Jack Graham - Guard Your Heart
Sexuality is a God-given gift. But sexual sin perverts and pollutes this gift. God has established marriage as the way to personal fulfillment, satisfaction and intimacy. One man, one woman committed to one another for life! One man, one woman committed to one another for life! Thus marriage is a divine miracle. Jesus said in Matthew 19, verse 6 that He created them in the beginning male and female, and the two should become one flesh. God takes two people, a man and a woman, and brings them together, blends their lives, their personalities, their backgrounds, their bodies into one. And while it seems like it wouldn't work... some are saying marriage is antiquated, it can't work today, God says, "I will make it work if you will let Me".
It's divine mathematics; it's music when it happens God's way. It's like a violin and a bow: separately, not so much, but you bring the bow and the violin and together they make magnificent music. Our sex-crazed culture tries to convince us that any kind of sex is normal. And therefore we are systematically dismantling traditional, biblical marriage. And Bible-believing Christians are viewed as puritanical, pharisaical, out of touch freaks who hate sex. I beg to differ. We believe God created the physical act of marriage, not only for procreation and reproduction, but for the enjoyment of the human race, for the pleasure of mankind, for genuine intimacy. So this is God's idea! And you can't improve on God's idea. And if you take the gift and you abuse it, if you adulterate it, you only destroy it! Adultery, sexual sin destroys what God has made.
Now if you've never committed adultery physically, that's great. Thank God for His grace and power in your life. But remember, pride comes before a fall. I Corinthians 10:12, "Let him who stands take warning, lest he fall". And so I bring you this message today not only to convict those who may be participating in this sin, but those who are considering it, or those who think they're above it. If we just take our eyes off Jesus, there's not one of us who could not fall and fall miserably. David was a man after God's own heart, the sweet shepherd and singer of Israel, who rose to kingdom power. But he failed to guard his heart! And with a sense of entitlement, while his generals are off to war, David is loitering about in semi-retirement at his palace when he sees a woman bathing. He looks, and rather than turning on his heels and asking God to give him strength to maintain his purity, he looked, he looked, he looked again. He took her as his own, committed adultery. He then arranged the murder of the woman's husband, Uriah the Hittite.
Think of the commandments that David broke! He coveted another man's wife, he took her from him, he lied about it, he committed adultery, he ended up committing murder by consent in arranging this murder of Uriah. Plus, he dishonored God and committed spiritual adultery. Worshipped the idol. When God chose to use a word to describe idolatry he called it spiritual adultery. Not being faithful and true to God. And David paid a heavy price for his sin. It's dangerous and it is destructive. How so?
Let me just mention four ways. One, when you commit this sin, you do incredible damage to your spouse: your husband or your wife. You betray them, you break your promises, you destroy trust. And so often adultery is covered by secrets and lies and deceit and cheating that is often worse than the act itself. Now, thankfully it is possible to restore a marriage broken by betrayal. Thankfully, there is forgiveness and your spouse may choose to forgive you and work again to restore the marriage. And I've seen that happen. And we celebrate the grace of God in that. But it is exceedingly difficult and hard, and often takes a lifetime to rebuild the trust. This is why Jesus provided a just cause in the Sermon on the Mount a release clause, if you will, because of divorce by adultery or adultery provides for a just cause for divorce. Because it is such a betrayal of your spouse, and it hurts very deeply.
Secondly, you do damage to yourself. The Scripture says in First Corinthians 6:18 that this sin in particular, this is one of the ways in which it is in a category in and of itself, this sin is against your own body; it's a sin against yourself. You don't have to be a therapist to know of the psychological, emotional, as well as physical miseries as result of committing this sin. Adultery is the result of a pattern typically of sinful bondage; satanic bondage. And most often it doesn't just happen one night or one time. This sin is most usually not a blow out, but a slow leak in a person's life. A series of compromises and choices that start in the heart and end up in action. And once you commit sexual sin of any kind, it becomes easier and easier and easier. And you become morally weaker and weaker and weaker. And the enemy Satan will attack you at the point of your vulnerability, your weakness.
