Lust Is Adultery
Passage: Matthew 5:27–5:30
If you're new to where we are in Matthew 5, we've been walking through the Sermon on the Mount. Two weeks ago we saw in verse 20 of Matthew Chapter 5 that Jesus says that our righteousness should exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees. Meaning our righteousness should not be merely an outward one but an inner one and they're focused on their outward righteousness.
Last week Jesus began a series of examples, the first of six to be exact, that He was going to show how our righteousness should exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. By the way, for each one of these six He's going to say not that, "The Old Testament said this but I'm coming in saying this." No, He's not coming against the Old Testament. He said "You have heard it said about the Old Testament." So He's really coming against their interpretation of the Old Testament. So when it came to murder, last week we saw, "You have heard it said 'You shall not commit murder,' but I say to you that murder isn't just the physical acting of shedding blood, taking someone's life physically. You can murder someone in the heart. You can with your words." And you will also be liable and held accountable for that.
This week He's going to move to the sin of adultery. Last week was the 6th of the Ten Commandments murder. This week is the 7th, which is adultery. And as you can imagine, Jesus going to say much the same thing, that your righteousness should go much deeper than just surface-level, just the act of adultery, the physical act, I should say. Let's look at Matthew 5:27-30:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell."
Now I don't think I need to tell you this but I don't think there is a more important topic for us to discuss than this one in our sex-crazed culture. My friend Ben Stewart, a pastor, gave a recent talk at the ERLC conference that I was at. The conference was about engaging our culture with the gospel. And Ben was talking about basically the atmosphere of the porn culture that we live in. And He gave some stats specifically related to technology that I want to share with you.
First of all, just to put kind of a historical perspective on what's happening even in the last 20 years, Think of this: The internet was not available for wide public use until the mid-1990s. So when today's college seniors were born, there were probably about 600 websites. Well today there's billions of websites. College sophomores were born in roughly 1998 - that's the same year that Google was invented. Now there are about three billion searches daily on Google.
The iPhone was introduced in 2007, and with it the World Wide Web became accessible in our hands and in our pockets. 73% of young people today say that they feel helpless without it. CNN recently reported a couple of years ago that teenagers spend 9 hours a day online. That's more than they do sleeping. Demetri Christakis, a pediatrician who researches media and children, says that we are in the midst of a large uncontrolled experiment in this next generation. It will be the first generation to be raised growing up in a high-speed internet, image-driven society.
We know that the porn industry is maximizing on it. Huffington Post recently said the porn sites have more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. So porn is in the air that our young people are growing up in today. Mark Regnerus, a research professor at the University of Texas, put out a rigorous study on porn use among 18- to 23-year-olds. Basically 86% of young men reported interacting with porn once a month. 86% of 18- to 23-year-olds. 31% of women reported once a month interacting with porn, and just under 50% of college men report watching porn weekly.
Obviously those numbers say it's much more an issue with men, but it is not something that doesn't touch women. 31%, one third of women, struggle with this. And women are affected even if they don't struggle with it in other ways, as the porn culture, and really social media, and just the culture at large, is pushing upon women this idea that you have to be overtly sexual in your appearance or else pretty much be invisible to society. So this hypersexualization of our culture has had an incredible damaging effect.
First of all, the CDC reports that 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually molested before they turn 14. Marriages: the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reports 56% of divorce cases involve one of the spouses having an obsessive interest in porn. How about courting? Studies are showing more and more that young people are growing up in an atmosphere where a faithful, committed, exclusive sexual relationship with one partner, one marriage partner, is something that's almost unrealistic and they're even cynical about it.
So this desensitized culture that we live in - it's easy to see why this text that we just read, Matthew 5:27-30, in our culture today it seems like this is a standard for another world and another time. There's no way you can live up to this standard in this day and age. And so what happens is as a culture, and even in the church, we kind of relax and bring down our guard and basically say it's really not that big of a deal.
