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Battling the Beast Within: Finding Purity in a Culture of Chaos

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 19, 2024 12:00 am

Battling the Beast Within: Finding Purity in a Culture of Chaos

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 19, 2024 12:00 am

Has our modern culture embraced sexual expression at the expense of our well-being? In this episode, we explore the timeless wisdom of the Bible on purity and the dangers of succumbing to cultural pressures. Discover why the apostle Paul challenged early Christians to champion moral purity, the consequences of sexual immorality, and the life-changing power of God's grace. Get ready to examine your own heart and find the freedom to live a life that honors God.

Key Points Covered:

  • The Battle is Real: The timeless struggle between our fleshly desires and God's design for purity.

  • Cultural Confusion: How societal norms have shifted away from biblical standards, promoting a distorted view of sexuality.

  • Consequences and Grace: The potential physical, emotional, and spiritual toll of sexual sin, balanced with the transformative power of God's forgiveness.

  • Holiness is a Goal: Practical steps for resisting temptation and pursuing a life that honors God.

Join us as we delve into these thought-provoking questions and find the courage to live differently, embracing the beauty of God's plan for our lives.


For this is the will of God, your sanctification that you abstain from sexual immorality. This is the instruction from the Lord Jesus. Not a pastor, not a denomination, not a tradition.

It's from the Lord Jesus. You don't need to count signatures on a petition to decide if it's acceptable. It is settled.

Why? Because it isn't the will of the people, it is the will of God. God determines what sin is.

It's not determined by majority opinion. And you need to remember that sin is never safe. Sometimes you may try to deceive yourself into thinking that sin is okay. When you pursue sin, you try to be discreet about it. You're careful to hide it from others. You like to think that you're controlling your sin instead of your sin controlling you.

Does any of that sound familiar? God commands you to flee from sin. And today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stevens applying that truth to the concept of sexual purity. This message is called battling the beast within. I love what Barclay concluded as he wrote in his commentary. One thing Christianity did in Thessalonica was to lay down a completely new moral code where Christianity becomes the champion of purity.

That's great, isn't it? Christianity becomes the champion of purity. Now in your New Testament, you'll find Paul's letter to these believers living in Thessalonica, a letter where he tells them not just to resist immorality but to champion purity. And I want to deal with the subject in general today and we'll become more specific next Lord's Day and then after. I want you to turn to 1 Thessalonians in chapter 4. Let's deal with this subject in a broader context.

We'll make some specific application. Let me give you several commands that Paul is giving these believers who want more than anything to champion purity for the glory of Christ. First, you're taking notes. Paul will tell them don't become satisfied with standing still. Don't become satisfied with standing still.

1 Thessalonians chapter 4 and verse 1. Finally then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. Another translation puts it that you excel still more. I like that. In other words, you keep growing.

You've heard about it. We're urging you, by the way. You know how you ought to walk. Now excel in it. Don't be satisfied with where you are. Progress. Keep growing. Keep moving.

Keep going. Which, by the way, means that that sense of dissatisfaction that you have with your present spiritual condition is actually a good thing. The enemy would never tell you keep going, keep moving. You know what the Lord in his spirit will tell you to do that?

The enemy would tell you you're just fine like you are. The person who says I'm actually content with where I am spiritually is actually in grave danger. The one who stands take heed lest he what?

Fall. 1 Corinthians 10, 12. So that sense of dissatisfaction you happen to have and you probably walked in here with it is actually a very, very wonderful spiritually healthy thing.

The enemy would never give you. God's spirit gives it to you to prod you on. Paul wrote this, I discipline my body to keep it under control lest after preaching to others I might become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9, 27. Listen, if anybody ought to say, you know what, I'm actually content with where I am spiritually, it would be the apostle Paul.

But even he feared becoming a moral failure. And the solution for Paul is not to lock the doors and stay inside to keep from the prospect of sinning. You can sin by the way in solitary confinement, right? The solution is actively pursuing holy living, wholesome activity, good accountability, sanctified disciplines, biblical knowledge and application. In other words, Christianity isn't just about saying no.

The world would tell you that. All you do is say no to stuff. Well, we do say no to stuff. But we also say yes to an awful lot that which is good and wholesome and godly. Keep in mind, Paul is writing believers. He commended earlier in chapter 1 for destroying their pagan idols and turning to God with passion and faith to serve him. That's why it's especially significant to understand he isn't writing lackadaisical Christians who are straddling the fence of moral compromise.

