Sexual sin. The greater world has been ravaged by it for millennia. Our culture continually breaks every moral restraint on sexuality. Scripture records sexual misconduct and perversion even within God’s people. Adultery, homosexuality, fornication, and subtler sins such as masturbation and pornographic fantasy often go unchecked, even among the churched.
The diagnosis: our sinful core oozes depravity.
The cure: grace, with all its saving and sanctifying implications, purging our sexual sin.
It is, of course, impossible to cover every aspect of this issue in a few short articles, but we aim to lay a solid biblical foundation by detailing several principles. This piece is a joint effort between my wife and myself to establish the root of purified Christianity. As we discussed this series we saw a similar thread in our thoughts – the Gospel of Christ. In the following articles we will be applying the fundamental truths of the gospel to the gritty day-to-day of our experience. I will be addressing other young men, and my wife will do the same to the young ladies. Our goal is one – holy, Christ-exalting lives.
What Is The Gospel? (Ruthie)
So many taglines attempt to nutshell the gospel: The Story of Redemption; Good News; God’s Love Story. In many cases these present the gospel incompletely, leaving us with more questions than answers. A complete gospel involves an explanation of sinful man, his redemption in Christ, and the effectual power of grace.
Adam sinned, turning his back on a pure, righteous God. Consequently, we, as his children, are prone to indulge our own fleshly desires, hopelessly condemning ourselves before a holy God.
Anything – thought, act, or emotion – contrary to the nature of God is sin. We sin when we fall short of God’s glory – the sum total of His attributes (Rom. 3:23)1. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes a scathing indictment of all of humanity in Romans 1:18-3:31. The sin nature, deeply rooted in all of us, renders us incapable of accomplishing anything good. It is the seat of our wretched selfishness, deceit, and desperate wickedness. None of us is exempt from the righteous judgment God has every right to pour out. We must rely on something external to be righteous. And that’s pretty dismal.
Enter Jesus Christ. He lived the perfect life: sinless, flawless. He perfectly submitted to the will of the Father, taking on our sin, bearing the wrath of Almighty God, and enduring a torturous death. He was proven perfect through His suffering. In Him we have the right to escape wrath and judgment. Faith in Christ and His work on the cross brings justification and produces a new birth; Christ’s righteousness is credited to our account. We are fully pardoned in the most undeserving way.
Efficacious Grace (Efficacious: having the power to produce a desired effect)
The truth is, had we been given what we deserved, we would have been forever banned from God, just as Satan and his angels were. But God, in His mercy, gave us a second chance. In His grace He gave us the exact opposite of what we deserved: right standing with Him. In spite of our wretched sinfulness, He saw fit to display His glorious character through this grace to us.
Properly understood, this cannot leave our lives unchanged. Sanctification, the continuing alignment of our lives with the will of God, is indispensable. Pure grace is efficacious: reaching and transforming every area of our lives. The pursuit of holiness is not optional. It is a Christian necessity. We owe all we have to the One who extended such grace to us.
The Gospel and Sexual Victory (Julian)
As Ruthie just reminded us, knowledge of the grace of God compels our Christian obedience. A life captured by the love of God cannot remain unchanged. We’ve also been reminded of the weight of sin. Sin is a direct affront to the character of God. We may say we love Him, but if we persist in indulging our lusts we evidence the opposite. A faithful Christian will always be a growing Christian, striving to be Christ-like, to live a God-honoring life, to be holy.
How, then, does that truth affect our sex lives? A careful study of Scripture reveals God’s view on sex. When He created it, it was profoundly good. Sex, rightly enjoyed, is not an affront to God, but rather becomes a means of worship as we enjoy His good gift.
Yet we, post-fall, naturally twist His gift into a tool for our own pleasure. Scripture is thick with warnings against sexual perversion, warnings which exist precisely because we are so quick to indulge these sins. We are bent away from God and toward our own passions, passions that trade true joy and satisfaction for a mirage.
That bent is readily evidenced in our sexual behavior. Any distortion of God’s design for sex flows out of our fallen humanity. While we often condemn the “uglier” sins of adultery or homosexuality, an honest comparison between our own lives and Scripture reveals that we are, without grace, hopelessly condemned sexual sinners.
But grace recolors the entire scene. Where once was bondage, now is freedom. We who were “slaves of sin” have become “slaves to righteousness” (Rom. 5:17-18). The Spirit of God, through the Word of God, now works to purge our sinful tendencies. We are sanctified so that we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died for us and rose again (2 Cor. 5:15). As God’s gracious gospel becomes sweet and sin becomes bitter we begin to reject our sin and instead hunger for God-glorifying holiness.
So, sexual victory is essential because holiness is essential. We reject sin because coddling it mocks the God of our salvation. We strive to live holy lives by the power of God’s Spirit so that His name is honored in us. We obey because we can and because we must. Holiness is not optional. It is a Christian necessity.
For further gospel-based reading, check out Heath Lambert’s book Finally Free.
|Julian Stoltzfus currently resides in Elnora, IN with his lovely wife, Ruthie. He has had the privilege of attending several semesters at Elnora Bible Institute since 2014, has a Christian Ministries certificate from the same, and is currently part of a pastoral apprenticeship program under Truth and Grace Mennonite Church. When not working, he enjoys tinkering around his house, diving into a good read, or fortifying relationships with family and friends. The 5th of 6, he has greatly benefited from the wisdom and influence of his parents and siblings. He longs to see authentic Christianity thrive as God transforms hearts through the gospel.|
|Ruthie Stoltzfus has been recently transplanted to Elnora, Indiana where she happily resides with her husband, Julian. She enjoys working on projects with Julian- making their house “home,” cooking , sewing, chatting over a good cup of coffee, and hanging out with her nieces and nephews. She is passionate about displaying the gospel, being discipled, and maintaining relationships that impact the next spiritual generation.|
- The Holy Bible: NKJV, New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016. Print.