So what I think this text is doing for us, Matthew 5:27-30, is two things. First of all pushing down on us that it is a very big deal. And then secondly, therefore we've got to wake up and take drastic measures. That's what He's saying. So that's what we're going to look at.
Point One: the problem is serious. Look what He does here: "You have heard that it was said, 'you should not commit adultery,' but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent (that doesn't mean just to say, oh, she's attractive, maybe you see someone on the surface. It's literally to make an object of that woman.) -- to look at her with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
So the first thing that Jesus does to show us that it's a serious problem, is to remind us that lust is serious to God. It is on the same level as adultery. So once again Jesus is raising the bar and showing that the Old Testament teachers of the law that focus on just the outer act of adultery were missing the heart of that command. And in fact, to take it to the heart isn't foreign to the Old Testament. In fact the tenth commandment of the Ten Commandments, the one that says "You shall not covet," actually addresses desiring another man's wife. That is covetousness, that's sin.
So even in the Old Testament it's not just the physical act of adultery, it's the heart. So what Jesus doing here is saying, Look, you can commit murder with your words and with your anger, and likewise you can commit adultery with a gaze, and with your heart, and with your mind.
And as a side note let me just say something. Don't be stupid here and say this to yourself: "Well, if it's the same thing, lust and adultery, well then I've already committed adultery with my eyes, so I might as well sleep with her." You wouldn't do that last week, right? Would you have said, "Well, if anger's the same thing as murder, I'm already angry so I might as well kill him." Try that out, see what happens. The consequences are graver. So don't you dare do that.
So it's important to know the connection that Jesus makes between the eyes and the heart. This is why He's going to take very practical steps, and I'm going to get there in a moment, about dealing with your eyes. Of being serious with it because it's the gateway to your heart. We've seen this several times.
I keep pointing forward to Matthew 6, and we're going to get to Matthew 6:22-23 when Jesus says, "The eye is the lamp of the body so if your eye is healthy your whole body will be full of life. But if your eye is bad your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness how great is the darkness." It's making a connection - it's not just the physical act, it's your eyes that are committing adultery.
What a message our culture needs to hear. I'll never forget being at a youth camp many years ago that was a particularly hard youth camp when it came to lust. We were on the beach first of all, and girls and boys were dressing very provocatively. They were addressing it from the stage.
Finally one sophomore guy decided to do something that I thought spoke volumes. He went to one of those old airbrush stands and made a t-shirt. The front of it said: "Why am I not looking at you?" And he wore that around youth camp, and he wore it every day (it was kind of nasty). "Why am I not looking at you?" And people would see him: "Why am I not looking at you?" and think, "What in the world?"
And as he's walking by just looking straight ahead, not gazing around, you look at the back of his shirt and it said "Job 31:1." So everyone ran back to their cabin and flipped over to Job 31:1 and Job says, "I've made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully upon a young woman." And I think it spoke so much louder than any sermon that was preached. Here was a guy that was saying, we have got to take seriously the eye and its affect on the heart.
So first of all, lust is adultery, but then the second reason why this is a serious problem is that lust is insidious. Now "insidious" is a word that that you need to introduce your vocabulary if it's not there and really Embrace this word. Insidious - Webster says this: "Causing harm in a way that is gradual or not easily noticed; awaiting a chance to entrap; having a gradual and cumulative effect; developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent." Dictionary.com: "Stealthily treacherous or deceitful, intending to entrap; operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect."
That word, insidious, describes this sin. Fantasy precedes the physical action of sin. We say, "Where do you see Insidious in what Jesus is saying?" Where I see it, it's going to end up saying it's better to lose one member of your body than to have your whole body go to hell. So I think what Jesus is saying is that this particular sin is like gangrene. It's going to spread throughout your whole body. It's a sin that is meant to find a foothold and to grow and grow and become a stronghold and dominate you. It's not meant to stay at one spot. It's meant to grow in its devastating effect in your life.
