Preach from TRINITY 630 / 11th March 2018
Exodus 20 & 2 Samuel 11: 1-17
Right. We are going to be talking a bit about sex this evening. So let’s just get the awkwardness over with now shall we? My intention is not to embarrass anyone or make you feel uncomfortable so just try and settle in for the next 20mins or so, ok?
And actually I want to tell you the ending of this talk before we even start.
Which is basically that if anything is raised tonight that makes you feel you’ve done wrong, or that God pin points something you need to say sorry for or make a change in your behaviour, or there’s something in your past that you think you need to deal with, then I want you to know now, that’s all ok because Jesus offers forgiveness and redemption. Unquantifiable forgiveness and unimaginable redemption.
1 John 1:9 tell us that:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
It would be easy for me to stand up here and list of a load behaviour that is sinful and I will touch on that, but the intention is not to condemn – Romans 8 says – there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…
but as always what I want to do is to help us draw closer to Jesus, to know him more.
So I don’t want anyone to go away feeling shame, blame, condemnation, please I don’t want anyone is to leave this place feeling like that ok?
Prayer team and we’ll pray at the end… etc
Now, our commandment we are looking at tonight is ‘You shall not Commit Adultery’ and there might be a temptation to sit there and think well I’m not married, or I’ve not been unfaithful, or I’ve not even had sex, so this doesn’t apply to me
but as with all the commandments, this one is at its root about our relationship with God, about being his people,
and so it applies to all of us.
And we’re going to really start by thinking about our relationship with sex and attitudes towards sex in our society.
And If you’ve heard my testimony you will know that I speak from the viewpoint of having experienced damaging relationships and having an ungodly attitude towards sex, and now having a more measured, thought out, Godly focus to it all but also from the point of having been forgiven.
So attitudes to sex in society around us. What does the media tell us about sex?
How about magazine covers like this – with headlines like this:
‘Blow your mind Sex’
how about advertising like these:
Just a few examples, and these are accessible everywhere, magazines on supermarket shelves, our kids are seeing them, adverts on TV during daytime hours. And I have to say I found it hard to find some that I thought were appropriate to even put on the screen because of some of the images that are used.
We live in a society where almost anything goes…
Sex is everywhere.
It is used to grab our attention for anything from food or car advertising to TV shows, movies, holidays, you name it. We just get so used to it, it offends us less or seems out of place, less and less.
And you know, Sexual freedom really came about after the 1960s and the thought was it would bring about liberty and fulfilment, better sex education, would get rid of back street shops and illegal practices,
but in fact perhaps the opposite is true. We might have good sex ed but we also have:
- ever increasing rates of both abortion and STIs.
- Sexual crimes against woman are increasing.
- Porn is a huge world-wide industry valued at over $100billion per year
- Human trafficking, especially linked to the sex industry, is thought to include some 27 million people trapped in slavery.
- In Britain, the number of marriages each year is decreasing and stats show that nearly half of those marriages will end in divorce.
- The social cost of family breakdown in the UK alone is nearly £44 billion a year.
- And 48% of all children born today in the UK will see the breakdown of their parents’ relationship.
John, J. Just10 (Kindle Locations 1940-1942)
And yet this seems to be the norm for this age, this culture…
So, let’s ask ourselves, is this really what God wants for us?
Is this really his good and perfect plan for our lives? For his world?
This list makes me want to weep
If we think back to what we’ve heard about the 10 commandments already, what are they all about?
Well God said we can read in Exodus 19:6
I’ve given you freedom. Got you out of slavery and if you stick with me, and follow my guidance then you will be my treasured possession, a holy nation.
A holy nation? He wants us to be that holy nation.
The point of the commandments are not to make sure we have a miserable life with no fun or enjoyment, or to condemn us
but the opposite,
that by following God and his guidance, life can be wonderful, blessed, filled with hope and love.
And as God’s people now, under the new covenant, we are just as much called to reflect who he is, to live our lives as Jesus did, to seek to try and be more like him – a holy people.
But. Could we say that of our world today? of the UK, or ourselves even?
We might say well, times have changed, attitudes have changed, everything in context and all that.
But we are called to be different. We are called to stand out, to shine God’s light, to be salt and light, Matthew 5 tells us- bringing the light of God into this world, bringing the flavour of Christ to our own communities.
Romans 12 says:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
DO NOT CONFORM TO THE PATTERN OF THIS WORLD….
