Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Thanks to Rachel for filling in for our Worship Pastor, Zach Foty today. Zach is on a much-deserved vacation and will be back next week.
Before we get started, just a heads up to parents in the room…if you do happen to have kids with you this morning: As the video said, we are talking about sex this morning.
So today’s message will be geared at 6th graders on up (which is really true for all of messages)
If you want to bring your child back to our amazing Children’s Ministry (which is for infants – 5th graders), you can at any time.
This morning’s message is a little heavier than a normal Sunday at Renovation.
And it’s one we haven’t really touched much before…
However, I think you’ll see by the stats later…that “heavy or not,” it’s a critical subject for us to cover.
We are starting a Brand new series this morning called, “Illusions.”
The basic definition of an illusion is this: Something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality.
And that’s what we’re going to talk about in this series.
Things that look SO good to us at first…but yet, in truth…they’re just a false impression of reality. They’re not real.
We’ve been deceived.
Cuz that’s what an illusion is, right?
When the magician calls the volunteer on stage and starts sawing her in half, we’re not seeing reality!
We’re amazed by it, but we’re just being deceived!
We think, “Awesome!!” But if you were to try it at home, you might be bitterly disappointed.
THE GARDEN & SEX INTRO
And so much of sin works this way.
Sin is so rampant in our culture because, let’s be honest, at first, it looks good! It looks amazing sometimes!
In fact, even the original sin of humanity is described this way.
Adam and Eve are in the Garden, and they’re told not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
And yet, as Eve is contemplating this sin…going against what God commanded…she fell for an illusion.
(Genesis 3:6) – NIV
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
For a moment, the illusion was: Wow! This is going to taste great! And it’s beautiful! Just look at it! And it’ll give me wisdom!
But after she bit into it…it just brought humanity shame, and isolation, and pain.
The apple was just an illusion:
The outside was just a misrepresentation of reality.
They were tricked by the illusion of sin.
Tricked by something that looked great on the outside…great at first…but only brought death.
And in so many ways…one of the greatest “apple illusions” of our day is sex.
Now, let me be clear: Sex, in and of itself, is not sin. It’s not bad.
In fact, it’s great!
God is the inventor of sex.
And sex, in its God-ordained purpose, is nothing short of amazing.
By the way: A couple of things about what I’m going to say today:
For one, I’m not going to surprise anybody in my main idea about sex
You’re not going to hear me say something like, “If you just read your Bible a lot, you can have sex w/ as many people as you want”
No God’s plan for you in Scripture is that you have sex with 1 person, in marriage, the rest of your life. Pretty straightforward.
This also isn’t going to be a message of condemnation on how we’re all sinning and ignoring God’s commands for holiness (although that could probably be another message)
But today…I want to do something different. I want to appeal to your reasoning skills.
See, for many of you in this room, I actually don’t believe I need to do a whole lot of convincing that sex outside of marriage is wrong.
Studies show that even in non-Christians, the vast majority of people still feel it’s wrong.
Doesn’t mean they hold to that, but they think it’s wrong
For the majority of you, I don’t think I need to guilt you into thinking it’s wrong…
But maybe…maybe I can help you see, from Scripture, the end-result of going a different way than God’s path.
Of falling for the illusion of sex…
And part of the difference of hearing about sex here…than somewhere else…is the fact that we care about you here.
See, the world, uses sex in everything. It’s everywhere. Sex sells.
And they use it because they want your money.
They don’t actually care about you. Or your heart.
But God cares. We care.
So we want to pull the curtain off the “illusion of sex” today.
Like the magician pulling back the curtain and showing you, oh that’s right…we didn’t actually saw her in half, that’s just another person’s legs!
And if you’re going to pull the curtain off an illusion, you have to look at the whole picture.
Just like if a magician was to show you how he did his illusion, he’d walk you through step-by-step how it happens
So, I’m going to ask you to philosophically open up your minds today.
“Come, let us reason together” as the Bible says…
One of the best ways to evaluate life’s choices is to STOP…and think through the ramifications and consequences first
(This would have done Adam & Eve a lot of good)
It’s especially helpful if you can play out the ramifications 10, 20, 30 years.
Almost 10 years ago now, when I started as a youth pastor…I used to say to my high school students…
“Now…you think it’s such a rush to go out and party…3 times a week…and get totally drunk. You think, ‘This is life!’
But it’s not life. Play out the scenario.
Because things that are “life” do not, by definition, “suck the life out of you over time.” They continue to give MORE life.
At 17, what do you call a person who parties and gets drunk 3 times a week: “COOL!”
What do you call that person at 35: An alcoholic. Not cool.
It’s not really life-giving…it’s just the temporary illusion of life.
