The Third Week of Sex – Lust vs. Temptation

This is distinctively a “guy article.”  The vast majority of women will not understand . . . cannot understand the nature of temptations to which a man is subject.  They are wired with “pink sunglasses and hearing aids” while we guys are wired with “blue ones” per Eggerich’s book referred to last week.  Of course, there are degrees of this, some women experiencing the same level of temptation from the same sources, but we are mostly different; not better or worse; equal, but not the same.  Equal, not in the sense that four equals two plus two, but equal in the sense of chocolate or caramel; both delicious, but different.

Devil Made Me Do It.jpgThere are three sources of temptation and none “make you do it,” as the comedian used to say, “The devil made me do it.”  No, I am afraid we must face it that “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” (James 1:14)  However, the temptation may not originate with the self, as in Jesus’ case in Matthew 4 and Luke 4.  He was “led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 4:1)

In other cases, temptation may come from without, but not necessarily from the devil to whom we often give too much credit.
 “There are six things that Yahweh hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
1) haughty eyes, 2) a lying tongue, and 3) hands that shed innocent blood,
4) a heart that devises wicked plans, 5) feet that make haste to run to evil,
6) a false witness who breathes out lies, and 7) one who sows discord among brothers.”
(Proverbs 6:16-19)  There is no demon mentioned in this passage which is couched between Solomon’s warnings about adultery and fornication. (See Proverbs 5 to 7.)  Rather, these are temptations that come from other sources in the world.  Granted it is a world corrupted by the evil one, but every detail of corruption is not to his credit nor blame.  He is neither that smart nor attentive to trivia.

World, Flesh and DevilThus, our three sources of temptation are the world, the flesh and the devil.  However, the crux of it is our human nature makes temptation tantalizing.  It is our lack of self-sufficiency, our need for outer sustenance, or our desire for physical human comfort that appeals to us and makes us susceptible.

This was true even of the God-Man, Jesus, who was God in human form; the Eternal Son of God, coequal with the Father and Holy Spirit, eternally pre-existent before the creation of the world, and through whom the world was created (Colossians 1:15-19; Philippians 2:5-8; John 1:1-3)  We will not go into the nature of the trinity (see June 4, 2018), but just note that Jesus was fully God and yet, fully human.  And the human side of Him could get hungry, needed to sleep, would wake with a hard-on, had human longings, could bleed and feel pain.

“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)  This verse reveals three important things to remember about temptation:
1.  We are not alone when facing temptation!
2.  Temptation is conquerable!
3.  Temptation is NOT sin!

Not only did Jesus face the same temptations, every man you know, every man you see, every man who has ever lived has faced the same temptations that you and I face (1 Corinthians 10:11-13).  Bottom line is: I am not that special!  And neither are you.  This is important to remember, especially in the context of sexual temptation, distinctively a “blue sunglasses” temptation.  Most guys feel special when a woman pays them attention.  Most women can be made to feel special by a guy’s attention, but a woman’s sexual temptation is different from a man’s.

However, it is only in the committed faithful relationship of a husband and wife that specialness is true.  It is when he said, “You are the only woman for me,” and when she responded, “You are the only man for me,” that each of them became truly special.  Any other “specialty” is a certain road to Sheol (Proverbs 5:5).

No matter what the source of temptation, internal or external, the battle is finally fought in one’s own heart and mind.  This puts it within the range of victory!  The truth is that it is up to me if I am willing to be suckered into believing a decoy for joy.  It is also up to me to reject the artificial for the real.

The hardest part for most men to discern is when temptation becomes sin.  The old adage is, “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your tree, but you can stop it from building a nest!”  Most of us will feel guilt over the fact that we feel temptation, but this is a misplaced sense of fault.  Only you can tell when you have stepped across that invisible line into letting the bird start his nest, but there is no need to feel guilty about it flying overhead.

