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Love and Sex: Why Knowing the Difference Makes All the Difference

From the series Love Sex and Lasting Relationships

When we fail to understand the difference between love and sex we are doomed to failure in both our relationships and our sexuality. Would you like to know what God thinks about sex? Join Chip as he shares God's view of sex and how knowing the difference between love and sex will make all the difference.

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Message Transcript

When you hear the words love and sex in the same sentence, a lot of people think they are the same thing. But I am going to talk today about why knowing the difference makes all the difference in the world.

I have three specific stories I want to tell. I could tell a thousand of them, probably. The names would be changed, but they are true of younger people, and older people, and single people, and married people, and divorced people. But this confusion about love and sex keeps us from having the kind of love, the kind of sex, and the kinds of lasting relationships that God really wants.

The first two stories are going to be told through the eyes of counselors who interviewed these people: Les and Leslie Parrott. The others, through the eyes of another counselor named Paula Rinehart. And I share these in a way, because I want you to sit back and listen, not just with your mind, but with your heart, and listen to what happened in the lives of people who were confused about love, and sex, and how they go together.

Lauren and her boyfriend walked into their apartment during their college days, after studying. Mike nudged her as they walked in the door and said, “My roommate is gone for the weekend.” She barely got in the door and, in her words, couldn’t quite get her jacket off, and he began to kiss her, and tell her how wonderful, and gorgeous, and, “I love you so much, and I’ve just got to express that.”

And Lauren would later reveal that they had been dating for about four months. She believed in her heart that Mike really cared about her. They had shared some very, very deep things, and she knew that if she didn’t have sex soon, it would probably end the relationship, or so she believed.

Without much forethought, the nudge led her into the bedroom.  And she didn’t plan on having sex that night, but she did.

And the moment that happened, the relationship completely changed. All she could think about was Mike. She was obsessed with him. She felt like she had crossed a barrier, and that there was a commitment at a level that she really wanted the relationship to be at. She loved him deeply. Every date after that involved sex.

And so much so that she decided that when summer break came, she would rearrange her schedule so that she could live close to Mike, so they could be together. She, as the counselor would explain, told him that, “I’ve changed my summer plans, and I’m going to be here, and we can be together all summer.”

And it was received with a cool withdrawal by Mike. We’ll will hear his story in just a minute. She was baffled. She “gave in,” loves him, makes a decision to want to be around him, and he begins to retreat. By the end of the spring semester, they broke up.

Now, Lauren’s story is very common. Only seventeen percent of women pre-decide when they are going to have sex. Eighty-seven percent say, “Well, it just happened.”

Well, lest we think Mike is the bad person, or in any way coerced his way into this situation, the counselors then sit down with Mike. And his side of the story is quite different.

He said, “You know, we’ve been together four months. I would never take advantage of a girl. I don’t believe in one-night stands. We shared everything together. She knew about the tragic break-up I had, cried with me, prayed with me, all the rest. Not only that, but I knew about the family situation, and the near borderline abusive situation with her dad.

“We had these hour-long make-out sessions that were marathon and wonderful. We’d lose track of time. I remember even one time,” he shares with the counselor, “that I teased about taking a bath together, and she kind of giggled. And all that flirtation, and all that time I just really believed that if you really love someone, and you want to express it, sex communicates in a way that words quite can’t.

“But then, when she changed her summer plans, it was like, Wow, she’s making this big commitment, and I felt smothered.” And that’s when the distance happened, and that’s when they broke up.

Paula is a counselor, and she’s going to interview two young women.  And as you listen to the stories of these two young women, I want you to be thinking about your own history, and your own perspectives.

Paula is the counselor and says, “The woman listening to me, and whom I’m counseling right now, is slouched on my sofa. She’s a lovely woman, but her eyes are tired, and she’s depressed. I can hardly believe she’s only twenty years old. She says her life is not going well. She doesn’t want to be here, but she has to talk to someone. She says she has big questions about God, and,

yes, she is sleeping with her boyfriend, if you’re going to ask that.” And the counselor says, “She looked at me like that was such a dumb question.

“And so, I asked her about her depression, and then I asked her a little bit about her history. And her countenance changed, and she began to recite for me her journey, how, about five years ago, she just decided she wanted to get her virginity over with. And so, she found a guy that she didn’t have any close feelings for, wanted to get her virginity over with so she, in her words, ‘could have sex with guys that she really cared about.’”

The counselor, Paula, scratched her head and says, “That’s a logic I’m not familiar with, but,” she says, “one common in our day. The rite of passage for young women is – the happy people, the action people – is when you have sex.”

The next woman in the counseling is thirty years old – completely different story. She is attractive, two kids, married, attractive husband, good jobs. She just has one small – actually, big problem. She hates sex. It’s boring. It’s distasteful.

The counselor asked her, “Tell me a little bit about your journey and your history, and where did this attitude come from?” And she said, “Well, when I was sixteen, in high school, I had sex for the first time, and, since that time, before I met my husband, I’m not sure, maybe ten other men or so.”

The counselor listens, and she [the woman] says, “I don’t get it. Help me. My husband – we argue all the time. I’m disinterested. We have great kids, we have a great life, I have a good job, things are going well, but this area is killing our marriage. Help me!”

And so the counselor asked a very penetrating question. She quietly whispered, “Can you picture what it would have felt like to be really cherished by a man? To be so special to him that he wanted to protect your innocence? Can you sense what it would mean to be valued by that man that much?”

The young, attractive, thirty-year-old woman, who had never made any connection about her past promiscuity and her present problem with sex in marriage, had the alignment of an “ah-ha” in her mind and heart. She sat quietly and didn’t say anything, but as that “ah-ha” occurred, tears began to roll down her cheeks, as, for the first time, she realized her past is now informing her present.

Lauren’s message is, “I love him, and if we don’t have sex, I’ll lose his love.” That’s the message. The truth is, unplanned sex may feel right at the time, but it almost always ushers in the end of the relationship.

Mike’s message is, “If we really love each other, how can it be wrong? I’m just expressing what I really feel!” The truth is, love means a total commitment, not a strong emotional feeling. When physical intimacy exceeds genuine commitment, the relationship shatters, because one has given all, and the other is holding back.

