Sexual Sin and Idolatry

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A turning point in Israel’s history occurred at Shittim.  Shittim was close to Mt. Peor. The Bible says, “And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab” (Numbers 25:1).  Later, we discover that Balaam instigated this evil in order to defeat the Israelites through idolatry and sexual sin.  Numbers 31:16 reveals, “Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.”
Baalim was not a prophet of God.  He was hired by Balak, the king of Moab, to speak a curse against Israel.  When Baalim attempted this, God intervened and Baalim was only able to speak a blessing to Israel.  However, God did use Baalim to speak for Him (Num. 24:2).  Baalim was not Israel’s friend.  Baalim took the “rewards of divination” from Moab and Midian to do evil against Israel (Num. 22:7).  He failed to pronounce the curse.  But, he succeeded in seducing the Israelites into idolatry and sexual sin.
The fertility religions at this time were idolatrous.  Baal-peor was god of the Moabite mountains.  He was worshipped with sexual rites. As a local Baal, it was believed that he controled fertility in agriculture, beasts and mankind.  Fertility is a gift of God’s grace.  In making sex a mysterious ritual (the seed of your body in exchange for the multiplication of your crops), the fertility religions revived Satan’s rivalry with heaven.  Therefore, God did not, could not, tolerate what happend at Shittim (see John White, Eros Redeemed, pp. 44-45).  John White observes, “Sexual sin always involves the presentation of one’s body (and therefore also of our whole selves) to the dark powers that wish to control it” (Eros Redeemed, p. 45).  The Bible actually says that Israel “joined” itself to Baalpeor (Num. 25:3).  Commenting on the power of sexual sin to enslave, White declares, “Sexual sin enslaves us to the “gods” to whom (in our case) we unwittingly yield ourselves.  Every time we sin by misuing the sexual parts of our bodies, or by indulging in sexual fantasy, by pursuing pornography or paying for time on erotic phone numbers, their power over our behavior increases.  Sexual sin is sin because it is idolatry” (Eros Redeemed, p. 45).
Idolatry is false worship.  It is worship given to something or someone that belongs to God.  True worship arises when we hear God’s Word and respond to it with trust and obedience to God.  False worship is when we hear the words of darkness and act upon them thus presenting our bodies and spirits to the powers of darkness in devotion to them.  The sacrifices of pagans were offered to demons, not to God (I Cor. 10:20).  Listen to Paul’s words, “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.”  While the actual object of an idol is “nothing” (I Cor. 8:4), there is something significant about the powers of darkness that stand behind the idol.  Charles Hodge notes, “Men of the world do not intend to serve Satan, when they break the laws of God in the pursuit of their objects of desire.  Still in so doing they are really obeying the will of the great adversary, yielding to his impulses, and fulfiling his designs.  He is therefore said to be the god of this world.  To him all sin is an offering and an homage. We are shut up to the necessity of worshipping God or Satan; for all refusing or neglecting to worship the true God, or giving to any other the worship which is due to him alone, is the worshipping of Satan and his angels” (Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 193).  All sin is a form of idolatry.  Sexual sin is a form of idolatry.  It takes what rightfully belongs to God and gives it to another.  Let us heed the words of John, “Little children,keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (I John 5:21).
One final thought.  If the church fails to keep herself sexually pure, she will lose her moral vigor and fail at her mission to take the gospel to all of the nations of the world.  “Sexual philandering by church members accounts in good measure for the impotence of the church’s gospel presentation” (Eros Redeemed, p. 52). When we worship Satan through sexual sin, we lose our desire to fulfill the Great Commission.  Sexual sin among Christians is a distraction, a sin and idolatry.  We must eliminate it and other sins in order to regain our moral integrity as the people of God and march to convert the world to Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah’s Quest

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Jeremiah was a prophet of God during the time of Judah’s apostasy.  He is known as the weeping prophet.  He was called in the 13th year of King Josiah (626 BC) and continued to prophesy until the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC.  He prophesied under the last five kings of Judah:  Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.  Judah was engulfed in idolatry and moral degeneracy.
God gave Jeremiah a mission:  find a man that executeth judgment and seeketh the truth.  “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, and that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it” (Jeremiah 5:1).  Jeremiah needs to find one good man.
The search begins among the common people, the poor, the regular folks (5:4).  They have God’s name on their lips, but they do not have His glory on their minds (5:2).  They swear falsely–they commit perjury with their lips.  They have suffered, but their suffering does not produce character.  They are ignorant (5:4) and do not respect the LORD (5:11-12).
Jeremiah turns to the leaders among the people (5:5).  “I will get me unto the great men…”  He looks among the politicians and the priests.  He remarks that they have known the way of the LORD and the judgment of their God.  But, they have broken off the yoke–they were willfully disobedient to God.  They have not sinned out of ignorance.  They have sinned out of defiance!
The quest continues among the children.  Jeremiah indictes them, “thy children have forsaken me” (5:7).  The children are following in the footsteps of the parents.  They swear by gods that are not gods.  They committed adultery and fornication.  This may refer to fornication which was commonly associated with idolatry.  Jeremiah compares them to an animal in heat, “Everyone neighed after his neighbor’s wife” (5:8).  They were sex-crazed!
Jeremiah looks among the prophets (5:13).  “And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them…”  They should be preaching God’s Word, but the only thing coming from their mouths was “hot air.”  Jeremiah was the exception.  “I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them” (5:14).  The prophets among the people prophesied falsely and the people loved to have it so (5:31).
All Jeremiah needed to do was find one good man.  But, so far, he has found none.  God’s indictment against them reads, “But this people hath a revolting and rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.  Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God…” (5:24,25).  Jeremiah calls them to repentance, but his words fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts.  God will visit them, i.e. punish them for their sins (5:25-31).
Jeremiah was looking for one good man.  What type of man was he looking for?  One who seeks God and His truth.  One who discerns the times and keeps himself unspotted from the world.  One who fears God.  One who respects God in worship and whose lips speak authentically from a pure heart.  One who bodly declares God’s Word.  One who faithfully serves God with tears.  Now, where could we find such a man?