Now, let’s do the same thing with sex outside of marriage.
Because, if it really is good…if it’s good fruit…if it’s life giving…if it’s worth it…then, we should be able to play it up, and find life.
Because we can do that with God…
I can’t get too much of Jesus…
So again…let’s reason together. Let me present two paths for your life. Which would you rather have?
And…maybe you’re going to say…David…you’re exaggerating the paths here…I’ll just stick in the middle at mediocrity.
But if one is life-giving, and one is not…then you should only aim for the one that is life-giving.
Here’s option 1: You can have sex w/ a ton of different people. However, you will have to get married someday, since most people do.
So, that does mean you will have sex outside of marriage. But you can have a lot of it. Different people. Prostitutes. Wild affairs.
Year after year after year
But what might seem a wild ride at first…trust me…trust me…will end up like this:
(Show picture of isolation)
Alone. Seen it too many times for people. It starts like a wild ride…but it will end in a path of destruction and a trail of relational devastation.
And in the end…you will be alone.
OR, here’s option 2 for your life:
You can have sex with one person. Your spouse. And one day, be 75 years old, celebrating your 50th anniversary w/ all of your friends & family gathered around you.
(SHOW Picture of happily married couple)
And most of us…when we stop and think about it:
We want option 2. We WANT that picture
Somehow, in our God-given brain, we KNOW that option 1 will bring along with it a lifetime of destruction and pain.
But boy…in the moment…option one…sex and more sex…looks a lot more appealing. A lot more.
And here’s the other thing. It’s actually a lot easier.
That’s why…Jesus said…in Matthew 7…following Him is the narrow road. It’s the difficult path.
But if you want THIS (point to picture)…it takes a lifetime of surrendering to God’s way…over and over and over and over again.
(take picture down)
But the illusion of sex outside of marriage will come calling
And you’ll be tempted to, even if it’s irrational, to think…yeah, but I’m not committing adultery…this is just a little bit.
But there is no such thing as disobeying God’s way…just a little bit.
There’s no such thing as sin in moderation. Sin is like a magnet. It only wants to gather more sin.
THE ILLUSION IS FULL-BLOWN IN OUR COUNTRY
And this illusion that sex outside of marriage isn’t all that bad…that it’s fun…that it’s okay…that it’s a rush…that everyone’s doing it (literally)…that it’s not a big deal….
That illusion: Is everywhere.
And by the way…I’m not just talking about adultery. I’m talking about sex before marriage. I’m talking about pornography.
I’m talking about sex outside of God’s place for it in marriage…where it can be incredible!!
And as Americans, we are buying into the ILLUSION that pornography, sex outside of marriage, you name it, will bring us life.
We are going after the illusionary apple of sex, like we’re bobbing for apples at the school fair.
And if you don’t believe me, I’ve got the stats to prove it. J
Let’s look first at pornography usage in this country.
These are very up to date stats, just from the last few months actually
1 out of every 8 online searches…is for porn.
20% of all mobile searches are for porn. That’s 1 in 5.
In what has become an epidemic in churches…studies show that now 50% of Christian men say they have a problem with pornography.
That’s half the men in this room.
So maybe you were thinking at the start, “Why are we talking about sex in church?? Why such a serious topic today??”
Because it’s probably a topic that almost more of us struggle w/ than any other.
And in a stat, that’s rising very quickly, 20% of Christian women now struggle as well…
The younger you are, the worse it gets.
If you’re in your twenties, there’s an 85% chance you’ve seen porn just in the last 30 days
Studies show that 20% of 18-24 year olds are now “Sexting” as well
Do you know the average age of exposure to pornography for kids now? IT’s 11.
Perhaps we should blame Al Gore…but when the internet was invented, the percentage of people addicted to pornography quickly skyrocketed.
What about sex before marriage?
There’s a lot of young people in this church. Youth group students. And a ton of young adults.
God’s plan for sex in marriage…is pretty clear in Scripture.
What does our society think?
Well, a whopping 3-5% of Americans wait until marriage to have sex.
The stats on adultery in America are just as sobering.
As you can imagine, it’s a difficult stat to track, but if we are an average group of Americans, it’s pretty safe to say that somewhere between 25-50% of the people in this room will commit adultery in their lifetime.
Sobering stuff. But is it worth it?
FIRE IN THE LAP
I’m not just asking: Is it wrong? Is it disobeying God? (And, yes it is) But I want to ask you another question too: Is it even really worth it?
I mean…what if it’s just a little?
Like it was just one time.
Or it was just…pornography…
Or it was just lust…
What about that? Isn’t that fine?
And this is where I beg you to look at God’s word…to look at the reason of God’s truth….
In a very interesting stat, 80-90% of Americans, Christian or not, think adultery is wrong…
But that doesn’t mean people don’t do it.
And even more so, so many of us think…that if it’s just a little…it’s okay.
But it’s an illusion!
Even if snow white just takes a tiny bite of the poisonous apple, it’s still gonna knock her on her rear!
In warning about adultery, the Bible says this:
(Proverbs 6:27) – NIV
Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?
Even if it’s just a little, you’re playing with fire in your lap!
We think…”it’s just a little…it’s just porn…I’m just fantasizing about it…we just had coffee together…or we’re just texting each other…or we just touched…or…we just…”
But sexual sin is like a boulder rolling down a hill. Once you put the thing in motion…it takes a God-sized action to get it to stop
But in the beginning…it seems so harmless…in the moment…it looks like it will be only make us feel GOOD…not bad!
(Proverbs 5:3-5) – NIV
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; 4 but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.
But maybe you still disagree with me…especially with the little things.
Well, let’s look again at the research:
Let’s start w/ pornography:
There’s a recent study out of the University of Illinois at Chicago that shows that men who look at porn tend to become more much controlling, highly introverted, develop high anxiety, and many other negative psychological factors.
Porn has been shown to literally re-wire the brain
Thus, it does things like: decrease your sexual satisfaction w/ your spouse (or future spouse), lower your view of the opposite sex, and desensitize your brain to cruelty.
Porn is the ultimate number. It numbs your current problems, but also begins to numb your life.
Studies now show, the more porn you watch, the more likely you are to commit adultery.
There’s no such thing as “just a little sin. “
Studies are also showing that porn is at least a factor in now close to 50% of divorces.
So, if you feel like, “I’m not hurting anyone doing this…”
You’re at minimum doing some serious damage to yourself…and certainly your spouse or future spouse.
So I PLEAD w/ you…pull back the curtain. It’s an ILLUSION. It’s fake life. It’s not real!
There’s plenty of research out there on pre-marital sex as well.
Someone can have 5 partners before they’re married and think that’s great.
But your spouse, that you’re going to live with for the next 45 years is never going to think that’s great.
And you, as the years go by, and try and develop intimacy with your spouse, are eventually not going to think it was great.
But in the illusion of sin…we NEVER think of the future. Only the now.
Studies also show, that the more sex you have before marriage, the more likely you are to commit adultery when you do get married.
And even in marriage…we still fall for the illusion…
That this person…this NEW person…who’s talking to me…and noticing me…and is attracted to me….that it would be so great to be with her…to be w/ him…just 1 time…
And we let our minds just run w/ it.
Intoxicating ourselves in the illusion of romance.
And the grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side.
But again…it’s an illusion.
Try this stat on for size: 75-90% of people who have an affair, and then marry the person that they had the affair w/, end up divorcing that new person. 75-90%!
See, the sex…the romance…was all just an illusion.
When we hit the relationship stage…we go…oh no…this again.
But we intoxicated ourselves in the illusion…saying it would be different!!
But it’s NOT different. And it doesn’t work.
So let me talk to 3 groups of people.
1) Some of you that are thinking about this…You’re caught in temptation right now.
If you were straight up honest…you are on the verge of sex outside of marriage.
What do you do?
For one…DO NOT trust yourself.
When you’re in the midst of an illusion, you’re like the audience member falling for the magician’s trick…you just can’t think rationally about it…because you can’t see what’s going on.
And by the way… sex outside of God’s design is rarely EVER a rational decision
When you’re being tempted to watch pornography online… When you’re thinking about having sex with someone you’re dating… When you’re being tempted into an affair…
It’s not like you’re sitting down and making a pro’s and con’s list.
It’s a whirlwind of emotions.
And let me tell you something…when we involve our emotions…we see what we WANT to see.
And thus we’re infinitely more susceptible to fall for a short-term illusion that will leave us empty and dry in the long run.
When you’re in the midst of it…it’s like this: You ever heard of pilots who get vertigo?
Like, if a pilot is flying at night or in a cloud that has no visual reference points…it’s possible for them to become disoriented.
They can’t tell whether the plane is gaining or losing altitude, or going left or right. It’s called vertigo.
They’re caught in an illusion.
So what do they do? What are they trained to do?
In those scary moments, the only they can do is trust in their instruments.
And if you’re there right now…it probably feels pretty disorienting…so I plead with you…trust in the instrument that has been provided for you…it’s God’s Word.
Trust in the Bible…Trust in the rational decisions of Godly men & women…because your ability to think rationally while you’re in the illusion…is no different than a pilot w/o a reference point.
But the Bible is a tool that tells us where to go and what to do next.