The common statement that you hear over and over again from people who fall into sexual sin is that, "I never thought that it would happen to me. I never thought that I was capable of it." No one does. It's insidious in its nature. Lust seeks to slowly enslave you. The cycle of pornography is, you fall into the sin and that creates shame, which drives you into more seclusion and more darkness. Which is exactly where the enemy wants you so that you will go right back to it and it just kind of grows and grows, like a monster.
So don't be a fool, you can't just dabble in this. It is meant to grow and get you addicted. You see it throughout Scripture - the whole story of David and Bathsheba. Why is that put there for us? First to see, here's a man - if you think, "I never thought I was capable," here's a man after God's own heart who's walking on a rooftop and sees a woman bathing naked. It starts with a gaze, and then it turns into a longing. Then it turned into a question: "Who is she?" Well she's not your wife, she's the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Then he calls for her and he sleeps with her. And then he commits murder after that. So you see the insidious nature of it.
And by the way it's huge for us to take these first two thoughts: First of all lust is adultery, therefore we're all guilty and need Jesus. More on that to come. Lust is Insidious. Therefore we're all capable and I want to breathe that into the culture of Providence, this idea of hey, we are all capable of this, and why? Because I want to have a culture in our church where people who are struggling with this sin feel comfortable to bring it out. And they're not going to have people look down on them and say, "I never do that." But they have people look at them and say "I'll be right there with you, if I was left to myself, if I didn't have the Holy Spirit. Let me help you, let me walk with you."
Number 3 on this idea, the problem is serious, not only is lust insidious but lust is destructive. That's what he is saying here. Ultimately it's heading you to hell. Your whole body is going there. John 10:10 - Jesus says, "I've come to give you life and give it to the full," but the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Don't make any mistake about it, that is what this sin is in your life, men and women, it's in your life for this reason: to steal, kill, and destroy. I'm going to walk through those.
Number one, it's destructive because it steals your joy. It saps your spiritual vitality. That's why David, when he's wrestling with his confession and his sexual sin and he says in Psalm 51:12, he says, "Restore to me the joy of my salvation," and Psalm 32:3 he says, "When I kept silent about my sin, my bones grew old and my vitality turned to drought." And there are some of you here today, your vitality has turned to drought. Porn has made you a shell of the man that God wants you to be. And it's all sapped out of you, and therefore you have no zeal for scripture and no longing to meet with God in prayer, because shame and guilt is dominating your life.
Number two, it kills your senses. In other words it's destructive because it steals my joy and it kills my senses. Lust and pornography - friend, hear me say this - lust and pornography is training your mind. It's rewiring your mind to think differently. To think perversely about yourself, about the worth of others, about intimacy, about sex. It's having a damaging cumulative effect on you.
This is what Ephesians 4:19 says - "They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity." And I'm telling you sexual sin, lust, pornography is a very defiling sin in its nature. Paul talks about it in 1 Corinthians 6:15-18. Here he was talking about the actual physical act, but stay with me. He says, ". . . he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, 'The two will become one flesh.' But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body."
What he's trying to say is this: There's something uniquely defiling and warping about sexual sin. Every other sin is outside the body, sexual sin is within. And when he speaks about your body, it's not just your physical body, it's your total person, who you are physically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, is being shifted because of porn. And the binding effects, for instance, having casual sex, the binding effects of sex is what makes it drastic when it happens outside the bonds of marriage. That's why he says you become one flesh with her. The more it becomes forged and broken the more you lose capacity for a deep, abiding unity and intimacy in marriage.
Sam Allberry, who's spoken at our church before, said it this way: "Sex is sort of like a Post-It Note. The first time it works well, but when it is reapplied over and over again, it loses its capacity to stick to anything." You say well, that's the physical act that he's talking about in 1 Corinthians 6, but I'm telling you lust and pornography is doing the same thing. In fact, science is proving that to be true.
