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Jesus Unfiltered - Follow
If we think about it very hard, we admit that there’s not much in this life we actually control. In this series, from John chapters 6 – 10, Chip Ingram explains that to follow someone or something means we willingly let someone else lead. When Jesus asks people to follow Him, He means He will take on the responsibility to provide, lead, protect, and love – and as followers, we agree to believe, trust, and obey – even when it’ll take everything we’ve got, to do that. Chip details the journey from forgiveness to freedom, as he fills in the blanks of what it means to follow Jesus.More from this series
Second thing, though, is that I have been around the block in churches too and there is a pretty significant reason why people don’t go public and don’t ever deal with the things that need to be dealt with.
I was speaking to a friend. We are getting to know each other really, really well. And part of his history, he was in full-time ministry, he had an affair that went on for a significant amount of time. He lost his wife. And he lived in that situation. He lived with the lie, he lived with the pain, he lived with all the things.
“There are these two forces, and one pulls at you so strong that what you’re experiencing in the sexual sin; and the other pulls at you. You know this is right and you want to confess, you want to make it right with God.”
And he said, “I so wanted to do this, but honestly, I thought God would forgive me, but I just wasn’t very sure about the church. I just didn’t know how I would be received. I just thought, I don’t know that I want to go there.”
I got an email from Kendall and she shared with me a little bit more of their journey. And I will tell you that Dave and Kendall’s journey may be in the top one percent of the most wonderful moments I have ever had in ministry in my life, of seeing the body of Christ act and respond and the beauty and the power that God calls us to, and see a man and a woman courageously deal with pain and be completely restored.
I want to share a bit of what she shared with me. And I want you to listen very carefully, because here’s what I know. Fifty percent of the men in this room are involved in pornography right now.
About thirty or thirty-five percent of eighteen to thirty-year-olds are currently sleeping together or living together who are born again Christians. And, by the way, it’s not restricted to them, it’s just where we have the stats. Sexual sin is epidemic in our culture and it’s now epidemic inside the Church. And I think lots of people’s souls are stuck.
But I want you to hear the inward journey. Kendall writes, “The night Dave shared with me about his unfaithfulness, he took full responsibility for his actions. He shared openly and honestly. In that moment, God brought clarity and perspective to my heart. I, too, had come to a place of deep despair and lack of trust in God after Dave’s chronic pain diagnosis and the loss of our baby.”
Kendall says, “God opened my eyes to my pain as I looked at this man I had known for fifteen years and I saw a man that was so broken and hurting, so desperate to get out of physical and emotional pain, so responsible for his actions, asking for forgiveness, all I could say is God would not let me turn him away or reject him.
“I told him that I loved him and that I forgave him, and I would be willing to work through this with him. We talked a lot that night and I knew immediately there would be significant consequences for his job. I knew he would be resigning, and I also knew he would need to do it publicly.
I had seen this done both well and very poorly in churches, but I believed our church would respond well to us.
“I wanted Dave to be able to take ownership of his behavior and then demonstrate in real life the things that we taught the high school ministry and claimed to believe. I was also in need of support and I knew going somewhere else would be very difficult.”
Listen to this, “I believed the people of our church who had already demonstrated their love and support over us over the last years would do the same things. I believed they would see in Dave what I saw in him.
“The next week, Dave shared in front of the ministry in the high school that he had crossed a sexual boundary and be resigning. I asked to go up so that we could pray with them for Dave and see the faces of those that we loved. And in a sense, it was our last opportunity to lead through how we responded to failure.
“The next weekend, an announcement was made, and Dave’s letter was read to nearly three thousand people in attendance in the weekend services. We didn’t go to church that day, but the following Sunday,” talk about courage, “the following Sunday,” they didn’t run. They didn’t hide. They didn’t repress. They didn’t try to make up for it.
“The following Sunday, we made our ways down the halls into the worship center as we had done every week for the last eight years. The first Sunday back, I was anxiously confident. I believed people would respond lovingly toward us, but I also knew it’s hard to handle, and some people probably can’t.
“I was so grateful for the families and friends that demonstrated their love for us that first week and the next couple of months and now, years. People we had known for many years would see us across the worship center or down the hall and they would come right up to us, encouraging Dave and sharing their support and love for me and encouraging me to still meet with their students. And they just loved us without asking details or questions or judging us. Our friends protected us, they protected our privacy, they honored us in a way that I will forever be grateful for. They continue to be people that we meet with on a regular basis for community and accountability.
