Posts Tagged ‘sex’

1 Corinthians 7:1-4

In 1 Corinthians 7:1-4 Paul begins to address questions that the Corinthian church had for him. The first was about sex. “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” His response seems pretty strong if we take it at face value from this first sentence. He seems to say stay away from sex. Like all scripture, we have to be careful not to take things out of context. That is where the next verse comes in. It begins with the word ‘but’ which tells us there is more to the answer than the initial response Paul makes.

Why would the Corinthian believers suggest celibacy? Maybe because they figured sexual immorality was a significant danger (which it certainly can be) and by abstaining completely from sex they might have a better shot at remaining pure. But Paul doesn’t see it that way. That is why God designed sex to be something shared between husband and wife. “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” Sex is designed to be part of marriage in God’s plan. And it is to be shared between them in an ongoing way.

Paul makes it clear that it is part of the marriage covenant as God designed it. He is not saying sex is the only reason for marriage, or the most important reason for marriage. Paul is simply answering their specific questions about marriage, not trying to give a complete theology of marriage. But he is clear that sex should not be something withheld from one another inside the bonds of marriage. Sex is God’s idea, created by Him for the pleasure of a husband and wife to share together. “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.”

Paul does go on to remind us that we need to be submissive to each other in marriage. In fact, these obligations are so concrete, it could be said that the wife’s body does not even belong to herself, but to her husband. The same principle is true of the husband’s body in regard to his wife. “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” This does not justify any sort of mistreatment or abuse but rather the need to care for each other. Paul’s point is that we have a binding obligation to serve our partner with physical affection.

1 Corinthians 6:16-20

In 1 Corinthians 6:16-20 Paul concludes his teaching in this chapter to the church at Corinth about sex. He calls it out clearly – sex is more than a physical act. When we have sex, we become one with that person. It is God’s design for sex – that it be an intimate event that brings two people together to become ‘one flesh’. So we can’t dismiss it as something we do that is disconnected from who we are as a spiritual being. That’s not how it works. “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”

Paul warns us that the sexual activity we engage in impacts us. In the heat of lustful passion, spiritual things may seem far away. Yet, at the root of most lustful passion is the desire for love, acceptance, and adventure – all of which is far better, and more completely satisfied in our relationship with the Lord instead of with sexual immorality. We can never gain true love in the bedroom. But Jesus went to the cross as an act of true love and we have been offered the opportunity to become one in spirit with Him through grace and faith. It’s the most powerful relationship we can ever have. “But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.”

Paul’s advice? Run from sexual immorality. He doesn’t tell us to be brave and resist the lustful passion of sexual immorality, but to flee from its very presence. Many fall because they underestimate the power of the flesh, or think they will “test” themselves and see how much they can “take.” They have convinced themselves that they can always just walk away if things go too far. Joseph showed us how to flee – he ran from sin. Paul doesn’t tell us to flee from sex – after all it is a gift from God to mankind. It’s the immorality that we can fall into that we are to flee from. “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

Paul ends with a principle and a command regarding sexual purity. We have to understand that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit – He dwells within us. Our bodies are not our own. They completely belong to God to use as He desires, not to fulfill our personal wishes. With God living within us, we have power over sin. The principle here is that the Holy Spirit is in us and will equip us to resist sexual temptation. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” The command is clear. We are to glorify God in our body. Harry Ironside wrote, “Glorify God in your body and the spiritual side will take care of itself.”

1 Corinthians 6:13-15

In 1 Corinthians 6:13-15 Paul continues his teaching to the church in Corinth about sexual immorality. The people there had a motto around food and giving their stomach whatever it wanted to eat. They had the same view around sex, but Paul quickly calls out that the two are very different and they can’t take an irrelevant thinking about food restrictions and apply it to sexual conduct. There is no relationship between the two.  “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” – and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”

Some think that God made us sexual beings and it’s His fault that we have these struggles around sex. That isn’t how God created man – but Adam messed things up in the Garden of Eden and sin has had its fingers in this area of mankind ever since. God’s design was and is for sexual purity. Sex was never intended for our use any way we desire. There is a price that must be paid when we choose to use our body for sexual immorality. We will stand before God someday and give account for the choices we made regarding our sexual conduct. That result can be lifted into His presence or separated for eternity. But God will ask for us to address our sin, and sexual misconduct will be one of those areas. “And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.” He’ll raise us to eternal life. The only question is where we’ll spend it.

The people at Corinth had separated their sexual conduct from their faith and relationship with Jesus. They had compartmentalized the two and made the distinction that there was no connection. That is a very wrong thought process. As Christ Followers, we are members of of His body – the church. When we choose to commit sexual immorality, we disgrace the entire body and link it to sin. This isn’t merely true of sexual sin, but any sin. Yet Paul calls out the issue of the Corinthian church around sex because it was blatant and widespread during that day. We should remember that God indeed is the creator and designer of sex. In itself, sex is a gift of God and part of His plan for mankind. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!”

