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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - Deeper Than Skin

Levi Lusko - Deeper Than Skin

TOPICS: Pornography, Sex, Relationships

So I went to the dentist this past week. And that's always the beginning of a great story right there. You know what I'm saying? Everyone just kind of channels their inner... Don't worry. I was able to talk my way out of the X-rays. You know what talking about? They're like, it's time for X-rays. I think, really, we just did them. I feel like we just did those X-rays. They're like, they're to make sure you don't get cancer in your mouth. I'm like, all right. I'll get some X-rays. This time I managed to get out of that one, dodged that bullet. But the dentist at one point comes in. I was happy to report, no cavities. This is good. And no one really responds to that. I was actually excited about that.

And when you're a kid, you're in the "I don't have a cavity" club. And it's you're an adult, it's like I did all the wonderful brushing. And they're not there to validate you in any way. But they did come in at one point and tell me that I needed to have a cavity that was filled when I was younger replaced. They said, that silver filling, that needs to get removed; not this visit, but at some point in the near future. And I said to myself, I said, the last thing I want is to have a cavity that was already filled refilled, when I didn't do anything wrong. So I was really kind of like pressing, trying to figure out, and get to the bottom of the situation. I said, you just said that real quickly, like it was no big deal. But I really would like to avoid that. Like I have this thing with the dentist. It's hard. I don't know. I'm sure you're grown up and mature, but I hate it.

And I had to have a tooth removed this past year, about three months ago. It was really traumatizing. They told me it was going to be loud. That's what they said. It's going to be loud, having this tooth removed. And that disturbed me. So I brought headphones. And I thought, what's the loudest thing I think of. And I thought of the Black Panther soundtrack. It has a lot of bass, a lot of low end, and not even Kendrick could cover up the cracking of the roots, when they pulled this thing out of my, and I'm not joking. My dentist was sweating. I saw him sweating. He was just working so hard. And Wakanda forever. So anyhow, I said, hey back there, you mentioned I needed to have that old feeling replaced. Why is that exactly? And he says nonchalantly, oh nothing you've done. It's just old. It's just an old filling. And I go, what do you mean? He goes, well according to your records, this is a 20-year-old filling.

Now I remember getting that tooth filling done and I was 16. And I just had one of those moments in the chair. I'm like, oh my gosh. I was 16 20 years ago. That just seems like a long time ago. And then the way they refer to that, that old 20-year-old filling. You've been dragging that old thing around all these, it just made my mouth tired from dragging that old filling around. And then he showed me a picture of it. I'm like, yeah, that old thing needs to get replaced. That thing looks terrible, right? And here's the point. The point is it does feel like I was 16, 20 minutes ago. And yet what we're going to be communicating in this new series that begins this weekend: Yours, Mine, & Ours; is essentially what I would want to say to a 16-year-old version of myself, if I could. Some of it is what I'm so glad that I knew at 16, because people in my life that love me had spoken in my life. And some of it is what I wished I would have been told when I was 16.

And I'm really excited, because this is a series all about love, and it's all about sex, and it's all about dating, and marriage, and singleness, and being engaged. You're going to want to come back next week and be here for all four weeks of this series. Trust me. My wife's going to be speaking. It's going to be really great. It's always phenomenal here from Jennie. But specifically on this subject, we want to hear from the woman's perspective, and the man's perspective, and both of us will be doing some of it together. It's going to be a different format, really special, so we'd love to have you here. I would say, just you owe it to yourself, to your future marriage, to your family, to your life, and just discover what God has for us in the area of marriage and relationships. It's going to be amazing: Yours, Mine, & Ours.

And we like to do a series like this every few years, for a couple of reasons. Number one, of course, there are new people coming to the church all the time. And so, of course, I think back to, oh, we did this one two years ago. We did this five years ago. We did this one eight years go. You think of all the different relationships series we've done over the years. And you think, oh, we've probably covered it. But the reality is new people coming in who haven't heard it. But then there's some 20-year-old fillings among us. And maybe all along the years you've heard relationships series. But you're in a different season. And where you were at then versus where you're at now, what you're facing now versus what you were facing then, there is every year Fresh Life kids who are growing up and needing to hear these things again.