Temptation of JesusRemember even Jesus felt temptation!  He really was hungry when Lucifer invited Him to short-circuit His redemptive path and turn rocks into bread; haven’t you and I lusted after a donut or piece of pie that we thought would satisfy?  Jesus really wanted to show the world that He could do us all good; all He had to do was jump from the Temple’s top and everyone would believe in His miraculous power, right?  Jesus reeeeeally wanted to rule with justice, mercy and grace; and what a wonderful benevolent Master He would be!  All He had to do was worship the “prince of the power of the air.” (Ephesians 2:2)

But in each temptation there was a deception that Jesus called out.  And in every temptation we face there is a hidden lie that the world, our flesh or the devil will try to hide.  If we can identify the bald-faced lie this will remove the temptation’s power.  “That donut really will not add that many calories; that money will not be missed by a big corporation; that woman/man would be so nice to be close to; no one will know about this porn.”  But the temptation is NOT sin!  It is the yielding to it that is.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)  Mercy is not getting what we deserve; grace is getting what we do not deserve.

Mistaking that I could cover this topic in one blog, next week will be our fourth week of The Three Weeks of Sex.

The Second Week of Sex

Last week I discussed some of what makes a marriage a marriage as opposed to a business relationship.  The truth is that the love and respect a husband and wife provide each other shows up in all aspects of their life, not just sex.  However, sex is the distinctive that makes the marriage relationship most different from all others.  It is an intertwining of pleasures that is forbidden outside the marriage because that would cause hurt, confusion, distrust and possibly disease.

2018-10-21 Second Week of SexIn Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ book, Love and Respect, he presents the idea that just as a woman is wired to give and understand love, a man is wired to give and understand respect.  He notes wisely that “the journey to a godly, satisfying marriage is never over.”  This is an ongoing relationship that must be tended much as one would tend a garden.  You cannot pull out weeds and plant seeds once and leave the garden alone for years and expect good crops every fall.  In the same way, a couple cannot say their vows, experience a good relationship at the start of their marriage, and expect it will always continue that way if they never give it attention.

Using the premise of Ephesians 5:33, “each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband,” he notes that most of us readily agree to the idea that love should be unconditional.  He then says respect should also be unconditional!  Most of us, even men, react against this idea, because we have been trained culturally to think that respect must be earned.  However, that is not necessarily the case.  In the military a person is “respected” because of the number of bars on his/her uniform.  He or she may be a jerk of a person, but we treat them respectfully because of the official position.

Before anyone gets too excited or angry that he is advocating a military style marriage, please rest assured that he balances this with the husband’s responsibility to love his wife.  What Eggerichs finds interesting is that husbands are never told to respect their wives just as wives are never told to love their husbands.  He figures it is because of the way God created each of us, male and female, and wired us to see the world differently.  The “blue hearing aid and blue sunglasses” a husband wears mean that he hears and sees things differently than his wife who wears a “pink hearing aid and sunglasses,” and vice versa.  I will not give a complete book report here, but encourage you, if you find this intriguing, to get a copy of his book and consider what you find in it to be true (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

After dealing with the basic attitudes toward marriage and the need to come back again and again to weed-pulling, seeding, pruning and all the other regular features of gardening, let’s address the sexual union of a husband and wife.  I encourage you to get a copy of The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner to explore their thoughts.  Remember, neither Adam or Eve, nor your husband or wife, came up with the concept of sex.  It was the Creator’s idea and He planned it to be a source of unity, procreation, safety, and pleasure.  “Our maleness and femaleness, our sexuality is not something added on or part of our sinful natures; it is part of the original perfect creation of mankind. The Bible portrays sex as a symbol of the relationship between God and His people.”

This text builds on Eggerichs’ foundation that marriage should effect a mutuality of personalities, not a place for “standing up for my rights.”  The commitment of a godly husband is to be to his wife like Jesus is to the Church; ready and willing to die for her.  Not just in a crisis moment of an assault, but in everyday decisions of how to treat her when you are sitting down to supper, opening the mail, cleaning the house.  It is not an easy thing to die to oneself as Jesus did on the cross, but that is what a husband is called to do; to put aside his wishes and meet his wife’s deepest needs.

