There’s no question we have to fight for sexual purity. If we are going to experience the maximum amount of joy that God intends for our lives, we are going to have to fight for it. But how? It’s one thing to be told that we need to strive to be holy and it’s another to have a strategy for doing so. Fortunately the Scripture is loaded with resources we can use in this war for joy and holiness. We have been looking at some of the counsel Paul gives us in this regard in Ephesians 5:3-6.
So far we’ve seen that we need to:
1. Pursue a self-sacrificial lifestyle.
2. Commit to taking a radical approach.
3. Develop a deeper appreciation for your new identity in Christ.
4. Practice thanksgiving.
Here’s 5 and 6.
5. Speak the truth into your own life and have friends who will do the same on a regular basis.
Before Paul reminds the Ephesians of why exactly they should be serious about staying away from sexual immorality, he writes ‘For of this you may be sure.’ Really what he is doing is reminding them of what they know. I once heard someone say that the only way you can live with a liar is if you know the truth well. What sexual temptation wants to do is to get you confused about that and so it as we will see later bombards you with all kinds of lies and sometimes the lies come at such a frenzied rate that your head begins to spin. At this moment, you need to have truth in your mind that acts like an anchor for your. I don’t know about this and that, but of this I can be sure. Very practically, if you are struggling with sexual temptation or greed, what you might do is write out a list of truths of which you can be sure and when the temptation becomes intense, you can even bring those truths out and work through them one by one, saying to yourself of this I am sure.
Now here, the Ephesians already knew what Paul was going to say and yet, he says it to them again. That tells me that even believers who have a solid understanding of the truth need relationships with people who will be continually reminding them of that truth. You and I need that. It would be foolish to try to win this battle on your own, especially when God has placed you in a church with fellow soldiers who are all involved in the same battle. Step out in faith and seek to develop a relationship with someone else who will be willing to call you back to the truths you know and love when you are forgetting them and not loving them so much!
6. Be an idol smasher.
As Paul talks about covetousness which is at the root of sexual sin, he describes it in a very interesting way. He says it is idolatry. Covetousness is idolatry. Now that is so important. What’s really happening when I am overpowered by a desire for more and willing to sin in order to get more? Worship is what is happening. When we are sinning in order to fulfill our sexual desires it is about more than fulfilling our sexual desires. Obviously. God has a great way of enjoy sex, it’s with your spouse. There’s something more going on when we give in to this lust for more outside these bounds. That more is called worship. We are looking to someone or something instead of God for approval, identity, joy, security; all things that God Himself says He alone can provide. (It’s interesting and this is for free but in Hebrews God says that one of the ways you fight greed is by remembering his omnipresence. What is going on with that? Well what are you trying to do with greed, you are working so hard to protect yourself through things and one of the ways that you fight that is by remembering the Creator of the Universe loves you and is present with you and when your view of God is right then you aren’t going to be controlled by a desire to have so many things.) One of the ways then to fight against sexual temptation, since it has to do with worshiping the wrong god, is by actively pursuing worshiping the right one and not just worshiping the true God with your lips and external actions, but by crying out to Him that He would transform your heart and fill you up with a desire for Him and a confidence in the gospel that overwhelms your heart and causes you to exalt Him above all else in your life. When a person is really struggling with sexual temptation, if he is going to overcome it is about more than just not doing this and not doing that, there’s something at the root that has to be fixed, and really it is a worldview problem, at that point he’s living as if he were the center of the world and what needs to happen is that he needs to come to the place where he knows and loves and rejoices in the fact that God is at the center of the world instead.