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Sexual Immorality? Living All Out for Jesus

Adrian Holloway on May 3, 2009 with 0 Comments

1 Thessalonians 4 1-8 – Preaching from ChristChurch London’s Sunday Service


Our text in 1 Thessalonians today is mainly about sexual immorality. So today, I will be talking about what sexual immorality is, and how we can avoid it.

And I just want to say, please bear with me, because on this subject, we are all coming at it from different backgrounds, and I want to try and take everyone with me in this talk.

Let’s start with what is probably the largest group:

It could be that at least half of you here today, have been brought up in a Bible believing home. If so, as a teenager, you were probably part of a church youth group, and maybe your youth leader asked: “what’s the number 1 question, you’d want answered?” and the number 1 question was “how far can you go?” In other words, “I have a girlfriend, how far can I go with her physically before it’s wrong.”

And so maybe your youth leader did a “sex talk” or to be more accurate, a “no sex talk.” And after a biblical pre-amble, he or she eventually said: “If you’re asking ‘how far can you go?’ You’re asking the wrong question.” And teenagers generally find that very frustrating because they still want to know the answer. Youth leader continues: “You’re asking the wrong question, because your motivation is all wrong, you’re basically saying how close to the wind can I sail without getting busted?”

Or maybe you were sitting on the carpet at Soul Survivor, or at Solid Rock at Stoneleigh Bible Week, listening to the annual “no sex talk” there, and at the end, the speaker gave the following guidelines in terms of ‘how far can you go?’ They said: “When boys and girls go swimming, they wear swimsuits. And that’s a helpful guideline. In other words, if you’re a boy, don’t put your hands on the parts of her body where a girl would wear a swim suit. Girls don’t put your hands where a boy wears his swim suit.”

Now even if, since then you’ve strayed from those guidelines, the fact that you’ve tried to live inside guidelines, makes you very different from someone here today who is say, 30 years old and you’ve never heard any of this before. You’re totally new to Church and Christianity, and the whole idea of not having any sex before you are married sounds all very noble and courageous, but it’s just doesn’t sound very realistic. Hearing a talk on total abstinence, is a bit like hearing a talk about how great it is to swim the English Channel from Dover to Calais. Channel swimming is a very heroic idea, and we all know that some very worthy and earnest people do it, but quite honestly, it’s got a pretty limited appeal.

Now in this passage, the Bible warns us very strongly against having sex outside marriage, but if I preach that, and I will, with the urgency it deserves, then there are others of us, who could spend this whole message feeling like damaged goods, because all you’re thinking is: “It’s too late. With the best will in the world, Adrian, I can’t undo the past. I can cry a thousand tears if you like. I can carry a bolder up a mountain if you want as a penance. But shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted isn’t going to change anything. Adrian, I understand that you have to preach what’s in the Bible, but you are 2, 10 or 15 years too late.”

Hey, I get that. I understand. Don’t worry. There’s very very good news coming your way.

So I want to show sensitivity to all of you, whoever you are, whatever your past has been, while at the same time, being faithful to this text.

Question: “I’m married already – do I get any air time in this sermon? You’re asking: “I’m married, am I capable of sexual immorality? Answer: Yes you are! Don’t worry, towards the end of this talk, you marrieds get a whole section.

OK Paul says:

Title: Living all out for Jesus
1Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
3It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control his own body (a) in a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)

Footnote: Verse 4 (a) = Or learn to live with his own wife; or learn to acquire a wife

And I’ve tried to summarize these 8 verses in one sentence. A sentence which has 3 clauses, and they will serve as our three points. And here’s the sentence . . .

In this passage Paul talks about:
1. Living to please God (1-2)
2. By being sexually pure (3-5)
3. And if you don’t there will be terrible consequences (6-8)

So let’s look at firstly living to please God.

In the previous 3 chapters, Paul has given us loads of reasons why we want to live in a way that is pleasing to God. The first three chapters have been good news about what God has done for us. Now, he’s saying, because of how kind God has been to us in Jesus Christ, we want to live in a way that pleases God.

1. Living to please God (vs 1-2)

1Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

Verse two: “For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.” In other words this is not a moral code that Paul is imposing on you as a human opinion, no these instructions came to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

What are these instructions? Verse 3

2. By being sexually pure (vs 3-5)

3It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control his own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;

It is God’s will that you should avoid sexual immorality. The Greek word for sexual immorality in verse 3 is “porneia”. NIV translates it as “sexual immorality.” Older translations say: “you should abstain from fornication.” What’s that? Fornication is sex before marriage, as opposed to adultery, which is sex during marriage, although not with the person you’re married to.