Sexual Integrity

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God’s Word declares, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter:  because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forwarned you and testified, For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (I Thess. 4:3-7).  Consider some of the main ideas Paul presents in this passage.
1.  Sanctified means to be set apart for a holy purpose.  Christians are bought with the blood of Christ (I Cor. 6:19,20).  They must fulfill their redemptive purpose by living consecrated lives.  No man can be sanctified or consecrated to God who does not restrain all lusts and direct his desires in lawful ways.  Love for God demands consecration to God.
2.  Sexual integrity is part of our sanctification and consecration to God.  Flee fornication!  Yet, we live in a sex-crazed society.  Pornography is abundant and available.  70% of people involved in this sin are secretly participating in it.  Pornography promotes fornication, adultery, and homosexuality.  Therefore, it undermines God’s will for marriage and the home.  The only proper means of sexual expression is between a man and woman in the marriage relationship (Heb. 13:4).  Pornography defiles the mind of man by polluting it with impure and unholy thoughts and images.  When lusts are aroused and individuals start “acting out” these desires the body is defiled.
3.  Every Christian must gain mastery over his/her own body.  Paul states, “…every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour…”  Even Paul exercised self-control and self-discipline.  “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Cor. 9:27).
4.  Adultery is a sin against God and another person.  God will judge such matters.
5.  Through the Gospel, God has called us to holiness.  Sexual purity is a part of true godliness and holiness before God.  Holiness is purity of mind and heart.  The pure in heart shall see God (Matt. 5:8).
6.  Sexual addiction is a form of defilement of the mind and heart before God.  It is a sin that needs to be conquered through reconciliation to God.  The glory of grace and the honor of holiness bring both salvation and sanctification to the Christian.  Both grace and holiness are transforming.  Both are essential aspects of the Christian life which manifests the image of God to the world.

Sexual Anarchy

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Sexual Anarchy is the title of a book by Dave Miller director of Apologetics Press, Montgomery, Alabama.  I have recently posted a review of this book.  Please check under book reviews for the title.  This book covers the reasons for the sexual anarchy present in our American culture and examines God’s Word and the moral principles it teaches in contrast to the practices so prevalent today.  Miller discusses:  the sexual revolution of the sixties, the impact it had on marriage and family, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, pornography and then turns attention to the solution to these problems.  The book is somewhat dated (copyright 2006) and is short, having only 110 pages.  However, it focuses on an ongoing set of moral problems facing America the costs of which are astronomical.

In The News

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     A recent Columbus Dispatch article relates a study published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine dealing with abstinence-only education.  The article was titled, “Study: Abstinence sex ed is effective” (Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010).  The article was written by Rob Stein who states, “In the first carefully designed study to evaluate the controversial approach to sex ed, researchers found that only about a third of sixth-and seventh-graders who went through sessions focused on abstinence started having sex in the next two years.  In contrast, nearly half of students who got other classes, including those that included information about contraception, became sexually active.”
     After declining for more than a decade, births, pregnancies and STD’s among U. S. teens have begun increasing again.  The current administration eliminated more than $150 million in federal funding targeted at abstinence programs, which are relatively new and have little rigorous evidence supporting their effectiveness.  The same administration has proposed spending $183 million in 2011 on programs aimed at preventing pregnancies that have been shown scientifically to work. 
     Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation who wrote the criteria for federal funding of abstinence programs commented on the new study.  He states, “This takes away the main pillar of opposition to abstinence education.” 
     Stein further stated, “Based on the findings, Obama administration officials said programs like the one evaluated in the study could be eligible for federal funding.” 
     Sexual abstinence before marriage is not a new idea.  The Bible plainly teaches it.  “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).  One of the aspects of sexual purity that is based upon a love and respect for God is fewer pregnancies out-of-wedlock and fewer sexually transmitted diseases.  Sexual purity leads to a healthier lifestyle!   Why not associate sexual abstinence with sexual purity?  Someone may argue that the separation of church and state forbids us from teaching morals in our schools.  However, we teach students that they cannot lie to the teacher or cheat on a test.  We teach them to respect the property and person of another student by not hurting (bullying) them or stealing from them.  Yes, these things are taught every day in schools across the nation and they are moral imperatives that improve character and enhance the atmosphere of the school.  Why not teach sexual  purity and sexual abstinence?  Sexual  purity involves respect for self and others.  Sexual purity is a value worth restoring to our schools and our society.