Paula’s story is, “I need to get sex over with. I just want to get the rite of passage. And then, what I do in the past – whether I’m young, at twenty, or thirty – has nothing to do with the future. It’s just the way life is.” And the truth is, promiscuity causes you to begin to hate yourself, doubt yourself. It positions you where your capacity for intimacy, which is the goal from God, gets diminished and diminished and diminished.

Sex with multiple partners is like two pieces of cardboard being glued together and then ripped apart. And when you rip them apart, there’s a little piece of this cardboard over here, and a little piece over here. And when it happens over and over and over and over, it creates baggage that God never intended.

God is the most pro-sex Being in all the world. Are you ready for this? He created it. It’s a gift. It’s beautiful.

When we fail to understand the difference between love and sex, we are doomed to failure in both our relationships and our sexuality. If you don’t get clear – as a married person, as a single person, as a divorced person, as a teenager – if you don’t get clear on, This is sex, this is what it’s about – understand it clearly – this is love, and this is what real love is about, and this is how and when they fit together – if that is confused, you’ll not only have bad relationships, you’ll have bad sex.

So, let’s go to the Author of sex. As you open those notes, what does it say? At the very top. “A word from God about sex.” If we could just open up heaven and say, “God, there’s sex everywhere. There are commercials everywhere. We are bombarded in a world – sex, sex, sex, sex, sex! Would You please give us Your word on sex, since You created it?”

And to do what, we’re going to be in Ephesians chapters 4 and 5. And so, if you will, open your Bibles – or mobile device, whatever you’re using – and let me give you a little historical background, because the danger, if you’re like me – and I didn’t grow up as a Christian. I never opened the Bible.

I had views about the Bible that were like this: How could that old Book know anything about sex? Are you kidding me? Or, Isn’t the Bible about people that are really prudish, and don’t know much about sex? And, We’re modern, and we’re with it, and we’re hip, and all that old stuff.

Let me give you the history of when this was written. Paul is writing to the Ephesians. The main temple there was called the Temple of Diana, or the Temple of Love. Sex was available 24/7, any way that you wanted it. In fact, the ancients would say that Christianity introduced a new virtue, uncommon in the day. It was the virtue of sexual purity, or chastity.

If you were a Roman or a Greek man in this culture, you were expected to have a wife to bear your children. You were expected to have a mistress to fulfill you whenever you wanted. You were expected to go to a temple – and the temples had prostitutes: male prostitutes, female prostitutes. You could have homosexual sex, heterosexual sex.

And, often, you would have a slave girl, and she understood that her role was not only to do whatever you said, and help around the house, but sexual favors. She was a slave. She was a piece of property.

The Liberator of women was Jesus. Jesus said, “You are coheirs with the grace of God.” Jesus said, “You have value.” Women were exploited, used, abused, a piece of property. And Jesus comes.

And then, the apostle Paul is writing the most counterintuitive message that has ever been heard of in the day. And he talks about the role of a woman, and the role of a man, and the role of sex, and the role of love. And what he is going to say is, “You need to walk in love.”

Notice the context. Chapter 4, if you’re looking in your Bible – you can see that in chapter 4, verse 1, it opens up, and it talks – the metaphor for walking is, basically, how to live. Step-by-step, here’s how you live. And so, verse 1, it says we are to walk in unity. That’s good.

Skip down to verse 17. We’re to walk in holiness. We’re to be separate, we’re to be pure, in our thoughts, and our minds, and our actions. And then, in chapter 5, verse 1, we’re to walk in love. But let’s get a little bit of a runway. Let’s get a little bit of a runway of, what does he say?

I put it in your notes – verse 30 of chapter 4. It says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Circle the word grieve in your notes.

I think we have fallen into a bad theology of thinking, somehow, that God is “the force,” some impersonal force that gives us rules, and guidelines, and we’re supposed to live by them. He is one essence and Being, in three persons. He’s a person.

Grief means making someone sad, disappointing them, breaking their heart. The commandment is, talking all about relationships, is, “Don’t break the Holy Spirit’s heart, because He has sealed you. He loved you. He has the best for you, this day of redemption.”

And then, he says how not to do that: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” I could define all those words, but, basically, all those words are dissing people, disrespecting people, hurting people – verbal actions and attitudes that make relationships bad.

Verse 32 says, “Instead, be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another” – how? – “just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Underline the word kind. Underline the word tender-hearted. Underline the word forgiving. He says, “This is how relationships work.”

Don’t all of us want to have a relationship with the opposite sex where they’re kind to us, and we’re kind to them? Don’t we want to be tender-hearted, and, instead of having expectations, and “they ought,” or “they should,” you really understand where they’re coming from, and where they’ve been?

And when they blow it, or when we blow it, don’t we want to have relationships where someone says, “I’m willing to forgive you for what you said. I’m willing to forgive you for what you’ve done, the way God has forgiven me.”

So, now, we get the command. The command in verse 1 is to “walk in love.” This is how relationships work. So, we have to understand, So, what does it mean to love? We’re never going to understand the difference between sex and love, if we can’t define, clearly, So, what does it mean to walk in love?

Well, positively, it means to be giving, caring, sacrificial, and unselfish toward others. Can we all agree on that? You’re loving when you care for someone, right? You’re giving. It costs you something. It’s sacrificial. We gave a definition in our last time that love is giving another person what they need the most, when they deserve it the least, at great personal cost.

So, yes, we have feelings, and we have emotions, and they’re wonderful, and they go up, and they go down. But love is different from that. Love is a commitment. It’s loyalty. It’s caring. It’s giving. It’s paying a price. It says, “I want what’s best for you, even if it’s difficult for me.”

And it says, “Walk in love.” In other words, it’s a process. It means, when you learn to walk, what do you do? You fall down. You’re going to mess up. But he says, “Therefore be imitators of God.”

You want to learn how to walk in love? Write, above that word imitators – remember this word? M-I-M-I-C. Mimic. Literally, he’s saying, “You want to learn to walk in love? Well, just mimic God, as a dearly, or deeply loved child; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you.” And he gives us this example of, “He gave Himself up for us, an offering, a sacrifice, as God’s fragrant aroma.” And so, you just have those characteristics that make relationships deep, and wonderful, and good.

