Monday, January 13, 2014

Wage War!

Please welcome guest author Matthew Bryant! Matthew serves as Coordinator of College Ministry at King Street Church and loves seeing young people grow in Christ. He also serves as a chaplain in the United States Air Force, is married to his wife Lindsay, and is a non-identical triplet. Enjoy his challenge, and be reinvigorated in your fight against sin!

"This is the fighting day, expect nothing now but bullets, bruises, wounds, [and] scars..." Charles Spurgeon preached in 1896. This message to engage in battle is not new. Paul told Timothy in a letter written around A.D. 62-64 - "This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith" (1 Tim. 1:18-19). The call to fight remains just as relevant today as it was for Paul and Timothy. True or False: In a fight people get hurt. True. I just want you to recognize here at the onset that "fighting the good fight" will not be easy or painless. But if you do not fight - then you will lose and are in grave danger of "shipwreck[ing]" your faith. 

No more beating around the bush - I am specifically talking about the fight for your sexual purity for the glory of God, to magnify the name of Jesus. Sexual sin may not be as enticing to you as is to others but it is a tantalizing temptation for MANY - your son or daughter, brother or sister, husband or wife, pastor or congregant. And if sexual sin is not your hang up, it does not mean that you are not in the battle! There is still battles to be fought alongside other brothers or sisters in Christ. 

I don't have to make a well polished case for the over sexualized nature of our culture. Most entertainment from music, internet, TV shows, and movies all profit from the fact that sex sells. Sex is being talked about on billboards, magazine racks, and social media news feeds. 

And let's be clear, sex is not the problem or enemy. God made sex and it is a beautiful thing. If you are reading this, you are a product of sex. So what is the issue? What is the problem? Joshua Harris, in a book titled Sex is not the Problem (Lust Is), looks to scripture to pinpoint the issue. Ephesians 5:3 says, "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." Notice the scripture does not read, "But among you there must not be even a hint of sex..." Such a command would be foolish and go against one of God's earliest instructions to man - "Be fruitful and multiply..." (Gen. 1:28). This instruction was of course given inside of the context of marriage between one man and one woman. 

That is why Joshua Harris clarifies the issue in the title of his book - simply put - sex is not the problem in your battle for sexual purity. Lust is the problem. He defines lust plainly in the book: "Lust is craving sexually what God has forbidden."

So the problem is identified, what now? Fight! Fight to not gratify those sexual cravings that God has forbidden. 

Romans 13:14 says, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." What does that mean for us? 

There are two ways of fighting:

1. "...put on the Lord Jesus Christ,..." Any relationship requires time and effort. Without time and effort you will have a failed relationship. We cannot ignore the grave consequences of attempting to fight for sexual purity without Jesus. What you end up with is someone who is very moral (and probably proud) but not a Christian. 

2. "...and make no provision for the flesh,..." We must get rid of things that easily cause us to stumble and fall. More clarification may be needed - - This does not mean that Television, Movies, Media, Magazines, Smart Phones, etc. are all evil and the problem. Lust is the problem. Now those mediums may bring lustful excursions to your living room, bedroom, and front door but that does not make them evil. And just because they are not evil does not mean that we should welcome unfiltered access to these mediums. 

So if you are going to take the battle for your sexual purity seriously then you will make some radical choices, choices that may seem crazy to others around you. Do I have to get rid of cable? No. But it may be wise. Is it wrong for me to have a smart phone? No. But consider Jesus' extreme position in the battle against sin - "If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell" (Mt. 5:29). Let me contextualize: "better to throw out your smart phone, get rid of cable, seek out accountability...than to be stuck worshiping sexual fantasies and enter eternity without Jesus!"

Here are some tools for you to use in your battle for sexual purity for the glory of God, to magnify the name of Jesus. 

1. Put on the Lord Jesus:
  • Spend time in the Word of God everyday! No plan to read the Word might as well be a plan not to read the Scriptures - - Jesus fought off the temptation of Satan in the wilderness through quoting scripture. Memorize it!
  • Pray. Jesus said, "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Mt. 26:41)
2. Make No Provision for the Flesh:
  • Check out the awesome resources found in The Relentless Fight's article "The Armory".
  • Get in the fight with both feet! Make radical decisions to cut out things that easily cause you to fall into lust.
  • Don't fight alone! Commit to being a part of the body of Christ. The body of Christ is the church - God seeks to accomplish His will not only in your life but throughout the world by the local church. Commit to it, submit to it, and get accountable with people in it. 
Remember that your fight for sexual purity is not about earning God's favor. We fight because of what Jesus has done for us in His finished work on the Cross. Because He is risen and lives, we can have new life. Our sexual purity is for the glory of God, to magnify the name of Jesus. 

So WAGE WAR and Fight Well all for the glory of God, to magnify the name of Jesus through all the earth! Your sexual purity matters.