And the Bible says that we have a responsibility to communicate these truths to our children and to pass them on to our grandchildren. We're not just thinking about ourselves. We're thinking about the generation to come after us. We want to pass these things on to our kids. And I have so much faith, so much excitement going into this series that God is going to do a powerful work. And for some of us where there's regret, God can really even use that regret, as we lean in and have that heartfelt commitment to maybe commit these things in a fresh way, to those that are around us. So if you have a Bible, as we just jump in, and again this is just the introduction. So if as you're listening to this, you're thinking, well you didn't, you didn't, you didn't, you didn't; look, we have weeks to come.

So this is just the introduction. But 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, if you have a way to get to the scriptures, maybe a Bible, if you're going analog, like me. Or an app, where you can get on it. If you have neither, we're going to put the versus on the screen for you. But here is where we're going to go. I'm going to preach to you a message that I'm calling deeper than skin, deeper than skin; really a foundational message for launching into a discussion about romance, and intimacy, and passion, and craziness, and stress. All right, so 1 Corinthians, and blessing and fun. Right? Because there's all of the above. 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, Paul says, There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in scripture, "The two become one". Since we want to become spiritually one with the master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us, notice, more lonely than ever, the kind of sex that can never become one.

There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin, we violate the sacredness of our own bodies. These bodies were made for God-given and God-modeled love for becoming one with another. Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit. Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

Father, we thank you for this passage of scripture, which is so helpful to us. And for some of us, this is going to be the first time we've ever heard clearly some of these things. And I pray for you to use your word as we try and unpack this for a minute, to open our eyes up to see God, maybe for some of us the error of our ways. For some of us, if we had known what we're going to hear now 10 years ago or five years ago, three months ago; it could be radically different what we're dealing with today. But thank you that we're going to hear this now. And so from this moment forward, we can live in light of it. Thank you for the gift of relationships. Thank you for love. Thank you for marriage. Thank you that we can just talk about these things, and find the pleasure, and the power, and the blessing that you intend for us in it. Because we really truly do believe that when a man finds a woman, when a woman finds a man, and when we enter into that gift that you gave us called marriage, we really do find a good thing and obtain favor from you. Help us to see that, to protect that, to fight for that. We pray that if anybody has come into our church this week not knowing you, maybe they've just logged onto church online. They feel all alone. They feel broken. Their heart is, it feels like it's almost even in a thousand pieces. We pray that you would show them that you can pick up each one of those pieces and put it back together. We pray that we would see salvation come in this place. We ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.

So I have two daughters that are in swim lessons right now. And they're getting really good. Honestly, they're getting better than I've ever swam in my life. I'm like, I can crush a good doggy paddle. I can swim underwater pretty well. But any of the strokes, and that's not happening. So they're really getting good at it, and they're little dolphins. That's what dolphins do. And anyhow the other day I was watching their swim class and sitting there poolside, watching them go about their thing. And I was shocked to see their instructor, this particular week, pick up a brick. Pick up a brick and put it on one of my daughter's chest. As she was on her back. She said, I want you to do the back swimming thing you were doing a minute ago. And I want you to do it now. She was just crushing it. She had her little goggles on. And now I want you to do it now with the brick on your chest. And it was like a rubber brick. It wasn't like a mason's brick or anything like that. But it was shaped like a brick. It looked heavy. And so my daughter looked really confused, looked up to me. I'm like, it seems OK. I think you should do it she says. But I'm like, am I giving bad advice here? It's like these parenting moments, you know?

And so she proceeds to try and swim backwards, but now she's got a brick on her chest. And, of course as expected, she goes like two inches, and then just straight to the bottom of the pool. And she's now pinned underwater by a brick. And so the teacher, of course, quickly takes the brick off her. And she gets back up. And she goes, again. And she's like, you need to kick harder this time. And so now, again she does it. And she makes it a foot this time. And then the back and forth, just they're literally sinking. And the furthest I saw them get was five feet before like a submarine, so I mean she's kicking as hard as she can, trying to stay up. But like a submarine, she's ping, ping, ping, down to the bottom. OK, now she has them start again. This time she takes the brick away. I'm telling you, it was like they were levitating above the water. In this passage, Paul is writing to a church that he loved and cared for. And he's writing them. You just see his heart. I mean he spent more time in Corinth than he did in any other city in his ministry, except for Ephesus.

And so he loved these people. And he's writing them to basically tell them that when it comes to them walking in God's plans for marriage, and sex, and how they were approaching these topics that we're talking about in the Yours, Mine & Ours series, he was basically trying to tell them, you all are trying to swim with a brick on your chest. You guys got to, just so you know, you have a brick on your chest. And you're confused as to why this is happening. And there were reports to Paul that they were confused about this and didn't understand this. And basically he's saying, you're making it so much harder on yourself than you need to. And I think that there's never been a day than the day we're living in where we need to hear what he went on to tell them to explain to them in this passage. But before we address that, let's understand a little bit about the city of Corinth. It was a strategic city. It was located exactly halfway between Athens and Sparta in Greece, within the Roman Empire, at this time.

And there was, going back hundreds and hundreds of years before that, cities that were built on the site where Corinth was. But at this point it sprang up within a period of about 100 years to a population of 100,000 people, which was large. I mean Rome itself only had a million. So to be a tenth the size of Rome, I mean this was a major city. And of course where it was on isthmus connect. I love the word "isthmus," because you get a lisp for Jesus. Lisp for Jesus. You know, isthmus. As a preacher, it's one of the few words that, you know, it's a bold move to rock an "isthmus" in front of people. But it was located on the isthmus that connected the Peloponnese to mainland Greece. And so there was roads that went right through it, and to it, and people coming from Athens to Sparta. So of course, a place like that was so strategic. And so, of course, it would become a major center of industry and trade. And it was a kind of place where knows from there. Kind of like in New York, you very rarely meet someone from New York. They're from everywhere else. But they flocked there, because it's a center for money, and of course the entertainment, and the arts. And so everyone is attracted to a place like Corinth.

And so relatively quickly, high population, people flocking to it in their prime, in the prime of life. A lot of money, power, and so of course, you can imagine with all these beautiful young wealthy people living there, of course, it was a place where passions and all that would be at a fever pitch. And let me tell you, they were. I read this. This is a direct quote that Corinth was the sexual capital of the ancient world, the sexual capital of the ancient world. How many people did I say lived in Corinth? About 100,000 people. There were, on record, historians write 1,000 prostitutes in the city of Corinth. And up on the hill, what was called the Acrocorinth, there was this bluff, this hill; the high place. And Paul later in Corinthians talked about strongholds have to be torn down. And of course that was always a fortress, always if you wanted to take the city, you always had to take the high ground, of course. And so in the city of Corinth, up on the bluff there was a temple to the goddess Aphrodite.

Now we talk about Valentine's Day, you know oysters, and chocolate, and red wine being aphrodisiacs, right? And what is that, the love potion basically, right? Well basically, there was actually a god in Corinth who was this sex god, goddess as it were. And so all these thousand prostitutes, they were there in the day. Then at night they would come down into the city from the hillside, and people would worship Aphrodite by having sex with one of these prostitutes. That was just another day in the life of Corinth. And so in this city, in this city with complete paganism being the reign of the day, Paul comes and preaches the gospel, and reaches people, and tells them what the Christian sexual ethic looks like, honoring God with your body; tells them all this stuff and then goes their way. But now you have to imagine here's people wanting to honor Jesus, but now living in the city, how easy it would be to slip back into those old ways. I mean, honestly, as I've been reading and looking into it, it would be nothing for a Tuesday night dinner party to have six, eight couples, all over.

And now as a person recently saved, but they go to show up at this dinner party, like it was normal. And it would be like, OK, we've had dinner. OK, a couple bottles of wine have been consumed. All right, let's all now jump into bed, all of us together, crazy orgy just to end the night. And now imagine this new Christian guy. Let's call him Julius. And he's like, is there anything else we could do, maybe twister? I just feel really uncomfortable here. And he does like, and how crazy hard it would be to not fall back into old ways, when that would have been for his entire adult life how evenings were spent in Corinth. That's just what you did and that was just life at all. It was, as we said, the sexual center of the ancient world. And of course how does this play out with reputation? Because cities get reputations. In our days, cities get reputations. You think of certain cities, and you immediately think of certain things. And for people in the rest of the Roman Empire, it was the place to go to when you wanted to do that.

A matter of fact, the word "Corinth" became a verb. Look it up. The word "Corinth" actually eventually got turned into a verb. You would say, to Corinthianize, that was what you'd say when you wanted basically speak of someone who has sex with anything that moves. To Corinthianize was shorthand for man, that person is loose. That person sleeps around. To Corinthianize was to carouse and to sleep with anything that moves. And so now you have a picture in your mind of what a counter-cultural thing it would have been to get this letter and to hear this all explained. And people who are like, this was normal, this was everyday. And sometimes going men, then women, then back to men; and just all of that. And Paul's like, hey, here's what God wants for your sex life. I mean, there's a part in the book of Corinthians where he had to say, you shouldn't sleep with your father's wife. And the guy was like, I'm going to write that down. You know that is, man, I never thought about that.

Now it wasn't his mom. He would have said, don't sleep with your mom. It was his father's wife, obviously, his step-mom. But still, I mean this is the kind of stuff that he had to tell them. And it's like, that is news to me. I'm going to make sure and write that down. So it was just crazy. And why do I say this is applicable our culture today? Of course, I don't think any of us are living in a city of a thousands prostitutes? Maybe. But are we living in? We're living in way more than a thousand pornographic websites, way more than a thousand. I mean they estimate that the internet is 36% pornographic. And how much pornographic data is being consumed at any given moment is staggering. We came across this statistic that if you take the web traffic that Amazon, that Netflix, and as well add that together with the traffic you get on Twitter, and you have all three of those: Amazon, Netflix, and Twitter combined; that would be less than the pornographic transmitted data that's being sent back and forth, zeros and ones, on any given moment.

And of course, even in relatively recent history, what online dating hookup apps have done to facilitate casual encounters. I mean we look back and think, gosh, that's so crazy, these prostitutes coming down the hill. Then you just have to look for one. And yeah, but now we have it mobile. You don't want to go look for the prostitute. Who's single and looking to mingle? And Tinder now estimates that 1.6 billion swipes per day, 1.6 billion swipes per day are registered on that app alone. So what is that? That's every day 1.6 billion times, people are going where is that prostitute coming down the hill? Of course, you're saying that there's some people who are on Tinder who aren't looking just to have casual sex. There are some people on Tinder who are just looking for a soul mate and to meet the right one. And yeah, I bet you there are three of those, and there are still 1,599,000,000. You see what I'm saying?

The point is we're still living in an era of a thousand prostitutes of Aphrodite walking down the hill, badly in need of hearing what Paul has to say, which is not I think you'll agree, sex is terrible, sex is bad, right? Because that's where the pendulum swings from. Right? Because obviously we have here this Corinthian way, the Corinthianizing way, which is sex is normal. Sex is not a big deal. You get hungry? What do you do? You eat. What the Corinthians would say is, you get sexy, you have sex. That's just what you do. It's when you have an impulse, it's not a bad thing. it's just a normal thing. It's just a human thing. Sex is normal. And so what we're expecting is to hear the other side of the pendulum, well, sex is terrible. And it's naughty, and it's bad, and it's gross. And maybe many times that's why it's not addressed in churches, because it's that mentality where we swing from pagan to sex is perverted, right?