So that's why it's so much easier to commit this sin again and again and again. That's why we have so many serial adulterers. It's a bondage, a stronghold in peoples' lives. It's dangerous. I remember years ago speaking to a pastor friend of mine who had fallen into sin, sexual sin. I asked him, "How could you stand up every week and preach God's word and pray and lead a church while this was going on"? Seriously, I can't have a fight with Deb Graham and stand up here and preach! Much less, betray our wedding vows! I said, "How? How could you do this"? And his answer was what I've heard many times in many different ways. "Well, every time I did it, I promised God I would stop. It would never happen again. But I couldn't stop". It's a sin against yourself! There are few sins that can do as much damage to your mental and emotional and spiritual wellbeing as immorality and infidelity.
Thirdly, you do damage to your children. How often are children sacrificed on the altar of a man or a woman's lust. The lives of countless children are ripped apart and even ruined by adulterous parents. Oh, I know, people say children are resilient, children will get over it. Well, children typically are resilient and many do get through it. They don't get over it; they get through it. But I'm telling you, children are hurt and harmed by this sin. And in particular it does damage to your children because when you get involved in this infidelity, you give up your moral authority to lead your family. You lose the respect of your children and even your grandchildren. Adultery says to a child, "Your mother is not worth anything. I am a liar and a cheat and an adulterer. And you, child, don't matter. What matters is what I want". Every child has the right to grow up in a home filled with love and commitment, where mom loves dad and dad loves mom.
Years ago, youth specialist and preacher evangelist Jay Strack said over and over again, and it's right. He said the most important question your teenager is asking is does dad love mom? Does mom love dad? Because love in your home provides security and safety that all of our children need. So you do damage to your children, you do damage to yourself, you do damage to your spouse. You do damage to the church! First Corinthians chapter 12, verse 26 tells us that we are all members of the same body. The church is not some organization that you join; it is the body of Christ and it is a family of faith. Therefore, we have a responsibility and an accountability to one another!
If you're a member of the church and you name the name of Christ, don't says what I do is my business and not your business! What you do is my business as a brother in Christ it's my business. And what I do is your business. We are mutually submissive and accountable to one another in the body of Christ. And if you are a Christian, you have the moral responsibility to maintain fidelity and faithfulness to God's family! The witness and influence of the church is so damaged when you sin in this way! In fact, Romans 2:24 says that the Gentiles blaspheme God. They mock God because of the sin that is in the church. No wonder the church in America is having so little impact when countless members are unfaithful to their promises. Look, if we don't have the power that we claim to change our lives, if we say God has the power to change my life, if we don't have the power to control our lust, how can we try to change the world?
Number four, you do damage to your relationship with God. Damage in the sense that your walk with God and your fellowship with God is lost. Not your relationship if you're a Christian, you're secure in Christ, but your walk with God, your witness and your relationship with God is severely damaged. This ought to be the first reason you don't commit this sin! When David sinned and ultimately repented, with bitter tears he cried out, Psalm 51:4 "Against you, God, and you only have I sinned". Now he had sinned against himself, he had sinned against the nation, he sinned against Uriah the husband of Bathsheba, he sinned against Bathsheba, he sinned against his wife, but ultimately David, the man after God's heart knew that "I have sinned against You, O God".
When Joseph resisted the seductions of Potiphar's wife in Egypt, when she reached out to take him and grabbed his coat, said come to bed with me, Joseph was handsome and young and vibrant and he was tempted, but he ran out of the room. Better to lose your coat than lose your character. That's why the Bible says relative to this sin, this particular sin, flee fornication, run from this sin. Don't hang around and try to fight it. Don't give the devil a stick to hit you with. Put on your PF Flyers and get out of there! Get out of that situation. Do whatever it takes to remove yourself because this sin ultimately is against God. Joseph said, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God"?
Now in the final closing moments of this message, I want to give you some preventative medicine. Preventative medicine is the best kind of medicine. And I want to give you some steps that you can take to affair-proof your marriage, to keep your heart and your life pure:
Number one, cultivate your relationship with God. Seek God with all your heart. Don't give your heart over to anyone or anything else, apart from Him and His ways. The Scripture says in Colossians 3:1 "Set your affections (your desires) on things above and not on things below". Let your heart be for Him. Let your love be first and foremost to Him, because "to love God with all your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength, to love your neighbor as yourself," this is the collaboration of the commandments. This is what Jesus said it's all about. Cultivate your relationship with God. Pray for purity. Galatians 5:16 tells us "Walk in the Spirit and do not fulfill the lust of the flesh". Or to put it another way, feed the Spirit, starve the flesh.
