Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships Resources on sale now.
About this series
Love Sex and Lasting Relationships
God's Prescription for Enhancing Your Love Life
Everyone desires to love and be loved. The pursuit of "true love" is everywhere you look! It's romanticized on TV and in the movies we watch. Countless books and songs are written about it and hundreds of online dating websites and relationship seminars abound - all of which are designed to "help" you find that special someone to love. So why is "true love" so elusive? Could it be that the picture of love we see in today's culture is nothing more than an illusion? If so, what does real love look like? In this series, you'll discover God's way for finding love, staying in love, and growing in intimacy for a lifetime.More from this series
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.