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About this series
God's Boundaries for Abundant Living
Psychologists tell us that boundaries provide security, protection, and self-esteem. Long before psychology, God provided ten clear boundaries to protect His people from harm and give them the highest values ever recorded on the earth. "God's Boundaries for Abundant Living" gives a fresh look at the Ten Commandments and will help you discover God's boundaries for your highest, best and most abundant living.More from this series
I came across an article that I thought was so revealing. It’s the story, it’s called Couples: Cheaters Can Get Caught Even When They’re Successful.
And it’s a story of a guy who writes, this is sort of an Ann Landers type column. And a guy writes and he self-describes himself, “I’m early forty-ish, thinning hair, and I’m mildly rotund. I’m an old farm boy and not what you would call the sex symbol of the world.”
And he said, “That’s why it came as a real shock on a business trip, I have a great wife, three small kids, I’m happily married. And when this beautiful model turned stewardess blonde took an interest in me, three or four drinks later, a little bit of dancing, I remember waking up in bed the next morning next to this very gorgeous young woman. And it was the fantasy that every man has. Of course, I told her I was single. I gave her a false name, I gave her a false phone number, and I learned later she did the same to me.”
And he said, “I got away with it. No one ever found out.” He said, “The problem is, it’s destroyed me emotionally.” He said, “I’ve called the airlines because now all I can think about is this woman. I have a woman who loves me, I have three small kids, and I have dominating thoughts, every time I look in the mirror I feel guilt and I feel shame and I can’t tell my wife. And I got caught. I had the fantasy. The fantasy that men have, I have and now I’m a prisoner of my own thinking and my own emotions and my own shame and guess what? It didn’t deliver what it promised. It actually destroyed all the things that I did have.”
Another lady writes in, “My husband cheated on me two years ago but the hurt never goes away. It’s like my insides died.”
Another man, talking about his wife cheating on him says, “I told my wife I forgave her but I haven’t. Behind every word I say to her is another one. Why? Why? Why? How could you?”
See, what I want you to know is, God’s boundaries are placed around this commandment because He loves you so much He wants the best for you, He wants the best for me and we’re living in a world where this is very, very difficult.
You are bombarded every millisecond by media and billboards and magazines. I mean, you can’t even walk out of the grocery store. I mean, you can want to be as pure as you want to be and it’s here and it’s here and it’s here.
I mean, men, in the last three or four months, I mean, I’ve gone to the grocery store half a dozen times with Theresa and J.Lo’s had four or five different people and she’s been married a couple times and divorced once and back married again. And then I found out because of her deep religious convictions, she’s married this last person because she doesn’t want to have their baby out of wedlock.
And you know something? I’m not down on her. I feel sorry for her. You know what, I mean, how could you be genetically made up that attractive and be so inwardly scarred and messed up where you’ve had five or six or seven different men in the last six or eight months.
And no matter who you get and how much money you have and how pretty you are, it doesn’t work. I don’t laugh at her I just think, because you know something? We got people all over America, Christians included, doing workout videos trying to look like J.Lo. On diets that are low-carb, trying to be like J.Lo. And all of our daughters dressing like J.Lo says, doesn’t work for me.
And you’d think some of us would be smart enough to say, maybe there’s a better way. It causes pain, it destroys families, and living together diminishes marital success and sexual fulfillment.
Of all the commands, I think this is the one that’s hardest at the initial front end to grasp and say, wow, God’s way is best. But, boy, when you look at the data. This is one where sexual purity is God’s gift to his people.
Let me give you fact number five because I think this is critical.
Because there’s some of you sitting here still who think to yourself, you know, this is interesting. This could never happen to me. Not in my station in life, not with my marriage, I’m in the Bible every day, I pray, I love God. Not at my age. Nothing like this could ever, ever happen to me.
And fact number five is that we don’t fall into sexual sins, we slide into them. Because the number one sex organ in your whole body is between your ears. It’s not about your age, it’s not about your figure. The number one sex organ in your body is between your ears. And you can be eighty-nine years old and not be sexually pure.
Now, your body may not work like it used to anymore but I’ll tell you what. In between your ears, you can struggle and have pain. I remember going in to see a very, very old, Godly man who was in the hospital. He was in his eighties. I mean, a Godly, Godly guy. And as I went around the corner, there was on the TV and he had his hand over his eyes like this.