And yet here what's happening is Paul is telling us right in the middle, no, it's neither of those things. Sex isn't perverted, and we're not going to have this pagan approach to sex. In fact, sex is pleasurable and powerful. But it's God given. So we should say it should be God governed that how God who thought of sex, wants us to use it is how we ourselves should use it. And so Paul basically does for the Corinthians what their moms and dads would not have been able to do for them, and that's to sit them down and to say, hey, did no one ever tell you this? This is how it is. This is what sex is. And this is how it should be used. And this is how God wants you to handle it.

And so I would say for all of us as well, wherever we're at, whatever stage we're at, that Paul is being used of the Lord to basically open our eyes up to see that the way our culture approaches it, because we live in a day when we watch movies and we don't bat an eye when people within on the screen, 15 minutes of meeting, they're having sex. And it's very normal. It's normalized is the thing. You know, it's just part of what you do. You're dating. You're getting to know each other. It's certainly what you want to do before you get married. You don't want to get married to someone having not had sex. That's actually normalized in our day, right, which is the opposite of what God wants us to approach it with. That we would think living together is a great way to get ready for getting married, having sex is how you can make sure you're compatible, and all the rest.

And so what Paul is saying is no, that's not the way, and neither is the "sex is bad" the way. Instead he opens up our eyes to see what God, who made sex, wants us to understand about it. So what is that? Here's the message basically boiled down to a nutshell. He wants us to understand that your love life impacts all of your life. Your love life impacts all of your life. You see? Because what the Corinthians would say, well, that's just like eating. I've had sex with all these people. That's no big deal. That's just this one little corner of my life. It's like it never happened. I can have met some guy on spring break, and what was his name? I don't even remember. We had been drinking, and all of sudden, I woke up in his hotel room. And I go back home and it's like it never happened. I'm not going to call him, we're going to talk. That's just one little part of my life.

All these pornographic websites, that's not that big of a deal. That's just this little part of my life. I've had sex with this person. I've done this over here. That's just one part of my life. It's like it never happened. Why? Because sex is just physical. That's what culture would tell us. And what the Bible has to say is just the opposite. Listen, sex is deeper than skin. And what you're doing in this area of your life is going to impact all of your life. To which you would say, no, no, no, no, no, Levi. Actually, it was safe sex. I made sure of that. In fact, we were doubly sure. We could say that there's no chance of them having impacted me, because it was safe sex. To which I would say, medical science is doing really well in a lot of areas. But they have still not figured out a way to get the condom over your soul.

And what Paul is opening our eyes up to see is that there is more impacted in the sexual experiences, more impacted in the exchange, than just what is expressed biologically and physically. That's why the scripture is referred to. That goes all the way back to the Old Testament, that Jesus referred to himself as well, that when sex was originally given, it was within the confines of marriage, the confines of marriage. And there the two become one. So what that means is, is that the normal talk that you would expect to hear a pastor give, which is you're going to get an STD and someone's going to get pregnant. And then there's going to be an abortion, and all of that; which all those things are valid to speak about. There's a reason to talk about abortions. There's a reason to talk about STDs, a reason to talk about, well, let me tell you something. Even if you check all those boxes and none of those things have happened; that you still walk away from the encounter different. You still are impacted. It messes with you on a deep possible level. Because two becoming one can't be un-oned. That's not something that you can go back from, any more than you can scramble two eggs and then pick out which belongs to which shell, and which belongs to which yolk.

So here's what happens. There's an intimacy. There's an attachment. And there's really an intimacy apparatus built into sexuality. There's an intimacy apparatus built into it. And science has actually explained and discovered some of this. Some of it has to do with oxytocin. Oxytocin, it's been nicknamed in one article I read in Time magazine, the "cuddle chemical," the cuddle chemical, and that's because it is released into our brains during the sexual experience. And it causes you to bond with someone. It causes you to want to be with someone. It causes you to want to say things that even if you know in your head it's a one-night stand, even if you know in your head, you have no intention of marrying this person, and even if you say to yourself there is no way this is anything more than just this Thursday night, or just this quick business trip, or whatever you would say to rationalize; the cuddle chemicals that kicks in, it makes it you want to say I love you. It makes you want to say, let's be together forever.

