Sexual Purity & the Seventh Commandment: Heidelberg Catechism~Lord’s Day 41

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This Sunday is the 41st Lord’s Day in 2016. The Heidelberg Catechism reading for this Sunday is:

Q. What does the seventh commandment teach us?

A. That God condemns all unchastity, and that therefore we should thoroughly detest it and live decent and chaste lives, within or outside of the holy state of marriage.

Q. Does God, in this commandment, forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery?

A. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul, and God wants both to be kept clean and holy. That is why God forbids all unchaste actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires, and whatever may incite someone to them.

Kevin DeYoung sets the stage by saying:

Is there any command more ridiculed in our culture than the Seventh Commandment? Adultery is a joke; homosexuality is a right; sex before marriage is the norm; no fault divorce and remarriage is assumed; bestiality is increasingly considered avant gard. This is the world we live in. Sex has always been a leading vote-getter in the most popular sin contest, but never before in this country has sexual deviance been made to look so normal and God’s standard make to look so obscene…The Seventh Commandment is not just broken in this country; it’s being smashed to pieces.

Our bodies are rarely pure, much less our thoughts and desires. We are so at home with sexual immorality in our TV shows and music, but perhaps more deadly in our churches. The Heidelberg says we should “thoroughly detest unchastity. We are not encouraged to a mild disdain for sexual immorality. But to a deep, abiding hatred of lust. We are not encouraged to a casual approach to sexual purity, but to a whole-hearted pursuit of it. Is that our attitude towards sexual immorality? How many of us detest the idea of getting caught looking porn, but do not detest the porn itself? How many of us hate that a friend or spouse might see us lusting after that girl in yoga pants or that guy in a tight jeans, but do not hate the fact that we want to lust after her/him? For most of us, the consequences of sexual sin are what we hate, not the sin itself. Until we learn to hate the sin and the desires that give birth to those sins we will never gain the victory. 

The Heidelberg rightly points to our redemption by Christ and the filling of the Holy Spirit as the reason for holiness in this area. God does not just own our souls. He owns and fills our bodies as well. Therefore our entire self, body, soul, imaginations, thoughts, desires, emotions, and words are to be brought in submission to Christ.

What are some things we can do to fight against the pervasive sexual immorality in our lives?

-Learn what sins lead to sexual sins. Sins come in clusters. Sexual sin is rarely the engine driving the train. Usually it is the middle car in a train of sins. Laziness and self-pity are fertile soil for lust.

-Don’t be afraid to be radical in cutting off that sin. Put filters on your computer. Don’t go to that section of the bookstore. Block that website. Stop “innocently” flirting at work or stopping by her desk to chat. If the job situation it too hard maybe you should leave. Don’t kiss before marriage. Yes these are rules and do not get to the heart of your problem. But they might keep you from making a huge mistake while you deal with your lust.

-Worship weekly in a good church where the Word is preached, the Psalms are sung, the saints fellowship with each other, and there is real accountability to elders. If an elder never visits you at home or has lunch with you and asks you about your sexual sins then there is not real accountability.

-Memorize Scripture. DeYoung gives 12 passages that we can use to fight sexual sin: Lamentations 3:25-27, Proverbs 5:18-19, James 1:14-15, Romans 14:21, Matthew 5:27-30, Galatians 6:7, I Cor. 6:15-20, II Corinthians 5:17, Hebrews 10:24-25, James 4:6, Matthew 5:8, and Ephesians 1:18-21. You can probably think of others.  Hide God’s Word in your hearts.

-Check your desires. What do you want most? Not what do you tell people you want most. But what does your mind dwell on? What brings you comfort? What makes you happy? Do you regularly set aside lesser goods, such as watching TV, for greater goods, such as spending time with your children? Do you approach God’s Word with same delight as you approach that newest show or movie? Love Jesus. Love the Scriptures. Love the folks at your church. Love your spouse and your children. Our desires drive us. And rarely are they as pure as we think they are. What do you love?

-Pray when tempted. Pray before you go into tempting situations. Pray when you leave. Proverbs 7:26 says that many strong men have fallen to the seductress. Or as the ESV says all those who have fallen to her are a “mighty throng.” Either way her lures are not easy to resist. Do we really think we can fight her without prayer?

-Enjoy your spouse sexually. Here is a quote from G.I. Williamson’s book on the Heidelberg Catechism:

The antidote to adultery is, or should be-for most of us- a good marriage. This means a marriage in which there is the right kind of sexual fulfillment. Sex is not evil. How could it be, when God himself designed it? And because it is one of the good gifts of God, it must not be neglected. What do we mean by this statement? Well, we mean this: in every other aspect of life we have to apply some real effort in order to achieve something. This is true for the farmer in his work, or an amateur musician in his hobby, or a Saturday golfer in his sport. We invest time and effort in these things, in order to do them well and to keep them interesting and exciting. Well, a good sexual relationship requires some of the same…There is no legitimate place for prudery in Christian marriage.

Victory over sexual sin is hard to achieve in our age. Most of us have scars from sexual sins, those we have done and those committed against us. The good news is we serve a risen Lord who conquered death, which means he freely covers all our sins, heals us from sins committed against us, and he gives us power to conquer our sins. Sinful sexual desires and actions do not have to hold us in bondage.