Browsing articles from "June, 2012"
Jun 29, 2012
neil

The reason we lie is because we are afraid of the truth

How to become a truth-teller

The 10 commandments could be called the 10 promises. In Jeremiah 31:31-32 the Lord promises to write the law on our hearts and so finally every one of the commandments we will delight to keep.

How we begin to keep the 9th commandment, here and now, lies somewhere in Jesus and the gospel. The gospel deals with our failure to keep God’s law but it also begins to produce in us a power to keep God’s law.

So how can the gospel transform me into a truth-teller?

It starts with what we saw earlier in our sermon that the very reason I lie, is the truth, that I can’t accept the whole truth about myself. There are things about me that I excuse, cover-up, and blame others for.  I need to avoid the truth to feel good about myself.

But now as a Christian the gospel enables me to face the facts about myself without fear because I don’t need to fear my many faults and failings. The gospel invites me to take the truth about myself to Christ and therefore the truth holds no fear because it no longer condemn me.

If I lie because I have to cover-up what I don’t like about myself lies become a tool of self-defence (it wasn’t me) and self-promotion (it was her) and self-justification (I’m all ok really).

That’s why Dostoevsky said ‘lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others’ because the biggest lie I tell is that if I cover-up my sin then all is OK.

What is able to set you free from dark-secrets and hidden-truth that we mask with lies?

Only the discovery that despite your sin, despite yourself, God accepts you as you are. So the 9th commandment not only reveals your God, reveals your sin, it reveals your Saviour – Jesus. When Jesus chose to go to the cross, he chose to bear your disgrace and in his death he died for your lies.

Isaiah 53:9 says he was assigned a grave with the wicked, though he had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in his mouth.  Jesus was willing to be considered a liar, condemned as a liar, crucified as a liar for the lie of a life that each of us has led.

Matthew writes The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.

Extraordinary as it is  Jesus was keeping the 9th commandment even as we were breaking it! Now if Jesus has taken your sin, your guilt your shame then you are free and that means you are free to tell the truth about yourself and to tell the truth about others. No need to pretend, no need to be ashamed, no need to lie, or cover-up, or blame anyone else because above all else for the first time in your life you are free to fail, free to call yourself a sinner – because sin holds no fear.

Jun 27, 2012
neil

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier.

Struck again by this remarkable section from CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity;

“The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill a tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”

 

Jun 26, 2012
neil

Everything that you believe as a Christian depends on your conviction that God does not lie

A. What is the 9th commandment?

Exodus 20:16 ‘You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour’.

This commandment refers, in the first instance, to testimony in a court. As one commentator has noted, what God most specifically condemns in the 9th commandment is a witness who is willing to lie. In the ancient world without forensics, DNA testing or CCTV, a court case depended on the testimony of witnesses.  To lie in court is lying in its worst form because if the charge were serious enough then in ancient Israel someone’s very life might be at stake all because of the testimony offered by a couple of witnesses. For justice to function at all in Israel, the innocent needed protecting and the guilty exposed by God’s people told ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.’

With each of the commandments we see that the commandment can be thought of as a header of a particular kind of sin in its worst or most extreme form. When the commandment says ‘you shall not murder’ it is because murder is the worst kind of hatred, when the commandment says ‘you shall not commit adultery’ it is because adultery is the worst kind of sexual sin, but God hates all sexual immorality and tells us to flee from it. So the 9th commandment forbids what someone has called ‘the deadliest lie’ the one that condemns an innocent man for a crime he did not commit.’ But God hates all lies. In Proverbs 12:22 we read ‘The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.’ So the principle in the 9th commandment is that we are not to lie, to speak falsely, in any situation.

B. Why do we have the 9th commandment?

Behind this command stands the person and the character of God; the reality that God himself is truth and as such we worship a truth-telling God.

Romans 3:4 reads ‘Let God be true, and every man a liar.’ Titus 1:2 reminds us that God ‘does not lie’.

Jesus, is God’s word to us, and he is the embodiment of God’s truth ( John 1:14). He says in John 14:6 ‘I am the truth’ and also that all who are the side of truth listen to him (John 18:37). That God is a God who always and only tells the truth has massive implications for each one of us. If we are not Christians we may not be sure we can trust anyone enough to change our fundamental convictions but if the Bible is God’s truth then that changes everything. Philip Ryken summarises what is at stake: ‘Everything that God has ever said – including every word on every page of the Bible – is absolutely, unmistakably, and entirely true. Therefore, we can always take God at his word: ‘Your word is truth.’’

