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SECRET SEX WARS A BATTLE CRY FOR PURITY
Moody Publishers Copyright © 2008 Robert S. Scott Sr.
All right reserved.
Chapter One SLAYING THE FIERY BEAST
* The Foundation for a Successful Battle Plan John 17:17; 1 Timothy 1:8-10; 1 Timothy 4:6-7 -Pastor Anthony D. Kidd
IT was a typical Lord's Day morning. I woke up excited and looked forward to going to church. I enjoyed being with the Lord's people and worshiping God with them. My hope, though, was that this time would be different. Not that my worship experience wasn't consistently inspiring, but I desired to hear from God, especially since the night before had been so difficult.
You see, that Saturday night I had another episode; an episode that I despised with all of my soul, and one that I was becoming all too familiar with. I was a new believer, having been marvelously converted by God's grace and seeking to live my life in a manner pleasing to Him. Jesus Christ was now my Lord and Savior, and I loved Him for saving me. So much had changed in my life, which could only be explained by the power of God. But not everything had changed; at least not right away. The wanton desires that I had given into and indulged from my late teenage years into early adulthood were still powerfully raging in my heart. And to my surprise I was engaged in an intense battle-a battle that seemed to grow more intense with each passing week.
That battle was with pornography. I knew it was a sin, and I knew God did not want me to view it, but there I was again that night, lurking by the magazine rack at the liquor store across the street from my apartment. With my heart pounding, I tried to convince myself that I was there just to get a soda and some chips, but deep down inside I knew why I was there. I was there because in my heart there was a smoldering fire that beckoned to be set ablaze by the spark of pornographic images. I peeked, I looked, I gazed, I purchased; suddenly, the smoldering embers of lust were set on fire, and well, there I was again.
So I hoped that on this Sunday I might hear something in the sermon that would help me in my struggle. Unfortunately, I had hoped in vain. Don't get me wrong, brothers, I had a good time at church that day-I always did. The music moved me, the sermon inspired me, the praise lifted me, the fellowship encouraged me, and I walked away feeling really good. I felt hopeful. I felt clean again. But it wasn't long before I felt the heat from the embers of lust beginning to smolder in my heart again. And as I tried to resist, it was as if I was trying to put out a raging forest fire with a water pistol. I simply did not possess whatever it took to slay the fiery beast that was now my master, or so I thought.
That was in 1992, and by the grace of God, the fiery beast has since been slain. And with the exception of an occasional spark, the fire has been extinguished. If you're reading this book, you probably know something of the battle of which I speak. Your battle may be with pornography, masturbation, adultery, phone sex, or some other illicit sexual behavior forbidden by Scripture. Whatever the case, by the grace of God, you can experience the same victory that I know and enjoy today. So how did I do it? How can you do it? Brothers, the answer is not as complicated as the Enemy would have you believe. It is also marvelously liberating.
advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness. (1 Timothy 6:3)
Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness. (Titus 1:1)
But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching. (1 Timothy 1:8-10)
Brothers, what these texts are saying is that "Your [God's] word," "the doctrine," "the truth," and "sound teaching," produces godliness in the lives of God's people. All of these phrases collectively refer to the whole body of pure scriptural instruction. To put it in a more theologically precise way, orthodoxy produces orthopraxy; that is, healthy doctrine promotes healthy living. These texts point out that there is a dynamic connection between doctrine and lifestyle. Take, for example, the 1 Timothy 1:8-10 passage. Having listed a rap sheet of vices that should make even a hardened criminal blush, the apostle Paul argues that those vices and others like them are "contrary to sound teaching."
Paul is not only saying that these vices do not match with what sound teaching says, but more fundamentally, he is saying that these vices are against what sound teaching promotes and produces. Do you see it, brothers? Immorality and homosexuality are "contrary" to healthy doctrine. So if you are a man who persists in these types of vices, among other things, you must ask yourself whether or not you are receiving a regular diet of sound doctrine upon which you are building your life. In all likelihood, according to Paul, the answer is that you are not. For if you were, your lifestyle would not be so contrary to your doctrine.