Now what he’s going to do is something that, if I didn’t know this passage, I would not have thought what we’re going to read next would have anything to do with love. But he’s writing to a society that’s just inundated with sex, everywhere. And he’s watching it destroy relationships.

It’s destroying the relationships of the teenagers in Ephesus as they grow up in this world. It’s destroying the relationships of people who are married, as love and sex get confused. Can you imagine being a woman in that day, and your husband leaves, and you’ve given him two children, and they bear his name and yours, and then he goes to have sex with this person, and sex with that person? And it’s just expected. And, pretty soon, you feel used and abused.

And so, the apostle Paul is going to say, “Real love is giving, caring, sacrificial, and being unselfish toward other people.” That’s the positive view. Now he’s going to say, “Let me show you the opposite of walking in love. This is not walking in love.” Verses 1 and 2, positive; verses 3 and 4, the negative.

So, look at it, negatively, it’s to refuse to take, exploit, cheapen, defraud, or substitute sexual activity for genuine love, and authentic intimacy. In other words, the opposite of loving is taking, lusting, exploiting, to cheapen. It means to defraud. I get what I want, sexually. I don’t care about you. I’m going to satisfy me. It’s substituting sexual activity.

Yes, when people have sex, and bodies come together, there’s this intimacy, this bond that occurs, whether you know the person or not. The Scripture would say that even when a man has sex with a prostitute, he becomes one with her. God designed sex to bond you to that person. It helps sustain the relationship over hard times.

But he says that when you rip it apart, and you rip it apart, and you rip it apart, it creates pieces, and baggage, and pain, and people feel rejected, and used, and exploited, and cheapened.

And so, now, he gives us a command. The one command was, “Walk in love.” Now, notice this command – verse 3: “But do not let immorality or impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among the saints.” He goes on to say, “And no filthiness or silly talk or coarse jesting, but rather the giving of thanks.” So, he says, “Walk in love, but, by contrast, let me tell you what’s not loving.”

Let’s walk through these words very, very carefully. If you have a pen, you might jot down. He’s going to start, and he’s going to say, “But let no immorality” – write the word porn above that. The Greek word is porneia.

Porneia is the most general word for sexual immorality in the New Testament. Porneia would include adultery – that’s having sex, when you’re married, with someone other than your mate – fornication – that’s, when you’re not married, having sex with someone else – homosexuality – that’s having sex with someone of the same sex – sexual addiction – multiple other perversions. It is, in thought, word, or deed, anything other than one man, one woman, in a monogamous relationship to express love to one another, he says is porneia.

And in case you, it’s like the lens. That’s the big picture. And then, the lens tightens, and he goes, “Now, let me clarify what this really includes.” “Let no immorality or” – notice – “any impurity …” This is a word that has the idea of any sexual indulgence at the cost of another.

You log on to porn sites and this is what it does to your marriage. You flirt with this person at work, this is what it does to your marriage. You flirt, and act like, and fondle another person, and excite them sexually, but can’t fulfill it in a righteous way. Anything, any impurity.

And then, finally, he goes on, “… or greed.” And the context here is sexual. We think of greed about money. This is about sexual greed. This is about satisfying your lusts.

If you’ve done any research about sexual addictions, they’re just like drug addictions. When you start, and do drugs – and I’ve been around a world with lots of people who have done drugs, and they will all tell you, “When I started, all I needed was – I took a little hit, and, man, I got a buzz that was crazy. But that same little hit, over time, didn’t give me the same buzz, so I had to take more, or different drugs. And I kept going, going, going, going.” The same is true for sexual addictions.

The reason it’s more and more and more dark, and perverted, and weird is because the same chemicals in your brain that bring pleasure, you need a bigger and bigger hit.

And so, what he’s saying is, it is not loving to be immoral. It’s not loving to use people. It’s not loving, whether it is in your mind, or words. This first section is, “All immoral, sexual, perverted behavior – it’s not loving.” That’s his point.

And unless we think it’s just in a lifestyle – “We have good feelings, and we’re living together” – he goes on to say – what? “No filthiness or silly talk or coarse jesting.” He moves from behavior to your speech, and your attitudes.

Filthiness has to do with obscenities, or coarse joking. It’s the dirty talk, the dirty joke, the coarse jesting, the innuendo.

If you have ever been around people who are looking for acceptance, especially comics. if you ever watch, maybe, Comedy Central, and there’s someone there who has some really good, clean jokes – it’s hard to find, but there are a few.

When a comic, late-night person, or some of the most famous comics are stuck, and a crowd is not responding, what do they always do? Where can you always get a laugh? Sexual innuendo. And some comics, that’s all it is. It’s prohibited.

Now, by the way, so often people thought about this, Oh, God’s a prude, and He doesn’t want to do these things. Here’s the context. No, no, no, no. Those things reduce your capacity. They cheapen things. They destroy things. Sex is over here, in love and commitment.

In other words, most of us would be pretty upset if we saw a beautiful meadow, a great stream, salmon, wonderful trees, absolutely pristine, and someone pulled a big truck into it, and it had poison in it, and just started pouring it into the stream, and then took three loads of garbage and – Ern! Ern! Ern! – and then they drove off. You’d be ticked off, wouldn’t you? You’re destroying something beautiful!

That’s the apostle Paul’s point. He said, “This isn’t about restrictions. This is, you don’t understand what love is. You’ve mixed them together.”

So often, relationships that are talking about love, it’s self-indulgent; it’s all about you. It’s using. It’s exploiting. You live together, and then you move out, and then what’s she going to do? Over half the women who get divorced live under the poverty level.

Paul is saying, “Love means you really are committed, and you care.” So, sexual immorality violates that, and that’s why he says, “Don’t settle for second best.”

And then, he gives us the reason.

Far from wanting to limit sex – God’s heart? Stop experiencing such second-rate sex.

