God's Plan for Our Purity
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - April 10, 2013
*We have been going through a verse by verse study of Matthew, and our Scripture tonight covers two of the most sensitive subjects in God's Word: adultery and divorce. That being the case, we need to go beyond what the Lord says here in the Sermon on the Mount. We are going to search more of God's Word to find God's plan for our sexual purity.
*In these opening verses, the Bible gives a strong message against both adultery and divorce. But please don’t tune me out if you have gone through a divorce or are struggling in your marriage right now. There is probably not a family here that hasn't been hurt in some way by divorce.
*My dad’s mother divorced my grandfather in 1928, after he was unfaithful to her. My dad was 8 at the time, with two younger sisters. My grandmother was left to raise 3 children by herself, the youngest around two. My dear mother was divorced around 1935 after one year of marriage. The experience was so bitter that she never spoke of it to us even once.
*My sister has been married to a very godly man for almost 35 years. His first marriage ended after losing a baby to crib death. He and his first wife were not able to put the pieces back together after that tragedy. Of the 7 children in our two families, every one but Mary and I have either been divorced or have married someone who was divorced. And let me say that Mary and I are still together after 38 years only by the grace of God, and the good wife God gave to me.
*We are not here tonight to judge divorced people. Nobody knows the pain of divorce better than those who have been through it. And God may hate divorce, but He loves divorced people. And tonight's Scripture can be helpful to us all.
*With this background in mind, let's begin by reading Matthew 5:27-32.
*There can be no doubt that sexual sin is out of control in America today. Two weeks ago, the federal Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2008, the total number of sexually transmitted infections in the U.S. was over 110 million. (1)
*That mind-boggling number is even more mind-boggling, when you know that there are only about 200 million people in this country between the ages of 15 and 64. (2)
*Now surely some people got multiple infections that year. But even taking that into account, close to half of the adults in the U.S. had an STD that year. On top of that, in 2010 over 40% of all U.S. children were born to unmarried women. (3)
*Sex sin is out of control in America today. How can we live in the purity that God commands? -- God will make a way for us. This is His promise for us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, where Paul said: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."
*God will make a way for us. Let’s look into His Word to find His way, to find God's plan for our purity.
1. One of the most important things we can do is respect God's standards for purity.
*This is a whole lot harder today than it used to be, especially for our young people. It's a whole lot harder partly because the mass media preaches the opposite 24/7. It's a whole lot harder when sex appeal is used to sell everything from hamburgers to deodorant, and Victoria's Secret isn't secret anymore.
*Media influence greatly matters in a world where average American children spend more than 60,000 hours with mass media by the time they reach 17. That compares to 11,000 hours at school, 2,000 hours with their parents and only 900 hours of church (if they attend every week)! (4)
*No wonder that even ten years ago the views on morally acceptable behavior had radically shifted from older to younger Americans. At that time, 41% of older Americans thought unmarried couples living together was acceptable behavior, but 75% of young people thought it was o.k. 40% of older Americans thought sexual fantasies were morally acceptable, compared to 79% of young people. And sex outside of marriage went from 24% to 54% acceptance. (5)
*Yesterday I got an email from the American Family Association. The email warned that the FCC is seriously considering dropping its current broadcast decency standards that ban explicit profanity and "non-sexual" nudity. The new FCC policy would allow network television and local radio stations to air the f-word and the s-word. The new FCC policy would also allow programs to show frontal female nudity, even during hours when they know children will be watching and listening. The FCC is accepting comments from the viewing public until the end of April. You can find out how to make a comment online at AFA.net. (6)
*But as far as most media is concerned, there are basically only 2 sexual sins:
-One is unprotected sex.
-But the greatest sex sin in their eyes is judging other people’s lifestyles.
*That’s the media’s view. But God’s Word is clear: Sex outside of marriage is a sin. God's plan is one man and one woman for a lifetime. And Jesus sets the highest possible standards for us here in Matthew 5:27-32. Please listen again:
27. "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.'
28. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29. And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
30. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
*Of course, Jesus is not telling us to literally gouge out our eye or cut off our hand. That wouldn’t do any good anyway, because the problem isn't with our eyes or our hands. The problem is in our hearts. All sin starts in the heart. In these verses, the Lord is showing us the seriousness of sexual sin.
*Then starting in vs. 31, Jesus said:
31. "Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.'
32. But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery."
*Again, we are not here to beat-up on divorced people. God loves divorced people. But God also hates divorce. Why? -- One reason why is because divorce hurts so many people. It hurts husbands and wives. It hurts parents, grandparent and especially children. And nobody knows that better than divorced people. Nobody ever went through a divorce and said, "Boy that was fun. Let’s do it again."
*But the key question here is this: "Who is going to set the standard for our lives?" According to another Barna study, only 16% of American adults say they make moral choices based on the contents of the Bible. (7)
*We need to let God set the standards for our lives. How can we live in the purity that God commands? -- Start by respecting God's standards for purity.
2. But then we need to run to the cross of Christ.
*The more we respect God's standards, the more we realize that we have miserably fallen short of His perfect standards. J. Vernon McGee gave this great insight: "For many years I have publicly made the statement that nobody but the Lord Jesus has ever (completely) kept the Law. . . Oh, my friend, the Sermon on the Mount shows me that I have sinned and that I need to come to (Jesus) for mercy and help." (8)
*Philip Yancey explained: "The Sermon on the Mount is God's ideal plan toward which we should never stop striving. Our inability to live this ideal means that all people stand before God on level ground: murderers and (hot-heads), adulterers and (lustful lookers), thieves and coveters.
*Because we do not measure up to these ideal standards, we have nowhere to turn but the safety net of absolute grace. Any Christian who takes the Sermon on the Mount seriously is driven to his knees, crying out, 'Lord, be merciful to me for I am a sinner.'
*But hear the good news: That same Jesus who commanded those impossible standards is the one who forgave an adulteress, a thief on the cross, and a disciple who had denied ever knowing him. The Jesus who called us to be perfect is the same one who paid the penalty on the cross for the sins of imperfect folks like you and me. . . Only as we are healed by grace and equipped by the Holy Spirit can we grow toward the ideal of the Sermon on the Mount." (9)
*We have and we will fall short of God's perfect standards. What are we to do? Run to the cross! Jesus Christ knew all about our sins when He died on the cross for us. He will certainly forgive anyone who turns to Him and trusts Him for forgiveness and salvation. That's why Romans 6:23 says: "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
*How can we live in the purity that God commands? -- Run to the cross of Jesus Christ!
3. But also repent from sexual sin.
*Of course we need to repent of any known sin in our lives. And all of us need to repent in some areas of our lives, because none of us is perfect. And God wants us to repent. This is the first thing Jesus stressed when He began to preach in Matt 4:17, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
*One of the best pictures of repentance in the Bible is the parable of the prodigal son in Luke’s Gospel. This rebellious young man squandered all of his inheritance with prostitutes and wild living. But after he lost everything, he repented. Here is how Jesus described it in Luke 15:
17. "But when he came to himself, he said, `How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18. "I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,
19. and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.'
20. And he arose and came to his father. . .
*That’s repentance. And God loves our repentance, so that verse goes on to say: "But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him."
*How can we live in the purity that God commands? -- Repent from sexual sin.
4. But also run away from sexual sin.
*As Paul told his young co-worker in 2 Timothy 2:22, "Flee youthful lusts."
*That doesn't just mean sexual temptation, but it certainly includes sexual temptation. And it makes sense. God tells us that there are times when the best thing to do is run away, and sexual temptation is one of those times. You don’t have to try to stand there and be strong. God says, "Run away!"
*Ron Hutchcraft made this important point after one of the terrible tsunamis in recent years. Ron said, "I immediately flashed back to a real life lesson I had about tsunamis a few years ago. I was in Kodiak, Alaska, with our team of young Native Americans. They had just finished a string of grueling days of outreach so we took them to a special spot on the ocean for a few hours off.
