To many non-Christians, the Bible’s teaching on sexuality sounds restrictive, narrow, or even harmful. It pushes back against the idea that happiness is found in expressing your sexual desires in a way that makes you happy. However, as David Platt points out in this message from 1 Corinthians 6:9–20, our bodies belong to God and his design for sex is for our good. Though sin tempts us to reject or twist God’s Word, we can trust his design when it comes to sex, marriage, and our ultimate satisfaction.
If you have a Bible—and I hope you or somebody around you does—let me invite you to open 1 Corinthians 6. We are in week two of a series we’re calling “Beauty and Brokenness: Sexuality, Singleness and Marriage,” as we walk through 1 Corinthians 6 and 7 in the Bible.
I mentioned last week that because we prioritize families in worship together—it’s so good seeing parents with their kids—we’re working to keep these sermons PG. At the same time, we’ve created a page on our website with resources when it comes to additional questions on topics that may be less appropriate for kids of all ages. We want to think through these things together well, according to God’s Word. Go to mcleanbible.org/sexuality, where we’re continually adding resources over the course of this series.
All that to say, as a parent of a younger child, we’re working to keep these sermons appropriate for everybody. However, if at any point you feel uncomfortable, we totally understand if you need to step out from this room, or if you need to pause the feed online at home and come back to it later. With that, I want us to start by hearing God’s Word. We’re in the same text we were in last week. Let’s read it again and then we’ll pray. This is God’s Word: 1 Corinthians 6, beginning in verse 9:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
O God, we pray that You would help us in the next few minutes to hear and understand Your Word with open hearts, especially as Your Word is so different than what we hear around us in the world—and even different than the ways we are prone to think in each of our own lives. We trust, O God, that You are supremely good, You are infinitely wise and You are perfectly loving. So help us to hear Your Word as supremely good and infinitely wise and perfectly loving. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. I was getting married, and the people who were closest to Heather and me had traveled into town for the wedding. The night before the wedding, I found myself driving one of these friends back to the hotel where he was staying. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and it was really good to catch up on a number of levels. When he was about to get out of the car at his hotel, he turned to me and said, “David, I have something to share with you.” “Okay,” I said.
He replied, “I want you to know that I’m gay.” Silence immediately filled my seat in the car, as I didn’t know what to say. Thoughts swirled through my mind. I wasn’t sure what to do with them. He said, “I want you to know that I’ve had these desires for a long time, and now I’m choosing to act on them.” In ways that I regret now, silence continued to fill my seat.
Looking back, I wish I had said so many different things. I wish I had thanked him for his willingness to share with me. I wish I had assured him this would not change my love for him. I wish I had asked him sincere questions to understand him better, like how did he come to that conclusion? Who else had he shared this with? How hard had those conversations been on him? How hard was this to share with me just now? What were the biggest ups and downs he’d experienced as a result of his desires and this decision? But unfortunately, I barely said a thing. Although I told him it was really good to see him, our conversation didn’t go any further.
My thoughts, though, went a lot further. I found myself driving home on the eve of my wedding with a myriad of questions running through my mind. Why do I have sexual desire for a woman, while this person close to me has sexual desire for a man? Did we learn these desires somewhere along the way, or were we born with them? Did he choose this, or did God make us this way? And why is it celebrated in everyone’s eyes for me to fulfill my desires, while it’s condemned in so many people’s eyes for him to fulfill his? Can he love a man in the same way I love a woman?
These questions led me down a path that went far beyond that night, as I’ve share life with other friends and members in the church who are attracted to the same sex. These close relationships in my life, combined with current trends in the culture, have caused me to ask what light, if any, does the gospel of Jesus Christ shine on LGBTQ issues? The more I’ve asked that question, the more I’ve seen that the gospel of Jesus Christ sheds light, not just on issues of same sex attraction or LGBTQ issues, but sheds light on every single person in our lives when it comes to our sexuality.
Last week we looked at three foundational truths in God’s Word that I want to recap here and then build on to them. First and foremost, we saw that your body was created by God for His glory and for your earthly and eternal good. We saw in 1 Corinthians 6:13 that your body is created for God. This is so foundational, because every discussion of sexuality in our culture starts with a different starting point, a different foundation, a foundation of self. Your body is for yourself, the world says.