However, the way that the Bible writers use the term porneia, is that they use it like a bucket term and chuck into it all kinds of other sexual sins as well. So it’s not only fornication. Porneia is like a junk drawer at the bottom of a wardrobe, and the bible writers chuck into the porneia drawer lots of other extra-marital sexual activity, so sexual immorality is a good translation of porneia when it’s being used in that broad sense.

Question:“Why are Christians so pre-occupied with sex before marriage?”

OK, myth number 1 is that Christians are against sex, or they are all about making people feel guilty about sex, and Christians probably have less sex, or at the very least they are hung up about sex. Lies! Lies! Lies!

I can show you the surveys, Christians have better sex, they have a healthier view of sex. There is tons of independent research on this stuff.

Sex is a gift. God invented sex. He didn’t have to make it as pleasurable as it is, but he did, because he’s a good God, and he wants to give good gifts to you. Sex is a clue that God is good.

But the Bible’s hung up about sex! More lies!

There’s a whole book of the Bible that is a celebration of sex. In the Song of Solomon – there’s a focus on enjoying sex, and how to enjoy sex. In the Song of Solomon, there is no mention of kids.

Someone says: “No way, sex in the bible for enjoyment, not just as a way of making babies?”

Exactly, here’s verse 1 of Song of Solomon:

The woman says: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.” That’s the start. That’s Chapter 1, verse 1. The book starts with kissing and it goes on from there. You need to read it.

So God created man and woman and it was very good, and he creates marriage, which is also very good. Jesus said:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Matthew 19:56 quoting Genesis 2:24)

The bible doesn’t have a low view of sex. The bible has a high view of marriage. Marriage is like God’s visual aid to show the world how great Jesus is. Jesus is a loving husband, who marries the church, his bride. That’s Ephesians 5. A great Christian marriage is like a demonstration of how wonderful a bridegroom Jesus really is.

So when you have sex outside marriage you are distorting that beautiful picture of Jesus in perfect union with his church.

So sex outside marriage is a serious distortion. When Jesus talks about porneia, Jesus says in Matthew 5 that not only is all sex outside marriage totally off limits, Jesus goes further and says that if you even look at a woman that you’re not married to lustfully, that you’ve already committed adultery with her in your heart. And just in case we didn’t get that, Jesus adds, “it’s better to gouge out your own eyes than to sin in that way. It’s a figure of speech, but it really drives the point home, don’t you think. “It’s better to get a knife and . . .”

So do you get the picture? God is all for sex. “It’s not what you do, it’s who you do it with that matters.

Sex itself is beautiful. It’s like fire.

Imagine a wonderful honeymoon first night. You drive miles from your wedding reception. Park up at this very romantic log cabin by the side of the lake. No-one else is there. It’s just the two of you. There is no heating in this log cabin apart from the real fire. And that night you build and light the fire, and it burns and it brings light to the whole house. It warms you, it’s powerful, it’s beautiful. Fire in an appropriate environment, wonderful. Take the fire out of the fire-place – trouble! Log cabin on fire, trouble. Forest on fire, trouble! It’s the same with sex. Inside marriage, wonderful, outside marriage – trouble!

Because Jesus says in Matthew 19, that when you have sex you become one flesh. One flesh? What does that mean? It means literally that you are glued together. It is not just a physical and biological union that takes place, but it is also an emotional, psychological, and spiritual union that takes place.

A sociologist says: “No, I disagree. If a man has sex with a prostitute, for example, he doesn’t care about her. She doesn’t care about him. It’s only an act.” The Bible disagrees. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 6, that if you have sex with a prostitute, you become one flesh, with the prostitute. If you become one flesh with a prostitute who you don’t care about, then you’re definitely going to become one flesh with a girlfriend or boyfriend that you do care about.

But why would a loving God deny us something that is so good?

Jesus answer: ask any loving parent. Loving parents are constantly denying their children things. Why? Because they hate their children? No, because they love them and want the best for them.

If you do have sex before marriage in Britain you are 60 per cent more likely to get divorced. And not just divorced, divorced within 8 years. Is that like a Christian survey? No, it’s from the Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, it’s from the Office of Public Sector Information.

God wants us to avoid the 60 per cent more likely chance of getting divorced within 8 years. God wants the best for you. He doesn’t want you to get hurt, so he says, keep the fire in the fire place, and that way, no-one gets burned.

