Are you tired of relationships that don’t work? Do you long to find that special person you really connect with and have the kind of sexual intimacy that you’ve always dreamed of? I want you to know that it is possible. God even has a plan for this — and the key to experiencing His plan is to know the difference between love and sex.
Hollywood and the media inundate us daily with messages telling us that love and sex are the same. And many of us continue to believe the lies that sex outside of marriage is okay if two people really love each other, or that lusting after images on the Internet is harmless and doesn’t hurt anyone. But the truth is sex doesn’t equal love and intimacy.
It’s crucial that we know the difference between sex and love, because if we don’t, we’re doomed to fail at both.
In Ephesians, chapter 5, the Apostle Paul explains how we’re to have a relationship based on genuine love and authentic intimacy. He starts off by saying: Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (v. 1)
As Christ followers, we are called to “walk in the way of love” with one another. But what does walking in the “way of love” look like and how do we do it? Walking in love means being kind, giving, caring, sacrificial and unselfish toward others. This is the opposite of exploiting others for our own personal gain and engaging in immoral sexual activity.
Then Paul tells us to avoid indulging in selfish and sexual immoral behavior:
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. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (v. 3-5)
Notice that it’s not just sexually immoral behavior that is prohibited, but also immoral speech such as “coarse joking” and “foolish talk.” This is the kind of talk that makes light of sexual impurity.
God also wants us to know that even our thoughts matter. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8) Do you know that some of the most important decisions we make every day revolve around what we allow in our minds and take into our hearts? Therefore, we need to be aware that certain activities, people, or media can negatively influence our behavior and our thoughts.
So why does God make such a big deal out of sexual immorality? Sexual impurity – in our mind, speech, body and behavior – destroys relationships. And it destroys our relationship with God first.
Our Father in heaven knows that when there is sex with no marriage commitment, our capacity to be intimate and experience His love is diminished. When we’re filled with shame and hypocrisy, it becomes nearly impossible to be authentic with God and experience His presence to the fullest.
This breaks His heart because He wants to be close with us. He also wants us to experience the most amazing love and intimacy in a relationship with another person. And He wants us to know that love is about commitment, and sex is a gift that we open His way with the right person, in the right time, and in the right way.
So now I’d like to offer a word of hope, wherever you’re at today. Whether you’re single, dating or married, you’ve blown it in past relationships and still feel a lot of regret and shame, or you’re struggling with sexual immorality right now, I want you to know that God is not down on you. Forgiveness and restoration is available. God loves you and is inviting you to respond – to repent and deal with the issues before you.
This week, we’re beginning the series Love, Sex & Lasting Relationships. In it, we’ll discover what real lasting, loving relationships look like in contrast with “Hollywood’s formula.” During this series, it’s my prayer that we’ll discover God’s way for finding love, staying in love, and growing in intimacy for a lifetime.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip