And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Warnings to Avoid the Adulterous Woman of the Old Testament Give Clues to Overcoming Porn Today

The clock read 3:23 am as he climbed into bed beside his wife.  The agony of failure washed over Brent’s mind once again.  Thoughts kept racing; “Why do I give into these temptations, why can’t I stop?”  “If people know what a struggle I have they would abandon me, but how can I stop if I don’t get help?”  “Am I even a Christian, where is the power of God in my life?”

            Brent once again, after a long day, had slipped out of bed to check his email.  This, as usual, led to his cruising about news sites that included racy humor.  At this point he would take, “just a peek” at a porn site or two. Moments would turn to hours while his family slept a room away.  It seemed that this was happening with greater frequency.  He wanted to stop.  But ever since puberty, pornography seemed to hold an allure for him that could not be broken.  He loved Christ, served in the church, but this sin had a bondage that seemed impossible to break.  He wanted desperately to be free.
As a father, pastor, and man, I am well aware of the relentless onslaught that pornography plays against the hearts and mind of men.  Statistics abound, stories attest, and shattered lives all give credence to the fact that pornography and other sexual sins are a major weapon against godliness in our lives.  I say in our lives to include both genders because statistically there is a strong rise in the number of women who are using porn.  It is not just a male issue anymore. 

Time and again I have read through Proverbs 7 and found wisdom, that when taken to heart and applied in today’s context, yields inexhaustible insight for battling temptations to indulge in pornography.  Chapter seven gives insight as to how sexual temptation seeks its prey.  In this chapter the man looking through his lattice spies a youth falling step by step into the seduction of an adulteress.  In much the same way, people young and old fall to the lure of porn.  The abyss of porn in the present day uses much of the same enticements, albeit under the improvisation of technology. By understanding the path to failure we can better prepare ourselves for the fight against adultery, porn, and immorality.

Pro 7:1-3  My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

            The father is pleading with urgency that the son to take to heart wisdom for fleeing sexual traps.  These words come from experience, wisdom, and knowledge of how time and again a person is ensnared.  The father is implying that with great predictability the temptress uses enticing methods.

            Thus, in everything the son touches, and even courses through his veins, he should take these profitable words to heart. Failure to do so ensures death.

 Pro 7:4-5  Say to wisdom, "You are my sister," and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.

            All these words have a specific purpose, not just a generalization.  What applied in the Old Testament time of writing applies even now.  The tools used to lure victims are new, however, the practices of the game remain the same.  The father warns that when allurement and enticement are dabbled with they will lead to rationalize the pleasure involved, dismiss consequences, and appeal to the pride of the fool.  Given enough pressure from within he will turn and follow (James 1 is absolutely crucial to the fight). Corinthians 1:13 says that God will not give us more than we can bear, but contextually it also tells us that if we dabble in sin rather than turning to Him we choose to fail.

 Pro 7:6-9  For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.

            Life is difficult for young men that lack self-control.  J C Ryle in Thoughts for Young Men has addressed this issue throughout the entire book.  Young men are at a great disadvantage.  They lack experience, they often are prideful because of their emerging abilities, their hormones lessen their resistance to sin, and they are born sinners.  Even though there are disadvantages they are not an excuse. You are still responsible for your actions.  Remember, we have little control over what happens to us, we do have a choice in how we respond.

            There are some things to note here;

·         Even before the youth acts he demonstrates a lack of sense.

·         He is allowing himself to spend time in the proximity of this woman.  He is not fleeing but toying with thoughts and ideas.

·         Notice the time in which this is occurring.  It is evening at twilight.  Factors of our vulnerability are heightened when it is the end of the day.  We may be tired, hungry, agitated about a bad day, bored, or there may be a sense of needing a means of relaxation. Another factor to be wary of is that sometimes our most vulnerable times are when we have had success or have completed a major project, and even after a delightful day at church.  Here, the young man is lurking about sin without a fear of what it can do.

·         Also to be noted, this is under the cover of darkness.  It is a nearly hidden event.  The internet, portable electronic devices all create this same type of opportunity.

·         Falling into the trap of porn needs three things; temptation, desire, and opportunity.  The most opportune moment is when you wil least likely get caught, such as at night.

Pro 7:10  And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.

            The woman has a plan and has dressed for it. Often temptation first appears through a visual means.  When Jesus said “pluck out your eye if it causes you to sin,” He was not saying to do this literally.  Even a blind man can lust sexually.  What our Savior meant was to remove the possibilities and weaknesses to temptation.  You won’t be able to remove all dangers but you should have a plan for when temptation arises.

Sin is powerful and crafty. I suggest reading C S Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters for some great insights here.  But take every precaution.  Set up internet filters, have someone for accountability, wear the armor of God (Ephesians 6).