We’ve skipped verse 5 on purpose so we can come back to it later.

So, God says sex is for marriage so that you don’t get hurt, and also verse 6 so that others don’t get hurt.

3. And if you don’t there will be terrible consequences (6-8)

6and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Verse 6 “In this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.” Myth number 2: It’s just between the two of us! NO! It’s not, there’s a really good chance that there are 4 people involved. There are a total of 4 people who are going to suffer damage here. One is you, two is your girlfriend, 3 is her future husband, (who incidentally you may already know, he’s not just some nameless face in the future, he could be a friend of yours) and 4 is your future wife. What am I saying? If you are getting involved physically in any way with someone you’re not married to, remember there’s a really good chance both of you are going to marry someone else.

Paul says: You are wronging your brother in Christ, because that woman may well end up being his wife not yours. And you’re taking advantage of him, because he’s not around right now. And why isn’t he around right now? I have no idea. Maybe he’s doing secret missionary work in Sudan, or he’s doing Bible translation work in India, but that’s not the point, the point is “get your hands off his future wife.”

OK, now we get some even more serious warnings . . .

The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

OK, let’s just pause for breath and come up for air. How are you doing? This is a hard teaching, isn’t? Before I was married at the age of 29, I found avoiding all forms of sexual immorality really hard, especially the not even looking at a woman lustfully bit. In fact at one point, I remember hearing about how in the First World War they gave the soldiers bromide biscuits, so that the soldiers sexual appetite was dulled by the bromine. I remember thinking, “Man, I need to get hold of those biscuits.” I literally remember thinking, how can I order some? You know what, I never did get hold of those biscuits, but after many failures, I did find a path towards personal purity, and I found it, funnily enough in the bible, and not in a biscuit tin.

So here’s what I found in the bible about how we can avoid sexual immorality:

1. Discover who you are in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Now you are a Christian, you have a new power within you that wasn’t there before. The Devil is desperately trying to stop you believing that.

Because although living a sexually pure life with a sexually pure mind might seem impossible, actually it’s not.

It just seems impossible. Because it seems as tough as someone saying to you: “Sit down and write a play that is as brilliant as Hamlet or King Lear.”

If someone asked you to do that, you’d reply, “there’s no way, I could never manage that. It’s beyond me.” But if the spirit of Shakespeare came to live in you, then you could. With Shakespeare living inside you, you could write something comparable to Hamlet or King Lear.

It’s the same when you’re set the task of living a Godly life. When you look at the task, when you’re reading Matthew 5 about the lust of the eyes for example, it seems impossible, but now that you’ve got the Spirit of God is living inside you, it is possible.

Believing that is step one.

2. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2)

Here the key is replacement, not removal alone. You’ll never win the victory just by thinking: “I’m not going to think about XYZ. I’m not going to think about XYZ.” No chance of success.

The Scottish puritan Thomas Chalmers preached a sermon entitled: “The expulsive power of a new affection.”

If you want to kill a sinful desire within you, you’re going to have to replace it with a stronger desire. The goal is not to kill passion, but to have passion for the right things.

If you have a passion for something sinful, the way to stop feeding that passion, is to feed a different passion, to the extent that the different passion becomes the dominant passion. So that eventually you satisfy your thirst for joy and release in God through what John Piper calls Christian hedonism. That’s how you start winning in this area. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then I strongly recommend two books, Desiring God, and The Pleasures of God, both by John Piper.

Desiring God (Meditations of a Christian hedonist) – by John Piper
The Pleasures of God – by John Piper

If you ask me: How do I develop an overwhelming passion for God? I could just give you a list of spiritual disciplines couldn’t I? Read the bible for this long each day, and start with this passage. Pray for this long, and use these words. Do this. Don’t do that. I mean, coming up with a list of personal disciplines, that’s easy, but the disciplines are meaningless unless you’re first motivated to do them.

You have first got to be deeply persuaded that God invented pleasure and that he wants you to experience pleasure more than anyone else. That is part of Christian hedonism.

The problem is that the World, the flesh and the Devil will tell you that if you live all out for Jesus, you will end up having less pleasure, less fulfilment, less joy and you’ll be less happy. So you have got to be totally convinced that that is a lie, and that a Godward life is more pleasurable than anything else. That’s why I encourage you to read Desiring God and the Pleasures of God. Once you’re convinced that living all out for Jesus is the super-highway to maximum pleasure, then spiritual disciplines can become a joy and not a drudgery.