“Their acts of kindness and love allowed us the opportunity to heal in our time, in our own way, without shame and without embarrassment.” Do you hear the hope?
“I have been a Christian since I was twelve and I have walked with God through some very difficult times. This is” listen carefully. God is going to ask those of you and those of us who are involved in sin, but specifically sexual sin, to come clean the way Dave did. And here’s what you will experience from God.
“I have been through difficult times, but I have never experienced the intimacy and the gentle love of God in ways that I have in this season of my life. His presence has been so real, it’s almost tangible. Through His Word, His people, His creation – He has undeniably spoken into my life, gently meeting me and slowly walking me through deep places of pain and fear and shame and giving direction and clarity and hope and perspective.
“The process of obedient surrender has been slow, and not without missteps and failures, but I see the trajectory of life as heading toward wholeness and intimacy in my relationship with God and with Dave.
How does healing like this really occur? What’s the process? How do you move from simply experiencing forgiveness and knowing in your heart you have asked God to forgive you, how do you get to where there is a level of courage that you can own some stuff and get some stuff in the open, in the appropriate way, with the appropriate people and be forgiven, but then be restored, to have your soul set free, to have the guilt and the depression…?
David sinned, sexually. And for a year, no one knew about it. Psalm 32, you might jot it down. And some of you will read it and go, That’s me. He said, “When I was silent about my sin, it was oppressive. It was like being in a desert.” Literally, as you read Psalm 32, here is a man who is clinically depressed.
When we deny, when we shove down, when we repress stuff in our souls, especially sexual sin, it erodes your soul. It will destroy you from the inside out.
And, finally, he is confronted. And in Psalm 51, you get this picture of a man who experiences the gentle intimacy, grace of God.
Friday morning, as I was praying, God really tapped me on the shoulder. My sermon is done, I’ve got it all set, it’s in the folder, the notes are done, they are printed. And I really sensed, at first, just a whisper from the Holy Spirit, Chip, this is so much bigger than you think. I want to heal people this weekend. I want this to be a weekend of liberation and freedom and no more shame.Do you realize how rare it is that an actual church body has done what the Bible says? Love, supported, encouraged, doesn’t judge, helped. Do you see this? This is an amazing picture. This is the hope that everyone wants.
Chip, do you understand? It’s not statistics. These are real people And there are some of them who are depressed, there are some of them who are currently having an affair, there are some of them who are logged on to porn, there are some who are having homosexual issues and others, heterosexual issues. There are others that it’s about verbal stuff. There are others who are older and no one thinks, but, boy, they have these lustful thoughts.
Sexual sin is an addiction. You might be asking, Why take this much time? I want to take this much time, because this is a victory I want to celebrate. There really is hope. And I want to take this much time, because when sexual sin has a hold of your soul, it not only does something very devastating to you, it impacts your relationships and it cuts you off from the grace and the power of God in significant ways. You won’t be fruitful.
You won’t experience love and joy and peace and patience and goodness and kindness and gentleness. God will not use you, even remotely like He wants to. He will honor some gifts and honor His Word, but there is no hope for the world out there until there is a revolution inside of the world in here.
And so I want to talk to you about why sexual sin is so devastating and how to get out of it, okay?
The research they have done, by the way, this isn’t about, I am going to try really hard one more time. Trying hard doesn’t work.
The studies they have done on those hooked on pornography, it is as addictive as cocaine, crack cocaine, or heroine. And when you study the brain of men and women who, over a prolonged period of time, who are watching and hooked on pornography, the changes in what happens in your brain are exactly the same.
And, therefore, what it does to your life, what it does to your thinking, what it does to your relationships – it’s not some casual sin that doesn’t have any impact on anyone else.
I am going to ask you to turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 6, and I will read without significant comment. A passage that outlines what the Bible says sexual sin does to us, and why.
Because what has happened is, we are in a day now where people go, It’s not that big of a deal. I know we all have our issues. I love God, I’m doing what I am supposed to do, I just have this problem. And I’m not hurting anybody. I just log on to here or I’m in an unloving relationship, and so what I’m having an affair? It’s the only one thing that…
And we have totally redefined God’s standards. God understands! It’s just economically more feasible to live together at this stage of our lives than live separately. Yeah! What’s the big deal?
