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The Seventh Commandment: Sexual Self-Control

Two things make this subject of great impor­tance to you Christian young people. The first is that we are living in a world that is flaunting sexual license. This is true not only in sins between male and female, but the perversion of sex in every abominable form. Secondly, the sexual desires brought on by change of hormones in your bodies are at their peak. This makes for an explosive combination.

The Biblical answer for the Reformed young Chris­tian is self-control.

“Young men, likewise exhort to be sober minded,” Titus 2:6.

Sober minded can properly be translated, self-con­trol.

To help you gain that kind of self-control, I would like to have you consider four things.

  1. The horrible proliferation of sexual perversion and corruption is due to God’s curse upon fallen man.

The fact that there is such an increase in sins against the seventh commandment in the world round about us, needs not be proven. The least contact (and I suggest for your soul’s welfare that you do not satisfy your natural curiosity by plunging into the horrible abyss of sexual filth that is around us) indicates that this is true. One does not have to frequent the theater, purchase videos, listen to rock music, buy porno­graphic magazines in order to discern how bad things are. The public media gives us enough information. The public reviews and the world’s own evaluation indicate that for the most part, what sells is sex, what is wanted by the public is more and more sex.

This leads us to conclude that there is a vicious relationship between entertainment and real life. What a tragedy that rape, fornication, homosexual acts, group sex, sexual abuse whether between consenting parties or by force, are the subjects of entertainment. These become the box office attractions. People want to see this and feel this and be entertained by this. No wonder then, that it has a direct affect upon society itself. People, young and old alike, cannot be exposed to this kind of material without it having a spiritual effect. It corrupts. It warps the mind and influences the inner psyche. It stimulates one in a way that one desires such an experience for self. Entertainment is passive, the entertained want to be active. It becomes a vicious cycle which leads mankind deeper and deep­er into moral chaos.

This is what God says. No matter how the social moralists of our day may try to deny it, surely, we as Reformed Christians have the evaluation of God’s Word to help us. Listen to Heb. 13:4, “Marriage is hon­orable in all, and the bed undefiled, but whoremon­gers and adulterers God will judge,” Notice that, GOD WILL JUDGE! God is judging the world by casting them into a bed of an insatiable appetite for sexual filth. With that is the disease factor. Even AIDS does not stop them. They are like the men of Sodom, after they were blind, they still fumbled around trying to find the door. So today, sexually transmitted disease does not stop them, they are groping around for “safe- sex”. What proof of blind fools. Romans 1:32 accurate­ly describes this generation, “Who knowing the judg­ment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have plea­sure in them that do them.”

Armed with this knowledge, my dear young Chris­tian, you have information to help you exercise self-control over the sins of this age. Why would you want to be entertained or practice those deeds which openly display to us God’s curse upon our neighbors. Oh, yes, God’s judgment upon this generation accounts for the sexual evil abounding around us. When their cup of iniquity is full, it will be worse for them than Sodom and Gomorrah. Distance yourself from this corrupt generation for your soul’s sake.

  1. God is gracious to us by providing for us His holy law. On first reading this might turn you off. You might say, “Here we go again, a lecture on how to behave”. Let me remind you that the law for us is gospel, it is good news.

How is that so?

In distinction from the old covenant, the law is now written in our hearts. The law of God is love, love of God, love of self, and love of the neighbor. Such love comes from God, He takes us into His covenant fellow­ship and make us His dear children. When God’s love is in our hearts, it has a direct effect upon the whole of our life. Our entire being, body, soul, and spirit belong to Jesus. Gladly we give ourselves to Him.

This has a direct bearing upon our sexual nature and behavior. We realize that we have to exercise con­trol over our sinful nature. The criteria for our moral behavior cannot be, “It must be right because it feels good”. Yes, there is a pleasurable dimension to sin, but it still is sin. We learn to say no. We are warned, “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid,” I Cor. 6:15. In place of this sinful behavior, we recog­nize that God has established for our good and His glory a boundary upon sexual activity. God has insti­tuted marriage as the proper sphere for sexual activi­ty. Apart from that God calls upon everyone else to be virgins.