He writes in chapter 1 that their faith in God has actually traveled throughout the whole Mediterranean world. And he's telling them keep going. Excel. Make progress. Don't be dissatisfied.

Don't be satisfied. Be dissatisfied with where you are spiritually. See that you excel more and more in your desire to please God in the way you walk. That can be translated in the way you walk about pleasing God. So first of all, don't become satisfied with standing still.

Number two, don't begin compromising with what is clear. Look at verse 3. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality. Now that phrase, sexual immorality, translates one Greek word, porneia. It's often translated fornication, which serves as an umbrella term for any and all kinds of sexual activity outside the bond of marriage.

Much to the chagrin of Paul's culture and ours, God actually calls all of that activity immorality. The word porneia is used. It's a categorical term.

We've transliterated to give us the word pornography, but it's actually broader than that. It's a word in the New Testament that refers to adultery. It refers to premarital sexual activity. Imagine how that applies in our culture today where 70% of high schoolers are now graduating with their diplomas, but without their virginity.

70%. According to one statistic I read this week, 29% of first dates now include sexual immorality. Porneia refers also to not just premarital sexual activity, but to extramarital sexual activity. It covers the world of pornography. It covers the practice of homosexuality, polygamy. In today's culture it would refer to practices like sexting, which we read about more and more, any kind of voyeurism.

Voyeurism is watching someone in real time, real life involved in some kind of a modest or immoral behavior. Paul effectively is writing, there's a new code for you to begin applying in your pursuit of holy living. He says, notice verse 3, you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus, for this is the will of God, your sanctification that you abstain from sexual immorality. This is the instruction from the Lord Jesus. Not a pastor, not a denomination, not a tradition, it's from the Lord Jesus. This is the will, not of the church, not of a pastor, not of a council, this is the will of God that you abstain from all sexual immorality. You don't need to have some ecclesiastical or denominational meeting to exegete it, to turn it about, to sort of contextualize Paul into those old days, those unsophisticated days. You don't need to count signatures on a petition to decide if it's acceptable. You don't need to wait for the latest vote. It is settled, why? Because it isn't the will of the people, it is the will of God.

There's no mystery here. And then there's that little troubling word, did you see it? This is the will of God, your sanctification is for your holy development that you abstain, abstain. Not dip your toe in, not explore, not experiment, not manage as much as you think you can, not allow it so long as you're going to marry that person, abstain. It's an absolutely black and white term.

Reinecker's Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, which I keep on my desk, says you could expand this word, this verb to mean have nothing at all to do with it, to hold oneself from it entirely unless it falls within God's creative design and parameter. People around you say, but isn't sexual behavior a rite of passage? I mean, isn't this part of growing up? Shouldn't we just try to make people discreet or polite? Maybe we should educate them to make sure they're safe. If you'll notice, God does not command here that we should be careful. He commands that we should abstain. It isn't a matter of being discreet. It's a matter of being obedient.

And can I say this? God never wants anybody anywhere to think they can be safe while they are sinning. Safe sex is an oxymoron.

There is no such thing outside of God's parameters as safe sin. At least 13 Americans will die from a sexually transmitted disease in America today. Today, 13 people died. Why no news reports?

Why no coverage? Because it is linked to the refusal of our culture to admit the connection between disease and sexual activity outside of prescribed boundaries of a creator God. We cannot even dare whisper of such a thought that God intended to use it to get our attention. So pay it no attention. We are seeing an epidemic of just simply the physical casualties of sexual activity that has gone viral. It is in our culture a life and death issue.

That's why Paul, by the way, for a lot of other reasons just beyond the physical, but he did focus on the physical in a verse we typically move quickly past where he said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 6.18, effectively don't stand and fight this thing called fornication. Don't stand and fight it. Flee it. Run. Run.

And then he says this, this interesting concept. Every sin that a man commits is outside his body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. In other words, your body pays a price too. That's reason enough to run.

Run. Listen, think of, try to think of sexual sin as inviting a virus to invade your body. Think of that next time. I think I'll flirt with hepatitis B. I think I'll date gonorrhea. I'll have a little syphilis. Every sin you commit is outside your body, but sexual immorality, you're putting your own body at risk. That alone, God intended to wake up the believer. Don't get near it.

Run. One author wrote about an interesting problem they were having in a middle school in Oregon, ended up being rather humorous. The middle school girls were, you know, starting this little tradition where they would put on lipstick in the bathroom and then before they left they would kiss the mirror, leaving little lip prints on the mirror glass. And the principal was irritated by that.

