Does Jesus Tell us We “Can’t Get No Satisfaction”? Our Struggle Against Lust

Does Jesus Tell us We “Can’t Get No Satisfaction”? Our Struggle Against Lust

Virtually everyone agrees that adultery is wrong. According to one survey, more than 75% worldwide agree that it is wrong.[i] The vast majority of us agree: adultery hurts marriages, it hurts children.

And yet, simultaneously, our culture encourages us to pursue our desires and fulfill our passions. But there are cracks in that approach. The #metoo movement has begun to uncover the devastating impact of some men living out this sexual philosophy.

Two thousand years ago Jesus pointed to the crack in this moral pavement. He says that our sexual offense, our sexual sin, doesn’t begin with the action, but with the heart:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).

Sexual sin begins with our heart and moves to our imagination and only then to our actions. There was never a person in the history of the world who committed sexual sin who didn’t initiate that sin in his heart and then his imagination.

Only 14% of women and 22% of men admit to having had an affair.[ii] And yet, If you ask Americans if they would commit an affair if they wouldn’t get caught, then 74% of men and 68% of women say they would have an affair.[iii]

And every person has at one time or another turned over in our hearts the desire to experience someone other than our spouse sexually and/or emotionally. That desire then gets turned over and played with in our minds. This is lust.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Let the Children Get Bored Again: Pamela Paul speaks wisdom to our age that runs from boredom, "Boredom teaches us that life isn’t a parade of amusements. More important, it spawns creativity and self-sufficiency."

2.      Survey Says That Evangelism is Far More Prayed For Than Practiced: Aaron Earls shares the results of a recent survey that ought to call us to boldly speak the gospel to our neighbor.

3.      Guard Your Heart From Adultery: Robert Wolgemuth reflects on how seriously we ought to take any hint of adultery in our marriages: "When you are hiding a secret from your wife, this qualifies as “for worse.” You feel this in your gut. It keeps you awake at night..What’s for certain, however, is that the situation you’re putting yourself in is going to have an impact on you. It’s inescapable. Keeping secrets is like standing chest-deep in water, trying to hold a beach ball down. It takes both hands and lots of energy. But eventually, physics will win out. You’ll run out of energy and the ball will explode through the surface. You will be found out.

4.      How Can We Know that the Bible Teaches that Jesus is God? Justin Taylor offers this tight argument: "Finally, it’s worth remember the helpful summary by the late great church historian Jaroslav Pelikan: ...The oldest surviving account of the death of a Christian martyr contained the declaration: “It will be impossible for us to forsake Christ ...or to worship any other. For him, being the Son of God, we adore, but the martyrs . . . we cherish.” The oldest surviving pagan report about the church described Christians as gathering before sunrise and “singing a hymn to Christ as to [a] god.” The oldest surviving liturgical prayer of the church was a prayer addressed to Christ: “Our Lord, come!” Clearly it was the message of what the church believed and taught that “God” was an appropriate name for Jesus Christ."

5.      7 Lies the Church Believes About Singleness: Great stuff, as always, by Sam Allberry: "Certain misconceptions never seem to go away: The Great Wall of China is visible from space (it isn’t), or shaving makes your hair grow back thicker (it doesn’t). A significant misconception that has been around for many years is that singleness is a bad thing. This is partly due to a confluence of our culture’s focus on romantic fulfillment as key to being whole with common Christian thinking that marriage itself is the goal of the Christian life."