The mantra being told to teenagers, young adults, any adult, any child is “Be true to yourself,” or “Live your truth. Be true to how you feel, what you think. Regardless of what your biology says, regardless of what your parents say, regardless of what culture says, you will be happy and fulfilled when you are true to you.” We desperately need to ask what if that foundation is not true? What if you are not at the center of the universe and everything does not revolve around you?
What if God is at the center of the universe and everything revolves around Him? What if, therefore, the purpose of your body is not ultimately self-gratification but God-glorification? What if your body is “for the Lord” (verse 13)? That foundation changes everything. All across our culture, people think, “If only I have sexual freedom in this way or sexual expression in that way, then I will be happy.” But it is not true. Sexual expression is good, but it is not God. It will never ultimately fulfill.
Children, teenagers, young adults, any and every adult—don’t buy the lie that if you act out this desire or make this change, then you will be happy. God alone can meet the deepest needs of your heart. And the good news is He will. That’s what 1 Corinthians 6:13 is saying. God is for your body. We talked about this last week: the One Who formed you is for you. Again, this is so foundational.
Even since last Sunday, I’ve heard from men, women, students who have questions about transgenderism and whether or not God’s design for their bodies as male and female is actually good. Questions that are cultivated in a culture that is increasingly telling you that maybe you were born in the wrong body, that maybe God messed up when He made you, even as male or female. I urge you—don’t believe the lie! God loves you. God loves you and God has formed you. Your biological makeup is not a personal malfunction and your gender identity is not a social construction. No, your biological makeup and gender identity are supernatural inventions. God has created you for His glory and for your earthly and eternal good. We talked about that last week. If you missed last week, go back and let that soak in.
The problem is, we live in a broken world. This means that in this broken world, we all have broken bodies, in different ways—physical ways, sexual ways, with different desires. There are ways in which we have all sinned with our bodies, plus many of us have been sinned against in our bodies.
We talked about how, like a piece of pottery, we have been beautifully and wonderfully formed and fashioned by God, as clay in His hands. Yet just as clay breaks, we all have broken bodies in this broken world, which led to the third truth where we landed last week: Jesus gave His body to make your body new. The essence of the gospel is that Jesus came—God in the flesh, God in a body—to die on a cross for sin, to rise bodily, physically, from the grave, so that everyone who trusts in Jesus can be redeemed by Jesus and made new.
This is illustrated by how God puts our bodies together and turns our brokenness into beauty by His blood. We have been bought with a price by His love, 1 Corinthians 6 says. As we place our faith in Jesus, verse 11 says our bodies are washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And not just that—as if that weren’t enough—by the Spirit of our God, when we trust in Jesus, we are filled.
Look at this phrase in verse 19 again: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” Do you realize the way God is talking about your body? For all who trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God dwells within your body. Talk about meaning and fullness and fulfillment. The Holy Spirit of God is your body?
Picture the temple in the Old Testament, this ornate, beautiful building where the glory of God dwelled in a physical place. God is saying to all who trust in Jesus, “That’s your body. My glory, My Spirit, dwelling in you.” Feel this, right where you’re sitting. For all who trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God is dwelling in your body. He’s within you.
I’ve told this story before and I’ll mention it here again just to give you an illustration of this. I remember when I was about to ask Heather to marry me and I bought that engagement ring. [And speaking to children and teenagers, elementary-age kids—start saving now. The thing will cost you the farm.] The way I looked at it, once I had this ring in my possession, I did not want to lose it. So I wanted to put it on her finger as quickly as possible.
I picked it up one morning and I planned that night to ask her to marry me, which means I had one afternoon to hold on to this thing. And I only had one errand to run—I needed to go to the mall to get a CD for the engagement. Some of you have no clue what a CD is. That’s something we used to use in the previous century for music that you couldn’t just pull up on a phone at any second.