Logging on to an imaginary site with people that have been pumped with stuff, and where they are blowing fans, and they touch up the body, and create these worlds that don’t exist; having affairs, living with someone where you know there’s no real commitment, and you say all kinds of words, but it’s just convenient, but it’s really about you. He says, “All those things reduce, reduce, reduce, reduce the capacity for what God wants. You matter to Him!”

We read it earlier, you’re His workmanship. You’re like a prized painting. You’re like the most classic car. You’re like a beautiful mansion. You’re like a Rembrandt. You matter more than anything! He wants the best for you, and He’s saying, “Don’t destroy this.”

And here’s the reason: Sexual impurity destroys relationships. It’s that simple. Sexual impurity will destroy your relationship with God, sexual impurity will destroy your relationship with yourself, and sexual impurity will destroy your relationship with others.

Notice what it says in verse 5, “For this you know” – put a box around the word know. I’ll tell you why in a minute – “with certainty, that no” – notice the repetition – “no immoral, no impure or covetous person” – by the way – “who is an idolater, has inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.”

And then, here’s a warning. He is saying to a sex-saturated culture, “This is counterintuitive, and I’m laying out, ‘This is God’s plan, and He loves you,’ but there are a lot of people that are blowing smoke. They’re fooling you. They’re deceiving you. They’ve gotten you in situations where you won’t experience God’s love, and you’re not going to experience good sex!” He says, “Let no one deceive you” – how? – “with empty words.”

And then there’s the warning, not only not to be deceived, but the consequences. “…for because of these things” – what things? Immorality, impurity, and covetousness. “…because of these things, the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

I said put a box around the word know. In Greek, there are two major words for know. One is a fact. This is just a fact. The other is knowing by experience. So, there are certain things I know because I have experienced them. Certain things are – I can feel them, or not feel them, but two times two equals four. That’s this word.

He’s saying, “You can know with certainty. Okay? Here’s what I want you to know. People, they can say they love God, they can raise their hands, they can come to church occasionally, they can pray a little prayer – people who are living habitually immoral lives, habitually impure lives, and habitually covetous lives will have no part in God’s Kingdom.”

He’s saying – and it’s not like God’s Kingdom coming. It’s God’s Kingdom, God’s rule, God’s favor, God’s blessing, now. And then, he says, “Don’t let people deceive you. Don’t let them tell you stuff like, ‘If it’s safe sex, it’s okay,’ or, ‘If we really love one another, it’s okay.’”

See, did you notice that one little word? It’s a person who covets. Coveting has to do with, I want something that’s not mine, and isn’t mine rightfully.

He says, “That person who is immoral, or impure, or covets” – and then, did you notice that little phrase? – “is an idolater.” An idol worshipper is someone who worships the creature, instead of the Creator, or something they make themselves.

And when you think of idols, don’t you usually think of a little something that people put on a stand? Or like the old Indian movies – remember a totem? A totem, they would worship, they might have a lion, and a bear.

But every totem, every idol – You can worship success. You can worship your body. You can worship your kids. You can worship your work. You can worship ministry. But any idol that you have, you can go down through that idol, and at the very bottom of the idol, you know what’s right there? A mirror. And when you look at the bottom of that idol, guess who you’re really worshipping? You. Guess who I’m really worshipping? Me.

If I would choose to log on to an Internet site, if I would choose to flirt with someone, if I would choose to let my mind go – because this isn’t just our actions, right? Jesus said, in Matthew 5, if I lust for a woman in my heart, I’ve already committed adultery. Jesus said the pure in heart will see God. Solomon would say that as you think, and I think, so we will become.

When I do those things, or when you do those things, that is all about me worshipping me, and me getting off and thinking there is something that will deliver that is different than the woman that God gave me in the context of our relationship. And so, here’s what God says, “I love you too much for that.”

Paul is saying to this sex-saturated world in Ephesus, “You will never experience God’s favor, and God’s love, and God’s freedom.” You will end up like a little girl who’s twenty and clinically depressed, and can’t figure out why life is meaningless, because she’s been exploited and used, because she got her virginity over with. You don’t want to be someone who, inside of your marriage – and it is rampant in Christian marriages, where you don’t talk about sex, it’s not very fulfilling, you don’t know what to do about it, and you’re chatting online with old high school boyfriends and girlfriends.

He doesn’t want you to be like someone who’s playing the little game, and, Let’s pretend we’re really committed. Your parents divorced; my parents divorced. So, let’s live together for a while. That works out great for you, but there’s no commitment, and if there’s no commitment, there’s no safety. And if there’s no safety, you can’t really let the other person know all of who you are.

The great majority of all the people – we’ll talk about it next week – who cohabitate, do not end up getting married, and do not end up staying together. Would you please hear? If you hear, because of your background, or my background – I didn’t grow up as a Christian, okay? When I first heard, literally – when someone told me, “No sex before marriage,” I’m just thinking, I don’t know about that Christianity, but that’s not for me. You should probably laugh right now, Yeah, that’s how I think too, but you’re way too holy. I appreciate that.

Really! I just thought God had a boney finger, and arms crossed, and I thought God was up in heaven when sex occurred, like, “Oh my gosh, Gabriel, what are they doing?”

The Bible says He’s up in heaven, and the marriage bed is holy, and He looks at a couple who is spiritually committed, walking with Christ, knows one another, loyal, and they’re having sex, and God says, “Hey, Gabriel! Guys! Look at this! It’s awesome!” You know why? Because sexuality and spirituality are so closely tied.

There are few things you’ll experience, ever, in your entire life, that are akin to your intimacy with God, like having sex with your wife or husband, without guilt, without baggage, without stuff, and without junk. And God says, “That’s what I want.” Why? “Because you matter. Don’t treat yourself like you don’t have any respect for yourself. Don’t treat yourself like you don’t matter. You matter to Me. And so, I want the best for you.”

The consequences, the wrath – and the word wrath, all it means is, you are made in God’s image. So, here’s what happens when things that are beautiful, or things that you’ve made, or things that you’ve worked hard for, and things that you know are supposed to be wonderful – when someone comes and destroys them, you get mad, don’t you? Right?

Any of you parents have some other kids, or a school, or someone start to really mess with your kids, and really start to damage them? Tell me about those emotions, will you? What do you do? You get mad! When things are unfair, you get mad. Why? Because you’re made in the image of God.