Everything that you believe as a Christian depends on your conviction that God does not lie. No wonder then that God demands that his people speak truthfully. We are to relate to God and then to one another on the same basis as God relates to us – with truth.

Jun 25, 2012
neil

If God hates lies why does he approve of deception in the Bible?

If someone grabbed your cash-point card from your bag and demanded you gave them your pin-number would it be sinning as a Christian to give them a made-up number? If it’s wrong to lie then as Charles Hodge point out are you not lying when you leave the lights on in your home to deter a thief when you’re away ?

Is it always wrong to lie or can it ever be right to withhold the truth or even lie?

The 9th commandment reads ‘you shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.’

Given that God is a God of truth (John 14:6, Romans 3:4) and who does not lie (Titus 1:2) can it ever be right for Christians to lie? Over the centuries Christians have wrestled with the question of whether we are always required to speak truthfully. Do we owe everyone not just the truth but the whole truth?

When we read stories in the Bible we do find passages where God appears to praise those who deliberately deceive others. One famous example is in Exodus 1:15-21 and the story of the Hebrew midwives. In the account Pharaoh tells the midwives to kill the Hebrew boys but Shiphrah and Puah let the boys live. When questioned by Pharaoh they fabricate a story about the Hebrew women giving birth before they arrive.

Twice in the story we are told that their motive behind their action was that they ‘feared God’ in v.17 and v.21. Indeed they risked a great deal to cover-up what was really going on and faced extreme punishment in their attempts to protect the children.

The principle we find at work in the Bible is that God’s people are commended for their deceit when they use deception to a) protect innocent lives and b) prevent evil such as murder.

So is it a sin to lie? The passage suggests that not all deceit is ‘false testimony’ because not all deceit should be thought of as a failure to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’. When we lie to promote ourselves or inflict harm on our neighbour we are sinning but some deceit is a necessary action to show that we are willing to love and protect our neighbour in the face of evil. Just as we saw earlier in our series that not all killing is murder because for example killing in self-defence was allowed by God so now we see that not all deceit is false testimony.

It is surely worth remembering that although these cases offer fascinating case-studies of what it actually means to lie it is not likely that we will ever need to use deception in such a way in the course of our own lives (unless our role is in the military!)

But such stories do suggest that it might be necessary and appropriate to withhold information where that information would be used in a harmful way. We do not therefore have an obligation to speak all that we know when asked to reveal it if to do so would promote evil or fail to protect someone. Indeed when someone asks for information in order to commit a crime or to inflict harm they have forfeited their right to the truth.

 

Jun 22, 2012
neil

How the gospel overcomes your fear of giving generously

In the final part of my sermon last Sunday on the 8th commandment we looked at how the gospel has power to transform us from being ‘on the take’ to ‘giving it away’.

What the commandment reveals is that there are, in fact three attitudes to money not two.

1) What’s yours  is mine and  I’ll take it,

2) what’s mine is mine, I’ll keep it,

3) what’s mine is yours, I’ll share it.

Good manners may be enough to move you from the first attitude to the second.  Respecting peoples property is an honourable thing but it is in essence the rule of the classroom.  But morality won’t take you to generousity for that it takes the power of the gospel.

The gospel has the power to take you from ‘what’s mine is mine, I’ll keep it’ to ‘what’s mine is yours, I’ll share it.’ Why? because in the gospel that is what God has said to us.

We start to keep the 10 commandments when our living is shaped and directed by the gospel. So how do we learn to be generous? How do we begin to be so utterly transformed that we say ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’

We look back to both the transforming power of the cross of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of  Jesus.

The death of Jesus moves us to be generous givers

The apostle Paul in the middle of  2 chapters teaching about the grace of giving put’s Jesus death at the centre. In 2 Corinthians 8:9 Paul writes:

I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

When it comes to keeping the 10 commandments we’ve seen through this series that the Bible teaches us that we can’t. But Jesus did and by his Spirit he begins to live them in us now.

As we look back to the cross we find that Jesus, the one who delighted to give and who gave so freely giving everything away, was willing to be considered as a thief.  In Matthew 27:38 we read ‘ Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.’  In Isaiah 53:12 we read that ‘He was numbered with the transgressors.’ Martin Luther wrote  ‘When the Law found Him among thieves,it condemned and executed Him as a thief’

How can you be a generous person? Understand just how generous Jesus has been to you and it will, as Paul says, test and prove the sincerity of our love.

How does the resurrection help us become generous givers?