Feed the Spirit; starve the flesh. And how do you feed the Spirit? The Word of God is our food which nourishes us and builds us up strong, that we may exercise faith, that we may resist temptation. The psalmist said, Psalm 119:9; "How shall a young man cleanse his ways? By paying attention to God's Word". God's Word. The Scripture says in that same Psalm, 119:11, "Let me hide God's word in my heart that I might not sin against you". Fill your mind, your heart, your life with God's word, wisdom for life, and strength for everyday. Cultivate your relationship with God. If you will love Jesus and fill your life with Him, if you will walk in the Spirit, He will strengthen you to keep your promises, resist temptations and live in victory. The greatest motivation you can have for living in purity is God Himself. Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God".
Number two, continue to grow in your relationship with your spouse. When you get married that's just the beginning, of course. It's a beginning of a lifetime of commitment together; husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church; wives submitting themselves unto the Lord and to their husbands in lasting love. This is God's will; this is God's way, that we be friends and lovers, that we keep the home fires burning. Keep them burning. Worship together, pray together. The best defense is a good offense when it comes to a happy marriage. I say to young people marriage is worth waiting for, and I say to married people, your marriage is worth working for.
Thirdly, counsel with godly people. Seek the counsel of godly people. Find mentors for your marriage, models that set the example. And there are many. Seek biblical wisdom. There is safety in numbers. The Scripture says there is safety in a multitude of counselors. That means you should never isolate yourself from the body of Christ, from the people of God. One of the worse things you can do in life is to get isolated and start coverting in secret. Never isolate yourself! David was vulnerable because he was alone rather than staying in the battle with his soldiers. And that's when he started feeling semi-retired and semi-entitled to whatever he wanted.
Avoid at all costs, listen to your pastor now, avoid at all costs ungodly companions and counsel. Proverbs 13:20 "A companion of fools will be destroyed". You hang out with the immoral crowd, you hang out with people who are abusive in their language, foul mouthed, filthy in their actions. You lay down with dogs, you're going to end up with fleas. "Bad company corrupts good morals". That's 1 Corinthians 15:33. Psalm 1:1, says that we're to take counsel, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scoffers". Get away from people who lower your moral restraint, and get around people that build you up and strengthen you in your walk with Christ. And I have to say it, turn away from anyone or anything you know that is wrong in word, thought and action. Be ruthless, relentless in resisting temptation.
Do whatever it takes and never, ever justify your actions if they're wrong! Don't get involved with that little flirty deal that happens at the office. You know what I'm talking about. I don't have to explain it, do I? That little touchy, feely thing that starts, those conversations that begin discussing things that unmarried people not married to each other should not be discussing; business lunches, road trips together. You know exactly what I'm talking about. We've seen it too many times. Counsel with godly people. Be accountable to your wife, to your husband for your time, for your life and your lifestyle, and be accountable to others. The church is a great place to stay strong in your faith.
Now I know, we all know you can be living a sinful life and be sitting in church every week, but I know this: that if you will gather with the people of God with sincerity and faith, that the church of Jesus Christ will help you to overcome. Fourthly and finally, count the cost. Remember the warnings of Scripture that we've given you today. Remember your parents' counsel. Remember what your pastor is telling you. Look around you and see the devastation that is caused by sin. There is a huge price to pay! You don't break the commandments; you're broken on the commandments of God when you fail to obey.
And if you are currently involved in an adulterous relationship, or you are considering it, stop it! I tell you firmly but lovingly in Jesus' name, stop it! Repent of your sin because the Bible says in 1 John 1:9, "If you confess your sin, He is faithful and just to forgive your sin and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness". The Bible says, Isaiah 1:18, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool". Adultery is not the unpardonable sin. It is a great sin, it is a grievous sin, but it is not an unpardonable sin. What do you do with this sin or any sin? You come to the cross.