It starts with the renewal of the mind. Can I encourage you . . . don’t give in to self-pity. Very often Christians give in to sexual temptation when we are feeling sorry for ourselves. I have discovered that the powers of self-pity are very very great. And the antidote to self-pity is enjoying God.

So fight the power of sexual temptation by feeding a positive addiction in your life. Resist all enslavements, but one. Build a magnificent obsession for the Glory of God, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

3.Don’t feed your sin, kill it. (Colossians 3:5-8)

Put to death whatever belongs to the sinful nature. There is a new power within you, by which you can put sin to death. Don’t manage your sin, put it to death. Sin is an enemy. It separates you from God and the life he wants you to live. Dig out the root. And if the root is your high speed internet connection, dig it out. Literally. Take action. If you can’t be trusted with your laptop, give it to someone who can.

Flee temptation.

Flee from sexual immorality. 1 Cor 6:18. He who sins sexually, sins against his own body. All sin is equal James says, but sexual sin, Paul says has more damaging implications. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you? Your body is not your own if you’re a Christian. Your body now belongs to Jesus.

So run away from sexual immorality. Don’t put yourself in any situation, where within 3 or 4 steps time, things could escalate to the extent that you fall off the cliff.

Don’t indulge in the well-known Christian sport of brinkmanship. This is where you run as fast as possible towards the edge of a cliff, and then just as you’re about to fall off the edge and die, instead you pull away at the last minute, and instead run all along the edge of the cliff for two hours. At any moment you could trip up and fall off, but you don’t fall off. As if God is going to say, “Well done! That was impressive, that was the closest anyone has ever come to sinning, without actually sinning.”

If you’re that close to the edge of the cliff often enough, guess what . . . some day soon, you’re going to trip up, fall 200 feet and crash.

But what’s crazy is that even though we know this, we dice with danger again and again. Loads of Christians decide what their boundary lines are, and then live so close to the danger, that something is almost bound to go wrong. You’re like a matador, who gets as close as possible to the bull without actually dying. But here’s the news . . .You’re not a matador. In fact, you are one of the 99.9 per cent of people, who if you put them into a ring with a raging bull, will get trampled to death by the bull. Yes it’s true there are about 200 people alive today who can get into a ring with a bull and not get hurt, but they all live in Spain, and you are not one of them. If you go in the ring with a raging bull, there’s a 99.9 per cent chance of disaster.

Yeah, but Adrian, I don’t know if what I’m doing is a sin or not? I feel like it’s kind of borderline, or a grey area?

Well here’s how to find out if you’re OK, are you, verse 4, controlling your own body in a way which is holy and honorable, and not (verse 5) in passionate lust like the heathen who do not know God?

Would you do it if Jesus was there with you?

No, I guess not.

Well in that case, don’t do it, because Jesus is there!

That’s 1 Corinthians 6. Your body is a now a part of Jesus body. When you’re doing it, or thinking it, you are taking Jesus with you. He is there, when you’re doing what you shouldn’t be doing.

Two single Christians alone. Imagine Jesus on the sofa with you. Is he cool with what you’re doing?

I don’t know? I genuinely don’t know.

OK, then ask the other person out loud . . .

“Hey, do you think Jesus is cool, with what we’re doing?”

“But that would kill everything.”

“Exactly. That’s why I said it.”

What about if there’s no-one there, and I’m on my own?

OK, we have now reached the inevitable moment in the talk when I say the word masterbation. What about masterbation, surely that is OK? I mean there’s no one else involved! Yes, that’s true, as long as we remember that Jesus is still there.

I mean, the Bible says, do all things to the glory of God. Can you masterbate to the glory of God? Masterbation is not the worst thing in the world by any means, but it’s almost always accompanied by sexual fantasies, that you would never allow yourself to act out in real life. Can you really do it and flee lustful thoughts at the same time? Can you really do it to the glory of God?

Question: But Adrian, everyone masterbates!

Answer: Well, I’ve never masterbated, so I don’t know.

I do know that Romans 13:14 says “Make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.”

This may mean that you want to impose on yourself personal disciplines, which you don’t impose on anyone else. I do this. There are parts of my life where I am weak, so I need to take some steps.

So I set up some boundaries that stop me short of the edge of the cliff. They keep me about 2 miles from the edge of the cliff, so that I’m not in danger.