In the same way, a wife is not to assert nor usurp authority and hen-peck a husband.  She is to submit to his authority as the Church should do to Christ.  And again, not just in a crisis, but in everyday things like going fishing, helping with the lawn care or walking the dog.  As noted, it is not an easy thing to die to oneself, but that is what a godly wife is called to do; to put aside her wishes and meet her husband’s deepest needs.

Then comes the conundrum! “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” (1 Corinthians 7:4)  One wonders if Paul was just setting us up for an argument!  Who is in charge!?  What does a husband do whose wife does not want to have sex?  What does a wife do whose husband wants to have sex all the time?

Paul lays down some guidelines in 1 Corinthians 7, but very little specifics.  That is because every couple is different.  For some, the “limited time” of 1 Corinthians 7:5 may be a couple days or even hours.  For others it may be months or even years.  However, a couple should “come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”  And it should be recognized that such abstinence within a marriage should come from “mutual agreement.”  The gist here is that there is communication in a marriage about sex.  For many, this is as foreign as speaking Latin!

Just as Adam and Eve were “naked and unashamed,” a husband and wife must learn to communicate without shame.  We are supposed to be getting ready for a new Paradise in which there is no shame, and marriage provides one of the best testing grounds to see how well we are preparing. (Not the only one, for sure, as Paul addresses those who are not married as being no less prepared for holiness.)  But for those who are married, consider reading The Gift of Sex by Penner and Penner, and again, see what you find in there to be true (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Next week, we will discuss a distinctly “guy phenomenon” (mostly) of the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil.

 

Three Weeks of Sex

If you have come here hoping to find lurid script or lewd pictures, please do not leave frustrated.  Stick around and read the following blog about what marriage is supposed to be and you may find you did not come here by accident simply because of the title, but destined by a Divine appointment.  These are important ideas anyone considering marriage should know.  This is not comprehensive as there are many good books covering this material, but my 1000-word blog might get you started on a good path.  Next week I will discuss issues for satisfying sex and the third week will describe the difference between lust and temptation to lust.

Consider that most of what married couples do for each other can be hired out without serious consequences and without judgment from God.  I hire a young man to do my lawn mowing and paid someone to replace my gutters.  A couple could hire a maid to fix meals or a housekeeper to clean.  Professional ‘organizers’ can come to your home to do everything from sorting your library to setting your computer files in order.  Nannies can take over most, if not all, of the discipline and raising of children.  A man and woman not married to each other can take a necessary road trip and even sleep in the same hotel room without sinning.  Not that I am recommending any of these options!  Just laying them out there to show what makes a marriage relationship different from the one you have with your landscaper, nanny, or business associate.

There is only one function of a husband or wife that is not a payable one without incurring significant problems: sex.  The problems come even in so-called “open marriages,” where trust is defeated, security destroyed, and personalities are warped.  The Designer of marriage knew what He was doing.

Sex was not attached to Adam’s and Eve’s sin; it was not why they were expelled nor is it part of the punishment.  It was not even their idea!  The God Who Is There came up with the idea and gave the command and description of sexual union in marriage before the fall (Genesis 2:21-25).  The two dimensions of marriage were evident right then:
1. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother . . .” – social and legal dimensions.
2. . . . “and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – personal and relational dimensions.

The social and legal implications are complex but can be summarized to say that every society has held certain regulations for marriage, whether it was as simple as Isaac bringing Rebekah into his mother’s tent (Genesis 24:67) or as complicated as the negotiations between European countries to marry their royals.  There is a social side which is to say that the couple is recognized as an exclusive relationship by the society in which they live.  This has usually been supported by legal constraints that rewarded marriage with special rights and privileges and penalized violations of whatever vows were promised in the ceremony.