            Please realize, Satan knows how to entice a person.  Lust can be an addictive trap.  Sin is stronger that we are. Our only, and I do mean only help is Christ.  We must abide in Him.  We must not feed the temptations as this fool did by loitering around and rationalizing the possibilities.  We must kill sin or it will be killing us.

Pro 7:11-12  She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home;  now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait.

            Not just the porn industry, but immoral people in general are ever lurking and seeking ways to entice a victim.  They plan, connive, manipulate all in an effort to get you under their power.

            Her loudness points to an arrogance that defies others.  Porn is enticing, it boasts that all is well, enjoy yourself, there are no consequences.  Porn says that society places restrictions, that once removed would enlighten you to pleasures beyond your dreams.  This is exactly what Satan Tempted Eve with.  Porn, lust, and adultery are all one and the same; a sinful trap that denies the truth of God to say that you should be a god.  Porn promises freedom and release, in reality it is enslavement.

            Notice the availability of the adulteress.  She is at every corner.  She pursues him. There is no place safe, because the weakness is within your heart.  It is your heart that must be guarded.  The adulteress has an agenda of finding her victims wherever she may.

 Pro 7:13-15  She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, "I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.

            Porn lies by making much of you.  It says you are special.  It makes you out to be a super hero, all the while beckoning your pride and inner thoughts of entitlement.  The adulteress says, “I have looked all over and none can satisfy, but now I see in you all that I have ever wanted.  Give me just this one chance.”  The lie here is that you are more than all others can see, and the adulteress alone recognizes this, she appeals to your selfishness.  Porn simply tries to justify your participation.  It lies about the consequences.  It says, “just once,’ while the knowing the path of craving that will be created. We see this principle replicated by Jadis; offering Edmond Turkish Delight in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  In the end, he would betray even family to gratify his lusts.  

 Pro 7:16-17  I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.

            Sin looks good.  It can be fun.  It is candy coated evil.  Sin never comes out and displays the consequences.  It merely points out the immediate gratifications.  Sin makes character look to hard to achieve, and unprofitable.  Sin says, “Look at so and so, they are doing well, they sin all the time, it won’t cost you, you won’t get caught.”  Sin has many whispering briberies.  Satan’s tackle box has all the lures you would ever want to consume, all with a hook inside.

            Sin discounts the wrath of God.  It belittles His law and promotes a cheap grace. It says “you have nothing to lose.”

            Just as this woman paints a soothing picture so does the porn industry. Know that those pictures and videos are fake. It is all a lie. The fun portrayed is all an illusion to attach itself to the lust of the eye.  Videos are spliced together without showing the wrecked lives of the enticers.  The photos are airbrushed, photo shopped, and embellished to promote an ideal experience. 

            The truth is some of the greatest lies are in adulterous pursuits.  Have you ever read in the Bible and noticed that sexual sins tend to bring the greatest wrath?  Have you realized that trading the grace of God for an idol is called adultery? This is idolatry.  It seeks to substitute the glory of God for self-exalting pleasure.

 Pro 7:18  Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love.

            The adulteress again and again promotes thoughts of previously unattained satisfaction.  It says, “This time will be the end all of all fantasies, one more time and it will enable you to walk away forever.”  The adulteress is asking the age old question, “What is wrong with this?”  Given enough thought, the young man will find all sorts of reasons to go with her.  He will see the fun, the entitlement, the friendship she offers.  Believing that she really cares about him and sees his value, his thoughts will turn from God to his ability to participate unscathed.  The better question that should be asked is, “Does this glorify God?”  Asking questions of ourselves in relation to the glory of God will enable us to say “Get the behind me Satan” to many invitations.

            Notice it also calls this act “love.”  With each enticement, porn pulls the participant away from God’s truth.   Adultery equates sexual conquest with love.  God equates love with a giving of oneself to another in a commitment for their betterment with the goal of doing everything to the glory of God.

 Pro 7:19-20  For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home."

            In Old Testament times temptation would be in the form of outright adultery or even the extreme of temple prostitutes.  Today it is simply magazines, internet, advertising, and videos on demand.  Availability to engage in lust is at an all-time high of access and ease.  In any situation, the risky taboo of enticement brings a sense of adventure with little repercussions.  Worldly advice says, “If you don’t get caught then it is ok.”  Remember, adultery is seen in the Old Testament as such an offence against God that He demands punishment by death by stoning.

 Pro 7:21  With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him.

            The longer you dwell in temptation the further you will sink.  It is a guarantee.  The Bible reminds us,  “Can a man stand near the fire and not smell of smoke?”  One glance, one popup early in the day can come back to haunt a person several hours later.  There is no such creature as an innocent look.  You must create a battle plan to turn your heart back to God.

 Pro 7:22-23  All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.