When you click on that porn site and you are taking in those images, science tells us that what's happening is the dopamine system is being fired on all cylinders. That means the pleasure chemicals in your brain. But on top of that, friend, scientists tell us at that not only that but there is a hormone that's released, oxytocin, which is the hormone that is for deep emotional attachment. It's the same hormone that is released when a mother nurses her baby. That's what's happening.
That's why he says sex was meant to join two as one flesh. What porn is doing is that young people are being raised and they're not they're not attaching to a spouse - they're attaching to a screen. And more and more as that's happening they're becoming desensitized. They're losing their ability to even have a taste for the finer things such as conversation, a meal, a date, romance - the things that a real good marriage is built on. That's why we see marriages crumbling left and right all over our society.
One more thing on this destructive nature of lust before we get to the solution: It destroys your purpose. Friend, if you're a Christian, your ultimate purpose is to carry the name of Jesus Christ into this world, to be his Ambassador. Do you know that when we're enslaved to porn, the tragedy is we are not fulfilling the greatest purpose God is given us that brings us ultimate joy. That our life is used to make him great. And people in churches who are enslaved to lust feel like they're living a lie and so they dare not speak up about Christ. That's what they believe. They feel like they're inadequate to be used by God. So Christians are retreating when all the more we should be advancing into the world. And so the gospel witness is being hindered all over and I'm telling you this is the greatest tragedy to this sin.
Let me chase a quick rabbit if I may. And you're going to be like, why are you chasing this rabbit? Trust me, I've got a purpose. I just went to the Elam Founder's Weekend (Elam is the ministry that reaches into Iran with the gospel) couple of weeks ago and I heard story after story that blew me away. Of men and women who are risking their life - literally people are hunting them down to kill them - to follow Christ, leaving the Muslim world, telling others about Christ, seeing God provide in remarkable ways. In one month I'm going to go with Bob and Jennifer Patton to Turkey and we're going to meet up with Farshid. Remember Farshid, he's the Iranian who was in prison for 5 years, we prayed for him. He's been released. Farshid's going to meet us and we're going to go lead a conference with Persian refugees, where the Wynns are our missionaries. It's going to be awesome.
Farshid was on Skype couple weeks ago at this conference and he shared this story that just blew me away. He talked about being arrested in 2010 and he was in prison for 5 years. The first 361 days, just short of a year, he was in solitary confinement. Only Sunday and Wednesday could he go shower. Every 4 hours he could go to the bathroom. They would blindfold him in his cell, take him to the bathroom, he can use the bathroom and then come back. 361 days without seeing a mirror, seeing his face, not sleeping well because there's a glaring lamp over him. He said when he was released into the main prison area it was like going to heaven. That's how horrible solitary confinement was.
So he gets released and there's a guy named Mortezza who was a staunch Muslim. He prays five times a day and he sees him. This guy was also in solitary confinement. He was accused of being a spy when he really wasn't. But he was a hard-core Muslim, and Farshid sees him praying every day.
Farshid says one day he's in the bathroom and this guy walks in and sees Farshid and walks over to him, this Muslim man. And he says, "Farshid, ours is dead, but I heard yours is alive." And Farshid's like, "What are you talking about?" And he goes, "Will you pray for me?" And he's immediately thinking, what if this is a trap? I just got out of 361 days of solitary confinement. What if this is a trap? I pray for this brother, they throw me right back into solitary confinement. So he's like, no way am I going to do this!
So he says, "Why do you want me to pray for you?" He says, "I gotta get out of here. I've been praying to Allah. He's not answering. I heard the one you worship is alive and so I thought, will you pray for me?" So Farshid's like, I gotta do this. So he pulls him to a corner of the bathroom where there's no a camera and he prays over this guy. The next day that guy tackles Farshid with tears in his eyes. And he said, "They reviewed my case and they're letting me out in 2 weeks." And he said, "Brother, your God is alive."