The resurrection helps us overcome the fear of being generous. You see what often stops us from being generous with our time, our possessions, our money, in big part it is fear about the consequence for me in being generous.

-          Fear that I give away my time I might be missing out on opportunities elsewhere.

-          Fear that if I give away my money I may not have enough for the future

How can you deal with your fears about being generous?

Understand that the resurrection of Jesus moves us to be generous givers. The resurrection teaches us that we have an incredible future. It reminds me that in the light of eternity giving up time now is of no consequence. It reminds me that in heaven I have an inheritance that can’s spoil or fade so does it matter if I do have a little less than others now?

Do we think for one moment that Jesus regrets his generousity on earth now that he is in glory? No. And so as we look to him so we are moved to be generous givers.

 

Jun 21, 2012
neil

Should Christians avoid paying taxes

I enjoyed a twitter debate earlier today with a couple of friends on the issue of whether Christians should avoid paying taxes. Here’s my   conclusion:

Should Christians avoid paying tax?

It really depends on what we mean by avoid. In some senses the answer is ‘yes’ in others ‘no’.

1. Yes because the government encourages us to pay less tax by, for example, offering tax-breaks to encourage us to save for retirement through personal pensions and tax-free savings investments such as ISAs.

2. Yes because it raises more money for gospel work. For every pound we give to the church the Government gives back the tax!

3. Yes where expenses are legitimately incurred that are tax deductible

4. No where an unintended tax loop-hole is being exploited to avoid paying tax especially if this is being aggressively exploited to avoid paying any tax.

5. No where we simply don’t like the way our taxes are being spent.

What did Jesus mean when he said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” in Matthew 22:21?

R.T. France notes that the verb Jesus chooses to use for ‘to give’ is the verb ‘give back’ apodote in v.21b.  It is a different verb from the one his accusers use in v.17.

Jesus’ word ‘give back’ ‘indicates either the return of something borrowed or the payment of what is due. The tax is thus presented not as an arbitrary imposition but as due payment for the benefits received from the imperial government, which they have acknowledged by using the imperial currency.

Craig Blomberg makes the same point about Jesus’ choice of the verb ‘give back’ and his conclusion is that according to Jesus’ teaching  ‘Reasonable taxation is a legitimate function for all governments, even totalitarian regimes; how much more so with more democratic governments!

What does it mean for the Christian to recognise that the state is a servant of God?

It must mean being a dutiful citizen as part of our worship of God. Blomberg argues that Jesus’ teaching makes clear that ‘Christians who avoid taxes, or who avoid paying the full amount of their taxes,sin against God even just as surely as in more obvious ‘moral’ arenas.’

For Montegomery Boice ‘they should obey the speed limits, pay their taxes honestly…’

For the Christian is there then a fundamental distinction between tax avoidance (where unintended but legal loop-holes are exploited) and tax evasion?

It seems to me therefore that Jesus would say (and see also Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17) a deliberate attempt to get around the law and avoid paying taxes –even through legal means – is sinful because it is immoral for two reasons. It is a failure to love God who has put government in place for our good. It is a failure to love our neighbour who has to meet the shortfall in tax created by my dodge.

A deliberate attempt to evade paying taxes – through illegal means – is both a crime against the state and a sin against God.

Jun 21, 2012
neil

It’s not just Jimmy Carr who needed to hear this last Sunday…

So Jimmy Carr has hit the headlines for his decision to use a tax loop-hole to avoid paying income-tax. In a twitter post this morning he wrote ‘I now realise I’ve made a terrible error of judgement’ and is promising to put his house in order. It may be a pretty blatent form of breaking the 8th commandment but as we’ve been seeing in our series at City Church there isn’t one of us who hasn’t also broken the 8th commandment.

How we break the 8th commandment

We might not be armed robbers or highway man but how then do we break the commandment?

1. Whenever we take something that does not belong to us

What are you like when it comes to other people’s property? One of the issues with stealing is that we don’t call it that we just ask to borrow things without any plans to return them (intentions maybe but no plans). Maybe it is time to put things right – some kind of church amnesty on returning things.

Employer’s time is also one of the ways we take something that doesn’t belong. JI Packer asks whether we  ’start late, finish early, stretch coffee, lunch, and tea breaks, and waste time in between’ . Maybe that means avoiding Facebook during working hours.

Money. It’s not just MPs who are tempted to fiddle the expense claim with slight exaggerations here and there.