The personal and relational implications begin with a husband and wife entering an exclusive physical relationship.  No society has endured more than a few years that allowed any man or woman to share any member of the opposite sex he or she wished.  The sex act has always been recognized as the epitome of the marriage relationship, i.e. what makes the marriage a marriage.

Adultery (sex with someone who is married to another) and fornication (sex with someone who is not married) are both condemned as abnormal behavior which the Designer did not plan.  Yet the drive for sexual satisfaction has been at the root of innumerable conflicts between husbands and wives as well as the cause of wars and plagues.

The Bible is very clear that sexual immorality should not have any part of the life of a Christ-follower (Proverbs 6:20-35; Romans 13:13; Colossians 3:5).  At the same time, it elevates the sexual act to more than just a physical experience (1 Corinthians 6:16-20; Ephesians 5:31-32).  The Holy Spirit is somehow present in the physical union of two people even if they do not want Him to be.  The result of immorality is to twist something that is supposed to be a human representation of spiritual realities into a defiled temple.  There is no case for having sex and not having consequences, even if no child results from the union, even if they do not know each other’s names and never see each other again!  The damage to God’s temple is done in a way that no other sin effects!

James brings an equality to sins that we have a difficult time understanding.  He says “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law” (James 2:10-11).  The focus of James is on Who the offended party is when we sin, as we tend to rank sins by offensiveness to our senses.  But there is definitely a difference in the characteristics of sins and their consequences (See John 19:11 and Mark 3:29).  Sexual immorality is thus condemned by the Bible and immoral practitioners are in serious danger of missing eternal life (Revelation 22:15).

Sexual union is recognized in the Bible as the plan for married couples whether procreation is part of the package or not (Proverbs 18:22; Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5:25-33).  The Ephesians passage is the basis of Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ excellent book, Love and Respect, to which I will refer more fully next week.  The essence of it is that a husband is to unconditionally love his wife and a wife is to unconditionally respect her husband.

Part of the Good News is the redemption of marriages that changes them into models of Christ and His Church, just as much as it is about His redemption of all the evil we do before we become Christ-followers.  Many believers have noted, after deciding to follow Jesus, how events of their past without Christ were woven into their lives so that the very sins that the devil wanted to use to destroy them became the leverage to turn them to the Lord.  He can redeem your marriage as well and bring you to a place of peace and satisfaction that you have not known before.

Next week, in our Second Week of Sex we will discuss Love and Respect in more detail from Dr. Eggerichs’ book.

Just A Weaver
by Benjamin Malacia Franklin

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;

And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

I doubt, therefore I might be.

With apologies to the great French mathematician and philosopher, Descartes: “Cognito ergo sum” translated “I think, therefore I am.”  So though my existence is not in question, there is a lot about this existence that is.

Questions 2I doubt that the Bible is true.  I doubt that there is a Creator.  I doubt that we live after this body dies.  I doubt that there is anything beyond what we see and experience in this life.  Perhaps we are only creatures of an eternal evolution; everything is continuing as it has for all time and there is no purpose, only existence.

How does one handle these kinds of thoughts that enter the mind uninvited?  When they come in as you feel discouraged or disconnected?  When life has handed you lemons and your attempt to make lemonade winds up a broken pitcher and a puddle on the ground?

To come out of this downward spiral you have to return to the basics of what you know to be true:
First, that you exist.
Second, that you are not the only one to exist; there are lots of others around you.
Third, that this existence is not new; we were not born in this minute.
Fourth, that the world has been around for a long time.
Fifth, that some of those others have recorded what happened to them.
Sixth, that not all of them are liars.
Seventh, this downward spiral will lead to disillusionment and hopelessness.
Eighth, there is a better way: listening to those honest recorders before you.

Resurrcetion 1This takes us back to the crux of history, that event that overshadowed all others when it occurred and changed all of history.  The Resurrection of Jesus, called the Christ or the Anointed One.  Paul must have experienced something of this disconnect to have penned “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)  There have been times this statement confused me.