            This is just how it works, all at once, he gives in.  The ledge gives way and he falls.  How many times have you given in in a like manner?  This young man reached a point of no turning back.  Once this point is reached the slaughter is simply the finale.  It always leads in death.

            Never say, “I might as well do it, I can’t help it, I always fail anyway, what is the use, I have no hope.”  These are lies.  The Holy Spirit desires to break the cycle of sin.

            Christ died on the cross to not only provide a way of salvation, but also a way of sanctification.  A careful read of Romans seven and eight will help.  Romans seven shows us the confusion that Paul felt in temptation.  He did not do what he should and he did what he should not.  But then, hope comes through Christ as we read in Romans eight.  There he no longer walks by the flesh, he walks by the Spirit.

 Pro 7:24  And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth.

            The author of this passage again warns his son.  Give your attention to truth.  Trust the Father and keep far from all others.  Know the Father’s love for the son for it is unquestionable.  The father is pleading for the son to acknowledge the problem and plan a defense.

Pro 7:25-26  Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng.

            Too many stronger man have fallen into this same snare.  Do not be foolish thinking that you are any better.  Be highly aware, that if you are not fighting to say on the path that follows Christ you too will be a victim.  Sin is always seeking to entice us to ruin.  Our following Christ can never take a day off.  Without food a man can live for 30 days, without water 5 days, without Christ not even as long as his next breath.  Walking with Jesus is more important that food or air.  Without air you physically perish.  Without Christ you eternally perish.  This same urgency is applicable to our daily pursuit oh Him.

Pro 7:27  Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.

So what is a man to do?

Not only must you be avoiding temptation, you must be replacing it with God centered living.  You may need help.  Your pastor is a great place to start, however, you may want to consider the discipleship a biblical counselor can bring.  Biblical gospel centered help can be found free of charge by contacting a counselor from either NANC, the National Association of Biblical Counselors, or IABC, the International Association of Biblical Counselors. 

The Bible teaches us to put off the old self and to put on the new; 

Weapon one is to confess your sin to God in repentance

Weapon two is to acknowledge your sin to another who will hold you in accountability.

Weapon three is to pluck out and cut off any and all opportunities for temptation to arise.  This means radical efforts of purity. provides a service of filtering and reporting to help you in your fight of faith.

Weapon four is to have a biblical defense plan.  With the Bible, plan on what you are going to do when tempted.  Also plan on what to do when you fail.  Develop a plan for getting back on track.  Each of these should have a component of confession, repentance, and God centeredness.

Weapon five is to plan to seek the scriptures, to pray and to be active in your church.

Weapon six is to memorize and apply the scriptures.  A biblical counselor is indispensable here.

Weapon seven is to develop a biblical offense.  Biblical defenses are used in a biblical offense.  But here you seek to add to your life an ever increasing array of spiritual disciplines for holiness.  You are to put off your old sinful ways and to continually put on greater refinements of abiding in Christ.

This is not a system.  The only hope you have to defeat the habit or temptation of pornography and lust is to abide in Christ and achieve a true heart change.

Your greatest days are ahead.  With each step away from sexual sin toward abiding in Christ you will find greater strength from Christ and joy despite circumstances.

If you need help, a biblical counselor can be found at either or  Both offer help free of charge.  Many are located in your local area.  I also want to recommend reading; Closing the Window by Tim Chester, At the Alter of Sexual Idolatry, by Steve Gallagher, and a forthcoming book, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace, by Heath Lambert.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Justified Man

As a means of helping folks out, here are my sermon notes for today, Sunday March 3, 2013.  As usual, the actual preached sermon may differ from the notes.

This week, while preparing to preach, I have found myself in great reflection upon these to men and how I compare.  Too often I have found I am like the Pharisee.  It is my prayer my longing, to be broken as the tax man was.  It is good to confront you heart, for the soul benefits from it, perhaps unto eternal life.

Luke 18: 9-14  The Justified Man

Two men taking different paths, one is the broad road; the other is narrow and requires great self-abandonment.

What kind of man is the Pharisee?

            This is hard to comprehend, because we often are the Pharisee, and he is blind.  He is blind to his true condition.  He is blind to his blindness.  Time and time again his heart has been hardened by his own philosophy and theology.  He has mastered the externals while failing to have the internal questioned.

He is blind because he lacks faith. True faith comes with a brokenness of the self and an utter reliance upon God and His promises.

He is satisfied with the way life appeals to his desires; he hungers not for a world beyond the one he knows. He takes everything at face value, never thinking through the consequences of competing philosophies.  (Ex Dali Lama and meditation as a cure all) He is content with laws, rules, and external matters.

He compares himself to others.  He is always better than the next guy.  He touts his accomplishments and actually believes that he is God’s buddy or special creation.  He enjoys the sound of his own prayers; to him they are a key to the kingdom. He knows the law but never fulfills it.  He believes that he has a saving relationship with God, and yet we find his righteousness is only in himself and he therefore treats others with contempt.  The evidence against him is what he actually believes will save him.



