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To Be Free

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(1/5) This morning we're going to visit Corinth and if you remember, Corinth was a very modern city in its day. But they also had a large pagan temple that employed hundreds of male and female prostitutes, and so what they had was basically a strip club quote/unquote "church." So as you could imagine, this is a very confused city that is now being filled with new Christians. And they had a lot of questions for their pastor.

Now this was a highly sexual city, so they had questions about cross-dressing. You know like, can men dress like women and women dress like men? They had questions about sex before marriage, homosexuality, adultery, and incest. The Bible says, they had one guy who was sleeping with a woman who was apparently his stepmother, and they didnít think it was a problem, because they were open to tolerance and diversity.

So Paul launched a church there, he got things started in Corinth, and then left for a time to check on some of the other churches. While he was away, the church wrote him a letter, and they asked him a bunch of questions, many of them in regards to sex and gender. And he writes them a response, 1 Corinthians, and in particular about all of their sexual questions, he writes this, 1 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 12:

"Everything is permissible for me"-but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"-but I will not be mastered by anything. "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"-but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit."

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." NIV

Now this morning the issues that weíre facing are not issues that are uncommon; theyíre just uncommon in church. The magazines in the checkout line at the store tend to answer many of the same questions, but I am trying to help align our perspectives with the Word of GodÖ Iím trying to give helpful or as Paul says here, "beneficial" options other than our culture and crude menís and womenís magazines. So where I want to go, based on 1 Corinthians 6:12, is that we come to that place where we see sex as a gift, our spouse as a treasure, and the two of you are coming together with biblical conviction and loving compassion.

1. What Is Permissible?

So, the first question is, "What is permissible?" What is allowed? And the first thing we must consider is, what does the government say? If itís illegal, Romans 13:1 says, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authoritiesÖ" So weíre to obey the government. So, if youíre thirty-five and you want to date somebody whoís fifteen, donít because itís illegal. So we ask what is permissible, because some things are illegal.

But in addition to that, we also must ask, what does God say? Because there are some things that are not illegal, but theyíre sinful. Theyíre selfish and hurtful! The government doesnít see them as wrong, but God does, like adultery. You canít call 911 if your spouse commits adultery on you. Itís not a crime. You canít fill out a form or press charges. Itís not illegal. Our culture is permissive, but itís still sinful. The government doesnít see it as wrong, but God still does. And "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

So, we have to ask what does God say about it? What is permissible? Now, here are the things that the Bible, the Word of God, says are sinful. Sexual sin includes homosexuality, erotica, bestiality, bisexuality, fornication, friends with benefits, adultery, swinging, prostitution, incest, rape, polygamy, polyandry, pornography, pedophilia, all the sinful lusts such as touching someone else in a sexual way, sexually viewing or talking to someone else that youíre not married to. And so thats including any modern technologies.

Now, I know at least one of you is thinking youíve got one I missed. Well, thatís nasty, but that counts too. You see Jesus uses a Greek word "pornea" and that word is the root from which we get pornographic or pornography. And in English it is translated "sexual immorality." And what that is is a great big category for all kinds of sexual sin, because if God gave us a list, weíd find a way around it, right? And so God says "sexual sin, et cetera" and that word is "pornea."

So, if you want to do any of these things, and you ask, "Can I blank?" The answer is no, you canít. You canít and be faithful to God. You canít worship God and do those things, because in doing those things, youíre worshiping sex as god, and youíre sinning against the real God. So, basically, marital intimacy is for a husband and a wife in the covenant of marriage without anyone or anything else involved in any way. Itís just a husband and a wife. Those are the limitations that God puts on this gift of sex, so that it doesnít become god-like, and so that we receive it as a gift to be enjoyed to Godís glory and for our pleasure.

2. Is It Beneficial?

Second question, "Is it beneficial?" Thatís Paulís question. Is it gonna help? So, letís say youíve answered the first question. Itís not illegal, and the Bible doesnít forbid it. So the next question, "Is it going to help or harm the marriage?" You see there are things that may not be sinful, but for your marriage they may not be helpful. Do you see the difference?

So, we need to go back to why God created sex. There are five reasons, according to the Bible. Number one is pleasure. In the Song of Solomon, itís all about the pleasures of marital intimacy. So, if one of you has pain, discomfort, or is harmed, hurt, or abused in any way, the answer is no.

God also created sex as the holy act in which children are conceived. The Bible says be fruitful, increase in number, fill the earth, and subdue it. So children are a blessing. It doesnít mean that every time a couple is together that there needs to be the possibility of conception, but yes, it is perfectly acceptable to say, "We want to start a family." Thatís perfectly acceptable in the sight of God, and that can, in fact, be helpful.

Itís also for knowledge. Genesis 4:1 says that Adam lay with his wife, Eve, and he knew her. If this allows you to know one another at a deeper level of intimacy, to treasure, to enjoy, to explore one another, and your consciences are both clear. If itís not a sin against God, or against the law, then perhaps it could be something that would be beneficial. But if it pushes you apart, if one of you feel taken advantage of, or abused, mistreated, neglected, or used, then that is not helpful.

Number four, itís for protection. Last week, in 1 Corinthians 7:2Ė5 says that a husband and wife are obligated to fulfill their "marital duty", and they should not deprive one another, but by mutual consent and for a time to devote themselves to prayer, so that they may not fall into temptation because of their lack of self-control. You see, thereís no excuse for sexual sin outside of the marriage, but if a couple lovingly serves one another that is a safeguard and protection against temptation. That is a perfectly acceptable and that could be helpful.