Doesn’t that tell us enough?
We have to find a path that brings God’s truth into our contemporary context, NOT by changing that truth to fit society, but by being an example of God in the world around us and choosing a different path. A Godly one.
Now you might disagree with me on what a ‘Godly path’ might look like. But let’s hold on to those two – we are to be a holy nation, that’s God’s desire for us, and we are not to conform to the pattern of this world.
Our Romans 12 passage above in the Message version says this:
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
So ‘you shall not commit adultery’, is just another part of us trying to live as God’s people.
It’s about living a life that honours him.
Committing to living a life that honours him.
heart and mind. Not just action.
In Matthew 5 Jesus is looking at some of the law and the commandments, explaining them afresh to those listening.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
How many of us does that apply to? I am sure we’ve all done it…
We are all made in God’s image, fearfully and wonderfully made Psalm 139 says. Every one of us. So how about of instead of looking at magazine pictures of semi naked people, or reading articles about great sex, looking at others with lustful thoughts, how about if instead, we looked at each other with God’s image in mind, looking at each other in awe and love and respect. Seeing God in each other?
How about if we made a commitment both to God but to each other? To commit to living a God centred life and to help others experience a God centred life too? And not being dragged to the level of immaturity of the culture around us…
I really think a lot of this is about commitment. Not a word that is very popular these days.
I find it really interesting how attitudes towards commitment are changing so much, even in things like making plans to go out – we don’t like to commit to something in case something better comes along do we? we say things like: I might come, or maybe, or I’m not sure….
But what does that say to the person who has invited you to an evening out, to dinner or a party?
It says : I’m not into this friendship enough to commit to coming to your event.
Or worse, what if you do commit to go, but don’t have any intention of it and then you either don’t turn up or cancel at the last minute?
Again what does that say to the other person?
It says I don’t care about how you feel, I’m not bothered that I’m letting you down, I don’t mind that you might find that I’ve gone to something else, with someone else instead of coming to see you.
It causes hurt and pain, and it’s all about ourselves.
But you know, that’s ok because that’s what our society tells us – that it IS all about you. Your choices, what makes YOU happy, self focussed, self love.
Society says we want choices whenever we want them, we want freedom to choose, to live life however we want to.
Our culture says that it’s not just ok but it’s right, if not even necessary to seek the best for ourselves, with a disregard of the cost to others.
And that is a dangerous path, it’s one that leads us away from God, and into darkness, down wrong paths.
It’s so easy for one thing to lead to another.
The story of David and Bathsheba is a good example of this
Now, first off, David was a Godly man – none of us are immune to temptation… so be on your guard!
It starts out with David looking – he was the one on the roof, not Bathsheba, we just know that he saw her bathing,
So – first problem – he sees her and sees she’s beautiful. So he’s looking, He didn’t go, ‘oh oops I didn’t realise she was there’ and head back inside. No he was looking, he noticed her beauty.
Secondly, not only does he not turn away but he responds to his lust – and finds someone to go and find out about her and he is immediately told she has a husband. (and not only this but he hears that her husband is Uriah, who he would know is fighting in his (David’s) army in his war.
Second chance to stop this right now. Recognise this is not a Godly thing.
He sent someone off to get her.
And let’s not be naive here, he didn’t summon her for a nice chat & a cuppa tea, he had some intentions right there. And lets not fool ourselves that she had a choice – he was the king, she had to do what she was told.
So then we also find out she was cleansing herself from uncleanliness – ie she had finished her period and had to ritually cleanse herself – hence the bathing
So if David hadn’t already been wondering if he was doing the right thing (which he clearly wasn’t) might that not have been a sign from God – she is adhering to God’s law right now, does that not tell David something? Remember God?
Well apparently not because then he sleeps with her.
Each step of the way he has choices and yet he takes a step further into his temptation, into darkness, away from God. Every step taking him one step further away.
And it gets even worse.
As we read on in the story we find that not only does he sleep with her, but she becomes pregnant, and so David then tries to get Uriah back from the frontline to sleep with his wife so David can cover up his sin – but Uriah is so faithful and dedicated to his army colleagues and full of honour that he won’t sleep with her.
So again David is pulled further into the web of darkness that he has woven, effectively has Uriah killed. Not just that but in the process some of his other soldiers die.
Then we see in V 27: perhaps one of the biggest understatements ever in the bible:
But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.