We who follow Jesus have mostly good lives.  Many of us, especially here in the West, have little persecution (yet).  We enjoy each other’s companionship and share worship experiences and many of us even “hear God speak to our hearts.”  Not that many claim to actually hear a voice, but such strong impressions that seem to come from somewhere outside ourselves invade out thinking.  To the one that has experienced this, there is no question in his or her mind, God has spoken!  And we are filled with joy and “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7) regardless of external circumstances.

So how does Paul conclude that if we are wrong, we are of all people most to be pitied?  Consider the insane man who thinks he is living in a palace with sumptuous banquets and lavish comforts when in reality his trailer home is overrun with mice and cockroaches nibbling at his droppings of crackers and cheese.  Would we not pity this man?  In this same way, if the resurrection of Jesus did not occur, we are certainly crazy people, believing in angels and demons and a Creator who loves us and will provide eternal comforts for us.  We are to be pitied.

But Paul does not leave us in this pitiable state!  In the next sentence he points out the reason: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20)  So it all hinges on this: did Jesus arise from the dead or are his remains rotting away in some forgotten Judean grave outside Jerusalem?

Someone once said, “There is more historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for the truth of George Washington being our first president.”  I am not sure how this speaker evaluated the evidence, but Jesus’ resurrection is one of the most authenticated events of history.  This is not true of any other religious figure’s miraculous events.

Gautama Buddha’s miraculous walking that produced lotus blossoms under every footstep reads more like a fairy tale than real events.  That he lived around 500BC and the earliest mention of him shows up around 300 years later suggests a long time for legends to develop, especially given the often differing and conflicting narratives about him.  His oldest “biographies” are dated between 300 and 500AD, 800 to 1000 years after his life.

Examine each of the other figures of major religions and you will find gaping holes in historical validation, especially of major events marking the initiation of their teaching.  Even in the 19th century, the stories of Joseph Smith and his experiences with Moroni, the angel who gave him special glasses to enable his understanding of the “reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics” are conveniently uncorroborated by anyone else.

Jesus resurrection falls into a whole other category with its historical evidence and validation by eyewitnesses who lived with him and wrote what they heard and saw.  “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)  And not just Peter, but many women, James, His brother, and all of the apostles and then more than 500 others who were most likely present at His ascension saw the risen Jesus.

Do not take my word for the historicity of these events.  Read them for yourself in the biographies of Jesus, called the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Read Paul’s exposition of the good news that Jesus arose from the dead in 1 Corinthians 15.  Then look at the skeptics who doubted but became Christ-followers:  Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict and He Walked Among Us.  Read Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ in which he details how he thought the resurrection was a fairy tale that any good reporter could debunk . . . until he tried and became a follower.  Look at C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy and Mere Christianity that describes his logical process of not believing in God and being angry at God for not existing, until he found Jesus was really present in his life.  Consider Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morrison, a British lawyer annoyed that his wife was becoming “one of those religious fanatics.”  He attempted to show how a legal mind could not accept the resurrection and it would be laughed out of an English court.  Instead he found the evidence clear and convincing that Jesus was alive.  And this list could go on of authors and seekers who attempted to shut down the silliness of believing in the resurrection and wound up following the One they at first disdained.

Beyond these intellectual analyses, there are the experiences of millions whose lives have been transformed by encounters with Jesus, through prayer, involvement with miracles, comfort for unbelievable suffering, revelations by visions or dreams, all consistent with the teachings of the Bible.

So when we begin to doubt, as often happens when life does not go the way we hope, we must come back to what we knowI told you the most important truths: that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say; that he was buried and was raised to life on the third day, as the Scriptures say.” (1 Corinthian 15:3-4)

Chuck Colson.jpgI leave you with this quote from Chuck Colson, who was one of the most powerful and feared men in the Nixon administration in the 1970s, involved in what became known as Watergate.  “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me.  How?  Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it.  Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned or put in prison.  They would not have endured that if it weren’t true.  Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks.  You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years?  Absolutely impossible.”