So I had to go to the mall to get a CD, and I was concerned. I just knew this was the day when somebody was going to come up to me at the mall and rob me—and I was determined not to let that happen. So I found the biggest, heaviest coat I had. It wasn’t really cold outside, but I got a big, heavy coat with this pocket inside that zipped up. So I unzipped the pocket on the inside of the coat, I put the ring in the pocket, I put the coat on and decided, “I’m just going to walk into that mall. I’m not going to make eye contact with anyone. I’m going to walk as fast as I can. I’m going to have my hand on this ring the whole time.”
So that’s what I did. I got out of the car, put the coat on and walked into the mall looking down like nobody’s going to engage me. I’m being just a weird guy that no robber would even want to be near. I walk in, I go to the music store where I thought they would have this CD, but I can’t find it anywhere. I went over to the lady who worked there and said, “Ma’am, could you please help me find this particular CD?” She said, “Sure.” I’m walking with her, keeping my head down, and she’s looking at me kind of weird. Finally she says, “What do you want this CD for?” I thought, “Why are you talking to me? Just show me the CD.” But I didn’t say that. I said, “I’m getting engaged tonight and I want to use it…” She said, “Well, that’s great.
Do you have the ring with you?” Do you ever wonder if it’s okay not to speak truth in a particular moment? I went through that thought, but this didn’t pass the test. So I said, “Yeah. I’ve got the ring with me.” She said, “Can I see it?” Ah, you’re kidding me. I just want to find that CD. But I turned my back to everyone else in the store, unzipped the pocket, pulled out the ring and showed it to her. She looked and said, “That’s so beautiful.” Then she rises up and says to her co-workers, “Hey, guys. Come over here. Look at this guy. He’s about to get engaged and he’s got the ring with him!” As people started heading my way, I was thinking, “Who wants it? I’m just going to give it to you. Let’s avoid the whole confrontation. If you’re going to rob me, here it is.”
I said “Ma’am, can I just have the CD and leave?” Finally, she gave me the CD and I go running out of the mall with my hand on that ring in my pocket. The reality is, when I had something valuable in my possession and I knew I had it, it changed the way I walked, it changed the way I talked, it changed the way I thought. Everything about me changed, based on the value of this possession I had with me.
That’s the point. That’s the picture I want you to have in your mind from 1 Corinthians 6:19. Everything about your life will change when you realize the value of Who is in you. Not what is in you— Who is in your body, the Holy Spirit of God. It changes the way you think. It changes the way you live, the way you talk, the way you act, even what you desire, when you realize Who is in you and how valuable you are. Do not believe the lies of this world; believe what God is saying in His Word about your body.
When you realize this, then the words right before verse 19 will make so much more sense. Look at 1 Corinthians 6:18: “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” Once you realize how valuable your body is, how God has washed you and filled your body with the Holy Spirit for your good and His glory, then yes, you want to run from anything that’s not good for you and glorifying to Him.
The reason we have this command to flee is because we are all prone to question what God says about our bodies and go against what God says our bodies are designed for. All of us are. We talked last week about how this looks different in different lives—in the questions we ask, the desires we have, the temptations we experience—but the reality is we all experience them in this broken world, in ways that lead to inevitable harm. They can quickly control, painfully devastate and ultimately eternally condemn us. This is why God uses this strong word: flee! Run away as fast as you can. So in His love for us and His design and desire for our good, what is God telling us to run away from as fast as we can?
Now, let me point out something a little on the side here that I hope will be helpful for you, not just when it comes to the topic of sexuality, but in your entire relationship with God. Whenever God gives us a negative command, whenever we see in the Bible, “Don’t do this,” or in this case, “Flee from, run from this,” He is always giving us two positives. Write this down and store this away. Whenever you see a negative command in the Bible, what is God doing? One, God is pointing us to something better—He’s always pointing us to something good. And two, God is protecting us from something worse. He’s protecting us from something that’s harmful. So whenever you hear God saying, “Don’t do this” or “Run from this,” He’s always pointing us to something better and protecting us from something worse.