And, you know, I walked in, I said, you know, he’s kind of one of those mentor type guys. I said, “You okay?” He says, “Yeah.” I said, “Well, what are you doing?” He said, “I don’t want to watch that commercial.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “It’s got all kind of visual images that cause me to stumble.”
I mean, dude’s like eighty-four, he’s in the hospital. And I’m thinking, pretty good chance you never lick this one ‘til you die, huh? Man, I’m thinking, eighty-four, in the hospital, can hardly move and, but what he knew was, sexual purity is about what happens in your mind.
In fact, that’s what Jesus says in Matthew 5:27 to 30. He says, “You have heard it said, ‘Don’t commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
And then He goes on to give the application. How do you deal with this? “If your right eye causes you to sin,” literally the word means “stumble.” The Greek word is “skandalon.” It was a picture of a tripod hanging down with a piece of meat or bait. If your right eye, for whatever reason, causes you to stumble, there’s bait out there that you’re drawn toward. What’s He say?
He says, “Gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go to hell.”
Now, very quickly, Jesus is speaking in hyperbole. He’s making a point. The point is, right in the column of your notes, be as drastic as you need to be, to be sexually pure.
Be as drastic as you need to be to be sexually pure. Because I will guarantee. In fact, I read this story in my research of a seminary student who struggled with impure thoughts. He took a razor blade and cut off his right hand. I got news for you, it did not solve his problem.
Origin, an early church father, rather graphic. He so wanted to be sexually pure, he castrated himself. And it didn’t solve his problem, and the church later outlawed that. For which all men in future generations are very grateful.
Jesus is saying, whatever you have to do, be as drastic as you need to be but notice what Jesus says, sexuality isn’t about meeting someone at a bar. He says, notice the progression. He says, I tell you, anyone who, one, looks. And then, two, lustfully. Then it goes to your thinking. Then it’s your heart. And then it’s the intent. We slide into sexual sins.
One of the best pieces of research I’ve picked up is by a Dr. Ken Williams, Ph.D. and it’s just a little position paper. And he’s a counselor who specializes in counseling missionaries. And the title of the position paper is: Spiritual Warfare for Sexual Purity on the Mission Field. And he says, here’s the, literally, this is how affairs occur.
Now, this is for missionaries. This is for people who love God. This is people sharing Christ. This is people God is using. These are people that are in the Bible. This is people that are teaching the Bible. It happens to them. No one is immune. But he says, here’s the predictable steps that occur in all of his counseling. Number one, the usual beginning seems harmless.
He says, television, each time we watch a TV program, which appeals to the flesh sexually, even though the stimulus may be subtle, a powerful, unconscious, a process evolves. The process is so slow and so subtle that we rarely, if ever, are aware of what’s happening. We lose the shock of sexual immorality.
By the way, one of the things I do on a fairly regular basis and I encourage people to try is, I think the fasts that do you most good in our day may not be fasts from food, although I do that when led to. Try a media fast. I would challenge you, this is a good place to do it, for ten days. Watch no video, no TV.
Don’t let anything visual come into your mind for ten days. And then turn on the TV and watch. Don’t watch nine o’clock, ten o’clock. Watch prime time, seven, seven thirty, or even a sports show.
And you will pick up images and sexual innuendo and temptation and it’ll be like, whoa. Because, and here’s what’s happened. You’ve been so dumbed down that you don’t realize, stuff that really bothers God, stuff that is working on your soul. You are so desensitized, you’re unaware of it. He says, that’s the first step.
Second is our capacity for self-deceit is limitless. He says, I’ve talked with all these missionaries and they just don’t believe it could ever happen to them. It could never happen to me. We’re just friends. He goes on. Intimacy-vacuums get filled one way or another. People, I mean, God made you to want to be intimate. And by intimate I don’t mean sexuality.
I mean, the sense that you’re cared for. It’s when a missionary or anyone is lonely. Under stress. You move. When a wife has a child and she is consumed with this baby and for the first two weeks most guys are going, this is wonderful, this is wonderful, this is wonderful.