2. Whenever we are lazy – we steal time

Not from an employer but from the time God has given us to use. It is easy to waste time which is really stealing God-given time. The Sabbath principle reminds us that this is no mandate for overwork but 1 Thess. 4:11,12, 2 Thess 3:10 there is a call for Christians to be careful stewards of time.

Students just finishing exams you now have 3 months ahead of you. Who’s time is it you have? Who will set your priorities?

3. Greedy – Stealing in the heart

As someone has said ‘coveting is to stealing what lust is to adultery’. Stealing things in our hearts (inside/outside rule) is a very subtle way of undermining the commandment. We’ll return to this when we look at the 10th commandment ‘You shall not covet’.

4. Whenever we are wasteful – we fail to put to use what God has given us

We steal what could otherwise have been put to good use Squandering what we have been given– That’s at the heart Jesus’ teaching in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. We learn from the parable that every Christian has received something from God that is to be put to use. We are stewards of what God has given because you and I are God’s servants. We have ‘talents’ entrusted to us. JC Ryle says ‘Our gifts, our influence, our money, our knowledge, our health, our strength, our time, our senses, our reason, our intellect, our memory, our affections, our privileges as members of Christ’s church – all, all are talents’

Two of the servants take what the master has given them and put it to use but the third refuses to use what God has given him and instead buries it in the ground. What is being highlighted in the parable is that it is possible to talk as if we are God’s servants and yet fail to serve him by do nothing.

Jesus tells of the masters return, a picture of his return at the end of time, when every Christian will give an account of what we have done with what the Lord has given us. Those who have sought to work with all that God has given them there is the promise of great reward but for those who claim to be God’s servants and do nothing, only a fearful judgement.

Now if you are here and looking into Christianity then please don’t think that we are saved by what we do. We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone. We are saved by what Jesus did in his perfect life and death but when we claim to have put our trust in him it should make a difference. Faith saves alone but is never alone but begins to work. The apostle James says a similar thing in his letter and chapter 2v.14, 18b.

If you were to die tonight what do you think that the Lord Jesus would say to you? How would he judge your faithfulness? JC Ryle again ‘We are not told that the unprofitable servant was a murderer, or a thief, or even a waster of his Lord’s money: but he did nothing.’ Jesus tells the parable with a very clear purpose we are to be faithful in obedience until his return. What we have been given we have been given by him and we have it for a purpose which is to put it to use. Remember the lie of consumerism? That what you have is yours then remember the truth from this parable; what you have has been given to you and given to you for the sake of others.

Wasteful with our wealth

So what might that mean for your use of your wealth? Our wealth This story doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to have money or possessions but it does radically alter our use of money. This is what Paul says in 1 Timothy 6v.17-19 where he calls on Christians to be generous and willing to share.

What does it mean for you to be generous with the money God has given you. It must mean giving the first of it back to God. Some of us here are about to start work – have you already committed to give the first of it back to God? Before Christ came God’s people gave 10% of their income back to a God who had given them so much, living this side of the cross it is hard to imagine that we would be less generous in our thanks to God.

Wasteful with our possessions

Paul also urges us to be generous not just with our money but with our possessions. So, are we willing to share?  I think one of the great opportunities to demonstrate the power of the gospel at work is in our sharing of possessions. I have been so blessed by the generousity of others Ever since our children have come along Jane and I have not had the money to pay for a holiday but generous Christians have provided just what we have needed. This summer we will be spending a week in a cottage in North Wales courtesy of a friend.

At City the amount of stuff that people have shared with us when kids came along has been remarkable. Someone told me of a Christian guy who gave him his car keys to use car in day time if needed as he commuted by rail to work.

Wasteful with our gifts

One of the ways we break the 8th commandment is when we are wasteful with the gifts that God has given us. If you are a Christian then God has given you gifts for the sake of others. When we float form church to church or when we are very sporadic in our attendance or when we come to consume is to be a Chrsitian who steals from God. Not to use your gifts to bless others is to steal the blessing that could and should be theirs.

Wasteful with our time

There are many who have retired from work who are members of City Church and demonstrate a remarkable example of how to be good stewards of the time God has given them. So many give so much of their retirement time to the Lord rather than pottering in the garden.

It is so much easier to spot sins I have committed rather than duties I’ve omitted to do. I am far more likely to be troubled by what I do than what I don’t do and yet Jesus’s teaching in this parable is a reminder that we sin as much by what we fail to do.

Jun 19, 2012
neil

38,000 spoons, 18,000 tiles, 355 coffee pots, and even 100 bibles

Philip Ryken in his excellent commentary on Exodus includes the following list of items stolen from a single hotel in its first year of opening; 38,000 spoons. 18,000 tiles, 355 coffee pots, and even 100 bibles.