What are they? OK, a lot of them are bloke things,

1. I don’t watch 15 rated films, let alone 18 rated films. If I watch a film it’s 12 rated or under. I have watched Saving Private Ryan, and a few war films, but apart from that, I don’t watch 15s or 18s because there is a chance that there’ll be some sexual content in there that is not part of God’s best plan for my life.

Q. Doesn’t that mean that you miss out on a lot of really good films?
A. Yes, I’m sure it does. But I figure that if God really wants me to watch them, then he’ll make sure I watch them in heaven, and so I won’t miss out overall.

2. I never ever type a woman’s name in google.
Question: Adrian, Have you ever viewed pornography on the internet?
Answer: No, I have never viewed pornography on the internet, but I might.

And because I might, I invent rules for myself.

3. I have somebody ask me questions. He does accountability with me. We meet up. It’s in my diary. And here’s something that is crucial. I do not do accountability with him. Because if I am struggling in an area, and I know he is too, that ruins everything. We would just commiserate with each other about how hard it is to live a holy life. That is not what I’m looking for. I just want from him biblical standards, and wise advice. But if you can’t find one-way accountability, then mutual accountability is 100 times better than no accountability. Julia would be motivated more by mutual accountability. Great. Fine. It must be a man thing.

Question: I still want to know how far you can go?
Answer: I told you at the start with the swimsuit thing.

Follow up question: Before you were married, you had some sort of period of courtship and engagement with Julia?

Answer: Yes

Question: Did you kiss her?

Answer: Yes. But I couldn’t handle it, so we stopped. I was too close to the edge of the cliff. So we moved the boundary back another mile and for most of the time, before we were married, we didn’t kiss, because of my own vulnerability. OK, so I’m just trying to share my weakness with you, because I have not got it all together.

Q. So for most of the time, you sort of held hands and had the odd cuddle and that was it?

A. Yes.

Q. So is that the Christ Church line?

A. No, that is Adrian Holloway’s weakness. Listen, legalism is when I put my own personal legalisms on you, and add to scripture, so that you feel condemned. You need to go away and ask yourself, as I’m doing this borderline thing, “am I fleeing, running away from sexual immorality?” Can I do A,B, or C to the glory of God? And then you come up with your own boundaries, which keep you two miles away from sin.

I don’t know what steps you need to take. “I need to move out of this flat, really soon. I will not be joining you tonight after all. I won’t be staying over as planned, I would like to cancel my subscription.” I don’t know.

4. Bathe your mind in the word of God and then pray to your sympathetic high priest. (Hebrews 4:14-15)

Wash your mind in truth, and then pray that truth in. Here’s the good news. Jesus is alive and he hears and answers prayer. Jesus won’t say: “You’re what. You’re tempted. I’m surprised at you. I expected something better from you.” Jesus will not say that because he is a sympathetic high priest who has himself been tempted in every way just as you are, yet without sin (Heb 4:14-15). Jesus was tempted to sin sexually. He understands, so go to him.

Don’t despair, because Jesus is on your side, in fact he’s on your inside and the bible says every time you’re tempted, Jesus will provide for you a way of escape.

It is not a sin to be tempted. The Devil cannot make you sin. It is possible to avoid any and every sin. Only you can sin. The Devil cannot make you sin.

5. Ask yourself a) Do I have the gift of singleness? And if not, b) what would I have to do to make myself ready for Christian marriage? (1 Corinthians 7: 1 – 40)

Paul says that in 1 Corinthians 7 that it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Ninety Three per cent of you will get married.

Generally speaking when it comes to marriage, men tend to do the proposing.

My understanding of 1 Corinthians chapter 7 is that Paul puts men into two teams. I’m going to call them the red team and the blue team. The red team are single men, who are ready to get married. If you’re on the red team, all you need to do is find a Christian woman who will marry you. ‘What if I ask someone out, and we go out but we don’t get married?’ No problem, if you’re on the red team and you ask someone out, and it doesn’t work out for whatever reason, you’ve done nothing wrong. Your intentions were honourable. If you’re on the red team, red for ready, there’s no shame, no problem. Dust yourself down, pray, and ask someone else out.

Blue team, different story. The Blue team are men who are not ready to get married yet, because you do not have your act together. You have not addressed your issues. And you should not ask any Christian woman out if you are not ready to proceed to marriage, because once you’ve been going out for a while, she is going to find it very confusing. ‘Where is this going? What are we doing? What exactly is the plan here?’ If you’re on the blue team, and you want to do yourself a favour and take the pressure off, just tell two people before you leave church today that you are ‘not looking to go out with anyone at the moment.’

