Prov. 27:7 π Jn. 16:8-11 π 1 Cor. 10:13 π Eph. 2:8-9 π Eph. 6:10 π Col. 2:10 π Col. 2:19 π 1 Tim. 4:7-8 π 2 Tim. 2:3-5 π 2 Tim. 2:11-13 π Heb. 4:15 π Heb. 12:1-4 π 2 Pet. 1:3 π Rev. 3:17
She stares at the young man with thinly veiled lust and extravagant acceptance and promise of wish fulfillment. In his mind, she is filled with only longing for him and he is the fulfillment of her every lustful wish. She obeys every whim of his imagination, never saying no, never complaining, never changing in the slightest from day to day, year to year, and never having a thought of her own. Unfortunately for this young man, this woman of his dreams is only two dimensional, reality is glazed over with glossy print, and every thing about his perception of her is a lie. At the moment the young man is fantasizing about this "perfect woman," she is likely to be involved in some sexual or narcotic escapade with some one else in an effort to escape the reality of the consequences of her pornographic lifestyle. Her guilt as an accomplice to the enslavement of this young man does not go unnoticed by her conscience, however submerged it might be beneath layers of hard living, and it does not go unnoticed by God who has given His Holy Spirit to convict everyone of those things which are sinful, those things which are righteous, and those things which will one day fall under His judgment. ( Jn. 16:8-11; top )
It is hard to know which of these two is truly under the greater enslavement - she who is the bait or he who now has a taste for "strange flesh." As a male, I have more familiarity with the young man's predicament but I can certainly relate to this woman's condition as well. They are both captivated by the will of the prince of the power of the air, captive to do his bidding, subject to obey his commands.
Pornography, the practice of lusting after other women and having vicarious, imaginary sexual adventures with them, is a multi-million dollar industry in America. Under the guise of art and freedom of expression, this sin has gripped millions of men in a vice of bondage and spiritual oppression that is unimaginable to those who have not been ensnared. And yet, this snare is only another aspect of God allowing the consequences of our sin to come upon us.
When husbands lust after other women than their wives and abandon their wives and families, the chain of destruction has begun to form. When fathers are absent and fail to teach their sons the value of lifelong relationship with one woman and fail to transfer the relationship skills necessary to nurture and maintain such a relationship, the breakdown continues. When righteous men fail to stand against the moral degradation which permits cheerleaders' outfits to get skimpier every year, advertisers to become more lewd and sexually expressive every year, and movies and television to become more sensually alluring to the sexual aspect of humanity, the noose begins to tighten. When nudity and near nudity become the expected norm, the death of that society is near. Humanity, in its fallen condition, can no longer be clothed in light and live as if there were nothing to hide. Only in the cleansing blood of Christ will we find the forgiveness and healing whereby we can truly stand before God naked and unashamed. Our choice in clothing will always represent our apprehension of our sinful nature - no other creature on earth needs clothing, no other creature needs forgiveness and a blood covering.
There are certain hidden assumptions made when sexual pleasure is made goddess supreme. The first is that the human body must be young, virile, strong, and beautiful in order for the person to be desirable. Though this is rarely so baldly expressed we must come to grips with what a lie this is! Most young, virile, strong, and beautiful people are either exceedingly naive about the depths of life's meanings, exceedingly conceited about their own appearance and supposed self-worth, or consumed with maintaining this superficial and temporary advantage that they have in life. Most of the "beautiful people" are not so beautiful on the inside where beauty truly exists and where it truly refreshes the soul of another.
The second hidden assumption is that sexual pleasure is the best thing that life has to offer. And when the individual is in the grips of the sexual highs, the rush of emotions and chemicals through the body is incredible. And when the individual has only a scale of 1 to 10 to compare his experiences with, he does not know that the scale goes way beyond 10 into the thousands and millions. I can now speak from personal experience that sex with the same woman gets better year after year.
You see, I was once one of those "young men" enslaved by the pornographic goddess. I have ruined relationships that have piled up in my past from childhood on. I had no father to teach me fidelity and integrity, steadfastness and faithfulness - he abandoned his family before I was 10 years old. In addition to these hurdles, I became involved in the wrong kind of sexual relationships very early in my "sexual career." My first real sexual encounter, after years of self-gratification with pornography as a teenager, was with two bisexual females which, quite predictably in hindsight, ended disastrously and left me with an even more perverted and warped view of what sexual relationships were all about. The goal was sex, not relationship, but my heart had a deeper need which nothing in my experience had prepared me to pursue.
The third hidden assumption associated with this over-emphasis on sex is that men and women must have sexual desires for one another to even want to be with one another. Rarely is this so baldly stated, even in one's own inner thoughts. But how often do we see a man and a woman talking together in public and instantly assume that they are "seeing" or "dating" each other. What if they actually held hands or touched each other? Why, the gossips would have them engaged to be married or committing fornication or both within the week! What a hideous lie we have put ourselves in bondage to!