So I'm hearing stories like this. What does this have to do with lust? Hold on - listen. I want you to know what's happening in my heart. I'm listening to this and whole time I'm thinking, "In our churches in the West we are struggling with, and what I deal with as a pastor all the time, is someone enslaved to lust, cheating on their wife, abusing their wife."
I'm not trying to put that person down. Listen, I have been enslaved. I am not trying to say that's not a worthwhile ministry to deal with that. Hear this in the right heart. I'm not looking down on anyone, here's what I'm doing: My heart breaks that there are people in our churches who are suffering for their own sin when you really could be suffering for something that brings you joy: seeing the Gospel spread. That's the great tragedy. The amount of time and energy and pain that we're walking through suffering because of our sin.
So we've got to do something. Let me say this real quickly. The man addicted to porn cannot lead his family the way God intended, because he is consumed with shame and guilt. The man addicted to porn has lost his sensitivity to romance and to love his wife and he has cut himself off from his power source. He's not animated by the presence of God in his life daily. He's lost his spiritual sensitivity to see the world the way God sees it, and to be on mission.
So I'm telling you, the problem is serious - that's the first part of this text. Therefore, the second part, point two, the last point, the solution must be radical. That's what He says. It's a grave problem - in the eyes of God it's the same as adultery. By the way, it's insidious, it's growing like gangrene, and, by the way, it's destroying you. Therefore you can't be casual with this sin. You've got to take extreme measures. That's why He says if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
John Owen said this: Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you. The Apostle Paul said, put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire. Put it to death. Everything you read, be drastic. We are at war.
If ISIS continued to grow and dominated the whole world and was surrounding our country at every shore, we wouldn't just be going about business the same way, going to work. We all would quit our jobs, start getting trained, and get ready to fight. And I'm telling you, that's what's happening. The porn culture is all over us - it is dominating marriages, families, and changing the course of our history. I'm telling you it's happening. We can't be casual. We gotta take drastic measures.
So what I want to do today is give you an acrostic that you will not forget, I hope. And I'm going to give you five steps. I think that if you run hard after these five I believe you're positioning yourself to find freedom. The acrostic is CEDAR. It's what I desire for men, and for women, and for singles in our body.
Psalm 92:12-15 - "The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon." I love that. It's immovable, it stands in this culture that's just being washed away. Now listen to how a cedar is described.
"They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him."
That's what I want. I want to be bearing fruit in old age. I want to be full of sap, and to be green, and to have vitality, and be declaring to the world that God is upright. So let's be cedars.
The first C is Confess. Even AA says "You're only as sick as your secrets." And I'm telling you friend, this sin, like all sins but I would say probably more than any other sin, thrives in the darkness. And what we are duped into believing is, "If I were to confess this to anybody, I would be undone." We believe we're not safe to share this. That's exactly what the enemy wants to keep us.
So the key to confession, I believe, is what Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 7:10 - "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death." You say, why are you bringing that up - worldly sorrow versus Godly sorrow. Here's why: because you might be saying, "Afshin, I've been confessing all the time and I don't see God doing anything."
I think the key to confession is, what kind of sorrow is driving that confession? You see, a worldly sorrow is focused on self: What's going to happen to me? Will I be judged? What will my sin cost me? Godly sorrow doesn't care about any of that. Godly sorrow is focused on God. I've hurt him. The greatest illustration is King Saul vs. King David. King Saul was confronted by Samuel and you know what he did? He said "I've sinned against the Lord," and the very next thing he says: "Yet now on honor me in front of my elders." In other words, "Samuel, you just confronted me in front of all my leaders and outed me. Now honor me. I've sinned, but honor me." In other words, he's confessing, but he's more worried about what people think of him. And so that confession isn't a real, full-on Godly sorrow confession.