Now, to be sure, there are men who are familiar with sound doctrine and even teach it, who still engage in illicit sexual sins. Theologians, Bible teachers, professors, and pastors alike, are by no means absent from the sad list of men who have left behind the wreckage of destroyed families, the carnage of ruined reputations, and the scandal of stunned congregations because of immorality. Even the soundest of churches are not immune to these tragedies.
So how can this be? you ask. I submit to you that these men do not know sound doctrine as they should. Experience cannot be the test of truth in these cases. God's Word makes this connection, and we must believe it. Sound doctrine will promote and produce godliness if we know it properly and follow it faithfully. But a man can be exposed to sound doctrine and even agree with it but still not benefit from it just as a chef can cook and serve healthy food to others without personally benefiting from it. He must eat it for himself.
And you, my brother, must eat sound doctrine for yourself. In fact, later in Paul's letter to Timothy, he tells him that the very means by which Timothy will set himself apart as "a good servant of Christ Jesus" will be to constantly nourish himself on "sound doctrine" (see 1 Timothy 4:6). So just as healthy food nourishes and promotes a healthy body, in the same way, healthy doctrine nourishes and promotes a healthy soul-a soul not weak and easily susceptible to the infections and diseases of sexual immorality and impurity.
Brother, your soul needs nourishment in order for you to fight your battles against lust and sexual temptation. Victory will not come easily. It takes strength, energy, and focused discipline. That's why in the next verse Paul tells Timothy to "have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. [But] on the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness ..." (1 Timothy 4:7). You must not miss this. In verse 6, Paul mentions the nourishment of the "words of the faith and of the sound doctrine," and in verse 7, he tells Timothy to discipline himself "for the purpose of godliness."
It is the nourishment from the words of the faith and from sound doctrine that will give Timothy the energy and strength he needs to engage in the strenuous discipline of pursuing godliness. Possessing godliness and sexual purity takes discipline, and discipline takes effort, and effort takes energy. Moreover, sound doctrine is an essential component of the fuel that God has ordained to give you that energy. But sadly, brothers, many of us spend our time dabbling "with worldly fables fit only for old women" as Paul warned Timothy in verse 7. It's no small wonder that sexual immorality is rampant among men in our churches.
Therefore, brothers, let me stress again, sound doctrine does not automatically produce purity. Passively sitting under sound doctrine will no more produce sexual purity in your life than passively sitting in a gym will put muscles on your body. There is a biblical process known as progressive sanctification. In this process, the believer daily works out the grace of God in his life as he responds to God's enabling power through trust and obedience. Each man has the responsibility to exercise faith in sound doctrine so that he might experience its sanctifying effect. But the effect is impossible to achieve if, in fact, one's doctrine is not sound.
Even the psalmist of old recognized this dynamic connection. Notice how precisely the psalmist speaks with regard to desiring purity. He asks, "How can a young man keep his way pure?" (Psalm 119:9a). This is the million dollar question, is it not? In a moment of utter desperation you've probably asked the same question, haven't you? Look at his answer and let the Spirit of God burn it into your soul. He writes, "By keeping it according to Your word" (Psalm 119:9b). The psalmist knew that if he were to have any success in living a life of purity he would have to live in line with and in dependence upon God's Word. He was so convinced of that reality that he literally "treasured" God's Word in his heart so that he would not become a prisoner in the war against sin (see Psalm 119:11).
Here then, was a man, brothers, who knew the connection between God's Word and a life of purity. Do you share that same connection? Are you experiencing the fruit of that connection? Or are you experiencing the fruit of being under unhealthy doctrine-doctrine which is giving you neither foundation nor power to win your battle against sexual impurity? My brother, it doesn't have to be that way!