After about a month most guys are going, especially the first one, hey, what about me? You know, and then, like, six months you, like, want to drop the kid off somewhere and go away for a weekend and she’s going, no! No! And you’re going, yes! Yes!
And I’ve met women who won’t leave their kid for two years. Well, guess what? The intimacy needs aren’t being met at home and he goes to work and there’s some really nice secretary or co-worker who says, wow! You look good in that tie today. Thanks.
He’s never noticed it before but there’s a vacuum over here. And then pretty soon, you know, I’ve got a business deal but I’m really busy. The only time I have is lunch. He didn’t set this up. Could you meet for lunch and do this? Well, yeah, I guess so. And then over lunch. And by the way, at the very end of the lunch she goes, thanks very much. Just a pat on the hand.
The she comes into the office three days later and she goes, you know, could I get just a word with you? Well, sure. Could I shut the door? Sure. Go ahead. Well, I’m having a little struggle. And she shares a struggle in her marriage. And then, you know, he’s a Godly man, he wants to, you know, how do I help this person? And so he says, well here’s what I think you need to do. And by the way, here’s where I go to church.
And she says, thank you. And she has, she’s got no agenda at this point either. And how she’s, thank you very much. And he just gives her a little hug to say “thank you.” People, welcome to the NFL of sexual impurity. We are now rolling down the stream and they’re two Godly people or two people that have no intention of, they’re not saying, you know what? Why don’t we see if we can ruin our homes. Let’s see if we can shatter our kids.
Let’s see if we can figure out how you can pay alimony here and pay for me. Let’s see if we can get guilt and shame to levels that we could never imagine.
In fact, maybe we could even transmit some sexually transmitted diseases because actually, I’ve done this a couple three other times and I’d like to bring that into this relationship with you. And by the way, I could bring it into you and since you’ll live a double life for a while, you might go to pass this onto your wife before she finds out we have an affair.
No one says that. That’s exactly what happens. The pattern is very, very predictable. Could I give you some very specific ways to try and get around this, for you?
First of all, I’m going to say that there is a mindset that you must recognize and then attack. One, is that you’ve got to accept, I don’t care your age or your background. The power and the lure of your sex drive. And you have to tell yourself over and over again, yes it could happen to me.
Yes, it could happen to me. David loved God more than I will probably ever know or love God and it happened to him. Yes, it could happen to me. And until that’s your mindset, you’re vulnerable.
Second, in terms of mindset, is you must determine what you will put into your mind and what you will not put into your mind. Because you are a product of your thought life. I mean, get radical as you need to be. If you need to cut off your right TV cable, cut off your right TV cable. If you need to just absolutely rid your house of romance novels, then get rid of them.
If you are unconsciously, it’s like only one soap opera. Tell you, women are lured by communication, sensitivity, and this man who meets all these nurturing needs. And the fantasies usually come through novels and relationship.
And men are lured by sight. Women are looking for this man who understands and thinks and talks and cares. And it’s all about this emotional connection that leads to immorality.
The average man looks at a woman, he doesn’t care what she can think at all. He’s just looking at what he sees.
And I mean, anything you’re putting in your mind, whether it’s on the internet, whether it’s a book, whether it’s a magazine. Even if it’s the discipline of saying, when I go through the grocery store line, I’m going to choose to look forward.
You know, I’ve seen the same picture on the front of Cosmopolitan for about thirty years now. And they change the faces but from the neck down it looks just about the same. That’s extensive research I’ve done. And so, I can either choose to go down through that and say, wow, now I wonder what’s behind this one. You know.
And, you know, us good believers we say things like, “I cannot believe what they’re putting on here right now.” Right? It’s shocking. It’s terrible. In fact, I should look inside to see just how shocking and how terrible it really is. And those are the first steps.
Then there’s vulnerable circumstances, when you travel, you’re lonely, discouraged, depressed, man, you gotta put your armor on. I know one guy that takes a picture of his family, he goes into the hotel, puts the picture of his family on top of the TV, and asks them to turn off the cable.
When you have struggles and you’re going to have them. And whether it’s your wife is pregnant or someone is ill or whether you’re just, it’s a season where you’re having some conflict and things aren’t connecting in your marriage.
You will unconsciously look to fill that vacuum. Understand what’s going on. Doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. But it means the lights have got to come on and you gotta understand, man, you are set up.