When we do things that are destroying our lives, and destroying relationships, and breaking up families, God gets angry. And God’s anger, it’s not like God has an anger component, and a love component. Theologically, God is simple. And what that means is that He is absolutely holy, and loving, and simple, and righteous, and compassionate, and just, perfectly, all at the same time.

And so, out of His love, He allows consequences to happen when we’re sexually immoral in our mind, or in our speech, or in our behavior. And He allows these consequences to get our attention. And so, there are certain diseases that you get – those are physical consequences. There’s depression, and guilt, and baggage – those are psychological consequences. There are spiritual consequences.

If you’ve gone too far – if you’re logging on Internet sites, or if you’re living together, and, now, we can push down our conscience, right? We can sear it. But I’ve got news for you, there are a lot of people that, when you’ve done something that you know is wrong, and violated sexual boundaries, you can open up this book, and it’s just like words off a page. It doesn’t speak to  you. Try praying, really, from the heart, and experience God’s presence. Try wondering, Why don’t I see vivid answers to prayer? Why don’t I have any power over temptation? You can’t live in both arenas.

God says, “I care about you so much, I don’t want you to be conformed to this world and its consequences. I want you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you could experience My will” – the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God – “in your sex life, in your married life, in your single life, in your thought life, because you matter that much.”

I have a friend from many years ago, and the illustration is the consequences. We were playing basketball throughout South America, and he was a west coast guy, played for one of the – I think it was called the Pac-8, or, I don’t know whether it’s Pac-12 now. And a major, major school, on a basketball scholarship. But he was an amazing athlete, so he was also a baseball player. And so, he played AA ball in the summers and made money.

And his story – I’ll give you the truncated version – was, “I found some Playboys early on. I got involved in some soft porn. I found, in high school, that girls were pretty attracted to me. And I got with a group of guys, and we played a silly game about how many girls in high school could we sleep with? So, we did that. And I went to college, and I played the same game. I was kind of the big guy on campus.”

And there are certain – men don’t say this a lot, but he was, like, out of a poster, okay? Like, 6’3”, bronze body, California, blondish-type hair, good looking, amazing athlete, nice personality. It’s sickening, actually. You know? For the rest of us.

And then, he said, “During the summers, when I’d play pro ball, I became addicted.” This was before the Internet was big and on, and he said, “The game I played was, how many women could I sleep with in every town, each day? And he said, “I’m ashamed at the numbers.” Because you’re a baseball player, you go to these towns, and you have groupies. For a lot of guys, you think, This sounds like the life!

And he said, “This trip is my last stop.” I said, “What do you mean, ‘your last stop’?” He said, “I lived that way and then, I’ll never forget, something happened.  And I know about God, and I know about right, and I know about wrong, but I just couldn’t stop. And then, something snapped and broke inside of me.” And he said, “I went completely numb.”

And he said, “I didn’t have any desire – any desire for sex, for God, for people. I had no feelings, whatsoever. And it scared me. I just felt like I had given everything away. I had no capacity to love, and no capacity to feel, and I was completely bankrupt.

“And I went before God, and I begged and begged and begged for His forgiveness. And I don’t feel a lot, but I started getting in the Bible, and started to memorize some passages.  And then, I got in a church, and  I guess you could call it ‘growing,’ but I’ve got this chain – that I am carrying behind me.” And he said, “I wanted to come and serve God. I’m not playing baseball this summer. I wanted to serve Him.” And he said, “I’m praying that someday, some way He could restore that broken part inside of me.”

The wrath of God is His kindness and love providing the kinds of consequences to help you understand that you may not want that much love, but He will keep loving you because He cares. And He will bring increasing levels of consequence to get your attention so that you will become sexually pure, so you can experience the very best.

Now, as you turn the page, we need to then ask, where do we go from here? Right? This is a big, big day. For some of you, it’s like, If this guy talking right now had any idea where I’ve been, and what’s going through my mind, and my present situation, what I am currently doing, right?

Here’s something, before we go on: God loves you if you’re addicted to pornography. God loves you if you’re living with someone right now. God loves you if you’re sexually active with your boyfriend or girlfriend. God loves you if you’re currently having an affair. God loves you if you have homosexual leanings, and identity issues. God loves you if you’re involved in a homosexual relationship. God loves you if any of those things are true of you today.

But you must understand, that love will bring about consequences. And to habitually continue in that destroys your relationship with God, and your opportunity to experience Him.

And so, He wants to forgive you. For some of you, you’re involved in those things, and you realize, what you really need to do is realize, Oh, my. I never saw it as being covetousness. I never saw it as being exploiting, or using. I’ve confused the lust with love, and it’s all I’ve ever seen, and known, and heard.

And you need to ask God to forgive you, once and for all, not just for your sexual sin, but for all of your sin, and invite Him to be your Savior, and He’ll forgive you. And He’ll come into your life, in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He’ll give you a brand-new life.

For others, you’re here, and you’re born again. You know God. You know the story. You experience Him. You read the Bible some, you pray some, but you’re living with someone. And the empty words, the deception, “We really love one another,” and, “We really can’t afford to,” and on and on and on.

And for others – I hope the statistics are wrong. About twenty-five or thirty percent of the men, you’re logging on to porn sites at least once a month. More and more frequently, with women.

So, here’s the deal. God didn’t bring us together so you’d go, Oh, wow, man, I’m a jerk. I’m a selfish, unloving, lustful, exploiting, user of other people. Well, you’ve got to see that. Right? If you don’t accept the bad news, you can’t get the good news.

And so, now, here’s His word. Are you ready? A word to those who are uninvolved. You’re not involved in any relationship. Today, make a commitment. And you don’t have to wear a ring, and you don’t have to go through a ceremony. If that helps, great. But make a commitment to say, I’ll be sexually pure in my mind, my thoughts, and my relationships. And next week, we’ll talk about developing a game plan.

If you’re in a relationship – dating someone, or living with someone – just do what’s right. This is not rocket science.

If you’re living with someone – I had a very long conversation, knowing this was coming up, and

I sat down with a guy who I love a lot. He’s a great friend. He’s living with someone right now. He’s a great friend. And we’ve talked about this.