So don’t rise up in prideful resistance when you see a negative command from God and think, “He’s trying to keep me from having fun. He’s trying to keep me from fulfillment.” That’s sinfulness in us and is exactly what Adam and Eve thought in the garden of Eden. God had said, what? A negative command: “Don’t eat from this tree” (Genesis 3). Why was God giving that negative command? Because He was pointing them to something better—a positive good—namely every other tree in Eden that He had designed was for their good. He was protecting them from something worse. He was protecting them from death. But Adam and Eve didn’t believe God and thought, “God must be keeping something good from us. This tree must have really good fruit.” So they ate it, convinced that it would fulfill them. But they were deceived and were dead wrong. Every one of us is prone to think the exact same way.
Picture it this way. When my four-year-old is playing outside in my yard, and I tell him, “Don’t run out in the road,” I’m telling him that for his good, because I know what could happen when a car comes racing down the street. So I lovingly give him this restriction, because I know it’s good for him. I want to point him to the place where playing is safe and he can flourish and have all the fun he wants to inside the yard. And I want to protect him from that which could harm him in the road.
Wouldn’t it be the height of arrogance for my four-year-old to tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to cars on the road? Yet that’s exactly what you and I are prone to say to God with our bodies. “You don’t know what You’re talking about; I know the way to fulfillment in my body.” That is arrogance and we live in a culture today that celebrates such arrogance, actually encouraging you at every turn to speak this way to God. Meanwhile, God is lovingly saying, “Don’t run out into this road. It harms. It controls. It devastates. It condemns forever. It leads you to miss the Kingdom of God altogether.”
What then is the road we’re not supposed to get near? What’s the command to flee from, to run away from as fast as we can? First Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee from sexual immorality.” I’m convinced these four words are four of the most countercultural words—one of the most countercultural commands— in all of the Bible, meaning these words go so against the grain of everything our culture is shouting, even the way many of us as followers of Jesus are prone to think.
Here’s what sexual immorality means. The word in the original language of the New Testament is porneia, which is a general term that refers to any and all sexual activity outside marriage between a man and a woman. We don’t have time to do an exhaustive study of this word in the Bible right now, but I would commend one of the resources we posted on our website called True Sexual Morality, if you really want to dive in deep. In this negative command, God is saying, “Don’t do this. Don’t run out into this road.” God is saying, “Flee any and all sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman.”
Now, let’s think about this in light of what we just said that when God gives a negative command, He’s always pointing us to something positive. So what’s the positive that God points us to in His Word? From the beginning of the Bible, the positive God points us to for sexual activity is marriage between a man and a woman in a one-flesh union. This is in the first and second chapters in the Bible.
There’s a video on that resource page entitled, “God’s Good Design for Sex,” where I walk through a wholistic picture of how God has designed sexual activity—sexual thinking, desiring, and acting—to be experienced in the context of a committed covenant relationship between a man and a woman in marriage, in a one-flesh union. It’s complementary, complex, intimate, fruitful, selfless, God-glorifying, and gospel-displaying. God has designed this union to display His love to the world.
Think about it. God didn’t have to make a man and a woman, then bring them together in a relationship called marriage. This wasn’t random. God wasn’t just rolling some dice or drawing some straws or flipping a coin. God, from the very beginning, was painting a picture in marriage of how Jesus would give His life for sinners, through a husband laying down his life to love his wife. This is the good picture God is pointing us to. This is the yard where God has designed men and women to flourish sexually.
Now, I want to pause here because I know many of you are single brothers and sisters of all ages, from younger to older. We’re going to look specifically at singleness in a couple weeks in 1 Corinthians 7. It’s no coincidence that comes right after this passage. I just want to point out now that if you are single for your entire life, that does not mean you cannot flourish as a single man or a single woman. If that were true, then Jesus didn’t flourish as a man, because He was single. Neither did Luke, Titus, Lydia or Phoebe. Keep in mind that Paul, the guy who wrote 1 Corinthians under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was single.
So being married is not necessary for human flourishing. Yet the Bible clearly and consistently teaches that sexual activity is exclusively for marriage between a man and a woman, to the point where there’s not one place in the Bible that celebrates sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman. Not one place. Instead, God clearly says over and over and over again, flee from any and all sexual thinking, desiring, looking, touching, speaking, acting outside of marriage between a man and a woman.