The problem comes when we don’t treat it the way God intended. In their sexual relationship, a husband and wife become “one flesh” in a way that is under God’s blessing. In sex outside of marriage, the partners become “one flesh” in a way that is under God’s curse. Since we belong to Jesus – body, soul, and spirit – we have no right to give any part of our self away to an “unauthorized” person. Wiersbe wrote ““Sex outside of marriage is like a man robbing a bank: he gets something, but it is not his and he will one day pay for it. Sex within marriage can be like a person putting money into a bank: there is safety, security, and he will collect dividends.”

Proverbs 7:16-27

In Proverbs 7:16-27 Solomon continues to warn about the woes of sexual immorality.  One thing to keep in mind here is that while Solomon describes this from his point of view, it happens in the real world in many ways.  Women are certainly not always the ones who cause sin to happen around the area of sex.  But Solomon makes the point through his eyes and experiences, and most importantly, no matter where the initiation or temptation comes from, it becomes a matter of personal sin when we make a choice to participate in immoral behavior that is against God’s will.  He has designed sex for a very important but specific place in His creation, and when we choose to take part in any other way we sin.

The woman has prepared and was tempting this simple young man to enjoy a delightful experience.  “I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love”. She becomes more and more specific about what she wants.  And then she assures him that it will be in a safe environment. She doesn’t give any details that might wake up the simple man’s conscience – like her husband’s name or any details about him. “For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home”.

With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. Guzik describes the steps of seduction that the woman uses to lure in this simple man to a web of sinful behavior:

  • A well-chosen target (simple…a young man devoid of understanding, 7:7).
  • Available to meet (the path to her house…a woman met him, 7:8, 7:10).
  • Provocatively clothed (with the attire of a harlot, 7:10).
  • Of bad character (loud and rebellious, 7:11).
  • Looking to trap and seduces (she caught him, 7:13).
  • Free with physical affection (kissed him, 7:13).
  • Gave some recognition to religion (peace offerings…paid my vows, 7:14).
  • Pursuit to make one feel desired (I came out to meet you, diligently, 7:15).
  • Promise to please the senses (I have spread my bed…I have perfumed my bed, 7:16-17).
  • Invitation to her bed (I have spread my bed…I have perfumed my bed, 7:16-17).
  • Promises of love, delight, and sensual pleasure (let us take our fill of love until morning; let us delight ourselves with love, 7:18).

This wasn’t an accidental connection.  It was planned and well executed. And it works as designed.

The simple man falls. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life”. There is no question that resisting would be difficult.  That’s how all sin presents itself.  The enemy is adept at providing us opportunity to sin that seems almost irresistible.  But the price for sin is high, and we somehow forget the reality that sin will cost us our life.  It’s why we need a Savior.  Without Jesus, we’re all doomed for eternal separation from God.  Sin costs everything.

Solomon ends this chapter reminding us to pay attention to his words.  “And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth”.  Sin doesn’t have to have its way in our life.  It is always a choice.  It never happens to us.  Solomon reminds us that adultery and sexual immorality begins in the heart. It doesn’t begin in our hormones or natural wiring as men or women. It happens when we fail to guard our heart.  If our heart falls to sexual immorality, our feet will quickly follow.  We have to win the battle there, in our heart and mind, and avoid the situations that can cause us to fall prey. “Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death”.  Guard your heart – it is the key to standing strong!

Proverbs 7:1-5

In Proverbs 7:1-5 Solomon continues to exhort his son to walk in obedience. “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart”.  His words begin with an emphasis on keeping and understanding God’s word and a father’s wisdom. The implication is not that Bible reading provides a magical protection against sexual immorality. But if a person does keep God’s written commands, they will not carry out this sin – and the keeping of the commands begins with knowing them, treasuring them, meditating on them.  God’s Word needs to be in our heart to avoid sin!

Solomon counseled his son to have a living, breathing relationship with the word of God. They should not be only on our mind but also in our heart. Head knowledge won’t cut it.  We have to make sure it is front and center of how we think.  Solomon counsels his son to find strength against the seductions of evil, by cultivating defensive focus on God’s truth and wisdom. “Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words”. He should love the Word as his sister and nearest kin.

The wisdom and power of God’s word helps to keep us from sexual immorality. From God’s word we learn the deception and strategy of sin and temptation. We learn the ways of the enemy and how the world will try and pull us away from the truth. We learn the end result of sin and the wonderful benefits of obedience. God’s word imparts the spiritual light and strength we need to obey Him in this difficult area.  Without the instruction of God’s Word and the wisdom of our parents, we’re left with the negative influence of the world around us.  The people around us can cause us to drift away from God’s ways and soon wind up in the ditch.