The overwhelming result of these hidden assumptions for any who have become enslaved by them is a self-imposed isolation. The less than beautiful people both feel and often are treated as less than desirable individuals. Everyone who thinks the end goal is sexual pleasure becomes disappointed and disillusioned when reality sets in. And those hearts that really need a friend who is of the other sex are confused and put off by all the "romantic" head games that have to be played to get near to someone. Soon, the pornographic goddess who never argues, who never has a thought of her own, who never changes but is always young and beautiful, who is always approving of every sexual adventure and whim, who requires no risk of emotional commitment or responsibility, and who promises freedom from loneliness becomes more appealing - even when seen in the light of God's reality.
Solomon wrote about this thousands of years ago when he said, "He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet." ( Prov. 27:7; top ) Even when the young man knows that God's ways are better for him, are designed to provide him with greater joy and stability in life, and are more beneficial for everyone he has any kind of relationship with, he can be overwhelmed with the myriad of mazes through which he has to guess his way just to be close to a member of the opposite sex. His own complexities mirrored against hers and combined with the sadistic evil of the American dating game almost guarantee that he will opt for the easy and easy-going playmate of the glossy page. Only as the emptiness reaches unacceptable proportions will he cry out to God for deliverance from this bondage. And even then he may still return to this sinful path of least resistance when things are tough and much-needed comfort seems hard to find.
The ruthless and relentless goddess, who always serves the lusts of the flesh, continues to promise escape from loneliness and freedom from responsibility when, in reality, she only reinforces the young man's loneliness and aloneness and leads him into a bondage more dreadful than would be the responsibilities of being a loving husband after God's pattern.
This leaves two things which need to be said and which must be addressed separately. The first is that this bondage to lust, what society might glibly label sex addiction, is part and parcel of God's judgment against America. It is part of God's justice against a land which has consistently refused to turn away from her first sins - pride, self-sufficiency, and idleness. Now as the list of her sins grows to include the more obvious and more hideous sins one would suppose that the natural inclination would be to recognize our need for a Savior to deliver us from our sinful and wicked ways. And that says it all right there: there is nothing natural about humans repenting - it is an act of divine grace from start to finish. ( Eph. 2:8-9; top ) Pray earnestly that we may always be a recipient of God's saving grace - there is no evidence in Scripture that we can continue to endlessly gratify our lustful desires and still expect to be a recipient of God's eternal salvation. I do stress this word "endlessly" for God is exceedingly patient and longsuffering toward us but there does come a time when our disobedience becomes callous indifference and our rebellious refusal to obey becomes blatant rejection of God's plan for our lives. When we no longer care about such things, it will be too late for us - if we still care, it is not too late to repent: today is the day of salvation. We must take Him up on His offer while it is still available - today, now, right now.
The second thing to be addressed is that returning to one's sin, whether it be the comfort found in sexual release or the self-satisfaction found in a nasty temper or any other act of self-gratification, is always and only a man-made excuse. God has promised that we will never experience more than we can handle ( 1 Cor. 10:13 ), He has endured all that we endure as humans in Christ Jesus ( Heb. 4:15 ), and He stands as our example of how much we should endure before giving in to sin. ( Heb. 12:1-4; top ) What we must learn, which is a product of maturing as a believer in Christ, is how to be ruthless to our flesh.
Let's face it, our flesh has worked long and hard all our lives to establish routines, patterns, habits, attitudes, and defense mechanisms to ensure that our flesh gets treated well, perhaps even pampered and spoiled. We Americans are often far too soft on ourselves, especially in the area of self-control and self-discipline. This is exceptionally shameful for us who so negligently serve the Creator of life while the sons of the world exhibit incredible self-control and discipline for their gods of greed and power and self-aggrandizement. Look at any chief executive officer of almost any international corporation or any professional athlete and you will find paragons of self-control and self-discipline. Paul wrote about this to Timothy when he said, "...reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself rather to godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." ( 1 Tim. 4:7-8 ) And again when he writes, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules." ( 2 Tim. 2:3-5; top )
In our "peaceful" culture, where our attitude seems to be that everyone in the world is really our friend who holds no animosity toward us at all, we have forgotten what war really is. Even Desert Storm, a euphemism for World War III, was not really a war to us because it came no closer to the majority of us than our television screens. The more recent conflicts have not had the scale nor impact that the World Wars had on Europe or the other American wars on Korea or Vietnam. If we could picture ourselves as natives of France during the blitzkrieg or as South Koreans trying to survive near the 38th parallel or as Vietnamese citizens living in the Miekong Delta, we might have a better grasp of what Paul is hinting at when he calls Timothy a soldier of Christ.
In Paul's time, soldiers lined up opposite each other and awaited the command to charge or stand their ground. As the opposing armies converged on each other, mayhem ensued. Men hacked and bludgeoned each other to death - no mercy was given or asked for. Those who broke and ran were killed as mercilessly as those who stood and fought. Only the victor who stood when all his enemies had fallen was able to rest from the battle.