You might not even know their name. But something in your body is telling you to commit yourself, to give yourself over. It's because the oxytocin. There's two other times that scientists have discovered oxytocin being released into the bloodstream in such intense doses as happens during sexual intercourse. And do know what those two other times are? Breastfeeding for a mother and childbirth. There's a bonding. There's an attachment that happens when that oxytocin floods through you. It causes you to want to commit yourself to someone. Here's sex God's way. Sex God's way is an act, an act that speaks louder than words that says to somebody, I give myself to you and to no one else. I give myself to you and to no one else. And the problem is when you misuse sex, it works backwards. When you misuse sex, it works backwards. Where it's meant to be this physical union, literally two people coming together like puzzle pieces, a man a woman now literally in the act of sex, they're one flesh.

There's one perfect, the way God designed things coming together. And then within the blood, there's this chemical reaction happened that causes you as you're cuddling to say, I want to commit myself to you. I give myself to you. I will be there for you. I will be excited 10 years from now when I hear the garage door opening. It's not just did this feel good right now. Was this a hot banging 24 minutes? Shorter maybe, right? Was this a great night? No. Within you, there is something in you saying, I give myself , I pledge myself to you. I will be faithful to you. I will get old and die with you. I want to raise children with you. I want to be a grandparent, inside of you. That's what the sexual act is declaring and it's saying and it's there to cement that bond, to bring you together, to bind your hearts together; not just physically.

But to act physically is a way of saying to someone, I'm there for you committed financially, legally, socially, emotionally. Sex is saying till death do us part. Sex is saying, me and you against the world. Sex is saying, better or worse. Good, we're going to be together. Rich or poor, good, we're going to be together. Sex is a way to say, I'm yours and you're mine, and we together have become one. The problem is when you misuse sex or to use that physical expression that's trying to say all of that that we just said, but you're not meaning any of those things, it makes what you're doing with your body become a lie. And so you're lying to yourself on the inside. You're lying to this other person in this expression that God gave us as a way to seal a covenant and to seal an oath. And so you're flippantly using something sacred, and so what can happen is that it erodes the power of the bond. It erodes the power of the bond.

So you misuse it, instead of using it to seal this beautiful sacred covenant, and form a family, and form a house; what can end up happening as you lie to yourself while your body is involved in sealing a covenant, but you're not making a covenant, is that you don't trust that covenant. And it loses its staying power. And you can actually come to a place where you get numb on the inside to what sex is supposed to be saying to you. So then after having done that for those years, you get into the situation now where you found that one. You found her. You found him. You say, now I'm putting all of that behind me and now this time I want to use sex in that way. But your body, and your brain, and your soul have gotten so used to giving it away flippantly, it loses the meaning it was originally supposed to have. And you're confused as to why when you feel unable to make yourself vulnerable. Like you're supposed to in this beautiful act that God gave to us, and you end up numb.

The irony is that sex was given as a cure for loneliness. But when it's misused, it can leave you lonelier than ever. And that's why Paul said, don't be using this flippantly. It's a sacred thing. And when you pursue it in a way disengaged from the spiritual connection that's a part of it, the deep, lasting connection that's a part of it, you'll end up lonely than ever. Because then you'll be unable to give yourself fully over to someone, because you'll so have abused it over time. As I've said it before, sex is like a post-it note. And the more times you stick it, the less sticky it becomes. It's meant to be this ultra-significant sacred special act. C.S. Lewis puts it this way in his book Mere Christianity. "The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union, the sexual, from all the other kinds of union, which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union".

So God intends for us to view sex as a pleasurable, powerful way to be the cherry on top of committing yourself to someone fully. And then it seals the deal. It welds the hearts together. But the more times you've lied in the sexual act, because you're not pledging yourself to someone but you're utilizing the tool of the pledge; the less your word means, not just to the people but also to yourself. And you can find yourself on the inside unable to use sex for what it was actually meant to be. I like how Tim Keller remarks on this when in his writing on the subject he says, "Sex outside of marriage is not a sin because it's so bad but because it's so good". And the Bible intends, and this a different way. This is not the sermon you heard as a kid, was it? No sex is good and beautiful, read scripture. Find the Bible telling us to find sexual delight, to find bliss in it. You cannot support a teaching that says sex is just for procreation. So don't enjoy it. Enjoy it as a little possible. No, the Bible does not blush back from speaking of the joys of the sexual union.