And the enemy knows you and he knows your situation. And he will bring the right person at the right time that really looks like a juicy piece of fruit just like he offered Eve. Until you bite into it.
And unguarded friendships, eighty percent, seventy-five to eighty percent of all affairs occur with someone you know very well. Unlike the way it happens on TV where, you know, you walk in, you meet eyes, the chemicals go off, you decide to abandon all common sense and jump into bed with this person. That may occur here and there rarely. But the person that you’re most likely to have an affair with, you know.
And it’s a coworker, someone you spend time with, someone you’re brought into a ministry relationship with, someone that you have to spend lots of time with and then under stress, under pressure, things not going so well at home, and then you get strokes from this person, there’s an emotional need, an emotional vacuum.
What I want to tell you is, the most loving, Godly, caring, deeply committed, finest Christians you will ever know, can, in a weak time, in a weak moment, commit adultery.
And so, whatever you need to do to put good things in your mind. And for some, it’s vicarious. You think it’s innocent. You think you can, kind of, dabble on the internet or you think you can just, you know, a little bit of playboy or a little bit of this or this novel.
You know what? Jesus. You know, the seeds get planted here. You don’t deal with them now. They may not give birth for six or seven years. The issues of your sexual purity is always on a continuum. And that’s why be as radical as you need to be.
The Scripture is clear. You notice I put II Timothy 2:22. It says, “Flee youthful lusts.” Anything that gives you the evil desires that young men often have, he says, run from it. Some sin, you know, there’s thing you fight. Satan, you fight. Put on the full armor of God. Stand firm. This one, you run. You don’t say, well, how strong… You just run.
Psalm 119:9-11. I think this is the real key. You gotta get your mind. “How can a young man or a not so young man. Or how can a young woman or a not so young woman keep their way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word. Thy word I’ve hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”
And, without going into the details, I did not grow up as a believer, I understand I kind of shoot it kind of straight, maybe to the embarrassment of some of you now and then.
But if we’re going to reach the next generation then this is where, tell you what, this is where your kids and grandkids are living. So someone better put it out there the way they’re living it, okay?
And I’m going to tell you that I struggled, first three or four years as a Christian, I just thought lust was something every guy, you just had to fake it. Man, I could not get over it. I did not grow up as a believer. I never read the Bible until I was eighteen.
And I spent eighteen years figuring out how to look at women, how to attract women, how to do everything wrong and then the Spirit of God entered my life, changed my life, and man, I’ll tell you what, it was just, man, I made a commitment in a college ministry. I was going to be pure.
And I didn’t violate that commitment but, boy, you talk about the sin of lust in my heart and my mind. Every girl is an object. We used to sit down with the basketball players in the women’s dorm and they would walk by, hundreds at a time. Eight point five. Seven. Six. Two. You know. Arrogant.
Every time I looked at every woman, you know, my eyes went to certain places. And then I felt guilt and shame and I couldn’t pray and I said, “God, God, please help me. I don’t want to ever do that again. And I’m really, really, really sorry.”
And I mean, cycle after cycle after cycle after cycle. I was so defeated. And what I’m expressing is the average male believer in America.
A quarter of all pastors are struggling with pornography on the internet. Pastors. And, by accident, I was supposed to go to this summer training program in college and you had to memorize sixty verses.
And my roommate was going and he paid five bucks for some topical memory system and I thought, what a rip off.
So I, you know, I’m going to write them out on 3x5 cards myself and I did. And out of my pure motives, he was, you know, going to memorize, like, one or two or three a week. And I though, you weenie. Anybody can do two or three a week.
So I’m going to do one every day, review it every day. And by the time he’s about halfway through, I’m going to have sixty verses down, word perfect, because of my spiritual, humble commitment to be a man of God.
Isn’t it amazing how God can use your perverted motives and get His Word in your life?
And I got up to about thirty verses. And I, psychology, I had a Dr. I shouldn’t say his name. Nah, I can, he was about ninety then so it was thirty years ago. Dr. Lynch. Sorry, he was the most boring teacher in the entire world but he was the key to my sanctification. I would put my psychology book up and I reviewed verses for an hour every day in his class.