The custodian had to clean it. He warned them, or she the principal warned them, told them to stop it. They didn't stop it. She pleaded with them. They wouldn't stop it.

Nothing worked. So finally the principal decided something had to be done. So she came up with a rather ingenious plan, told her custodian exactly what to do to meet her in the bathroom in just a few minutes. She got on the loudspeaker and called all the middle school girls by grade into the bathroom. She explained again, once again, to these girls that all of the lip prints were causing a lot of work for the custodian.

There he stood. He's spending extra work cleaning these mirrors and she wanted it to stop. And of course the middle school girls stood there obviously irritated that they're having to sit through this lecture and when can we leave. In fact there were lip prints at that very moment all over the mirror in the bathroom. Then the principal said, look, I want you to understand how much time it's taking the custodian to clean these lip prints.

In fact I want him to show you how he has to work on this problem. And so she said to him, would you show them? And he reached into his cart. He pulled out a long handled brush and he walked over and he dipped it in one of the commodes. Then he came back and he scrubbed the mirror. Nothing more was said. The lip prints disappeared the rest of the school year.

Why? I mean frankly they discovered what they'd been kissing up to, right? Nasty, dirty, infectious stuff. There's a warning in there. Listen, don't forget, believer, what you're kissing up to. Don't ignore the physical and spiritual and emotional danger when you press to your life and your body and your heart and your mind, nasty, infectious, debilitating sin. This is the will of God that you abstain from it all. Don't be satisfied standing still. Don't begin to compromise what God has made clear.

Let me give you one more. Don't begin impersonating your surrounding culture. Notice what Paul writes again to the Thessalonians in verse four. That each one of you should not control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God. In other words, porneia is the pursuit of the Gentile.

That's a biblical term for unbeliever. Why not? Why wouldn't they pursue it? I mean think about it. Their spirit's dead. They might talk about how spiritual they are but their spirit's dead. Hadn't been brought to life by the spirit of God.

It's dead. Can't commune with God. So the spirit cannot inform their mind so that their flesh acts at will. Their flesh is effectively uncontested. Nothing complains within them and their flesh always gets a free pass. And sin then will make perfect sense to them because there's not any spiritual voice internally saying that doesn't make sense after all because they don't have the tutor within them which is brought to life by means of regeneration. So to the Gentiles, porneia is what life is all about. In fact, Paul would write to the Philippians.

We'll look at this a little later. But he says their belly is their god, literally their appetites. That's their deity. That's what they live for and worship. Don't impersonate a Gentile who has no spiritual barometer.

He's going to give his flesh a free pass. That's why the church is misguided to think somehow we got to control these sinners from their flesh. They still die and go to hell, right? Their spirit has to be brought to life through regeneration. That's why the mission of the gospel in the church is to bring them to faith in Christ by the grace of God.

Until then, their flesh wins. God hasn't called you to that kind of life. Even though it makes sense to them. In fact, you've heard people say things to you like this.

Come on. You're just being judgmental. That makes you as much a sinner as you say other people are.

Judgmentalism, by the way, is the chief sin to the world. How can something that has brought such enjoyment to my life be wrong? Or God's will is for me to be happy and this is happiness. Or God wouldn't deny me something. He obviously created me to want. Or my marriage was never God's will in the first place so this really isn't adultery. Or marriage is just a piece of paper anyway society made up. God knows my heart. Or the real issue is love and when I'm with that other person or those other people, I feel love.

I have heard every one of those more times than I can count in my years of ministry. To the person controlled by the flesh and not the spirit, sin makes sense. In fact, it is nothing but sheer excitement. Which is why immorality only shows you the commercial. It never shows you the hangover. It never shows you the broken heart. It never shows you the girl curled up in a fetal position sobbing after having been used.

It never shows you the man devastated by disease he can no longer hide from his wife. The commercial looks great and it makes perfect sense. Let me refer to one growing trend and a perfect illustration. Today more couples in this country are choosing to cohabit. That is to live together. In fact, cohabiting couples now outnumber marriage certificates. It makes sense right? Gets a couple started financially.

I've heard all this, by the way, in my office. Helps us get to know each other. Allows us to make a commitment without the expense of a wedding. Makes us certain we're compatible.

