Why Don’t We Talk About Sexual Sin For a Minute?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I wrote this post back near the end of January of this year, but for some reason held onto it. Until now.

With all the uproar in the church these days over the redefining of gender and sexuality and marriage, conversation about sexual sin ends up turning into a bashing of the homosexual agenda and lament for the future generation. It seems like a rare thing in the church to have an honest conversation about personal sexual sin.

It makes sense, in a way. After all, it is the only sin that a man commits against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). It’s very personal, and can usually lead to a lot of shame. But I think fewer things are more important to be open and honest about with one another because of the great deal of shame that can come with it.

The Old Testament provides two examples of godly men who fell to sexual sin. But the biggest different between the two is most revealing about how we should respond to any sin, including when we’re guilty of any kind of sexual immorality.

David

You can read the story of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11. Short story: David hangs out at home instead of leading his troops in battle, shirking his responsibilities. He sees a naked Bathsheba on the roof of her house taking a bath. He sleeps with and impregnates her, and then has her husband killed.

In 2 Samuel 12, he is confronted by Nathan, a prophet of God, about his sin. “Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight?” Nathan asks in v. 9. “You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.”

David’s response: “I have sinned against the LORD” (v. 13). With this simple response, he acknowledges his folly and his sin.

The last recorded act of David is him building an altar on God’s command in response to another sin he had committed (2 Samuel 24). He even turns down a free threshing floor offered to him because he did not want to “offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing” (v. 24). God responded to the action by relenting on a plague that He had put on the land.

Solomon

You can find the beginning of the downfall of Solomon in 1 Kings 11. “Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, ‘You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these women in love” (v. 1-2).

Sure enough, Solomon’s heart was turned away to follow after these other gods. Verses 9-10: “And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded.”

There is no mention in Scripture of Solomon acknowledging his misstep, repenting of his sin and returning the the LORD. He seems to have some remorse in the book of Ecclesiastes, but there’s no drastic change or moment of repentance/confession like his father David.

Three Takeaways

Sexual sin pulls our heart from pursuing God to worshipping other things.

A really interesting theme I’ve noted in 1 Kings so far is how important the heart position is to God. God was mad with Solomon “because his heart had turned away from the LORD.” Yes, Solomon had acted in a way that was sinful and disobedient, but God’s primary disappointment was in Solomon’s heart position.

Like any sin, sexual sin leads us to value and prioritize other things over God. Solomon’s sin lead him away from God and to worshipping other gods. He built “a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites” (1 Kings 11:7).

When our lusts drive us to pursue sexual fulfillment instead of joy that comes from the LORD, which is eternally satisfying (Psalm 16:11), we fall short and we begin to worship sex or lust or the person we’re having sex with or lusting after. We cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve God and sex.

David was honored even though he sinned. In the same way, our sin does not prohibit us from God’s favor.

When confronting Solomon with his sin, God specifically mentioned David as the reason he didn’t take the kingship from Solomon right away – “…I will surely tear your kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days…” (1 Kings 11:11-12). When speaking to Jeroboam later, God even refers to David as “my servant whom I chose, who kept my commandments and my statues” (v. 34).

It’s so encouraging to me to see that David is not condemned because of his sin. No, instead he is later praised and his name is remembered for many generations. And God holds him in high esteem. It gives me encouragement that, in spite of the sexual sin in my life, the lust, the sinful thoughts and desires, God still loves me and can still use me.

He can also use you, and most definitely still loves you.

The difference comes in how they responded to being confronted by the Word of God.

David heard from Nathan, God’s prophet, and he repented and chose to continue serving God in obedience. Solomon heard from God Himself, and there is no mention of any such repentance. Solomon’s name is not honored later the way David’s is.

How we respond to God’s Word being put into our life in light of our sexual sin is a key indicator of where we really are with Jesus. Do we value God’s Word and want to change in light of it, or are we simply consumed with our ways and ignore His truths? When we’re confronted by God’s Word, whether through reading or hearing it from someone, what’s your response?

The final thing I’ll say about this is what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11 – “Neither do I condemn you; now, go and sin no more.” The grace of God covers those who deal with sexual sin and temptation. We who are believers can say that our past sins and our present ones and even our future ones are forgiven because Jesus was perfect for us in this and every area.

So live forgiven.

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Grace Is Something So Incredibly Radical

I’ve been reading Tullian Tchividjian’s excellent book One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World the last week or so, and it is truly excellent. He discusses the need for a greater understanding for grace in a world that lives by and believes in what he calls “performancism,” being judged and evaluated based solely on your performance.

The Bible doesn’t purport that, he argues several times. He gives one example that I thought was especially powerful (p. 64):

…take an example from the Bible, that of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Once the woman’s accusers left, Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (v. 11). Does this final imperative disqualify the words of mercy? No! Otherwise Jesus would have instead said, “If you go and sin no more, then neither will I condemn you.” But Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more. The command is not a condition. “Neither do I condemn you” is categorical and unconditional; it comes with no strings attached. “Neither do I condemn you” creates an unconditional context within which “go and sin no more” is not an if. The only if the Gospel knows is this: “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

For me, it was a new way to look at that story that shows Jesus’ unconditional love and His gracious giving of second chances. But it hit on a very important truth to remember about the grace and love of God.

God does not primarily view our works as our defining characteristic. He views our hearts and our position with Him as most important. See it in the structure of what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery in John 8 – “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” The first thing He tells her is that she is not condemned. This is true for all of us who are believers: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). So we believers can rest in the fact that we are forgiven and loved and headed for eternity with God and Jesus no matter how much we screw up on earth.

But there is also then a following instruction: to sin no more. While it is an instruction we cannot completely fulfill because all men and women sin, it is not the primary way that Jesus relates to us. He relates to us based on the position of our hearts. Are our hearts submitted to following Christ? While wicked in and of themselves, the hearts of those who are believers are being renewed and remade by the Holy Spirit. It is the renewing of those hearts that allows us to pursue holiness and killing sin.

I’m reading through 1 Kings right now and saw a really cool theme throughout Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8. The guy was super wise. He’s praying a prayer of dedication of the temple he helped build for God and includes this passage (v. 46-50):

If they sin against you – for there is no one who does not sin – and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near, yet it they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors, saying, “We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,” if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart…then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against you…

Solomon, the wisest guy on earth ever, had the right attitude. God desired repentant hearts more than repentant behavior. Repentant hearts lead to repentant behavior.

And when our hearts are truly repentant, and we recognize our sinfulness, and we come to God asking for mercy, He will surely give it to us. That’s why grace is something so incredibly radical. The world doesn’t look primarily at our motives, it looks at our actions. God works the completely opposite way.