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sex is not the problem (lust is): study guide for menSexual Purity in a Lust Saturated World
By Joshua Harris Brian Smith
Multnomah PublishersCopyright © 2004 Joshua Harris
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNot Even a Hint
Why Can't I Seem to Beat Lust?
Now that you've read chapter 1 of Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), we hope you realize that you're not alone. Almost everyone experiences frustration when dealing with lust. The enemy would like you to believe that you're isolated and unusual, but you're not. And you can find safety among carefully chosen brothers in Christ who are willing to honestly face their sin and together pursue holiness.
God offers real hope through the victory of Jesus Christ. Begin your study with a simple prayer expressing your trust in His death and resurrection. Thank Him for giving you the desire to change.
Lust defined: craving sexually what God has forbidden.
There are right and wrong standards for holiness, power sources for change, and motives for fighting sin.
We're not just against lust; we're for God's good plan for sex in marriage.
KEY GROWTH OBJECTIVES
1. Honestly, how realistic does the standard not even a hint seem to you with regard to sexual sin? Why did you choose this response?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Are you crazy? We can do it!
2. Whether you think this is a realistic standard or not, rate how strongly you desire to have not even a hint of sexual sin in your life. Why?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Forget it! I can't wait!
LUST VERSUS SEXUALITY
In Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), Josh writes, "I have a simple definition for lust: Lust is craving sexually what God has forbidden" (book 20).
3. What is helpful to you in Josh's definition? What would you change in the definition, if anything? Why?
4. Part of the challenge Christians face in a lust-filled world is remembering that neither sex nor sexuality is our enemy. Lust is our enemy and has hijacked sexuality. We need to keep reminding ourselves that our goal is to rescue our sexuality from lust so we can experience it the way God intended (book 12).
Summarize from the following Scripture passages God's thinking about the differences between lust and pure sexuality (see also book 27-29).
Lust-Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4
Sexuality-Genesis 2:22-25; Proverbs 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 7:2-5
5. God never calls us to sacrifice as an end in itself, but only through sacrifice on the way to great joy. On the other side of the seeming loss and denial is always reward and pleasure so deep and so intense that it's almost impossible to call what you gave up a sacrifice at all (book 28).
If this is true, then describe what is really happening ... ... when you give in to lust.
... when you resist lust.
6. What is an example of you (or someone you know) passing up the instant pleasure offered by lust for a deeper, more lasting pleasure later? What sacrifice do you think God is calling you through for the sake of true joy and godly pleasure?
OUR EFFORTS VERSUS GOD'S PROVISION
7. At the beginning of chapter 1, Josh describes his futile efforts to live up to "the contract":
The year that followed was a very humbling lesson in how utterly incapable I was of being righteous in my own strength.... All my great ambitions, all my vows, all my self-efforts were revealed to be worthless (book 20).
Describe a time when you tried to accomplish something good on your own when you actually needed outside help.
8. God's standard of not even a hint quickly brings me to the end of my own ability and effort. It reminds me that God's standard is so much higher than the standards I place for myself that only the victory of Christ's death and resurrection can provide the right power and the right motive needed to change me (book 27).
Why was each element of God's plan better than Josh's original plan (see book 24-27)?
GOD'S PLAN JOSH'S PLAN
Standard not even no masturbating of holiness a hint for a year
Power source the cross his own for holiness of Christ willpower
Motivation God's to show God that for holiness grace he was good
FORGIVENESS VERSUS CONDEMNATION
In the preface, Josh writes, "I've learned that I can only fight lust in the confidence of my total forgiveness before God because of Jesus' death for me" (book 13). If you have put your faith in Christ as your Savior, are you confident of your total forgiveness before God? Do you believe He loves and accepts you because of Jesus' sacrifice for you? Without this confidence, it will be difficult to be honest about lust in your life with other carefully selected Christian brothers.
9. Summarize the central point of each of these statements from God to you:
1 Timothy 1:15-16
1 Corinthians 10:13
1 John 1:6-9
10. Honesty with others takes courage. Take a minute to talk with God the Father about any fear you have about discussing the topic of lust. Ask His Holy Spirit for courage and a deep hunger for holiness.
Starting with lesson 2, this section will guide your group to review commitments or action points from preceding lessons in order to evaluate your progress and to encourage you toward greater obedience in God's strength. In this first lesson (especially if you're with a group of guys you don't know well), use the following questions to begin your journey.
11. What is one question you would like us to ask you on a regular basis?
12. What is one way you want us to pray for you this week in keeping with this lesson? (Write down each other's requests and take a few minutes to pray for each other.)
MEDITATE AND MEMORIZE
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Ephesians 5:3
Excerpted from sex is not the problem (lust is): study guide for men by Joshua Harris Brian Smith Copyright © 2004 by Joshua Harris . Excerpted by permission.
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