*Many of us were fascinated with the beautiful formations we saw just under the water near the shore. That's when our host told me about what happened after a major earthquake in Anchorage some years earlier. Folks who were at this shore area watched the ocean suddenly recede dramatically. And that left all of the underwater formations and shells totally exposed.
*They seized this unusual opportunity to go in and collect all these treasures of the sea. They did not realize that the sudden disappearance of the water was the first sign of an approaching tsunami. Moments later, the monster wave suddenly swept over everything in sight, including the people who had run right into its path. Many people lost their lives that day because they ran to what they should have been running away from." (10)
*How can we live in the purity that God commands? -- Run away from sexual sin.
5. And renew your mind with Godly things.
*Paul taught us this truth in Romans 12:1-2, where he said:
1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
*All believers need to renew our minds with Godly things. You will never hear better advice than King David gave us in Psalm 37:3-5. Listen to it from the NKJV:
3. Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
4. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
5. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.
*I like that idea of feeding on God's faithfulness, and we can do that all day long. God has always been so very good to us. But remember that spiritual renewal is a life-long process.
*Melvin Newland gave great insight on this from the life of W.A. Criswell. Dr. Criswell was one of the greatest pastors of the 20th century. But after being married for 50 years, (I'm sure with a twinkle in his eye) Dr. Criswell gave this testimony: "Sometimes I love her so much I could just eat her up. At other times I wish I HAD eaten her up."
*"So it is not always easy," Melvin Newland explained. "Expect progress, but not perfection. One of our problems is we think that when we do the right things, God will just make us into perfect little saints who never think wrong thoughts or want to do the wrong things again. But that’s not true.
*As long as we’re residents of this world Satan is going to be seeking to entice us to slip back into his grasp again. So expect to be making progress, (expect) to be getting closer to God, but don’t expect perfection. We’ll never be perfect this side of heaven. But we can be forgiven, and be growing upward in Christ as long as we live." (11)
*Remember what the Apostle John tells Christians in 1 John 1:8-9:
8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
*And remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."
*God will make a way for us. And we have seen a big part of the way tonight:
-Respect God's standards for purity.
-Run to the cross of Christ.
-Repent from sexual sin.
-Run away from sexual sin.
-And renew your mind with Godly things.
*Trust in the Lord to save you. Then every day, renew your commitment to live up to His perfect standards of goodness and love.
*Let's go to God in prayer
(1) "CDC: 110,197,000 Venereal Infections in U.S.; Nation Creating New STIs Faster Than New Jobs or College Grads" - March 27, 2013 - By Terence P. Jeffrey - CNSNews.com
(2) Wikipedia - Demographics of the United States
(3) Last Updated: Apr 1, 2013 - Record percentage of U.S. children born out of wedlock - Washington D.C., Apr 11, 2010 / 07:23 am (EWTN News)
(4) Christian Film & Television Commission 12007 - Source: Church Leaders Intelligence Report - 0307/2007
(5) Views on "Morally Acceptable" Behaviors, by Generation (Base: 1024 adults) - Source: The Barna Update - Nov. 3, 2003
(6) AFA email 0409201313 - FCC set to drop ban on f-word, nudity on television and radio stations nationwide
(7) Outreach, November/December 2008, p. 34 - Source: "In Other Words" - September 2009 #1 - produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - 6130 Barrington - Beaumont, Texas 77706 (409) 866-2111 - www.iows.net
(8) "Through the Bible" with J. Vernon McGee - Matthew 5:27-28
(9) "The Jesus I Never Knew" by Philip Yancey - Source: Sermons.com sermon “The Forbidden Anger” by Dr. Bill Bouknight - Matthew 5:21-26 - 2002
(10) KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 20103 - SOURCE: A Word With You By Ron Hutchcraft #4797 - TITLE: The Killer Tide - AUTHOR: Ron Hutchcraft - DATE: 53105
(11) SermonCentral sermon "Transforming Our Hearts and Minds" by Melvin Newland - Romans 12:1-2