If we could literally see into the spiritual realms and realize our predicament, we would find great incentive to pray. For while the New Age movement proclaims our great advance into the spiritual realms where we are conquerors and heroes, the reality of our plight is much different. In comparison with the other spiritual beings that exist - that is, those beings who are intent upon relieving all humans of the possibility of spending eternity with God and upon preventing all humans from enjoying all that godly living truly has to offer - man more resembles a spastic paraplegic who is also blind, deaf, mute, and mentally retarded. As Jesus charges the Laodicean ekklesia, the unrenewed man, in the spiritual realms, is completely blind, naked, pitiable, impoverished, and miserable. ( Rev. 3:17; top ) It is the blind stupidity and arrogance of the Laodicean ekklesia to consider this condition as "wealth" just as it is the blind stupidity and arrogance of the American people to suppose that financial prosperity coupled with spiritual death is a "blessing from God."
When this perilous and vulnerable condition of man is considered in contrast to the vast and powerful armies of spiritual foes who live to rob us, destroy us, and even kill us if possible, it is easy to see why we must hide in the shadow of the Almighty's wings. If God did not restrain and curtail Satan's rage and venom against mankind, mankind would almost instantly cease to exist. Any remainder of mankind kept alive would be simply victims of Satan's pent up rage, recipients of all the devious torments his hellish mind could invent. If God were not keeping a tight leash on Satan, earth would resemble our concepts of hell a lot more than it already does.
We would also do well to consider God's perspective toward our condition as well. In light of God's provision of His Son and His Spirit and His promises, we have all that we need to live a godly life. ( 2 Pet. 1:3; top ) How often does Jesus see us bow down to the relentless goddess and weep over us because He so easily sees the escape route that He has so graciously provided while we stubbornly continue to wallow in our sin and guilt and frustration? How often does God's Spirit grieve because we have chosen to grovel in pig slop when a gourmet feast is prepared and waiting for us - if we would only choose and appropriate God's grace.
So what is to be done about this bondage? In one very real sense, absolutely nothing can or is to be done. It has all been done by Christ "and you are complete in Him who is the head of all principality and power." ( Col. 2:10; top ) But in another very real sense, it depends on us - what the attitudes of our heart are and what we choose to do about God's truth. The Bible declares us to be an enemy of Christ until we surrender to Him. So long as we seek to overcome this sin or any other habitual sin with self-propelled methods and ideas, we are practicing enmity against God for we are aiding and abetting His enemy, our old nature, our flesh, which has spent so many years devising crafty ways to insure its perpetuation and survival.
Jesus says our flesh must be crucified - put to complete and final death - in Him. There is no other way. Christianity, in spite of all the modern attempts to make it a popular cultural experience, is still the way of death. Until we are dead in Christ we cannot be raised again in newness of life in Christ. And once we have been both buried and resurrected in Christ, we must continually surrender our will and our very being to Him lest we find that we again practice enmity against Him who is the faithful Lover of our souls.
We need to reconsider these words of Paul lest we become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task that is before us: "This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself." ( 2 Tim. 2:11-13; top ) Our faith is not to be placed in our ability to somehow place ourselves "in Christ"; our faith is in the One who has already judiciously declared us to have already been placed in Christ. Our faith is not in our ability to surrender; our faith is in His ability to conquer - even when it is our very selves that must be conquered. Our faith is not in our ability to remain where God has placed us; our faith is placed in the power of Him who holds us securely in the place where He placed us. Our faith is not in our ability to overcome; our faith is well-placed in the One who has already overcome.
To give in to despair, even when our sinful actions more resemble rebellion, is only to fall for a different type of fiery dart. We must neither give in to our sin, nor use some human method or mechanism to avoid sin, nor despair of ever truly overcoming that sin. We must resolutely hold fast "to the Head from Whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase which is from God." ( Col. 2:19; top )
And having done all - at the risk of adding too much to the meaning of this verse - having done all that is humanly possible and all that is humanly stupid, we must still stand in the armor that is given to us by God. ( Eph. 6:10; top )
Dear God, my Father, hear my desperate cry for help. Still the longing of my heart for things which do not satisfy and cause my heart to seek only after You. Cause me to be filled with Your Spirit and Your love, feasting on the nearness of Your presence. Hide not Your face from me and do not abandon me to the filth of my own heart and mind. As you have so graciously promised, finish what you have started in me. Do not let my sin and rebellion culminate in my rejection of You and Your rejection of me. Have mercy on me, my Lord, for I am a sinful and wicked man. I live in a generation of sinful and wicked people. You alone are holy and wise and I would to be like You but I know not how. I look to You alone as the Author and Finisher of my salvation and repent of all human efforts to overcome the sins which so entangle my life, efforts which are an affront to You who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Have mercy, Lord; I am a sinner.
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