July 6, 2008
INTRODUCTION – Some 2,000 plus years ago a King was born to a very non royal couple. His name was Jesus Christ – and when after 30 years of relative obscurity, He began to establish His kingdom – one of the first things He said about His kingship and His kingdom is that it would be characterized by “setting the captives free.”
Luke in his account of Jesus’s life and ministry says in chapter four vs. 16 that Jesus entered the synagogue and began to read a passage from Isaiah that declared what the Messiah’s purpose would be. It is actually the Messiah speaking when He says through the pen of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He (God the Father) anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind. To set free those who are oppressed… to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
This freedom that King Jesus came to give to all of the subjects in the kingdom He began to establish then, and has been establishing ever since through his church – – this freedom touches every area of life. Because it is an internal freedom based on the internal righteousness that He develops in all His subjects who follow Him – – it is never contingent on or hampered by external pressures, restrictions, laws, supreme court judges, changes of political party rule, the environment, or any other external circumstance. That’s why today some of the freest people on earth internally, live in some of the most oppressive and totalitarian nations on the earth. The church in China being exhibit A. And that’s why many in our nation – the freest perhaps of all nations politically – are still in great bondage spiritually and emotionally.
The righteousness that is required of any one who would seek to enter and remain and thrive in Jesus’s kingdom is an internal righteousness of the heart – – that is never satisfied with just external observance of certain laws or rituals.
One of the proofs that His kingdom is real, supernatural, and unshakeable (unlike earthly kingdoms) – is when people who are oppressed by the internal slavery of sin – – begin to walk in this freedom – even in areas of life where the culture or society they live in is severely oppressed and deceived. I submit to you this morning that in the culture or society that you and I live in – oppression today is at its highest in the whole realm of human sexuality. Surely in July of 2008 in America – – we are witnessing some of the most severe sexual brokenness and slavery– our nation has ever known.
Whether it be our propensity to pornography, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, adulterous affairs, sexual fantasies, or a host of other sexual deviancies – – we are one sexually screwed up people in America today. And it may very well be that one of the major reasons the salt of the church in America today is so tasteless, and the light of the church in America today is so dim, is because internally we have not yet begun to walk in the sexual freedom King Jesus died for.
If we have learned anything from our ongoing series in the gospel of Matthew, I trust we have grasped that the righteousness that Jesus Christ offers and demands for those who would enter and remain in His kingdom is an internal righteousness, not an external one. You see, the Pharisees and the Scribes had conquered external righteousness by the time Jesus began His ministry. They had it down to a science. And for many of the Jews, external righteousness is all they knew. Because it is all their spiritual leaders knew and taught. That’s why Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5 vs. 20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
For the last two weeks, we grappled with Jesus Christ’s first illustration of what kingdom or true righteousness – as opposed or contrasted to the righteousness of the Pharisees and Scribes looked like – in the whole matter of committing murder. The Pharisees and Scribes, and I’m sure many of the Jews who followed them were convinced they had an A plus on that report card. They had never even picked up a weapon, much less used it against another human being. But Jesus explained that murder begins in one’s heart, and by the time He finished His explanation – everyone knew they were guilty of murder.
Please hear me, Jesus’s primary intent in this passage is not to condemn the Pharisees and Scribes. It is rather to help those who want to be His followers and subjects to be truly righteous. It is especially important that you keep that in mind as we dive into the whole subject of adultery – which is the 7th of the 10 commandments, and Jesus’ next illustration of kingdom righteousness. Let’s read the passage. (5:27-30)
Definition of lust – It doesn’t say – “everyone who looks at a woman”
But “everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her”
Lust in this context is the sinful sexual passion or desire for someone other than your God given spouse. It is a look that sees them not as a person whom God created for His own purposes and glory, and for whom Christ died; but instead as a person who is good looking, sexy, shapely, foxy, etc.
The culture that the disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ were commanded to establish His church in – was a culture full of sexual corruption. The full expectation of those who would be a part of this church and thus His kingdom is that they would walk in sexual freedom and wholeness.
I Thess. 4;3-8
II Peter 1:4 lust is the vehicle or entry way to corruption
Now I am very aware that men have argued for ever about what is a lustful look and what isn’t. Some even argue that looking at nude women in a magazine or on the internet is not lust if you are just admiring their beauty. Just Admiring God’s creation…. So here are a couple of guidelines for how to know when you are lusting and when you are not.