What kind of man is the tax collector?

            The Pharisee judged himself, the tax man looked into the law and found himself a failure. The man is broken.  He trembles to even be within the walls of the sanctuary.  The walls caving in on him are not some joke, they are a fear that wherever he goes he is under the watchful eye of God and under the shadow of His fist.  This man is not someone just going through routines.  He isn’t simply making prayers of repentance.  I believe this man has tried and failed tried and failed. 

He is in agony because he can see. He sees his sin against the backdrop of a holy God, who justly should and will take out wrath upon him.  He fears God.  He fears God through and through.  He doesn’t know what to say as he prays because his thoughts race to incidents of his past, problems he faces, and with what he has done the night before.  He isn’t looking for attention because he feels so utterly obvious in his soul.  He may even imagine that all eyes are upon him, and know what he is really like.  He is suffering in his sin.  It is ever before him.  He can’t stop it. 

He knows all too well that he needs to be made right before God, but how?  He has found hopelessness in systems and religion.  He has done all that “the leaders” prescribe, and yet he knows through experience that this isn’t enough; his strength isn’t enough.  God’s hand is upon his heart.

How can he know, because if God forgives why is he constrained to repeat his offenses.  He fears that God will no longer listen.  He is lonely, as if he alone sins as he does.  He is listening for God.

His cry out to God is all he can do.  And yet in it he finds a confession, the he is not Lord, only God could be and he is guilty in need of mercy.


He Went Home Justified

            There isn’t much hope for him.  A traitor to his people is he, and the scourge of Rome. (Could this be Zacchaeus, Luke 19:1-10?)  Finding no hope in himself, the tax man turns to God, His judge, and finds mercy beyond human reasoning.  He leaves justified, not by a system, a list, or method.  But because he loves God more than his own sin. This is God breaking through the hardness of a heart of repeated sin.  It is Romans 1 in reverse.

By the grace of God he does not take sin lightly.  The tax man leaves justified as his concern was the inner man.  He feared the darkness of his own heart.  God speaks to those who rightly look to Him.  The pondering of the soul is the working of the Holy Spirit. 

Has God ever enabled you to consider your very soul? Ponder, seek out God.  Do not put it off.  One who puts off their own soulful needs is not truly seeking God but merely a means of self-justification.  But one who looks at Gods law and is crushed with a response of placing his only hope in the grace of Christ’s work on the cross, he is near salvation.



But Jesus is telling this parable for a reason, which is that we not be like the Pharisee, but like this second man.

God is a God who will not share His glory or let it be tarnished.  Offenses against His holiness must be met with justice.  To be holy and to ignore offenses is an offence against the office of God.  Such action would be somewhat like a judge ignoring crime, he would no longer be a fit judge.

            Jesus shows that salvation is not based upon works.  The Pharisee has many good works, and a multitude of these are from a right attitude. However he places his hope in himself.  But the tax man realizes he has nothing to offer, and there God can work. 

The man desires change and Jesus wants to grant it.  God as a master creator, as an artist paints beauty in nature by sunset, color, and change of season, he writes music where His instruments are waterfalls, birds, and rain, he is the grand scientist with physics, through gravity, chemistry with reactions such as photosynthesis, and He holds each electron in its place by mere will.  But God is truly shown in His greatest by His love for sinners.  He takes His enemies, pays their ransom, and justly sanctifies them as adopted sons.  A man who has left his sin to follow God at all costs is the most beautiful splendor of God’s revealed glory.

            A man cannot change on his own being.  It is a work of the cross, and a work of the Holy Spirit.  The irony of a relationship with God is that the redeemed never consider themselves worthy.  It is always a love for their benefactor, never a mutual friendship. It is always God’s work, never man’s.  God takes every tragedy and works it for the man’s good- in the glory of Christ.  God loves His people because they are the great ambassadors of His holiness. God takes a broken man, and yes He does forgive him 7 x 70, but with each step the man will see less of his own worth and more of the grace of God. God works in those who will empty themselves of all the world’s offerings and be qualified to receive this grace.  If  God is breaking a man’s heart it is His intention to fix it. If you recognize your sin, it is a grace of God.  When the graces of God begin stay in the presence of God.  Cast off you to do list and seek God’s grace, and listen. 

            Jesus words ring in this text, are you like the second man?  Are you broken?  There is hope.  The call is “Do not be like the Pharisees,” but louder still is “Come unto Me!”  If God is placing even the slightest hunger within you, follow that aroma.  Cry out, cry out do not be deceived, it is those who hunger and thirst for the kingdom that will find it.  Do not settle for substitutes of the true gospel.  Cast your life on Christ.  The tax man was looking for the approval of God, the Pharisee was desirous of the approval of men.