In fact, the Bible would encourage us to even ramp it up a little bit, and to view it even higher. Because all the bliss, all the joy of what is found is actually told to us. And it's just a mystery, speaking of just a tiny piece of what it's going to be like to be with God, face to face one day. That the joy, and the bliss, and the ecstasy, and the pleasure; that that is just one tiny piece that points us towards what it's going to be like to have a relationship with Jesus in heaven. And as it's been said, just the first look full in his eyes, not veiled as we are here on this earth, is going to be greater than the most intimate special moment you've ever had in any human relationship and the connection. That so the Bible holds sex highly, and says, it is deeper than skin. But misused, it actually has the opposite effect on you. But this doesn't just have to do with actual acts of sex. This would have to do with what we watch and the movies and the pornographic images.

And what I'm trying to say is that porn is not just an innocent pastime. It's a pathway. It's taking you somewhere. Just like when you have sex with someone, you're a different version of yourself afterward. So when you watch images, so when you allow these things to become ingrained in you, it is going to change who you are. It is going to mess you up. And there have been so many studies. Please look into it, posted by major universities, major news agencies in the way porn rewires you. And it can cause you to be higher, in a greater way susceptible to depression, and lower rates of sexual pleasure. I was reading a book by a psychologist who said he has counseled thousands upon thousands upon thousands of frustrated patients, frustrated with their sex lives. And he says that I am convinced that this is more enslaving to people than heroin. That's his experience clinically that he's speaking about. Porn takes something delightful, the joy of sex, it takes something delightful and instead of infusing glory into our lives, it rubs it in the dirt and causes us to be more empty than ever before.

So there's an emptiness to porn. And that's why we need to get this stuff sorted out now, to understand these things now. And I especially want to speak to those of you who are in your single years. You're in your teenage years. You're hearing this. And you haven't made all of these decisions. And here you are being raised, and perhaps you're being told one way. And pretty soon there's going to be opportunities for you to make your own decisions about what you're watching and make your own decisions about what you're exploring on the internet. And of course your parents should all, homes I think should have some sort of filtering device, and we should all be careful to make sure we're limiting what we have access to. But at the end of the day, no matter what devices are not, there's going to come a day when you're sitting unobstructed with the power and the weight of all that's on the internet, 36% of it being what it is. And at college or, at a party, or here when other people don't know you.

And then all of us are going to be able to make these decisions. And what we're saying is that God has something so much better for you than what in a moment your temptation will tell you to do. And these decisions are going to be a pathway. They're going to lead to something. And many times where our flesh would tell us to go, where are our baser desires would tell us to go, where culture tells us to go is not somewhere that when we get there, we're going to want to be. And the time to sort this stuff out is now. Because some of you are thinking, well that's great. I'll get married and then we can face this all. But let me just leave you with this last point. Self-control before marriage leads to self-control after you're married. That's why it matters now. The mentality that says, I'll just have fun when I'm single and then my last hurrah will be this bachelor party, this bachelorette party, where we'll just get it all out of our system.

And there will be probably strippers and there will be this, and it'll be raunchy, and gnarly, and crazy. But that's my last hurrah. After that I swear it's done. Your brain, and your heart, and your soul can't handle whiplash like that. You can't do all those things and then think you're going to be a different person. Marriage doesn't change you. Putting a ring on your finger doesn't change you. It doesn't change your habits. It doesn't change what you've done to yourself, how you've glued your soul to other people, what images you've soaked in and marinated. And the reason it's time to sort this out now is because you'll be the kind of husband, faithful before God with sex or wife, faithful before God with sex that you were as a single person. Honoring God or dishonoring God, honoring your own body or dishonoring your own body, when it comes to these decisions during this space of time. And the self-control now is crucial. The self-control of saying I could, but I'm not going to, not because I have a low view of sex. But because I have a high view of sex, because I have God's view of sex. And I'm going to make these decisions.