And so, I sat down earlier this week and I said, “Hey, man, I really love you. This is what I’m going to share. You’re going to be here, your girlfriend’s going to be here, and you’re going to come to a crossroads.” And he gave me all the empty – “Well, we can’t afford to move apart,” and, “We really love each other.”

I said, “Look, man, I get it. You either obey God, or you don’t obey God. So, what you’re telling me is you believe that God…” He’s a great guy. “You believe God is powerful enough to create the universe, right?” “Yeah.” “You believe He’s powerful and loving enough to send His Son to die in your place?” “Right.” “And rise from the dead?” “Right.”

“But you don’t think He has the power to help you guys deal through living apart, figuring out whether this is really the right person, and supporting you financially? I just want to make sure I get this right. So, He can create the world but there’s no power for you to obey?” He said, “Could we sit down and talk, and work this out?” I said, “My wife and I will sit down with you, and we’ll help you go through the steps of what to do.”

But some of you, that’s the decision. And this isn’t one of those, I’m going to think about this. This is, Today, we’re not going to live together. For some of you, Today, I’m not logging on anymore. Today, the affair stops.

And, by the way, don’t meet with them to tell them it’s over. It never works. You never break up with a text in a casual relationship. But a text is good for, “This affair is over. I’ve disobeyed God. I’ve damaged my life. I’m sorry. We’re done.”

A word to those who are in crisis. If you’re in a marriage that’s really not working, and this just exposes it, or if you’re in a relationship where you feel like, honestly, I mean, honestly, you’re in a relationship, and you’re scared, because it’s not just sexual, it’s abusive, get help. Talk to someone today. Talk to a pastor, a Christian counselor. Get help.

And then, finally, for those who are married, and, all I can say is, Christians are funny people. I didn’t grow up as a Christian, so I can say this, because I’ve been there. We’d rather pretend than get real. And I’ve done a lot of counseling. I don’t do a lot of it anymore, but I’ve met couples who are in their seventies who have never talked about sex, walked with God forty years. She never, ever told him, “You know, when you do this, it really doesn’t really help me at all,” or, “When you do that,” or, “We haven’t really talked about it.” It’s this big, white elephant. And it becomes a barrier.

And people don’t wake up and say, “Hey, I think I’ll give up on this marriage,” or, “I think I’ll have an affair,” or, “I think I’ll just give myself to the kids,” or, “I think I’ll become a workaholic.” God wants your emotions, and your spirits, and your bodies to be connected in a way that sustains, and is loving, and deep, and great.

So, go to one of these marriage classes. Pick up a book on sexuality. My wife and I have gone through so many books – these books included – to help us in every area of our life.

Love: giving another person what they need the most, when they deserve it the least, at great personal cost. Sex: a beautiful, dynamic, bonding gift for procreation, pleasure, and beauty, for one man, one woman, inside of marriage, to have delight and intimacy that your Creator wants for you.
Far from wanting to limit sex – God’s heart? Stop experiencing such second-rate sex.

Logging on to an imaginary site with people that have been pumped with stuff, and where they are blowing fans, and they touch up the body, and create these worlds that don’t exist; having affairs, living with someone where you know there’s no real commitment, and you say all kinds of words, but it’s just convenient, but it’s really about you. He says, “All those things reduce, reduce, reduce, reduce the capacity for what God wants. You matter to Him!”

We read it earlier, you’re His workmanship. You’re like a prized painting. You’re like the most classic car. You’re like a beautiful mansion. You’re like a Rembrandt. You matter more than anything! He wants the best for you, and He’s saying, “Don’t destroy this.”

And here’s the reason: Sexual impurity destroys relationships. It’s that simple. Sexual impurity will destroy your relationship with God, sexual impurity will destroy your relationship with yourself, and sexual impurity will destroy your relationship with others.

Notice what it says in verse 5, “For this you know” – put a box around the word know. I’ll tell you why in a minute – “with certainty, that no” – notice the repetition – “no immoral, no impure or covetous person” – by the way – “who is an idolater, has inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.”

And then, here’s a warning. He is saying to a sex-saturated culture, “This is counterintuitive, and I’m laying out, ‘This is God’s plan, and He loves you,’ but there are a lot of people that are blowing smoke. They’re fooling you. They’re deceiving you. They’ve gotten you in situations where you won’t experience God’s love, and you’re not going to experience good sex!” He says, “Let no one deceive you” – how? – “with empty words.”

And then there’s the warning, not only not to be deceived, but the consequences. “…for because of these things” – what things? Immorality, impurity, and covetousness. “…because of these things, the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

I said put a box around the word know. In Greek, there are two major words for know. One is a fact. This is just a fact. The other is knowing by experience. So, there are certain things I know because I have experienced them. Certain things are – I can feel them, or not feel them, but two times two equals four. That’s this word.

He’s saying, “You can know with certainty. Okay? Here’s what I want you to know. People, they can say they love God, they can raise their hands, they can come to church occasionally, they can pray a little prayer – people who are living habitually immoral lives, habitually impure lives, and habitually covetous lives will have no part in God’s Kingdom.”

He’s saying – and it’s not like God’s Kingdom coming. It’s God’s Kingdom, God’s rule, God’s favor, God’s blessing, now. And then, he says, “Don’t let people deceive you. Don’t let them tell you stuff like, ‘If it’s safe sex, it’s okay,’ or, ‘If we really love one another, it’s okay.’”

See, did you notice that one little word? It’s a person who covets. Coveting has to do with, I want something that’s not mine, and isn’t mine rightfully.

He says, “That person who is immoral, or impure, or covets” – and then, did you notice that little phrase? – “is an idolater.” An idol worshipper is someone who worships the creature, instead of the Creator, or something they make themselves.

And when you think of idols, don’t you usually think of a little something that people put on a stand? Or like the old Indian movies – remember a totem? A totem, they would worship, they might have a lion, and a bear.

But every totem, every idol – You can worship success. You can worship your body. You can worship your kids. You can worship your work. You can worship ministry. But any idol that you have, you can go down through that idol, and at the very bottom of the idol, you know what’s right there? A mirror. And when you look at the bottom of that idol, guess who you’re really worshipping? You. Guess who I’m really worshipping? Me.