As we continue our series on the 10 commandments at City Church so this week we arrive at the 8th command.

Why the 8th commandment?

‘You shall not lie’ looks very much like a command that belongs under the heading ‘love your neighbour’ but, as with the other commands 5-10, this one too depends upon first ‘loving the Lord our God’. All of the commandments flow from God’s character – he is a generous God who gives without finding fault and so we too should be generous –  and from commandment 1 through to 10 we express our worship of him as he do his will. Stealing from someone else, is first and foremost a sin against God

How is stealing a sin against God?

1. Everything comes from God

David writes in 1 Chronicles 29 ‘everything in heaven and earth is yours…everything comes from you’. Believing that, changes everything and set’s the Christian apart. Consumerism tells me I own what I possess the Bible tells me everything belongs to God.

J. John writes ‘ Everything we have comes from God. I no more own my house, my car & my bank balance than I own my library books.’  How does that change things?

Two things flow

2. ‘Every theft is a failure to trust God for his provision’ (Ryken)

Why would I steal? I steal because I want more and if I can’t have more by honest means then maybe I can simply take it by other means. But what I’m really doing, or the sin behind the sin, is saying to God ‘you haven’t given me enough!’  Stealing is failing to thank God for what he’s given me and it’s failing to trust God that what he’s given me is enough. More than that it’s saying to God ‘I know what I need more than you do.’ and more than that not only is everything I have from God but everything I have from God I have been given for God and for others. Ownership means stewardship. What I have is what has been given and what I have been given I have been given for others.

Paul in Ephesians 4:28 writes: He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

3. Every theft is a theft of what God has intended for others

When I sin against God by taking that which he has not given to me I also break the commandment that calls on me to love my neighbour. When I steal I’m thinking about what would be good for me, regardless of its impact on others. So that too ends up being a sin against God. When I steal I am stealing from what God has given to others. I taking what he has decided to provide for someone else.

So next post..how do I break the 8th commandment?

Jun 16, 2012
neil

There’s no point fleeing from sin unless you flee to Christ – especially when it comes to sexual sin

Here’s the final section of my sermon on the 7th commandment preached last Sunday.

Section D: Keeping the 7th commandment

Perhaps the greatest danger to us at the end of a sermon on sexual sin is that my preaching leaves you feeling simply guilty and hopeless. Many Christians have given up the fight because they have lost hope.  Matt Chandler pastor of the Village church in Texas described his own experience when he said;

I found myself running from God. I ran because if there was shame to begin with, there was double shame at the moment when I said I wasn’t going to do it anymore but then I did it. I was caught..I was stuck in shame …

Maybe the appropriate question to ask yourself when you fall into sin, as a Christian and you are truly repentant, is this one ‘How do you think God thinks of you?’ Thomas Goodwin the great puritan preacher said this:

Your very sin moves Christ to pity & compassion more than anger.

Why? Because he loves you and he never loved you because you were good. Our greatest danger is to think when you sin you think God can’t love me any more and so even as you flee your sin you don’t think you can flee to Christ.

When you struggle with sin there is only one thing and one thing alone that you need to know because of the cross God treats you as a son and not a sinner. God accepts you as a son…loves you as a son…because he has never accepted you on the basis of your behaviour but on Christ’s perfect life and his sacrificial death.

Matt Chandler says:

The marker of those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, when they stumble and fall, when they screw up, they run to God and not from him.

The power to keep the 7th commandment comes not from your faithfulness to God but God’s faithfulness to you.

1. God’s faithfulness – Read 1 John 1:8-9

We very much want to end the study by reminding ourselves that God has dealt with our past failures and promised to write the commandments on our hearts by his Spirit.

Whatever your sin there is full forgiveness because of Jesus. Whatever your struggle with your sin there is a final victory because of Jesus

Our hope comes from the knowledge that God forgives and that God will change us. Even when we are unfaithful to him.

 

If our danger is not that we feel like giving up the flip-side, the other danger, is that  we think this sermon is a call to pull yourself by your shoe laces…

You probably can control yourself not to sleep with your boyfriend, you could put the software on your computer…but what God wants to do is not give you a few practical tips but drive you to Jesus as your only hope…

2. Jesus’ faithfulness  - Read Hebrews 4:14-16

The battle with sexual sin is won through a closer walk with Christ.