And I still remember meeting a very, very attractive co-ed. And I was on my way to lunch at the dorm. I mean, I didn’t even make the connections where all the freshman girls were because that’s where I always went even though there was another dorm where you could eat. There was a lot health, spiritually. But I never made the connection that God might want me to go there.
And this co-ed was here and we stopped and we talked and I’d been memorizing verses now for about three and a half weeks and we talked and we had a conversation. I looked her in the eye the whole time. I saw her as a human being and not an object. And she left and I left and the Spirit of God went, “Chip?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “You didn’t lust.”
I said, “You’re right. It’s possible”
And then I started to go and I said, well, I don’t want to go to that, I know what, so I went to the other place and I ate a cafeteria and there was two or three gals that I knew were Christians and were sisters and we began to talk and you know what, from that day forward, I ended up memorizing, literally, hundreds and hundreds of passages.
You don’t need to do hundreds. It’ll help. And God renewed my mind. And when I started saying no to what went in my mind and I started getting really serious about memorizing Scripture and putting it in my mind.
And, men, I want you to know. Do I have bad days? Sure. Do I slip and fall now and then? You bet. I’m a man. But I want you to know, for the last twenty-eight, thirty years, I don’t live plagued with lust. And you don’t have to.
But it’s not because I’m some super this. Do you know what it is? When a young man keeps his way pure, how? By guarding it according to His Word. Your Word I’ve hid in my heart. Why? That I might not sin against You.
God’s Word is powerful. Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed, how? By the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2.
What? That your life, your lifestyle could prove or be tested and demonstrate what the will of God is. What, what’s the will of God? It’s good. It’s acceptable. It’s well pleasing.
I want you to know, God has great plans for your sexuality. But He says in Ephesians 5:3 and 4, “Don’t let there be a hint of immorality.” I mean, this is radical. Do whatever you need to do. Have you got the picture?
Let me close with just the final page and all I want to do is, by way of application, say this. Those that might be really, really honest in here and you don’t need to tell me. Is you might be saying, you know what, this is way too little way too late.
I’m addicted to pornography right now, in fact, these messages the last couple days are making me nuts. I feel as guilty as I have. In a room this size, I would guess that probably twenty, twenty-five percent of the men in this room have some issue with immorality, lust, pornography.
And my experience is, you get over a hundred people you probably have at least a handful of people that right now are either in an emotional affair or a physical affair.
And it’s hard for you to keep a straight face as you hear me talking. And everything inside you just wants to run out that door but it would be socially unacceptable so you’re just, kind of, bearing up and you know.
And I want you to know, God brought you in this room on this day to free you. Adultery is not the unpardonable sin. Lustful thoughts are not the unpardonable sin. We learned that most of the Bible was written by murderers. Well, I’ll tell you what, there’s a pretty good adulterer that had an impact. His name was David.
And if you trace David’s adultery and his confession in Psalm 51 and then you pick up the end of the story in Acts 13, you find that God looks back on David and says, I found David a man after my own heart. Didn’t mean he lived a perfect life. But he got right, he got clean, he put his past behind him, and he moved forward and he was forgiven.
And then you read on in Acts 13 and you find a man, despite the failure, who accomplished God’s purposes for him in his generation. There’s a lot of Godly men and Godly women that have had affairs that have overcome addictions.
And you know what? It starts for you right today, if you’re involved in that, to stop and experience what the woman in John 8 experienced when she was thrown at Jesus’ feet.
“We caught this woman in the very act!” and you remember what Jesus’ words were? Once He wrote in the sand, once He said, hey, if there’s anybody here that, you know, isn’t blowing it at all then, tell you what, you fire the rocks first.
Remember what He said to her? What He said to her He says to you right now. “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
So why don’t you bow your head. And you know where you’re at. And if you need to ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness. Need to repent? Repent.
And if you’re a man or a woman and you’re really struggling. Who is the one person you could really trust? The one other woman, if you’re a woman or the one man if you’re a man that it wouldn’t go any farther.
You gotta get the secret out. Don’t try and, you won’t lick this one on your own. You will have to find another man to say, you know, I went to this camp and this is what happened and this is where I’m really at and I need help. And one other man or one other woman and take you on the journey towards sexual purity.