King David, on the other hand, was confronted by Nathan and he said, "I have sinned against you, and you alone, God." He's burdened with sorrow because he has offended the God he loves. And there's the difference. Worldly sorrow says, "God, rescue me from this sin so that I could be used by You greater, so that my ministry would flourish, so that people will think well of me, my job." Listen, those things aren't bad but I'm saying Godly sorrow moves beyond that and says, "God rescue me from this sin so I can know You more, so that my life can be leveraged to bring You honor." So to go to God and confess. He's faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Number two: Eliminate. Get rid of all access points. How do you get rid of a stray cat? You stop feeding it. You don't like that one? Let me give you the Bible. Romans 13:14, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." This is what I think He means when He says cut off your hand. Pluck out your eye. What He's saying is, "Look, you gotta ask the question: 'Where am I the most vulnerable? What situation do I always find myself falling into this sin? What are the outlets, what are the portals that constantly cause me to stumble?'"
Is it your phone? is it your computer? Get a passcode for it. Put it in a place that you can't access after hours. Get completely off social media if you have to. Remove apps. Put locks on your phone. See, here's where I think we're losing the battle. We have been duped by our culture into thinking that we can't live without this. Can I tell you something, guys? Fifteen years ago you did live without this and you did it just fine! But now there's no way I can live without this. Baloney. You're not serious enough about this sin. You don't want it enough (purity).
So Ben Stewart had some college students say this to him, and he'd say, "Get your computer out of your room and put it in a public place. Get rid of your phone. Don't have your phone with you at your bedside." And literally, a college student will say to him, "It's my alarm!" And Ben's like, "Well, get an alarm! Are you serious? It's not worth sinning over." Guys, get a flip phone. "No, man, there's no way." Yeah, you can. You can live with a flip phone. You did just fine without any cell phone, some of you. A lot of men in this room, you did fine without any cell phone.
"It's the girl at my job." Well, you want to be drastic? Get a new job. "Are you serious?" See, that's what I think. I think some people that go, "No, I can't get rid of my phone," I think they're the same people who would've heard Jesus say this and said, "No way! That's too drastic." And I think that what scriptures saying is, "No, you aren't getting drastic enough." Hebrews 12:2 ""In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." You haven't gotten there yet. And so you're not going to find victory.
Number three: Delight. in other words it's not enough just to starve the addict inside you. You've only addressed the surface level. There's something deeper going on. In other words, friend, there is a reason you are constantly going to porn. You are medicating a wound. You are medicating a sense of inadequacy in your life. And I'm telling you if you eliminate access points to it, the addict inside you will start screaming. And I'm telling you that's why it's not enough just to eliminate. Then you have to turn to God and ask him to change what you delight in.
Pornography has been around for some time that there's enough research done on it now that we know today that most people who are addicted to pornography reveal that they have a profound sense of being or feeling unloved or unlovable. So when I say delight (the third point) I mean firstly, to delight in the gospel. To turn back and remember that you are loved, that you are lovable in Christ.
The same scripture, Hebrews 12, that says you haven't yet resisted sin to the point of bloodshed, goes on to say several times: Don't forget, you are a son. You belong to the Father. You're a child of the Father if he chastises you. In other words, remember that the Father loves you and we need to speak the gospel into our lives again.
But the second thing I mean when I say delight in the Lord, is not just to turn to the Gospel, but to turn to the point of the gospel, which is Jesus. In other words, start tasting and seeing that He is good. Jesus calls Himself the living water that will give you eternal quenching for your thirst. He's the bread of life that will satisfy all your hunger and thirst. But the truth of the matter is, friends, the reason we fall into sexual sin, the reason we are enslaved, is at the end of the day, we delight in it.
Listen to James 1:14: "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire." John Piper says it this way: Imagine if you're about to click on that porn site on your computer and an ISIS member walks in, grabs your child and is about to slit his or her throat if you go to that website. You're not going to that website! Because there's something you desire more. Way more.