If I would choose to log on to an Internet site, if I would choose to flirt with someone, if I would choose to let my mind go – because this isn’t just our actions, right? Jesus said, in Matthew 5, if I lust for a woman in my heart, I’ve already committed adultery. Jesus said the pure in heart will see God. Solomon would say that as you think, and I think, so we will become.

When I do those things, or when you do those things, that is all about me worshipping me, and me getting off and thinking there is something that will deliver that is different than the woman that God gave me in the context of our relationship. And so, here’s what God says, “I love you too much for that.”

Paul is saying to this sex-saturated world in Ephesus, “You will never experience God’s favor, and God’s love, and God’s freedom.” You will end up like a little girl who’s twenty and clinically depressed, and can’t figure out why life is meaningless, because she’s been exploited and used, because she got her virginity over with. You don’t want to be someone who, inside of your marriage – and it is rampant in Christian marriages, where you don’t talk about sex, it’s not very fulfilling, you don’t know what to do about it, and you’re chatting online with old high school boyfriends and girlfriends.

He doesn’t want you to be like someone who’s playing the little game, and, Let’s pretend we’re really committed. Your parents divorced; my parents divorced. So, let’s live together for a while. That works out great for you, but there’s no commitment, and if there’s no commitment, there’s no safety. And if there’s no safety, you can’t really let the other person know all of who you are.

The great majority of all the people – we’ll talk about it next week – who cohabitate, do not end up getting married, and do not end up staying together. Would you please hear? If you hear, because of your background, or my background – I didn’t grow up as a Christian, okay? When I first heard, literally – when someone told me, “No sex before marriage,” I’m just thinking, I don’t know about that Christianity, but that’s not for me. You should probably laugh right now, Yeah, that’s how I think too, but you’re way too holy. I appreciate that.

Really! I just thought God had a boney finger, and arms crossed, and I thought God was up in heaven when sex occurred, like, “Oh my gosh, Gabriel, what are they doing?”

The Bible says He’s up in heaven, and the marriage bed is holy, and He looks at a couple who is spiritually committed, walking with Christ, knows one another, loyal, and they’re having sex, and God says, “Hey, Gabriel! Guys! Look at this! It’s awesome!” You know why? Because sexuality and spirituality are so closely tied.

There are few things you’ll experience, ever, in your entire life, that are akin to your intimacy with God, like having sex with your wife or husband, without guilt, without baggage, without stuff, and without junk. And God says, “That’s what I want.” Why? “Because you matter. Don’t treat yourself like you don’t have any respect for yourself. Don’t treat yourself like you don’t matter. You matter to Me. And so, I want the best for you.”

The consequences, the wrath – and the word wrath, all it means is, you are made in God’s image. So, here’s what happens when things that are beautiful, or things that you’ve made, or things that you’ve worked hard for, and things that you know are supposed to be wonderful – when someone comes and destroys them, you get mad, don’t you? Right?

Any of you parents have some other kids, or a school, or someone start to really mess with your kids, and really start to damage them? Tell me about those emotions, will you? What do you do? You get mad! When things are unfair, you get mad. Why? Because you’re made in the image of God.

When we do things that are destroying our lives, and destroying relationships, and breaking up families, God gets angry. And God’s anger, it’s not like God has an anger component, and a love component. Theologically, God is simple. And what that means is that He is absolutely holy, and loving, and simple, and righteous, and compassionate, and just, perfectly, all at the same time.

And so, out of His love, He allows consequences to happen when we’re sexually immoral in our mind, or in our speech, or in our behavior. And He allows these consequences to get our attention. And so, there are certain diseases that you get – those are physical consequences. There’s depression, and guilt, and baggage – those are psychological consequences. There are spiritual consequences.

If you’ve gone too far – if you’re logging on Internet sites, or if you’re living together, and, now, we can push down our conscience, right? We can sear it. But I’ve got news for you, there are a lot of people that, when you’ve done something that you know is wrong, and violated sexual boundaries, you can open up this book, and it’s just like words off a page. It doesn’t speak to  you. Try praying, really, from the heart, and experience God’s presence. Try wondering, Why don’t I see vivid answers to prayer? Why don’t I have any power over temptation? You can’t live in both arenas.

God says, “I care about you so much, I don’t want you to be conformed to this world and its consequences. I want you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you could experience My will” – the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God – “in your sex life, in your married life, in your single life, in your thought life, because you matter that much.”

I have a friend from many years ago, and the illustration is the consequences. We were playing basketball throughout South America, and he was a west coast guy, played for one of the – I think it was called the Pac-8, or, I don’t know whether it’s Pac-12 now. And a major, major school, on a basketball scholarship. But he was an amazing athlete, so he was also a baseball player. And so, he played AA ball in the summers and made money.

And his story – I’ll give you the truncated version – was, “I found some Playboys early on. I got involved in some soft porn. I found, in high school, that girls were pretty attracted to me. And I got with a group of guys, and we played a silly game about how many girls in high school could we sleep with? So, we did that. And I went to college, and I played the same game. I was kind of the big guy on campus.”

And there are certain – men don’t say this a lot, but he was, like, out of a poster, okay? Like, 6’3”, bronze body, California, blondish-type hair, good looking, amazing athlete, nice personality. It’s sickening, actually. You know? For the rest of us.

And then, he said, “During the summers, when I’d play pro ball, I became addicted.” This was before the Internet was big and on, and he said, “The game I played was, how many women could I sleep with in every town, each day? And he said, “I’m ashamed at the numbers.” Because you’re a baseball player, you go to these towns, and you have groupies. For a lot of guys, you think, This sounds like the life!

And he said, “This trip is my last stop.” I said, “What do you mean, ‘your last stop’?” He said, “I lived that way and then, I’ll never forget, something happened.  And I know about God, and I know about right, and I know about wrong, but I just couldn’t stop. And then, something snapped and broke inside of me.” And he said, “I went completely numb.”