And number five, itís for oneness, Genesis 2:24 says that the two shall become one flesh. So, the question is does it pull you together or push you apart? Does one of you want to do something that the other is not okay with? Does it cause you to be two or one? Does it cause your spouse to feel closer to you or is it pushing you apart.

And for those of you who are single, you canít even know this kind of sex, because itís Godís design for marriage. And if youíve been fornicating prior to marriage and/or are into pornography; you donít understand the biblical reasons for sex. So, you need to have a renewing of your mind, so that as you prepare for a married relationship, youíre able to start to think biblically before you act practically.

So is it beneficial? Is this something that will build our marriage, strengthen our marriage, or break our marriage? Simply put, will this make us closer or further apart?

3. Will It Master Me?

And so now the third question we must ask isÖ "Will it master me?" Our translation says, "Mastered by it", but some say "become a slave to it", "brought under the power of it", or "enslaved to it". This is the biblical language and imagery of slavery, and when we think of slavery, we tend to think of one person using and abusing another person, and treating them as property. Another form of slavery, according to the Bible, is deadly, frequent, and much less obvious; and that is the result of the choices we make.

Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin" (John 8:34). Then he took it up a level and said, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money" (Matthew 6:24). Now in our culture, we often will choose to enslave ourselves to someone or something, and in doing that we use the language of addiction. Right? We speak of addiction, so, to be addicted, according to God, is to be enslaved.

To be addicted is to say, "Iím a victim, Iím weak, something has overtaken me." To be addictedÖ is to be mastered by somethingÖ it is to say that, "Satan has enticed me, I saw the bait, I ignored the warning, and I took it hook, line, and sinker. And now he is reeling me in to be his possession, to destroy me, to control me and be my master."

And so what we need then is not just to overcome an addiction, but we need Jesus to be our SaviorÖ to be our deliverer, our redeemer, to get the hook out of our mouth, and to get us away from our enemy, away from that slavery, and away from that depression. We need Jesus, who said that the Spirit of the Lord had sent him, "to proclaim freedom for the prisoners" (Luke 4:18). He was anointed to preach good news and to set the captives free. That includes drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, and whatever other kind of slavery or captivity there is.

So, let me grab that principal and come back to the issue of sexuality. There may be things within marriage that are permissible, but theyíre not beneficial, because they would be things you canít master. Theyíre things that would master you.

And so God created sex as this great pleasure to connect us, to bind us, and to cause us to be desirous of our spouse, like the force of gravity pulling a husband and wife together. So, as we obey the Word of God, live within our freedoms, and enjoy one another; weíre mysteriously connected at every level. Theologically, we worship God together. Emotionally, we love each other. Physically weíre doing their life together. Socially, weíre talking and communicating with one another. And sexually, weíre enjoying one another. That was Godís intent that we be connected at all levels in this type of deep and profound way.

And so weíve got to ask, "Is this blank, is this whatever, permissible in the sight of God and government. Secondly, is it beneficial for one of the reasons that God gave us the gift of sex? And third, are we going to be mastered by it? Are we going to become addicted to something that will be unholy and unhelpful?

Now, in a very good and healthy sense, that could be your spouse. Youíre like, "I need my spouse. I like my spouse. I think about my spouse. Iím attracted to my spouse. I desire my spouse. I want to be near my spouse." Thatís not bad. Amen? Thatís a good thing.

But if down the pleasure path, someone or something else is there, then you create a pathway of enslavement. And some of you know what Iím talking about, because youíve slept with a lot of people. Youíve looked at pornography. Youíve become addicted to certain toys. And so now youíre no longer able to just enjoy your spouse as Godís complete and sufficient gift for you. So today, what we need to do, is to avoid that old path, and we need to create a new path.

For those of you who are single, thereís no path right? But for those of you who are married, its creating a new, healthy, holy path of pleasure, so that you can have that connection with your spouse and avoid those old ruts.

The Bible says it this way. "A great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God's waysÖ" (Isaiah 35:8).

Today, I want you to pull back and ask, "Is this godly? Is this holy? Is this humble? Is this how I am to walk in God's ways?" As we close, weíre going to take some time to evaluate ourselves, to confess where weíve messed up, and weíre gonna get right with Jesus. So letís say, "Question number one, is it permissible? God doesnít have a problem with it. Number two, it could be beneficial to your marriage. And number three, you donít believe itíll become your master. It is under control. It does not control you. Its not the center, the passion, or obsession of your relationship. Itís part of what you and your spouse enjoy together. Then be free in Christ to enjoy one another and prayerfully use your freedom in ways the two of you agree upon.

But some of you have done things to your spouse or pressured them into things you need to apologize for, repent for, ask their forgiveness of, and put to death. And some of you have been so fearful and nervous that you havenít even talked about it. Some of you havenít explored much, and as a result, youíre kind of bored with one another, and I would encourage you to explore and enjoy your freedoms in Christ. I know weíre all coming from different places, and thereís not one answer for everyone, but I want to lovingly consider 1 Corinthians 6:12, and I invite you to come to that place where you see sex as a gift, your spouse as a treasure, and the two of you are living according to biblical conviction and loving compassion. Amen?

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