If you’ll pick it up at chapter 9, here’s the big deal. Chapter 6, I’m sorry, verse 9. “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?” And then he outlines, so, what is wickedness in God’s eyes? “Don’t be deceived.” So we can actually think these things aren’t wicked? Yes. “Don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, or idolaters, or adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
So he doesn’t just say some sexual sins. The ground looks pretty even. Those kinds of sins, habitually practiced, you will not inherit eternal life. And that is what some of you were. He says, “That’s not you now! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” That’s who you were! Those behaviors can’t be a part of your future.
You’re not an idolater, adulterer; you’re not a sex slave of any kind. You’re a son! You’re a daughter! You have been washed! You are clean! He loves you.
And then notice he goes on. He says, “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food. But God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
The logic, it was a super sexually permissive place. It’s Corinth. You could get any kind of sex any way that you wanted at any time. The temples and the prostitutes – heterosexual, homosexual – for all kind, you name it, you got it.
And the logic was, Wait a second. We’re new Christians now, but legitimate desires should be filled. When I am hungry for food, I should eat. When I am thirsty, I should drink something. When I want to have sex, go have sex!
And the apostle Paul is saying, “I’m breaking the logic.” Why? By His power, God raised the Lord from the dead, and He will also raise us. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself? You have real union with Him. Shall I take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two become one flesh.’ But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in the Spirit.”
Do you get the idea? If you are a follower of Jesus, you are one with Him. His body belongs to you. He loves you. There is this union with Him.
“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.”
He is saying it’s not about what’s convenient, it’s not your opinion, it’s not what you think. And what I can tell you is all the research, all the research that we have just absolutely supports this.
What is the big deal? We love one another, we need to try it out. I heard a woman last night, “This is very timely. My son came to me, he grew up in a Christian home, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. He told me he and his girlfriend are looking for an apartment, because there is schooling and economics.”
“Well, here’s what you need to tell your son. This is what God says, regardless of what he thinks. And, by the way, live with your girlfriend, and whether you eventually get married or not, ten years from now, longitudinal, secular study, only one out of ten couples will be together ten years later.”
Because when you live together, what you are saying is, “Let’s try it out, but not make a commitment,” and what keeps people together and brings real intimacy is the very commitment. The very thing you are afraid of is the thing that will cause it to fail.
And God knows that He created sex so there is glue in a relationship and there is a sense that I will never leave you, I will never betray you. It’s the sealing of a covenant. And it’s for our emotional good, it’s for our relational good, it’s for our physical good.
And so, he says, “Flee sexual immorality.” You never slide out of sexual immorality. You don’t say, Okay, wow, I think God is really speaking to me. You know what? I think let’s see, next Friday.
It’s a command: Flee. And here’s what I can tell you. There are a few, rare moments in your life, and one of them is right now, where God is speaking to some of you, and it is getting increasingly clear, and there is a war going on in your mind, Oh no. What about, ooh, if she found out. Ooh, what about this? Ooh, the implications here. This might mean… And the Spirit of God is going, Come. Come home. Come home. You will be so glad you did. And everything is going, Oh, what about, what about, what about, what about?
And so I want to give you a very practical way to come home. Jesus is saying to you, “Neither do I condemn you,” grace; “go and sin no more.” And the question is: How?
When the prodigal son came to his senses, he turned and where did he come? Home. I want to give you a little acronym that is just a quick way to know how to come home.
The “H” is for honesty. Jot this down, okay? Just write this: H-O-M-E. And I’m going to give you something very clear, and then I am going to give you a chance to act on it today. You might jot down Psalm 145:18, “The Lord is near to those who call upon Him, to those who call upon Him in truth.” God will listen to you.
David would say in Psalm 51, “God desires truth in the innermost being.” Later he would say, “If there was a way to earn my way back or make up for it or do some burnt offering, I would have done it. But the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart. A broken spirit and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
If you’ll get honest, and it’s the first step, you will experience God like never before. He will give you the power, He will take care of the future. Don’t worry about what is going to happen or all the implications or, Will He understand, will she understand, what about this, what about that? Just get honest. It’s painfully difficult to do.
The “O” is for openness. You will not ever be free from sexual sin until you get it out of the secret world. Secrets have power. Secrets destroy your life. That is why all through Scripture, the deeds of darkness.
