your need.
I also read another blog some time ago - but I kept it because I realized it would be useful - by a woman named Jean Lloyd, Dr. Jean Lloyd. I took this off of the Witherspoon Institute, which is out of Princeton. She wrote a blog and here's the title of the blog, this is why it caught my attention maybe a couple of years ago or a year ago or whatever it was. "Seven things I wish my pastor knew about my homosexuality." I'm a pastor - I'll read that. Right? I've had many conversations where people with same sex attraction or dealing in the homosexual lifestyle and those kinds of things, and we've had wonderful conversations around that and tried to talk about what does God say relative to those things. And this woman, Jean Lloyd, since the age of twelve had been in an active same sex lifestyle, lived as a lesbian for a long period of time, and then met Jesus. And it took some time and it was messy and it was weird and it was goofy for a while for her. But then God actually brought her into a place where she married a man and now has children.
Listen to what - these are her words. Seven things I wish my pastor knew about my homosexuality - her words. Number 1: I wish you knew that just because I didn't choose this orientation, it doesn't follow that I was born this way or that God created me gay. These are her words, not mine. She said I know that genetics influence these traits and I understand how some of these things happen in my own life. And I know my story's not the same as everybody else's story, but without getting into all of that, what I also know is that I can't ignore Scripture, Christian authority, or natural law, and that I need help living chastely, regardless of how my same sex desires came to be.
Second thing she said is, she said Pastor, I wish you knew a better way to help me honor my body by living in accord with the creator's design. And she talked about the fact that bodies matter. Great theology. She could have preached that message.
Third thing she said. I wish you knew, Pastor, that you're not helping me follow Jesus either by demanding that my attractions change, or by not allowing them to change. You see, ladies and gentlemen, the Gospel does not promise us that we will not have temptation. The Gospel promises that we have the power of victory over it.
Fourth thing - she said I wish you knew a better way to define change. She basically talked about over her life, her same sex desires went from a continual fire, to a flickering almost extinct flame, and she was like can we call that change? How about when my friend who was attracted as a same sex attraction and thought he never had any hope of anything or whatever and was just going to live single or whatever but ended up finding that he had some attraction for the opposite sex and ended up getting married and having children but still deals occasionally with the temptation of same sex attraction. Can we not call that change? This is her argument.
Fifth thing she says - I wish you knew, Pastor, that I should be credited with the same moral agency and responsibility as everyone else in the Christian community. Here's what she said. If unmarried heterosexuals are called to celibacy, and presumed in Christ to have the power to live out his commands, then so do I. To treat me according to a different standard is to lower my dignity before God, because I too am called to be holy. What a lady!
Sixth thing - I wish you knew, Pastor, that God teaches more about homosexual conduct than "don't". Fair enough. That's why I'm teaching this message on the glory of human sexuality and the divine design. Not because I read this, but because I planned on doing it anyway, and she agrees. That's good. I can't wait to meet her.
Seventh thing - I wish you knew that it honors neither God nor me to apologize for his plan and his design. She said she deeply appreciates empathy for the pain that my misdirected longings have caused, but God is not arbitrarily withholding something good for me. He's showing me what leads to life and human flourishing and is keeping me from that which will harm me. So love me, Pastor, and tell me the truth. Wow! That lady understands the Gospel. She understands the nature of the Gospel.
And I tell you all of that to tell you that we live in a confusing world related to sexuality. It is a cultural python trying to strangle us, but Scripture isn't really confusing on this issue, ladies and gentlemen. It's not. And I'll tell you what else it's not confusing on - teaching us to be a people who love, teaching us to be a people who show compassion, and teaching us a people to tell the truth. Scripture is not unclear on any of that. What we want for you, if this is an area of struggle for you in whatever your arena of sexual brokenness may be - we want what God wants for you. We want you to experience his design for human flourishing because that's his heart for you. That's how much he loves you.
And if we can be a help to you, we want to be. And if you need to contact the church, whatever campus you may be on, you contact the church - speak to somebody in our counseling arena. There are groups that are going on right now with people who are struggling with sexual brokenness of various kinds. Maybe we could help you that way. Maybe we could provide some resources for you that would be helpful for you to read or somebody or whatever. Or maybe you could be provided with some pastoral counsel to walk through this kind of thing.
And God help us, any of us, to realize sin has broken everyone. Some people's you can just see real clearly. The rest of us are just good at hiding it. Sin's broken everybody and it's only by the power of the Lord Jesus' grace through what he has done on the cross and through the power of his resurrection and the infilling of his Spirit that we can walk in victory. And that is a gift to us. That's not because we're special. So we should help tell the truth, show love, walking with people through any issue of sin - particularly today what we're talking about relative to sexual brokenness.
But I say this to you. Whatever your brokenness - Jesus has addressed it at the cross. Whatever your brokenness. And he is the hope for your life, in this life and in the life to come. He's the one that can renew you in his image, make you brand new, wash you clean, forgive you, and call you a son and a daughter of God. This is the glory of the Gospel - that while we were yet sinners, Christ still died for us. What a God!
Would you bow your heads with me. If you're here and you need to talk to somebody about what it means to embrace Jesus and walk with him and involve yourself in a relationship with him, then maybe when we're dismissed, just come by the Fireside Room. We'd love to talk to you. And then secondarily, maybe you need somebody to pray with you. Maybe some stuff's going on in your heart, in your life. You want somebody to pray with you. Come by the Fireside Room. They're in there to pray with you as well.
So, Father, I pray that you would write on our hearts what we needed to hear today. That you'd help us to be able to see through a biblical lens, through a God centered world view on what you say about human sexuality and I realize, Father, no chance I could cover the whole subject. But I pray today that through really plowing into your word and understanding how you've connected those dots for us, that God, you would give us a real sense of what it means to live out the renewed image of our Creator given to us - afforded to us by faith in Jesus. And that you would help us to love the world that we live in and maybe even people who are wrestling with various brokenness - that we would love them as you've loved us, Jesus. That we would never look down our nose at another human being because of what they're wrestling with but instead we would love them, befriend them. And God, as we have opportunity we would share with them the truth in humility and in grace because we know that we are all in need of your grace.
So, Father, I trust you with this and pray that you would use what we've talked about today, by the power of your Spirit, to help us all to know you more deeply and to see the glory of who you are. We pray you'll do this is Jesus' name. Amen.
Love you folks. Have a great rest of your weekend.