One of the other books we recommend in the resources is The Hole in Our Holiness, by a friend of mind named Kevin DeYoung. He writes:
The simplest way to understand porneia is to think about the things that would make you furious and heartbroken if you found out someone was doing them with your husband or your wife. If someone shook your wife’s hand, you would not be upset. If someone gave a casual side hug to your husband, it probably wouldn’t bother you. A kiss on the cheek in some cultures might be appropriate.
Then he lists specific ways someone might see or touch or do something with your spouse that would make you furious and heartbroken. Because, he says, these are all activities that are appropriate for a married couple, but are inappropriate when practiced outside of the relationship between a man and a woman in marriage. This is why any sexual activity between those who are not married—or between two men, between two women, between those married to other people—any sexual activity in these contexts is sin and can be included in the prohibitions against porneia, sexual immorality.
We could walk through all kinds of specific places where we see this in the Bible, where God gives specific commands to flee sexual prostitution, sexual violence and adultery—which the Bible defines as sex with anyone who’s not your wife or husband, regardless of whether you are single or married. To flee homosexuality and homosexual activity. To flee pornography. To flee immodesty. So it’s not just fleeing sexual desires for others outside of marriage, but God calls us not to provoke sexual desires in others outside of marriage, through immodest dress, through provocative or flirtatious speech. God calls us to flee joking or entertaining ourselves with others’ sexual immorality. Don’t sit there in front of a screen— whether it’s on your phone or on Netflix or in a movie theater—and watch other people engage in sexual activity. God says, “Run from it as fast as you can.” You’re seeing now how countercultural this is and how pervasive these temptations are in every single one of our lives. Are we getting the point? None of us is immune to sexual temptation.
We’ve talked about how we’re all tempted in different ways and with different desires, but all of us are prone to not trust God on this one. Students, you are. Young adults, you are. Senior adults, you are. Any adult, any person—we are all prone to sexual temptation. This means we must all avoid selective moral outrage, pointing out sexual immorality in others while ignoring it in ourselves.
When my friend told me he was gay, and my questions drove me to the gospel, I was immediately convicted—not about sexual immorality in his life, but about sexual immorality in my own life. I know that I am—we all are—guilty at multiple levels of sexual thought, desires, speech and action outside of marriage between a husband and a wife. All of us, in our hearts, are prone to turn aside from God’s ways to our own wants. This inevitably affects our sexuality. And to make matters worse, we were born this way. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, every single person born of a man and a woman has inherited this sinful heart. We may all have different biological heritages, but we all share one spiritual inheritance: sin. Which is why none of us can or should say, “God would not allow me or someone else to be born with a bent toward a particular sexual sin.” The Bible is clear that we are all born with a bent toward sexual sin. Just because we have that bent doesn’t mean we must act upon it.
This is so significant to understand in a culture where it’s assumed that a natural explanation implies a moral obligation. If you physically have a desire, it’s essential to your nature to act out that desire. Which, by the way, is one reason why the contemporary discussion of sexuality is wrongly framed as an issue of civil rights. There’s so much we could talk about here. We have elevated personal desires to the level of highest moral authority, such that people think they have a right to fulfill whatever sexual desires they prefer and that not to fulfill that right is akin to racism. This way of thinking unbiblically, unwisely and unhelpfully conflates ethnic identity and sexual activity.
Ethnic identity is a morally neutral attribute. The Bible is clear that black or white or brown is not an issue of right or wrong, so any attempt to say otherwise should be adamantly opposed. We’ve been working on a whole discipleship resource to make that crystal clear. But sexual activity is different; it’s a morally chosen behavior.
Now, to be clear, similar to how we have different skin colors, we may possess different desires or have different dispositions toward different behaviors, but where our ethnic makeup is not in any way determined by a moral choice or is contrary to a moral demand, our sexual behavior is a moral decision. Just because we’re inclined to certain behaviors doesn’t make those behaviors right and good. We all know this.
