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Tuesday, September 08, 2015

A Model of Good Works

According to the statistics, that "adultery online" site whose name I prefer not to name had something like 37 million subscribers. Of those, something like 5.5 million were women. Tough going for guys, but ripe picking for the women, right? Think again. An analysis of the data indicated that a vast majority of the women were fake entries, largely generated by the company itself. One estimate put it at perhaps 12,000 actual women subscribers out of the 5.5 million reported. Now, I don't know if that's good or bad. Does that mean that less women were interested in cheating on their husbands? I doubt it. Stunningly, though, that 37 million number, assuming some sort of accuracy, would represent 1 out of 10 people in the United States. Of course, not everyone on that list was an American and, as we've already seen, some of them aren't even real, but the number is certainly large. And the news is reporting that the numbers of users are increasing since the hack occurred. Most disturbing, of course, is the numbers of Christians involved. Beyond Josh Duggar, reports are that pastors and others are likely going to have to resign when their names come to light, and that's just the "name" Christians. How many other Christians will be on those lists?

Writing about "You who boast in the law" but dishonor God by breaking it, Paul writes, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (Rom 2:23-24) On the other hand, writing about how God had transformed Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of the faithful, into Paul, the preacher of the Gospel, he says, "And they glorified God because of me." (Gal 1:24) We have before us two options. Will people blaspheme the name of God because of us, or will they glorify God because of us?

The problem, of course, is in the privacy. Somehow we get the sense, "If I don't get caught, it's not wrong." You see, while the adultery site was public, they gave you a sense of privacy. Apparently a false sense. And it wasn't just the security breach that made it a false sense. Jesus said, "Nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light." (Mark 4:22) We have our own truism. "Be sure your sins will find you out." It was sure to happen, either now or later (and later isn't necessarily better).

Perhaps the magnitude of the problem should be a wake up call. Perhaps the vast reach of the problem should be a warning bell. More like a klaxon or a call to arms. You see, Christian men, (and women), we are not at peace. We are at war. And, guys, you are the primary target of this problem of sexual sin. To the church at Rome Paul wrote, "Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy." (Rom 13:13) To the church at Corinth, "Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body." (1 Cor 6:18) To the church at Ephesus, "Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints." (Eph 5:3) To the church at Thessalonica, "This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality." (1 Thess 4:3) Get that? Guys (especially), this is the will of God for you. To Timothy it was, "Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart" (2 Tim 2:22) and to Titus, "Urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us." (Titus 2:6-8)

The married are especially addressed. "'The man who does not love his wife but divorces her,' says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'covers his garment with violence,' says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless." (Mal 2:16) Conversely, "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love." (Prov 5:18-19)

Look, what is the problem? Jesus told us what it was. "Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander." (Matt 15:19) While the world around us tries to find methods to fix our problems -- gun control and laws and positive thinking and self-esteem and such -- the problem is the heart. The problem of adultery and sexual immorality is not a problem of opportunity. It is a problem of the heart. So serious is this problem that Paul said, "I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler -- not even to eat with such a one." (1 Cor 5:11) Do not associate with them.

I cannot say that I know of any other sin in Scripture that gets as much press as sexual sin. From lust to fornication (sex between the unmarried) to adultery (sex while married with someone with whom you are not married), it's always and repeatedly addressed and condemned. Opposite sex, same sex, it doesn't matter. Sex outside of marriage, whether in real life or in you head, whether public or private, is regarded by God as a sin against your own body, an assault on the glory of God (1 Cor 6:20). While we should be shining examples (Matt 5:16) of self-control (Gal 5:22-23) and self-sacrificing husbands (Eph 5:25-28), we are succumbing instead to the basest of instincts, the "works of the flesh" (Gal 5:19-20). Brothers, these things ought not be!

Look, guys, it's your call. Which do you want to be? Do you wish to be one of whom it is said that God's name is blasphemed because of you? Or do you want it said that they glorified God because of you? And remember, "Nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light." Now is not the time to be muddling about in sexual sin, from porn to adultery and beyond. No matter what the rest of the world tells you.

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