Shining Idols: Uncovering and Uprooting Them

Shining Idols: Uncovering and Uprooting Them

What are the idols of your heart? What are the ways in which you have allowed your heart which is intended to worship God, to worship the golden calves that surround us?[i] There are several ways to diagnose our hearts. Ask yourself the question: what keeps me up when I’m trying to sleep? What do I fear? What do I think about? What do I daydream about? What gets me most excited in life? What do I give myself to? What do you use your time for?[ii]

Often what we will first uncover are the superficial idols. Maybe it’s pornography or adultery, or maybe it’s alcohol, television, or shopping. Or maybe it’s fitness, sports, work, patriotism, or family. Everything can be turned into an idol. And these gods are rarely solitary.[iii] Gods open doors for gods. Culturally, we are often taught therapeutic methods to deal with these idols, often exchanging one idol with another seemingly “good” idol. We exchange pornography for patriotism, alcohol for fitness, television for family and think that we’ve fixed ourselves, but we haven’t. We are still worshiping a god. There are many churches out there who preach the good news of these better gods: family and patriotism and financial security. But these are still gods, and while they are good gifts from the Giver, they are still just gifts.

But there are deeper idols that lurk behind these superficial idols. The enemy is quite content to have us replace these superficial idols with "better" idols that serve the same function in our lives. What lies deeper? What are you trying to get when you crave coming home and collapsing on the couch and watching TV? What need are you filling when you shop?

Our Story: Confession

Our Story: Confession

The only thing that was left of our picture perfect marriage was glass shards. The seemingly petty heart issues that we entered marriage with had destroyed us. A week before Angel (her words will be italicized) confessed her infidelity, she contracted the flu, bronchitis and then walking pneumonia. Picking up on the language of James, the Danish theologian, Soren Kierkegaard calls sin “the sickness unto death.” God’s hand was heavy on Angel. She had beat her fists against his chest, but he would not stop pursuing her. That January he laid her out. Her spiritual sickness was manifested physically. God would not relent.  

Unable to get out of bed, I just so happened to pick up John Piper’s ‘This Momentary Marriage’ to look for answers. It was yet another means of sweet conviction God used to pursue my heart. Against my better judgment, I was serving as a ministry fellow for a campus ministry at Princeton University. They were on their winter retreat in upstate New York. We received a call from my Director who was concerned by my sickness. He asked if we would be able to come up, even just to have them pray over us. There was no reason for him to ask us to do that. There was no reason for us to say yes. We said yes.

We got our kids in the car and drove, Angel nearly comatose next to me. We pulled in and walked straight into the back of the main room where the evening session had just begun. After a few minutes Angel was shaking and sweating next to me. Then tears began to flow.

I knew I had to break the power the lies held over me. I felt compelled by God to live in truth. I had been trapped by the fear of losing John and our kids. But my fear of God ultimately trumped my fear of losing my family. With all of my being, I realized that my only hope was in trusting God with everything while being willing to lose it all. I was broken.

 “Are you okay?” I asked.

“No” I mouthed. “I’ve been having an affair.”

My body went numb.

Our Story: Foxes Loosed

Our Story: Foxes Loosed

In the Song of Solomon 2:15, the bride pleads to her husband, “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” Little foxes cause big problems. Little sins, little heart issues can destroy marriages. Angel (whose words will be italicized) and I know that all too well.

The seeds of heart-issues of our childhood would, like foxes, cause big problems. For me, that seed was not understanding my identity as a child of God, but rather as a pastor.

For me, the seed was not understanding my identity as a child of God, but rather as a pastor’s wife.

These destructive seeds turned into seedlings in our seminary years. But it wasn’t until I took my first calling as a pastor that these seedlings quickly grew into saplings, and then destructive trees.

I still remember my first day at Westerly Road Church as a pastor. I was only 27, but for a young man who had felt called to vocational ministry at ten years old, it felt like I had been waiting a lifetime. Like a thoroughbred, I was released from the gate, and, with a kick of dirt, was off and running. In the weeks before I was hired the elders made a commitment to relocate the church to another property (where we would build a new church) and the responsibility of leading that charge was tasked to me. “Fun!” I thought (oh, the naïvete!). A few months after I began, our Care Pastor moved on to be a Senior Pastor. “No big deal,” I thought. His role wouldn’t be filled for several years.

Meanwhile, my ministry wheels were whirring…