Or if a guy walks in and says, "I've got a billion dollars if you don't go to that website." Guess what? Your hand's gonna come off, and you're not gonna click that website, right? No way! Well, guess what? Why, at the end of the day, do we click that button? We don't think the consequence is all that great. At the end of the day, why do we click that button? We don't think if we take our hands off, that Christ will satisfy us more. We don't believe it.
That's not going to happen overnight, friend. You've got to turn to God and say, "God, create in me a clean heart. Renew a steadfast spirit within me. God, make me desire you again, delight in you again." The people who are not enslaved to sensual lust, 1 Thessalonians 4 says, are those who truly know God. You say how can I get there? David - Psalm 119: "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
So friend, you turn back to God's word and you daily go to God's word. Bring it into your mind. Bring it into your eyes. Start meditating on God's word. Let God's word go from your mind to your heart and slowly you will see, I believe, your desires starting to change. Your longing for God. I love how 2 Thessalonians 2:10 says it, that it's not truth that keeps us from deception, it's the love of truth. You ask God, "Give me a love for what is true. Give me a love for you alone," and you going to see slowly that's going to happen. And more and more you're going to be repulsed by the thought of porn.
So man, Confess, Eliminate, Delight, I'll hit these next two really quickly. Attach - what I mean is this. Everything I'm talking about - CED - guys, you can't do it alone. You're not going to find victory in this sin alone. It only happens I believe in community. "Confess your sins to one another that you may be healed, James 5:16 says. 1 John 1:7 says, "Walk in the light and you'll have fellowship with each other," You heard me say this: what kind of fellowship? The very next verse, "If we say we do not sin we lie, and the truth is not in us." So the fellowship that is confessing sin to my brother, and walking in that kind of light, is what brings me freedom.
And so friend, very practically: men, sign up for our men's prayer breakfast coming up March 24th. Sign up for it; come and meet other men. Say, "Man, I'd like to get you more. I'd like to grab coffee with you." Sign up for community group. Some of you have just been on the fringe of our church. Get involved in community. Sign up for Redemption Groups. I mean, good night - it's coming up, March 24th, sign up for it. And by the way, men, and I know by the way, men and women on Redemption Group, that's not just for men. But men, let me speak to you quickly. There are groups that meet in our church that specifically address this issue. Come talk to me.
One last thing: Reengage. in other words, what I mean is, this sin thrives in idleness and slothfulness. And I'm saying once you've done those things, then men, reengage in the mission God has given you. I mean go on a mission trip. Serve him. Get involved in the ministry of our church. Romans 12:11 says this: "Do not be slothful in zeal. Be fervent in spirit. Serve the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, "My beloved brothers be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." Reengage the mission.
And men, husbands, reengage your marriages. Reengage your wife. Start to promote health in your marriage. Date her; buy her a special gift. Write her notes. Start going through a book with her. Have no-TV or no-phone nights when you're just with her. Have a conversation. Singles, do this before marriage. Promote this kind of health. Men, women, get engaged in the mission.
And so here it is: CEDAR - Confess, Eliminate, Delight, Attach, Reengage. And I'm telling you, if we walk these, you are positioning yourself to find freedom. May God move. At the end of the day, we need him. Let's pray.
Father, we love you. God, we praise you, we thank you for your word, we thank you for the seriousness of this text. And God, we pray that we would wake up as a church and that we would not be casual about this very destructive sin. Oh Lord, for your name's sake, would you do a work of healing? God, would you move us to a place where we long for you more than we care about what people think of us? That we would do the drastic measure of actually confessing to you, to a brother, to a sister, "I need help."
God, may we eliminate, and may we turn to you. May we walk in the light. Whatever the drastic step is that you're calling us to, may we not say "Well, I don't have to go that far." God, may we get to a place where we resist sin to the point of bloodshed. And God, would you bring healing to marriages? Would you awaken men and women alike to spiritual vitality? Would you take the dross that's over our church? Remove it, and breathe life then send us on mission, God. We love you, in Christ's name we pray, amen.