Now of course the push-back would be, well, can't God forgive me? And I wonder if there's not a person or two out there thinking, you know, my plan I would never probably put it this way. But my plan is to, because I'm going to do what I want, maybe not a lot, maybe just a little bit. Sleep with my boyfriend now, sleep with my fiance now; whatever it would be. But I plan on asking forgiveness, because I know it's wrong. Deep down inside I know it's wrong. And so I'm going to ask for forgiveness eventually, and say sorry. And won't God forgive me? And I'm going to let Paul the Apostle answer that. Because he put it so well in his letter to the book of Romans. This is what he spoke to them. He said, "should we persist in sin so that God's kindness and grace will increase"? Can I just sin now, and plan on saying sorry later? And then he said, "What a terrible thought! We have died to sin once and for all, as a dead man passes away from this life, so how could we live on your sin's rule a single moment longer"?

And that's where Paul sort of ends up. He's saying, if you know that God sent His son to die for you to save you, and that's what it cost him. And if you know that He put his spirit inside of you, and you know that that spirit that's inside of you is there with you as you're binding yourself to another person, as you're doing things that caused him to be on that cross in the first place in order to redeem you; is at the heart of a changed life? Is at the heart of a person who so amazed by grace and floored by God's goodness that wants God's best for life. The answer is certainly not. And that's why Jesus said, we shouldn't put God to the test. I mean the enemy told him that. You can do this, and God will send angels to catch you. Can God send angels to catch you if you throw yourself off a relational cliff, and date that guy you shouldn't be dating, and look at those the sites you shouldn't be looking at? Yeah, of course he can. Of course he can. But why would we want to put God to the test, and why wouldn't we want all that God has for our lives?

Now for those who are here and hearing all this, I know it's a lot. It's dredging up a lot and you're thinking, for many of us, this makes so much sense. And hearing like I'm hearing it here, I haven't heard it like that. My dad wasn't there. I didn't grow up in a home with a dad or I did and he certainly wasn't telling me stuff like this, and whatever awkward, weird forced version of a sex talk I got; it wasn't like that. It was just be careful and make good decisions. Or who knows when we heard. But here's this. Here's what I know right now. As you hear this and maybe regret rises up, as you hear this and maybe even a little bit of despair rises up, all I can say to you is that it's never too late to turn a new page. It's never too late to turn a new page. Would it have been better a year ago or 10 years ago? Would it have been better 40 years ago? Would you not have the consequences you have now? Would you not have that in your marriage now? Would you not have perhaps a sense of numbness in your current marriage, as you wish it was something it's not?

And you're not understanding it, because you've now committed yourself and you really mean it. And the problem isn't that you don't mean it now. The problem is that you didn't mean it back then. And all those times actually not meaning it has taught yourself to be numb and to be unable to commit yourself to someone financially, emotionally, holistically, socially, legally. And all of the dragging of the feet and all the dragging in the heart right now, it's explained by something a long time ago. But I'm just going to tell you something that even if you should have done that then, it's not too late to give yourself to God right now. And to say, God, I can't do anything about that. But I want you to begin to write a new story. So I'm going to turn a page. And I'm going to say something. So you just turn a page, and then tomorrow you just keep turning that page, and turning that page.

Eventually there's going to be a whole bunch of new pages that you've written. You're going to see a brand new chapter. You're going to see grace rise up. You're going to see God begin to work in your heart. And I believe that our God can make me a way where there is no way. And I believe even right now where you feel like I can't be vulnerable, I can't trust him, I can't forgive him; I believe God can begin to bring back sensation. I believe that Jesus, who turned water into wine, can make something brand new of what's going on in your heart. But there's gotta be a moment in time where you purpose in your heart and you say today is a brand new day.
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