You might think that Jesus is the last person who can help you now and yet we are reminded in the Bible that he was made like us in every way and in Hebrews 4 we learn that he experienced every temptation common to man.  Stuart Olyott writes ‘Do not think of him as unfeeling; everything you are facing, he has already faced.’

So the writer to the Hebrews urges us to go to him and ask for help and because it is Christ’s Spirit that is at work in us he is able to show mercy and offer grace to strengthen us in the battle against sin and for purity.

Jun 15, 2012
neil

Getting some reality into our religion…Jesus and adultery

In today’s Spectator Magazine the author Martin Amis is quoted as saying ‘years and years ago, someone defined pornography as hatred of significance in sex. That’s what pornography does.’ Below is the third part of my sermon from last Sunday evening on the 7th commandment ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ In this extract we consider how through lust we all break this command.

C: How we all break the 7th commandment

We saw last Sunday in Jesus’ sermon on the mount that God is as concerned with how we think as much as how we act.  You shouldn’t measure obedience to God’s word by what you do or don’t do but by what we would like to do or not do.

We saw that ‘You shall not murder’ is not an excuse to hate because hate is really murder in the heart. So in that second reading we had this evening (Matthew 5:27-30) we saw that ‘You shall not commit adultery’ speaks to our hearts that are full of lust. And that really matters because Jesus won’t allow us to divide the room this evening into two categories of people; the sexually pure and the impure. No, for the reality is that when it is the attitude of our hearts that are held to account surely we are all sexual failures.

Kevin DeYoung writes: The 7th commandment doesn’t just forbid adultery and pornography. It forbids every action, look, conversation, thought, or desire that incites lust and uncleanness.

To lust is to look at a person in a way that leads to sexual arousal and so again we find God’s purpose in the commandment to reveal to us that we are all adulterers in the heart.

1. Be radical

Jesus warns us what a serious sin lust is when he says ‘ If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.’

Jesus wants you to know that there is a difference between being sorry and being repentant.

Being sorry means regretting sin, being repentant means running from sin. Joseph when seduced into bed by Potiphar’s wife ran for his life. He fled the house. A friend of mine I met with to read the bible each week left his job because of a growing attachment to someone at work.

Maybe we would run from an inappropriate relationship but the bigger challenge for some of us is that we naturally have a pretty forgiving attitude to inward sins, we’re just much less concerned about the sins of the heart not least because no-one else knows about them.

The pastor who looks at pornography then preaches on purity is a dangerous person.

Not only do we sometimes simply forgive ourselves for our sin but  we even use the gospel as an excuse to sin. We say well God has already forgiven me so I can sin anyway. Well it is true that the gospel does forgive sin but it is a dangerous thing to turn a truth into a half-truth because as Jim Packer has said ‘a half-truth, masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth.’

The same gospel that forgives our sin also teaches us (Titus says) to say ‘no’ to ungodliness so if there is no fight for purity in our hearts is there evidence of grace in our lives?

So are you ready to take urgent and radical action in battling sexual  temptation in our lives. That might mean not having a TV license or having accountability software on our computers or changing gym membership or even job. It would certainly mean stopping sleeping with your boyfriend or girlfriend.

If you are here this evening as a non-Christian I want you to know how totally amazing is the grace of God through his Son’s death on the cross he has dealt with our sin whatever our sexual sins, however we have lived, no-one is too far from God.  Grace is always amazing but it is never cheap.

The sign that God is at work is real repentance.

2. Be honest

We do need each other in the battle.  Married couples we need to help one another think through how to keep investing in our marriages.  To help us in the battle with sexual sin we should seek support and we should make ourselves accountable. DeYoung comments ‘No one fights a war by himself, and no one will get victory over sexual sin on his own.’

3. Be real

About your own vulnerability. Recognise that if a man like King David, a man after God’s own heart, could fall into scandalous sin then why not me or you?

I don’t know why guys wouldn’t want to put some kind of software on their computers to take away temptation. Maybe you need to honestly face up to the fact that you are not ready for a relationship because you know that you could not control yourself physically and would only damage the person you were dating. Maybe you need to recognise that you are flirting in a dangerous way with a housemate.

Being real means recognising that you and I are weak and that the sexual impulse is very strong. And being real means recognising that sexual temptation sometimes comes from an unexpected direction at a time when we least expect it and in a way we’ve not  gone looking for it.

King David’s adultery with Bathsheba began with David simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was at home when he should have been with his army he was on the roof of his palace when he stumbled across beautiful Bathsheba bathing on the top of a near-by building. The results of a man with time on his hands was scandal.

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