Looking back on those early days of my Christian walk, I realize now that I made a fatal mistake-a mistake that cost me dearly. By not recognizing the essential place that sound doctrine plays in a life of purity, I tried to fight the enemy outside of me without first being equipped to capture and hold at bay the enemy within. I involved myself in what Paul refers to as "self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, [which are] of no value against fleshly indulgence" (Colossians 2:23).
I thought it was all up to me to fight in my own strength. So, like many brothers, I majored on what I could do instead of focusing on understanding what Jesus Christ had already done for me. In my futile self-effort to abstain from sexual sin, I was like a man continually walking around the edge of an open pit trying not to fall in. Eventually, I'd get so dizzy from going around in circles, I'd fall right in. To make matters worse, Sunday after Sunday, all I was hearing was, "don't," "stop," "quit," but I wasn't hearing anything about the motivation for, or the power behind "how?" Consequently, the "just say no" approach didn't work for me, as I suspect it isn't working for you either.
Over time, I came to realize that without the sound doctrine necessary to renew my mind, cleanse my heart, inform my conscience, and empower my will, I was simply fighting a spiritual battle using fleshly weapons which proved to be of no effect. I was trying to build a fortress to stand against the attacks of sexual lust not realizing that Jesus Christ and His Word are the only solid foundation upon which my fortress could stand (see Matthew 7:24-25). And without the understanding of His Word as my foundation, my pitiful fortress was as sturdy as a straw house built on the sand-constantly threatened and easily blown over by the huffing and puffing and blowing of temptation and fleshly desires.
Remember, brothers, any strategy that you adopt to wage the war against impurity must be grounded in, flow from, and be in accordance with sound doctrine. If it is not, you will simply find yourself fighting a losing battle, or even worse, being self-deceived into thinking that temporary moral reform is the same as genuine grace that brings about growth in purity.
FIRST THING FIRST
So where does one begin? The answer is, with the Gospel. My brothers, if you are going to experience and maintain any level of victory over lust and impurity, you must first know and believe the true Gospel. It all starts here, for it is the good news of the Gospel that brings you into a vital relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It is the Gospel that defines what that relationship is to be. And it is the Gospel that sustains and builds that relationship. It is the only relationship by which you will be able to stand victorious over the soul-destroying effects of Internet porn, masturbation, being on the down-low, and other sexual sins.
The Bible contains the Gospel, the story of God's good news to humanity. That story is centered in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, and focused on what He did two thousand years ago on a bloody cross. God is the sovereign and holy Creator of all things, and He created humans in His own image with the privileged capacity to have fellowship with Him in love and obedience. But the first humans ruined that relationship by sinning against God and incurring His just condemnation. Their punishment was separation from God as they took on the nature of sin.
This judgment by God put mankind into the inescapable prison of sin and despair. The Bible teaches that men, even at their best, can only muster up filthy rags before God. Without salvation through Christ, men are enslaved to sin, servants of Satan, and enemies of God. We all deserve temporal and eternal damnation for our rebellious nature and behavior, and apart from the gracious saving activity of God in Christ, that's exactly what each one of us would have received.
The good news is that God graciously took the initiative to provide a way for sinners to be forgiven and restored to fellowship with Him. God entered this world in the person of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, to do for sinners what they are impotent to do for themselves. Having lived the perfect life, Jesus died a sacrificial death on the cross as a substitute for lawbreaking rebels. It was on that cross that Jesus paid in full the price for sins so that sinners might be forgiven by God. He satisfied the just claims of the law of God so that sinners might be justified by God and absorbed the awful wrath of God so that sinners might be reconciled to God. Then, having triumphed over sin, on the third day Jesus rose from the dead, gaining victory over death and the grave. And now, as the resurrected Lord and King, He is graciously offering salvation to all who will repent of their sins and believe solely on Him for a right relationship with God. Brothers, this is good news, and it all starts here.
Excerpted from SECRET SEX WARS Copyright © 2008 by Robert S. Scott Sr.. Excerpted by permission.
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