Two people? Is that enough?

Don’t worry. Two is masses. Within 15 minutes everyone will know.

So Blue team. Pressure is off. Go away, sort out your issues. Take responsibility for every area of your own life, and then you’ll be mature enough to take responsibility to sacrificially serve someone else. Deal with your selfishness, grow up, and then officially join the red team, red for ready. Then make friends, pray, and ask a Christian woman out.

What if she says no? If she says “no” then when I walk into the theatre on the following Sunday, everyone will look at me and they’ll all be thinking: “Oh there’s that bloke that crashed and burned. To think that he thought.”

No, they’ll admire your courage. They’ll think: “Good on you. You seriously thought you had a chance. I like that kind of confidence. That’s a great attitude. He’ll make a good husband some day.” They’ll admire you, and so will I.

You know I preached on this two and a half years ago, and I literally had red team blokes asking me afterwards, “so you seem to be suggesting that I shouldn’t just be waiting for something to happen? You seem to be saying that I should actually take the initiative and ask someone out on a date?”

“For crying out loud yes.”

Man, within 6 months, I had so many thank you’s for that sermon. I got thank you’s at the weddings. I still get thank you’s now regularly 2 and a half years later.

OK, back to porneia.

The reality is that porneia usually refers to fornication, so that’s got the lion’s share of this sermon, but it can refer to adultery. If fornication for the single Christian is a train wreck, then adultery in Christian marriage is cataclysmic devastation.

How do I avoid sexual immorality once I’m married? Ask your spouse this question: How can I love and serve you?

In what area?

Any area. Every area. Household chores. Your habits. The way you speak. If the details are important to your spouse, the moment he or she said it, it became important to you.

‘But I don’t feel strongly about how often we see her parents?’

If she does, that just became important to you.

Someone says: “But surely the big danger is adultery. That doesn’t start with me not tidying up after myself, or being insensitive.”

Yes it does.

A good marriage is a servant married to a servant. That’s a great Christian marriage. A marriage with problems is a servant married to someone who is selfish. A marriage which is headed for cataclysmic devastation is Mr Selfish married to Mrs Selfish.

You need to take care of one another.

Ask your spouse:
Is there anything in my appearance or habits that I could change?
Is there anything in my character that I should change?
How can I love and serve you?
Almost every week, Julia and I will ask each other, how can I be better?

Someone complains: “My wife doesn’t want to be intimate with me.”

Answer: It’s about context. Actually she probably does want intimacy, but in the context of something else.

In the context of something else? What?


Oh! Yeah, that’s right. I remember. Romance. [pause] How do I do romance?

Answer: You have to study her.

That sounds complicated.

Compared to you, she is complicated. But it’s not that hard, there are certain things that she likes, and the clue is that if you ask her, she’ll tell you.

Man we are out of time, here.

It says in my notes that I should call the band up at this point, but I’d be amazed if there is a song that says, let’s all avoid sexual immorality. So, you may have to improvise, but anyway, perhaps the band could come up and join me?


I’m so glad that Julia and I were able to say to each other on our wedding night, that what I am about to give to you, I have never given to anyone else.

But if it’s too late for you. Here is the amazing thing about Christianity. It’s not too late. Because when you got born again, you became a new person. The old has gone, and the new has come. Behold old things have passed away, and all things have become new. All of us sinned. All of us fell short. Now if we’re Christians, we are all new creations. That’s the miracle of the cross, you are now genuinely as pure in God’s eyes as Jesus is. Let me say this, his sexual purity, the sexual purity of Jesus is now yours.

But maybe, you’re saying: “You don’t understand, I’ve blown it, as a Christian. Is there grace for me?” There’s amazing grace for everyone. Jesus died for all sin, past, present and future. That’s why grace is so amazing. Maybe you blew it last week, last month, last year. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”


Ministry leading into/praying:

If you’ve blown it, as a Christian:

None of us are in a position to throw the first stone. [Told story of woman caught in the act of adultery.]

The New Testament says that David was a man after God’s heart, yet he committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered Uriah her husband. Did he get forgiven? Yes! Did he get restored? Yes! Did David write Scripture after he’d committed adultery? Yes

The Bible is largely written by 3 murderers, Moses, David and Paul!

Q. What do we learn from that?

A. God has amazing grace for you