Jot down, if you would, 1 John, because I want you to look at these later, 1 John chapter 1, verses 5 and 6. “If we say we have fellowship with Him,” Jesus, “and yet walk in the darkness, we lie, and the truth is not in us. But if we walk in the light as even He Himself is in the light, the blood of Jesus keeps on continuously freeing and forgiving us.”
You have got to get this out in the open. You’ve got to just do it. You’ve got to come clean. You’ve got to get it out in the open. Can I ask you a question right now, because some of you are going, Ooooooh.
As you listened to Dave and Kendall on the video, did anybody think less of them? Did anyone look at that and go, Wow? Or down deep in your heart, see, whenever grace and truth come together, did down deep in your heart something inside say, I wish I had the courage to do what I know is right?
See, because the truth is, I wish, yeah, I kind of wished this could happen, except I wouldn’t be too excited about… If we had four different colored lights of different sins, and sexual sin could be a red light, and anyone who had that, then a light would go right over your head. It would really be great, it really would, because what would happen is you’d go, “Oh my gosh, oh! Are you kidding me?” We’ve got ninety-five groups we’ve got to start tomorrow! And then green, green would be the greed sin. Woo, boy! Right? See, this idea you have that all these people in this room are making so much more progress…the power of the Christian life is God fills clean vessels, not perfect ones, clean ones. You’ve got to get it out in the open.
The “M” is for mentor. You will not do this alone. Jot down Hebrews 3:13, “But encourage one another day after day as long as it is still called today, lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
If you know anyone who has been through a twelve-step program, anyone who has gotten serious in realizing their weight issue or their sex or their alcoholism or their shopping, and they got really serious about it, what you realize is the root cause is never the symptom.
And the only way you make progress is you get honest, then you get open, then you’ve got to get with some people and you’ve got to walk the journey. And you need the encouragement, not once a year. This isn’t like, Okay, I heard it. It’s me and God. I’ll start reading the Bible more. Oh, wait a second, I have said this forty-four times in the last forty-three days. It won’t work. You can’t do this alone.
And, see, what keeps you from? What is it that keeps you from? I have had guys tell me, “I have driven thirty, forty, fifty miles to Celebrate Recovery, or to different groups somewhere.”
Why? Because of the shame they feel that if someone knew. We’ve got to get over that.
The final “E” is for exit. You do not slide out of sexual sin. Jot down Matthew 5:27 to 30. Jesus is talking about adultery. “You have said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ but I say to you if you lust for a woman, you have committed adultery already with your heart.”
Long before psychology, Jesus is saying, “Everything starts with the mind,” and then here is His application. Are you ready for this? He says, “So, how do you deal with this? How do you deal with what happens inside of a man or a woman’s mind when there is lust?”
He goes, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eye causes you to sin, poke it out.” You’re thinking, I’m glad I didn’t go to that message. Well, now, wait a second. It’s very clear he is not being literal, because watch this. If I cut off my right hand and my problem is stealing or some sort of sexual sin, I can actually do that with my left. And if I poke out my right eye, I can lust with my left.
Do you know what He is saying here? The idiom of the day? Be as drastic as you need to be to deal with this as radically as you need to deal with it. Be as drastic as you need to be.
So, some of you here are involved in an affair. Some it’s physical, some it’s emotional. Stop today. Exit! By the way, not an email, not a text, not a meeting. They don’t work. A quick phone call. “I am very sorry. It ends today. God has spoken to me. This isn’t good for you, it’s not good for me, I don’t want to see you again, I’m sorry. I will never, I won’t pick up the phone, I won’t answer emails, I will not meet you. I am very…it’s done.”
Those of you who are hooked on pornography, you need, today, to say to someone, “Here’s my phone, here’s the TV, here’s my computer. Put a password on it that I don’t know. I’m sending an email to the church or I’m finding a program or I am going to go to a Christian.” But today! You won’t slide out of this.
And here’s the thing. In this window or this moment right now, when we are together, as God speaks, if you choose and act and do it today, God will deliver.
By Monday, twenty-four hours later, the probability of you actually obeying will probably drop about seventy-five percent. And pretty soon, Well, it seemed really right, but I don’t think God…Chip does get a little over the top. I’m not sure that passage really means…
Right? We are liars. We are deniers. And your soul will stay in prison.
I’d like you to close your eyes if you would and I just want you to hear Jesus saying, Please come home. Please come home. Please come home. I want to forgive, restore, make you whole.