Some researchers say that infidelity may be in our genes. But we all know that doesn’t mean a married man who has a desire for a woman who is not his wife must fulfill that desire in order to be happy or to be fully himself. No, the presence of a desire doesn’t mean we act on that desire in order to be whole, in order to be fully ourselves. But do you see the way sexual immorality works in a broken world? It starts with a sexual desire. We want something, which we then equate with sexual identity. We assume that what we want is what we are, then we define ourselves according to our desires. This means, then, if I am to be who I fully am, then I must do this—which leads to sexual activity. We act on our desires. This is the way of the world and we’ve already seen how foolish it is. Just because a married man has a desire for someone not his wife does not mean that in order to be fully himself, he must be unfaithful to his wife.
To use another example—which I trust is obvious to us—I shared a couple weeks ago about a young girl named Maliha, trafficked by men who want something, who have become something, and who act in ways that are unthinkable. So God help us not just to see this in others’ lives, but in our own lives. We all have sinful hearts that are prone to want our ways over God’s Word. Specifically here in 1 Corinthians 6, we have hearts that are prone to desire sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman.
We live in a world that says that’s who you are. That’s what it means to be a teenager. That’s what it means to be male or female or transgender or gender neutral or straight or lesbian or gay or so many other identifications we’ve designed. We identify ourselves in all these different ways, convincing ourselves that satisfaction and fulfillment will only be found in acting out and living according to these desires. Yet what we’re actually living out is an age-old lie that’s been around since Adam and Eve, summarized in Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” There are so many ways that seem right to us that in the end lead to death. The good news of God’s Word for you and me in this world is there is another way. There’s another way to live. There is a way that leads to life—life now and life forever.
Jesus—God in a body—comes to this broken world and to every single one of us, no matter what our desires, questions or struggles may be, and He gives the same invitation to every single one of us. John 6:35 says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” What a statement! Jesus uses a bodily desire for food and water—a desire even more fundamental than sexual desire—, something we all need to flourish. Jesus says, “I am the fulfillment of all your desires. I am the One you need to flourish. Come to Me and you will not be hungry. Believe in Me. Trust in Me and you will never, ever thirst.” It makes sense.
Jesus, God in the flesh—the One Who created your body in the first place—calls you to Himself. Believe in Him. Trust in Him. Don’t go to this world. Don’t trust what this world says. Don’t trust yourself. Trust the One Who made you. He loves you. He is for you God is for you and has made a way for your soul and body to be satisfied in Him.
Now, to be clear, that means saying no to desires in your body, in your flesh. Remember Jesus’ initial words to anyone who would follow Him? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily”—die to himself daily— “and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). Jesus’ invitation to every single one of us is to find life in dying to ourselves and turning from our desires, not indulging all of them, but turning from them to Him.
Jesus is beckoning all of us—single and married, male and female, whoever we are with whatever desires we have—to turn from ourselves and find new identity in Him. This is where Jesus totally turns the table. As we die to ourselves and take up a cross daily, we find an entirely new identity no longer defined by the sexual desires in our bodies, but an identity defined by the Savior Who died for our bodies. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified” —died to myself— “with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
Christ lives in me. He’s my life. If Jesus is my life and I’m His, then that’s who I am. Not fundamentally heterosexual or fundamentally homosexual or fundamentally anything else. I’m fundamentally His. And His life that I now live in this body, in the flesh, I live by faith, by trust in Him, because I know He loves me and He gave Himself for me. I trust Him. I trust His love for me. Do you see it? Jesus totally redeems and renews the way we think about ourselves, including our sexuality.
One of the resources we have on our website is from Rosaria Butterfield, who once described herself as a lesbian professor at a large university who took delight in disparaging the Bible and all who believe it. She wrote, “Stupid, pointless and menacing. That’s what I thought of Christians and their God Jesus.” She wrote some scathing editorials about Christians in a local newspaper. A pastor and his wife reached out to her, invited her into their home, week after week after week. When she saw their genuine love for her, she started reading the Bible and wrestling with the question: “Do I really want to understand sexuality from God’s point of view, or do I just want to argue with Him?” One night she started praying and didn’t stop until the morning. She wrote:
When I looked in the mirror, I looked the same, but when I looked into my heart through the lens of the Bible, I wondered am I a lesbian or has all this been a case of mistaken identity? If Jesus could split the world asunder, divide marrow from soul, could He make my true identity prevail? Who am I? Who will God have me to be?