1. Can you fellowship with God while you do it? We are commanded to abide in the vine constantly; we are commanded to pray unceasingly; we are expected to seek and abide in God’s presence throughout the day. David’s example in Psalm 16, where he said, “I have set the Lord continually before me” is one that we are to aspire to. Can you do that while looking at those pictures? Ladies – can you do that while watching your favorite soap or Oprah?
2. Can you sit down with your wife and look at them? In the Kingdom that Jesus Christ presides over – if you are a married man – there is one woman that you are not just allowed, but commanded to adore and admire in a sexually passionate way – – and that is your wife.
Song of Songs drips with the passion of a husband that is smitten with the looks and body of his wife or wife to be – depending on how you interpret it.
In prov. 5:15-19 husbands are commanded to sexually and passionately enjoy their wives and them alone – – and this is in the context of avoiding the snare of adultery.
Issue of only men lusting (previous illustration language)
Older women in Titus 2:4,5 are commanded to encourage the younger women to “love their husbands, love their children, be sensible, pure, etc.”
Jesus – as He began to establish His kingdom upon the earth – had to re-visit all of the commandments because the Pharisees and Scribes – had failed to get to the heart or root of the issue. In this passage Jesus makes it absolutely clear that adultery can and is often committed in the heart – in one’s thoughts – before there is ever any physical contact between a man and a woman.
I hope you are beginning to see this morning that Adultery is not about love; it is about lust! – Job 31:9-12
Adultery is a family and community destroyer. It is a deadly cancer that does its damage way before anyone discovers its existence. 9 x’s in the book of proverbs – a book that was given to us to help us live successfully in this corrupt world – we are warned against the dangers of adultery.
God’s righteous standard and full expectation for His children and those who would claim to be followers of Jesus is that we walk consistently in sexual purity and freedom. Free to say no to any sexual deviancy or sin, and to say yes to whatever righteousness is or looks like in our present situation.
So what can we do to avoid this adultery of the heart?
Whatever it takes (tear it out, cut it out, remove it, or remove yourself) regardless of the cost – example of Joseph with potiphar’s wife in Gen. 39 – left his garment with her and ran for his life!
Some examples of how people have applied this scripture:
1. putting a filter on your computer. Yes I understand anyone who understands computers can get around the filter. But at least it prevents uninvited things from appearing on your screen.
2. Not being on the internet or watching t.v. late at night when you are tired and your guard is down.
3. Not getting involved with coarse jesting or flirting with the opposite sex, or the same sex for that matter.
4. Putting your computer at home in a public place where anyone and everyone can see what you are looking at
5. Refuse to get in physical proximity with a co-worker that could get the juices flowing – even if it means – looking square or stupid to your colleagues.
6. Do not get on the computer aimlessly – without purpose.
7. Be willing to be considered a snob by people you could be tempted with – –
8. Being willing to miss out on being with your friends when you know they are going to a house where lust will be the driving force of the party.
Realize the consequences of sexual sin – first the devastation to one’s life , family and resources – –
Potential eternal devastating consequences – going to hell!!
Hell – J. Herbert Kane and C.S. Lewis
Thursday night in our prayer meeting Brian Holden asked me something like: What would you like to see happen in our church or community??
Here is what I believe Jesus Christ wants to see happen in our church and thus our community. I believe He wants us to be a place where any person with any form of sexual sin can come and know that they will not be condemned or judged; but that they will be helped to find true freedom from their sin. I believe He wants us to be a people who walk in sexual purity and freedom from lust; and who are willing to share with people how we got there and how we remain there – – which may require sharing how enslaved we were before Christ showed us the way to freedom. And it may require being honest with them about how easily you could go back there, but by the grace or enabling power of God.
I believe what this sexually screwed up community desperately needs is a community of faith somewhere – where people so hunger and thirst for inner righteousness – that they are increasingly satisfied – – and because they are increasingly satisfied – – they are increasingly contagious – – because you can legalize and romanticize homosexual marriage all you want – – but it will never satisfy the deepest longings of a man or woman’s heart. Only righteousness will.
This I Know – if you are hearing this message and and you are consumed with whether your spouse or child is walking in sexual purity, freedom and righteousness – – you are not in step with the Holy Spirit. Until you can say with the apostle Paul, that you are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ – – you need to make your own growth in righteousness your great priority.
Parents – if you model this in your home – and teach your children God’s way to sexual freedom and fulfillment – and cry out to Him for their hearts to be aligned with His regarding their sexual urges and passions – – you will not have to worry about them wading through all the snares of our sexually enslaved society.