And all this started with one look at a beautiful woman.
You know adultery doesn’t usually start with sex. It starts with a look, a feeling, then maybe a comment, flirting… it goes from there, each step a step into the darkness. Each a step where we have the choice to turn back to Jesus.
Here’s the thing, if the world around us says it’s ok to flirt with someone outside of our relationship, we have to ask ourselves what God would say?
If the world around us says well, I don’t want to commit to anyone else, I want to be happy for myself, what does God say to that?
If the world around us says that marriage is an outdated institution or doesn’t mean much, what does God say about that?
If the world around us says that sex is for our recreational pleasure, what does God say about that?
Would we say OUR behaviour displeased the Lord?
As Christians our ultimate guide is Jesus.
If we want to live lives that are honouring to him, recognisnign him, reflecting him, that means making decisions with him at the heart.
And if we make one wrong decision, recognising it and turning back to Jesus, not – which often happens – making another wrong one and another wrong one… like David did, each step away from the light leads us into darkness, into more hurt, away from God.
Jesus is our model for living?
When we focus on him we are being counter cultural, when we put him first, we are saying it’s not just all about me, it’s about God.
And how did Jesus live his life?
He was absolutely committed to us, to you. He served us in life and in death and beyond.
So are we committed to him too?
The bible talks about Jesus as the bridegroom coming back to earth for his bride – and his bride is us, the church. How are we committing to him in that marriage? Are we even committing to him?
If you are married in church, you make vows and declarations before God that say, I will love and honour this other person, I say to the couple:
Will you take X to be your wife (or husband – both have the same)? Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
Each person vows to be with the other, through good times and bad, through good and bad health, or in financial troubles, until death parts them
And here’s the crunch, the final line, we say:
In the presence of God I make this vow
They are making a commitment to another person but also to God.
I wonder if we took those words and applied them to the church as our commitment to Jesus – if we are the bride and he’s the groom, what would that look like?
So I might ask you:
Will you take Jesus and his church and commit to them. Will you love the church, honour and protect her,
Will you stick with her through good times and bad? When sick and suffering and also in joy? When you have money and when you don’t?
Will you be faithful to her as long as you live?
What would it mean then to be unfaithful, to commit adultery?
Walking away from God and his church? Because just like we heard with David, people don’t often just choose to turn away from God, like that. it happens gradually, one step at a time. One missed service at a time, one grumble about the music at a time, one lack of prayer at a time, one difficult situation at a time, one ignoring of the bible at a time…
Where is your commitment to Jesus and his church at? How’s your faithfulness doing there?
Have you made that commitment?
Are you still committed to Jesus or are you swayed by the world around you?
Are we living a life that if Jesus stood right in front of us we’d be able to justify every part of it to him?
Can you genuinely say that your attitude towards people you are attracted to is appropriate in God’s eyes?
Can you genuinely say that your thoughts about sex are in line with Godly thinking?
Can you say that your actions are honouring God?
Look sex is not bad, God created it, he meant it to be the ultimate way of committing to another person, coming together as one, and in the right time and place it’s bloody great to be honest!
J John says:
Sex is powerful and, if misused, can be destructive. Sex is often compared to being like fire. In the right place and handled in the right way sex, like fire, can be good; misused, it can destroy us.
John, J. Just10 (Kindle Locations 1814-1815).
In the wrong time, the wrong way, with the wrong person it can be damaging and harmful and pulls us further and further away from God. And anything that takes us away from God is sin.
Ultimately a big part of committing to being a Christian is seeking to live a life that is modelled on Jesus and is honouring to his name. That is not really up for negotiation.
But we mess up with that all the time, it’s not easy and God knows that and yet he is still committed to us, his holy people, he is a faithful partner to us in all things and he is always there when we want to say to him, ok I messed up, I made a mistake, can you help me out with this?
As we heard at the start, he always forgives us when we come to him honestly saying sorry and seeking forgiveness. Ironic that society tells us we want freedom but that’s exactly what God offers us – freedom from shame, from blame, freedom from condemnation.
So we’re going to finish with that, having a time to turn back to him and bring things to him. We have prayer ministry team & they will be on hand as we continue to worship. I want us all to pray together so that anyone who feels they can’t come out has the opportunity to be prayed over, so no one goes home feeling ashamed or condemned.
And I’m not going to list of the things you might need to repent of, I’m going to ask the Holy spirit to show you…
Lead into prayer….