NEW SERIES: “Counterfeit gods”

TEXT: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

MESSAGE: “The Empty Promises of Sex”


What is idolatry?

“An idol…is anything more fundamental than God to our happiness, meaning in life, and identity. It is making a good thing into an ultimate thing. Idolatry is the inordinate desire of (even) something good. Idols are not only personal and individual, they are also corporate and cultural.” — Timothy Keller

“…no one today needs to be told that a movie with the title The 40-Year-Old Virgin is a comedy. The very idea of someone reaching the age of forty with no experience of sexual intercourse is inherently comic because of the value society now places on sex. To be sexually inactive is to be a less-than-whole person, to be obviously unfulfilled or weird. The old sexual codes of celibacy outside marriage and chastity within it are considered ridiculous and oppressive, and their advocates wicked or stupid or both. The sexual revolution is truly a revolution in that it has turned the moral world upside down.” — Carl Trueman (The Rise & Triumph of the modern self)

“…sexual morality quickly came to mark the great divide between Christians and the rest of the world.” — Kyle Harper From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity (Harvard, 2013)

Proverbs 20:9, “Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin?” 

“With enough trouble someone could be kept pure on the outside, but no one is pure inside…Jesus is our perfect substitute. His purity is complete, inside and out. He has lived the perfect life here on earth for us…In Jesus, we have been given the purity of heart we need. That’s what the Christian message is all about: finding our purity, our righteousness, in what Jesus has done, not in what we do.” — Iain Duguid

TEXT: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Q: What are the empty promises of sex? And how can we live free from the idol of sex?

Today we see Paul make a call to…(1. Resist Cultural Norms 2. Discern God’s Design 3. Surrender Selfish Desires)

  1. Resist Cultural Norms (v. 12-13)

I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”

“While sex may be presented today as little more than a recreational activity, sexuality is presented as that which lies at the very heart of what it means to be an authentic person. That is a profound claim that is arguably unprecedented in history.” — Carl R. Trueman

“To be human is to have a disordered sexuality. You do. I do. Everyone does. We all have some manner of sexual drive that compels us to disobey God’s design for sexuality. But while temptation is universal, it’s different from sin. Scripture tells us that Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are, but did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). Sexual sin is giving in to that desire in either mind or body. Faithful Christian discipleship cannot avoid temptation, but it strives to resist and master it with God’s help. Doing so is not sin, but obedience and dependence upon Christ.” — Focus on the Family

“In the Old Testament, as we have seen, God’s relationship with his people is pictured as a marriage, and worshiping other gods as infidelity. Idolatry equals adultery. In Romans 1:21–27, Paul sticks with this theme, weaving between idolatry and sexual sin, and arguing that sexual immorality in general, and homosexual relationships in particular, are a consequence of people turning from God. This does not mean that an individual’s experience of same-sex attraction results from rejecting God. Most Christians struggle at times with attractions that, if followed, would lead them into sexual sin. In this respect, we’re all in the same boat. But if the faithful one-flesh union of a man and a woman pictures Christ’s marriage to his church, any sexual relationship outside that model pictures idolatry.” — Rebecca McLaughlin — The Secular Creed

“Pornography now affects virtually everyone’s relationships.” They state three empirical reasons: First, people who use pornography have crushingly unrealistic expectations about what a love partner or a marriage partner must look like and how they must perform. Secondly, they say a significant number of males experience a diminished tolerance for the difficulties of real relationships, and it shrinks the marriage pool for women. They say studies have proven that men who use pornography are far less interested and willing to get out into the messiness of real relationships. Thirdly, they argue women are increasingly being forced to accommodate behavior and their appearances to the images and style of pornography. —  Mark Regnerus (University of Texas) and Jeremy Uecker (Baylor University)

Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christian rule is, “Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.” [Chastity] is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong.” — C.S. Lewis

“…commitment-free sex is a poisoned chalice. Stable marriage correlates with mental and physical health benefits for both men and women…multiple studies have shown that for women in particular, increasing our number of sexual partners correlates with worse mental health, including higher levels of sadness, suicidal ideation, depression, and drug abuse.”

— Rebecca McLaughlin

         2. Discern God’s Design (v. 14-17)

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 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! 16 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.” 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”

“Prostitution was part of the official, public face of Roman life, not something hidden or in the background. Prostitution was considered a social necessity, an important safety valve. Rome in the fourth century had no fewer than 45 public brothels. It was thought that if you removed prostitutes from civic life, you would overturn the whole social order, and lust would conquer. “The commodification of sex was carried out with all the ruthless efficiency of an industrial operation, the unfree body bearing the pressures of insatiable market demand. In the brothel the prostitute’s body became, little by little, ‘like a corpse…” — Kevin DeYoung

          3. Surrender the Key (v. 18-20)

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

TAKEAWAYS: How can we live free from the idol of sex? Ask these questions:

  • Where will I find my identity?

“My primary sense of worth and fulfillment as a human being is not contingent on being romantically or sexually fulfilled, and this is liberating.The most fully human and complete person who ever lived was Jesus Christ. He never married, He was never in a romantic relationship and never had sex. If we say these things are intrinsic to human fulfillment, we are calling our savior sub-human.” – Sam Allberry

  • What will I be ruled by?

“Every sane and civilized man must have some set of principles by which he chooses to reject some of his desires and to permit others. One man does this on Christian principles, another on hygienic principles, another on sociological principles. The real conflict is not between Christianity and “nature,” but between Christian principle and other principles in the control of “nature.” For “nature” (in the sense of natural desire) will have to be controlled anyway, unless you are going to ruin your whole life.”  — CS Lewis

  • Who will I run to for help?

“I spent years begging God for a private solution to my private problem. I am a colossal failure as a solo disciple for the very simple reason that Jesus doesn’t have any solo disciples.” – Nate Larkin

“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, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 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.” — 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 

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