Guzik writes: The task of keeping men and women from sexual immorality sometimes seems impossible. This is due to many factors, including:

  • A secular, sexually saturated and permissive culture.
  • The widespread availability of pornography.
  • The disconnection of sex from pregnancy and reproduction.
  • Laws making divorce easy and impossible to contest.
  • Social media technology making anonymous meetings easier.
  • Widespread prosperity that lessens the financial impact of family breakups.
  • The large and growing gap between the time of puberty and the average time people get married.

These factors are not all unique to the present day; Christianity was founded in a very sexually permissive culture. Yet they highlight the great need for Christian men and women to rely on the power and wisdom of God’s word to remain pure. It also means that such purity, even in the sense of re dedication to purity, is a great sacrifice and gift to the honor and glory of God”.

Proverbs 5:12-17

In Proverbs 5:12-17 Solomon continues his teaching about sexual immorality.  He reminds us that no one truly enjoys discipline or correction.  It’s just not something that you sign up for.  He wrote “and you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof”! One great price of sexual immorality is regret. When we see how empty the promises of sin are and how great the price for those sins is, deep sorrow and regret is a logical response. Many men and women, who have fallen into the snare of sexual immorality, have wondered: “How did I ever end up here? How could I be so foolish? How could I give up so much for what amounted to so little?”

The answer to those questions is that people make a bad choice.  Sexual sin does not happen to us.  We choose it.  We always choose to sin.  The devil doesn’t make us do it.  No one, besides ourself, makes it happen.  Solomon tells us another reason we fall to sin. “I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation”. What the adulterer thought would remain secret was exposed. He entered his sin thinking, no one will ever find out. When it was exposed in the midst of the assembly his foolishness, betrayal, and lack of self-control were all public.  Sin always cost more than we intend to pay.

Solomon gives the answer to our sexual desires – it is our own wife.  “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you”. Solomon reminded his son that God had provided his wife for his sexual needs. Instead of neglecting what God had given, he should renew his gratitude and focus upon what God has blessed. God’s provision for sexual need is found in the marital bed, which is pure before Him. It is like a pure, fresh spring (flowing water). Though some are dissatisfied with what God provides in marriage, that dissatisfaction is more a reflection on them than their spouse.

Guzik wrote: Ancient or modern, an over-sexualized culture promotes the idea that sexual satisfaction is a mainly a physical sensation. While only a fool would deny the physical enjoyments of sex, a more mature mind sees that intimacy – the open, unhindered revelation, reception, and sharing of one’s self with another – is also a great reward in a sexual relationship. When sex is reserved for the Biblical boundaries of marriage over the years and decades it says:

  • I am here for you, and you are here for me.
  • I am my beloved’s and he is mine.
  • I know you more than anyone else and yet I love you.
  • You know me more than anyone else and yet you love me.
  • Our children and home life are protected and safe.
  • We are not slaves to our sexual desires; we live by principles greater than our sexual impulses.
  • We will remain together and supportive of each other as we grow old.

Proverbs 5

Proverbs 5 is a rather direct chapter that focuses on one area – sexual purity.  Solomon begins by reminding us to “be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding”.  Scripture isn’t just another book for us to read.  It is THE Book.  It contains the instruction for LIFE.  It must not just be reviewed as something that is a mere suggestion.  It isn’t.  It is the standard by which we are to live.  And in this chapter, the instruction is strong and clear about how we stay on course sexually.

The warning is clear: “Keep discretion….guard knowledge….the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey… her speech is smoother than oil”.  Temptation will cause us to think about things that are outside God’s plan for marriage, and our sexual purity even before marriage.  God has a plan.  He designed things carefully between man and woman and within the covenant of marriage.  This is not an area open to interpretation, and this chapter makes it clear that when we get outside God’s plan, bad things happen.

Check out what Solomon writes as the outcome of our folly when it comes to chasing the forbidden:

–       “in the end she is bitter

–       sharp as a two-edged sword

–       Her feet go down to death

–       her steps follow the path to Sheol

–       she does not ponder the path of life

–       her ways wander

–       she does not know it

Not a good set of outcomes.  So the instruction is clear: “Keep your way far from her….do not go near the door of her house…. rejoice in the wife of your youth….be intoxicated always in her love”.  Lots of people mess around in this area, believing they are strong enough to deal with the temptation and walk away before it is too late.  That is often not the result.  And people fall and fail around this all the time.

Why?  “I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors”.  Because we think we know better.  We think we can handle things.  The reality is that we did not listen to the warning given here, and in numerous places in scripture.  This is something to be feared.  It is serious business.  “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths”.  God is watching.  This is serious business.  Why would you risk the penalty of sin in this area just to see if you can handle it and walk away before you make a mistake?  Far better to heed the instruction of staying far away than find out you can’t handle the temptation.  Don’t even go near.  Be grateful for what God has given and be intoxicated with your mate.  That is God’s instruction!

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