That's short term reasoning and that's, by the way, the commercial. One article from the New Oxford Review stunned me as I read. They've done research over a number of years and here are some of the results. I'm going to say them so fast you don't have time to write anything down. Eight of them. Cohabiting couples are nearly eight times more likely to separate due to discord than married couples in their first year together. Eight times more likely to say I'm going to leave you. Cohabiting couples have a separation rate five times greater than married couples. Cohabiting women contribute more than 70% of a relationship's financial income. On average, the men in cohabiting households earn far less income than married men with families. Compared to married individuals, those who are cohabiting report higher levels of depression. The poverty rate among children in cohabiting households is five times greater than children in married couples' homes. Children ages 12 to 17 with cohabiting parents are six times more likely to exhibit emotional and behavioral problems. Number eight, cohabitation presents a greater risk for sexually transmitted disease because cohabiting men are four times more likely to be unfaithful than husbands. And on and on and on and on.

I just gave you eight of them. So this is going to be good for us financially, emotionally, physically. That's the commercial. We're going to be able to live out our love without any restriction.

No, you're going to be able to self-destruct faster than you expected. That's the reality. What's the reality? All right, let me give you two closing observations and we'll stop here. Number one, no one ever lived in a generation where holiness came easy.

No one. In fact, the reason I told you everything I told you about Thessalonica and Rome was to encourage you. It was a battle for the Thessalonians to pursue holiness as much as it is for North Carolinians to pursue holiness. A former professor of sociology at Harvard lamented about our culture there is a growing preoccupation now of our people with social sewers, the broken homes, disloyal parents, the bedrooms of prostitutes, a den of criminals. Think of all the television shows that are becoming more and more popular. Think of the new series.

Think about how everybody's practiced with this. It's so true, isn't it? It's a preoccupation with looking into the ward of the insane, a club of dishonest politicians, a street cornered gang of delinquents, a hate laden prison, a crime ridden waterfront, the courtroom of a dishonest judge, the sex adventures of rapists, the loves of adulterers and fornicators, of masochists and sadists, mistresses and playboys.

It's all seductively prepared and served up to us now with all the trimmings. So he writes in 1965 no one ever lived in a generation where holiness came easy. Secondly, no one ever lives a life of holiness by accident. Paul was effectively writing to the Thessalonians look you're doing great. I'm proud of you.

You're doing great. Just don't settle there. Watch out for any tendency to slide toward mediocrity and compromise. Holiness happens on purpose. That's why Paul wrote to Timothy discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. When you train yourself, that word is gumnadzo from our word. We get our word from that gymnasium. Go in and work out a sweat for holiness sake.

Oh, it's so hard to read the Bible. Work up a sweat. It's hard to walk with work up a sweat. When you sweat over the difficulty of spiritual disciplines, Paul said, Timothy, go into the gymnasium of spiritual disciplines and work up a sweat.

Let me suggest six habits to form and I'm going to do it in 60 seconds or less. Number one, don't justify little compromises as innocent. They aren't. Or don't justify little compromises as innocent. Think of them as little viruses that are ready to multiply. Number two, don't wait to fight temptation when it becomes dangerous.

It already is. Three, don't assume you're beyond the reach of any sin. If Paul is writing this to the Thessalonians who passionately were pursuing Jesus Christ and he has to tell them abstain from sexual immoralities, we need the same. Number four, don't develop close friendships that encourage you to think like a Gentile. You know what I mean? Friendships, yes. Close friendships that influence you. Read the book of Proverbs if you have questions with what I just said. Number five, be honest when temptation knocks. Be honest when temptation knocks and admit you can't handle it without the Spirit and the Word.

One more. Keep your running shoes close by. Buy the kind that are easy to slip into.

You know at my age Velcro is wonderful. Keep them close by. Be ready to run at a moment's notice. That's practical advice today from God's Word and I hope it was helpful to you. This is Wisdom for the Heart with your Bible teacher Stephen Davey. Stephen called today's lesson battling the beast within. When we think about sexual purity it's an area where all of us need to be reminded and challenged to pursue holiness. But as you were listening today maybe you wished your child or grandchild or friend could hear these principles as well. If so we want to help you get this message out to them. You'll find this message in its entirety if you visit our website Once you get there you can share the link to this message by email or on your social media feeds. In addition to posting the message for you to listen to we also provide you with the written manuscript of Stephen's message. Share this message today then join us next time on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-19 00:09:30 / 2024-04-19 00:18:50 / 9

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