This law of God is our greatest freedom. What a gracious God we have who spells this out, not just for past generations, but for our generation as well. You, young people, have this knowledge to enjoy your liber­ty. By the keeping of this law, you will be delivered from the deep feelings of guilt and shame which always accompany perverse sex, by ruining your lives thru practicing immoral sex, and replace it with the true meaning of life, serving God whether married or single.

The energy for self-control is attained when God’s law of love is within us and influencing us.

  1. The ability to exercise self-control involves self- discipline. By this we mean that you have to realize that the fire that burns within has to be controlled and will be controlled by the activities that take place in your lives.

The negative side of this is that we must not allow ourselves to be sexually enticed. Stimulation excites sexual desire. God made us that way and that is part of the dynamics of sexual expression. When God says that such energy must be reserved for marriage, and within marriage only for the spouse that God has given to us, obviously, self-discipline is important. “Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? So, he that goeth in to his neighbor’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent,” Prov. 6:27-29. If we are unmarried, the sexual drive must be allowed to remain inactive. If we entice ourselves thru visual images, suggestive music, and erotic novels, heavy petting, it will lead to immoral activity, mastur­bation, wrongful sexual intercourse or any other per­versions. We must learn self-discipline, to know what we must do in order to keep our hearts, minds, and bodies pure.

The positive side of this is to exercise ourselves in godliness. This is literally the word of I Tim. 4:7, “exer­cise thyself rather unto godliness.” Paul draws com­parison between an athlete and the Christian. The word exercise in Greek is the root word for gymnasi­um, a place for exercise. To be a good athlete you need to train yourself, it takes self-discipline. You need to eat right, to sleep right, to train diligently. Let that be an example for our Christian training. If we are going to triumph over sexual perversion and do good, we need the same kind of exercise, only it is with a view to being godly. Yes, it means replacing wrong action with right action. Sports can play an important role in venting the energy of youth in a positive direction. You need time and opportunity for group activities, social interaction, and good Christian fun. But, you need more. You need to be close to God. More important than anything else for helping you develop self-control is your prayer life, your reading of God’s Word and meditation, your quiet time with God, your attention to worship and praise. This becomes the means to energize you spiritually in the love of God and the desire to serve Him with body and soul.

  1. Never forget that God’s law of love also includes forgiveness. All of us fail in some area of this seventh commandment. When Jesus spelled out the meaning of this law, He reminded us that it is not limited to the outward acts alone, (the Pharisee’s notion), but to the heart as well, “Whosoever looketh at a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart,” Matthew 5:20. We mention this not to excuse sins against the seventh commandment. Our attitude is not, we all sin sexually, so what’s the big deal. Such reasoning is of the devil and only deceives and destroys.

We must remember that when we fail, it is sin and we must deal with it as sin. It is not a sin greater than other sins, it is no less a sin. Whether we sin secretly by ourselves, whether we sin secretly with someone else, whether our sins become public, we must keep in mind that even in this, God calls us to repent. Heart­felt repentance includes going to God in the inner closet and pouring out our heart to Him, tell Him how sorry we are, and ask Him to forgive us for Jesus’ sake. The gospel is that there is forgiveness, there is relief from the burden of guilt, God assures us that also these sins are washed in the blood of the Lamb. Such repentance includes a greater and daily struggle to cease from that sinful practice. We must diligently pray for grace and the Holy Spirit to overcome the temptation. Sexual sins can be just as addictive as alcohol, drugs, smoking, and any other addiction. Breaking bad habits can be done by the grace of God. This is true for homosexual practice as well. The God who said that the remarriage of divorced persons was forbidden added, “There be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake,” Matthew 19:12. This is true for the unmarried virgin, for the divorced who live alone, for the widow or widower, they give up sexual activity in obedience to Christ for the sake of His kingdom.

Let me encourage all of us to develop the spirit of the Lord Jesus who said to the woman taken in adul­tery, “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” Jesus did not abrogate the law, He taught us to administer the law mercifully. If you, young woman, should ever become pregnant out of marriage, be assured that you do not have to be tempted to get an abortion as the only way out. The same is true if you contract AIDS. We love you, we understand the nature of sin, for we know ourselves. There is the way of for­giveness and reconciliation.

May these words encourage each of us in our call­ing to exercise self-control in the midst of this sexually perverse generation.