And he said, “I didn’t have any desire – any desire for sex, for God, for people. I had no feelings, whatsoever. And it scared me. I just felt like I had given everything away. I had no capacity to love, and no capacity to feel, and I was completely bankrupt.

“And I went before God, and I begged and begged and begged for His forgiveness. And I don’t feel a lot, but I started getting in the Bible, and started to memorize some passages.  And then, I got in a church, and  I guess you could call it ‘growing,’ but I’ve got this chain – that I am carrying behind me.” And he said, “I wanted to come and serve God. I’m not playing baseball this summer. I wanted to serve Him.” And he said, “I’m praying that someday, some way He could restore that broken part inside of me.”

The wrath of God is His kindness and love providing the kinds of consequences to help you understand that you may not want that much love, but He will keep loving you because He cares. And He will bring increasing levels of consequence to get your attention so that you will become sexually pure, so you can experience the very best.

Now, as you turn the page, we need to then ask, where do we go from here? Right? This is a big, big day. For some of you, it’s like, If this guy talking right now had any idea where I’ve been, and what’s going through my mind, and my present situation, what I am currently doing, right?

Here’s something, before we go on: God loves you if you’re addicted to pornography. God loves you if you’re living with someone right now. God loves you if you’re sexually active with your boyfriend or girlfriend. God loves you if you’re currently having an affair. God loves you if you have homosexual leanings, and identity issues. God loves you if you’re involved in a homosexual relationship. God loves you if any of those things are true of you today.

But you must understand, that love will bring about consequences. And to habitually continue in that destroys your relationship with God, and your opportunity to experience Him.

And so, He wants to forgive you. For some of you, you’re involved in those things, and you realize, what you really need to do is realize, Oh, my. I never saw it as being covetousness. I never saw it as being exploiting, or using. I’ve confused the lust with love, and it’s all I’ve ever seen, and known, and heard.

And you need to ask God to forgive you, once and for all, not just for your sexual sin, but for all of your sin, and invite Him to be your Savior, and He’ll forgive you. And He’ll come into your life, in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He’ll give you a brand-new life.

For others, you’re here, and you’re born again. You know God. You know the story. You experience Him. You read the Bible some, you pray some, but you’re living with someone. And the empty words, the deception, “We really love one another,” and, “We really can’t afford to,” and on and on and on.

And for others – I hope the statistics are wrong. About twenty-five or thirty percent of the men, you’re logging on to porn sites at least once a month. More and more frequently, with women.

So, here’s the deal. God didn’t bring us together so you’d go, Oh, wow, man, I’m a jerk. I’m a selfish, unloving, lustful, exploiting, user of other people. Well, you’ve got to see that. Right? If you don’t accept the bad news, you can’t get the good news.

And so, now, here’s His word. Are you ready? A word to those who are uninvolved. You’re not involved in any relationship. Today, make a commitment. And you don’t have to wear a ring, and you don’t have to go through a ceremony. If that helps, great. But make a commitment to say, I’ll be sexually pure in my mind, my thoughts, and my relationships. And next week, we’ll talk about developing a game plan.

If you’re in a relationship – dating someone, or living with someone – just do what’s right. This is not rocket science.

If you’re living with someone – I had a very long conversation, knowing this was coming up, and

I sat down with a guy who I love a lot. He’s a great friend. He’s living with someone right now. He’s a great friend. And we’ve talked about this.

And so, I sat down earlier this week and I said, “Hey, man, I really love you. This is what I’m going to share. You’re going to be here, your girlfriend’s going to be here, and you’re going to come to a crossroads.” And he gave me all the empty – “Well, we can’t afford to move apart,” and, “We really love each other.”

I said, “Look, man, I get it. You either obey God, or you don’t obey God. So, what you’re telling me is you believe that God…” He’s a great guy. “You believe God is powerful enough to create the universe, right?” “Yeah.” “You believe He’s powerful and loving enough to send His Son to die in your place?” “Right.” “And rise from the dead?” “Right.”

“But you don’t think He has the power to help you guys deal through living apart, figuring out whether this is really the right person, and supporting you financially? I just want to make sure I get this right. So, He can create the world but there’s no power for you to obey?” He said, “Could we sit down and talk, and work this out?” I said, “My wife and I will sit down with you, and we’ll help you go through the steps of what to do.”

But some of you, that’s the decision. And this isn’t one of those, I’m going to think about this. This is, Today, we’re not going to live together. For some of you, Today, I’m not logging on anymore. Today, the affair stops.

And, by the way, don’t meet with them to tell them it’s over. It never works. You never break up with a text in a casual relationship. But a text is good for, “This affair is over. I’ve disobeyed God. I’ve damaged my life. I’m sorry. We’re done.”

A word to those who are in crisis. If you’re in a marriage that’s really not working, and this just exposes it, or if you’re in a relationship where you feel like, honestly, I mean, honestly, you’re in a relationship, and you’re scared, because it’s not just sexual, it’s abusive, get help. Talk to someone today. Talk to a pastor, a Christian counselor. Get help.

And then, finally, for those who are married, and, all I can say is, Christians are funny people. I didn’t grow up as a Christian, so I can say this, because I’ve been there. We’d rather pretend than get real. And I’ve done a lot of counseling. I don’t do a lot of it anymore, but I’ve met couples who are in their seventies who have never talked about sex, walked with God forty years. She never, ever told him, “You know, when you do this, it really doesn’t really help me at all,” or, “When you do that,” or, “We haven’t really talked about it.” It’s this big, white elephant. And it becomes a barrier.

And people don’t wake up and say, “Hey, I think I’ll give up on this marriage,” or, “I think I’ll have an affair,” or, “I think I’ll just give myself to the kids,” or, “I think I’ll become a workaholic.” God wants your emotions, and your spirits, and your bodies to be connected in a way that sustains, and is loving, and deep, and great.

So, go to one of these marriage classes. Pick up a book on sexuality. My wife and I have gone through so many books – these books included – to help us in every area of our life.

Love: giving another person what they need the most, when they deserve it the least, at great personal cost. Sex: a beautiful, dynamic, bonding gift for procreation, pleasure, and beauty, for one man, one woman, inside of marriage, to have delight and intimacy that your Creator wants for you.