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This is the second part of a message Pastor Cox preached on August 22, 2010. This point deals with a few thoughts on what the church of Jesus Christ must do in order to obey and affirm the truth of God’s Word regarding sexual purity within the family of God. We live in an age where churches and entire denominations have jettisoned the sanctions of Scripture as “out of date” and thus no longer relevant for this enlightened age. Israel pursued this same course of action and were severely judged for their wanton disobedience. God’s standards of sexual purity do not change with the winds of the culture. Neither should the church accommodate what the world wants blessed or, at the very least, permitted. We must say with the great reformer, Martin Luther, “Here I stand (on the truth of God’s revealed word). I can do no other. God help me.”
I. WHAT CAN CHRIST’S CHURCH DO TO PROTECT GOD’S PEOPLE?
A. First of all, we, as a family of God’s people, need to be PURSUING JESUS w/all our heart – SEEKING HIS KINGDOM even as Mt. 6:33 calls us to do. “…seeking first the Kingdom of God & HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS…” If we’re “delighting in the Lord” – if we’re finding our greatest joy in Him, we’ll have little room in our hearts for the forbidden delights of this world.
B. The church as a whole must seek to model faithfulness & a love for moral purity – not legalistically because all that usually accomplishes is driving the activity & desire underground – but out of a passionate love for Christ.
1. This means upholding God’s standard for our pre-marital relationships.
2. This means upholding God’s standards for marriage which may eventuate in …
Biblical discipline when a divorce is not sanctioned by God’s Word
But it also means that we celebrate wedding anniversaries of 10, 20, 40 & 50 years in duration. We praise God for those who understand what it means to be a “covenant keeper” through the good times & the not-so-good times.
C. The church of Christ all across denominational lines MUST HOLD THE LINE on God’s standard for marriage, divorce & remarriage. And one of the reasons why the divorce rate is around 50% of all marriages in our nation is because the church has co-opted w/the culture & approved that which God disapproves of and has never sanctioned.
1. We must not go beyond the Word of God – there are occasions where someone does all he/she can do to prevent a divorce but the spouse will have none of it & abandons the home & very often unfaithfulness is also involved. 1 Cor. 7 deals w/that – “You’re not under bondage in such cases.” You are free to remarry if you wish but only in the Lord & only to another who himself/herself is biblically free to marry.
2. So we must not go beyond the directives of God’s Word but neither may we come up short of the Scripture either.
ILLUSTRATION: I’ve counseled people many times about this issue & way too often I have heard these words, “I know what the Bible says BUT…” I’ve also heard people say, “God will forgive me” & actually find comfort in the midst of their disobedience. Both present the thinking of people who are committed to do their own will and pursue their own pleasure rather than the glory of God through a life that is committed to honor His Word and thus His will.
In terms of the sexual sin of adultery I state the obvious when I write that God never promised that marriage would be easy. It’s difficult for two sinners to live together under the same roof – it truly is difficult - but not impossible by the grace of God and the strength of His Spirit.
And when the elders of a church biblically pursue someone due to sexual misconduct, it is always for the purpose of restoration – not retribution. This “tough love” of God’s shepherds is actually the loving & sacrificial intervention of pastors who are standing, as it were, in the middle of the road of destruction seeking to at least slow if not stop the car of one’s life racing towards a chasm that has no bridge. There’s death up ahead & the church is to do all it possibly can to keep a potentially fatal wreck from taking place. To refuse to do that because we don’t want to be unpopular is negligence at best and reckless endangerment at worst.
I remind us all that one of our covenantal vows of membership is a commitment to “…submit oneself to the government and discipline of the church and promise to pursue its purity and peace.” The Bride of Christ must settle for no less.
Finally, let me say that this particular violation of God’s Word has been made incredibly easy in our day. When the mooring ropes were cut in the sexual “revolution” of the 60’s little did we know what the end result would be. By and large, God’s people (i.e., His church) slept through those idolatrous days when all sexual restraint was cast aside. Thus, today we are continuously bombarded with sexual messages. Many in the church have become addicted to pornography and, with the advent of “no fault divorce,” many others have walked away from their spouse regardless of the devastation this brings upon the children. Thus, believers must do all they can to help one another through this moral minefield of sexual pursuits that God never has nor ever will sanction. We must confess our sins to one another and help hold one another accountable. The church must not drop God’s standards but neither must she shoot her wounded. We must be a safe place for sinners not in leaving them to wallow in their sin but to help them grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. We must be a hospital for the wounded in a humble, gracious, non-sanctimonious way because every one of us could fall into sexual sin were it not for the grace of God. May He give us grace to stand firm and the love for one another that enables us to bind up the brokenhearted and embrace those who have fallen on the battlefield of life. Above all, may God be glorified in your life – in my life – and in His church.