This crisis of identity led her to what she describes as one ordinary day when she trusted in Jesus:
In this war of worldviews, Jesus triumphed and I was a broken mess, a train wreck. I did not want to lose everything that I loved, but the voice of God sang a sanguine love song in the rubble of my world. I weakly believed that if Jesus could conquer death, He could make right my world.
This testimony is not limited to lesbian professors. It’s the same testimony that’s now shared by that person close to me whom I mentioned at the beginning of this sermon. Since that day, he’s decided to turn from those desires and though it hasn’t been easy, he is thriving in his life and his relationship with Jesus. And I mean thriving. He’s growing in Jesus, he’s sharing the gospel, he’s leading people to Jesus and the life that’s found in Him.
This is the same story that resounds across the lives of every single person prone to sexual sin who’s been drawn by the blood of Jesus Christ, to gladly die to themselves in order to experience new life in Him. To every single person who has discovered that the call to follow Jesus is ultimately not a call to unfulfilled desire, but the call to follow Jesus is ultimately a call to fulfillment of our deepest desires, dying to ourselves and living in Jesus.
By the way, this is why casual, comfortable, consumeristic cultural Christianity will not cut it in our country. “Just come to Jesus and everything will be smooth and easy for you.” Imagine saying that to Rosaria Butterfield, a woman for whom following Jesus cost her everything. To see her identity differently was to unravel everything she knew and loved in this world.
This is the call of Jesus to every single one of us and we must not dilute it in our day. Student, teenager, young adult, single, married, whoever you are—die to yourself, to your desires, and live in Jesus. Come to Jesus. Believe, trust in Jesus. Believe, trust that Jesus has all that you need, that He loves you and that He and His Word are worthy of your trust—even when that Word goes completely against the grain of the world around us, even your desires within.
In this broken world, we all have broken bodies, we’re all prone to question God’s design of our bodies, we’re all tempted to sexual immorality in our bodies. God is saying to us today, in love for us, “Flee. Flee. Don’t flirt with sexual immorality. Don’t reason with it. Don’t rationalize it. Run from it as fast as you can.” As you flee from sexual immorality, flee to your ultimate identity. In this sea of cultural confusion, run from sexual immorality to the peaceful, calming arms of the Savior Who has bought you with His blood, Who has filled you with His Spirit and Who promises to fulfill your deepest desires forever and ever.
Will you bow your heads with me? As you bow your head and close your eyes, I want to ask you a question before God. I want to invite you to contemplate it and answer it, just between you and God. Here’s the question: do you trust God with your body? Do you trust Him? That’s the fundamental question.
Some of you have never said that to God. If that’s the case, I want to invite you today to say to Him for the first time, “God, I trust You with my body. I trust You with my life.” I invite you to believe today that Jesus died on the cross for you, to save you from all your sin. I invite you to say, “God, I have turned away from You, but today I’m turning back to You. I’m trusting in You, Jesus, to wash me of my sin. I’m trusting You to lead me as my Lord.” This is what it means to become a follower of Jesus. I invite many of you to do that today.
Then for every follower of Jesus, as You trust Him enough to turn from desires you may have and the questions you have, I invite you to bring those before Him, saying, “God, help me.” Know that He loves you, He’s for you, He’s bought you with a price. He has put His Spirit in you to help you. So we pray, “God, help us all in every single one of our lives to flee from sexual immorality, to flee to You, to Your Word, to Your design for us. God, amidst all our questions and all the confusion around us that affects us, amidst all the desires we have that go against what we have just seen in Your Word, we pray that You would help us trust You, die to ourselves and experience life in You.
God, I pray John 6:35 over every single person coming to You, believing in You—may they not hunger, may they never thirst, but may they find fulfillment of their deepest desires in You. Help us to live out of the overflow of that fulfillment, dying to ourselves daily and experiencing Your life in us according to Your good commands to us. God, we say together that we trust You and pray that You would help us trust You more and more and more and more. Help us trust You, obey You and experience Your good design for our bodies. In Jesus’ name we pray, the name of the One Who bought us with a price—in His name we pray. And all God’s people said, “Amen.”