And it tells you to run. Like Joseph did from Potiphar’s wife
No seriously, run. Flee from this. It’s just an illusion. This thing…over time…will not work out.
This doesn’t end in 50 years of wedded bliss.
(1 Corinthains 6:18-20) – NIV
18 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.
Part of this is honoring God with your body. It’s Scriptural.
We don’t get to pick and choose the Scripture we obey.
Some of you are like...”Ooo…like that verse about the promises of God for me…I’ll write that on my mirror. Oh, like that verse about God’s love!”
But we then don’t get to throw out his guidelines for what it looks like to live a holy, God-honoring life.
It’s all or nothing.
Let me talk to a second group. Those of you that are caught in the midst of this right now.
If that’s you…You might not like this answer.
But Scripture says the best way to get help, is to bring it to the light.
If you’re one of the 50% of men caught up in some kind of pornography addiction…find help.
If you’re just dabbling in it…trust in God to get you out of it. Lean into Him. He can free you.
Let me be transparent here.
The MAJORITY of my life, I was NOT a Christian.
When I was a teenager, and not a believer, I didn’t even think pornography was wrong. And thus when I became a Christian, it was quite the wake-up call.
But God can free you from this. You have to know that. Trust me.
And if you’re sitting in this room, and you’re ADDICTED to porn. If you couldn’t just stop on your own for a few months.
If you’ve tried over and over to stop and you just can’t.
Then hear me: It’s time to seek help.
And you can get help. Maybe you thought…”Uh…it’s just me.” It’s not
Maybe you thought, “There’s no way to get help.” There is.
The #1 way that Christians are getting free of this is by joining purity 12 step groups.
No different than an alcoholic getting free of an alcohol addiction.
If you’re stuck right now…and you need help. I want you to get help
There’s an incredible, anonymous men’s group for pornography addiction that meets at Eagle Brook Church, which is a great church, called Quest 180.
If this is you, I want you to google “Quest 180” when you get home.
And look up their purity group.
You can get help.
If you’re in a dating relationship…and it’s already become sexual…it’s never too late to stop. And just say…I want to wait now.
I want God’s best for my life. I want to honor my God above all.
And if you’re in the midst of an affair right now.
Do the hardest thing you’ve ever…ever…done…and tell the truth.
Tell your spouse the truth.
Couples can recover from this. I’ve seen it happen. It’s not a guarantee….
But you’re only shot at working towards REAL life again…not the illusionary, temporary highs…I mean REAL life…
You’re only shot…is to do the hard work of telling the truth…and seeking God’s way.
And it will be incredibly painful…but God will go with you…and we can help you.
We can refer you to Christian counselors that can help you w/ this as well.
But it starts with you taking the curtain off the illusion and saying…this isn’t going to lead to life.
I’m going to stop today.
Let me talk to the third group. And maybe I’m also talking to all three groups at the same time.
What if you’ve done this already?…you’ve walked out of God’s will…and like the stats show…so many of us have.
This is after all…a room of messed up people…
What’s God thinking of us??
Let’s look to Scripture.
(John 8:2-11) – NIV
2 At dawn he (Jesus) appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
You have to know this: Jesus is FOR you.
Even in this…even with your pornography addiction. See, Jesus, even knowing you’d commit adultery of all things…he still said…for you…I will die in your place.
Now tell me that’s not unbelievable love.
When the whole world is against you…He is still for you.
And…Scripture very specifically clarifies here in John 8…that doesn’t mean Jesus is like, “Just live your life however you want…I love you”
People think that…but that’s poor reasoning…that’s not love. That’s not a God who’s for you…that’s a God who doesn’t care!!
That would be like me saying to my twins when they start riding a bike: Just ride it wherever…I don’t care…yeah…just cross hwy 65…I love you no matter what!
NO! A father loves His children with all of his being…no matter what…BUT…BUT…He always want to protect them and guide them to a path that will bring them life!
And God wants the same for you!
He still loves you even when the world has shut you out, but now to you, just like to the woman, he says, “I forgive you…but go now…and leave your life of sin.”
And yes…for you…if you leave this sin…and start walking in God’s path…some scars will remain…you can’t change that…but you can find life again!
It’s never too late to start living in God’s best
Let me close with these wise words from the Book of Proverbs
In the middle of talking about avoiding sexual sin…the writer says
(Proverbs 6:23) – NIV
For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life.
So this week...God is calling many of you in this room to make some of the toughest decisions of your life.
But in the dizziness of it all…in the illusion of it all…when you can’t even tell which way is up and which way is down…
If you can trust in anything…Trust in God’s word.
That His word is a lamp for you. It is the light to your path.
And IT is the way to life.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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