Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Sexual Regrets
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Few blunders create so much regret and devastation as sexual sin. An intimate moment between two people when shared outside God's boundary of marriage can destroy relationships and futures. Is there any hope of moving on from such a monumental mistake? I'm going to show you how to say goodbye to sexual regrets on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
I received this letter from one of our viewers that really sets the stage for the message today. The man wrote, "Dear Dr. Jeffress, three years ago, I got involved with a woman at work. My wife never knew what was going on, but I was crushed with such unbearable guilt that I voluntarily ended the affair. I confessed my sin to God and felt like he forgave me. But that didn't seem to be enough. I felt like I needed to tell my wife what I had done and seek her forgiveness as well. That was two years ago and she still has not been able to forgive me or God for allowing the affair to happen in the first place. I know that God has forgiven me. But my question is this, why hasn't God erased the consequences of my sin? God's forgiveness doesn't seem to mean much if my wife and I are doomed to feeling this unbearable regret for the rest of our lives".
Perhaps you can identify with this man. Perhaps in your past, there is an act of sexual immorality that resulted in some very unwanted circumstances, the breakup of a relationship, an unwanted pregnancy, a sexually transmitted disease. And even though you've asked God and you believe you've received from God forgiveness for that mistake, the consequences keep going on and on. Every time you think about that mistake, you wanna kick yourself mentally, but your anger towards yourself is tempered by your anger toward God. If God really forgives us, completely forgives us, why doesn't he make the painful consequences go away? That's what we're going to talk about today as we look at what the Bible says about saying goodbye to sexual regrets. You know, in my experience as a pastor, I have found that regrets about immorality tend to rank among the top regrets that people have. Why is that?
Let's talk about the 'why' of sexual regrets for just a moment. You know, one of the downsides of preaching for many years and writing books is that people can go back and find what you've said in the past. And some of the things I have said in the past, I wish I could retrieve, but they live forever on videotape or on the printed page. One of the things I would change that I used to say all of the time is this, I used to say, God doesn't grade sin. All sin is the same in God's eyes. Well, there's a technical sense in which that's true. Any sin, no matter how small we think it is, is enough to separate us from God. But it's not all true that... it's not true that all sins have the same consequences. Some sins have more consequences than others.
For example, we know from our study of the Sermon on the Mount that if you hate somebody in your heart, Jesus says that's the same thing as murder, but nobody's ever fried in the electric chair for anger. That's never gotten somebody convicted and executed. We know from Jesus teaching that lust, lusting after somebody is the same as committing adultery in your heart. But nobody's ever gotten pregnant from a sexual fantasy. So there are different consequences. All sin is not the same, and it's certainly true that sexual sin is not the same as any other kind of sin. Listen to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6, 15 through 19. Look at this carefully. "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be"!
Now this word prostitute doesn't mean somebody who stands on the street corner selling sexual favors. That is a prostitute but it's a word that means somebody loose in their morals. Verse 16, "Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For God says, 'The two shall become one flesh.' But the one who joins himself to the the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit whom you have from God, and that you are not your own"? You know, critics of Christianity say, "You Christians, you're just so hung up about sex. Why do you make a big deal about sex? I mean, sex is a physiological action. It's no different than eating food or taking a drink of water or going to sleep. It's just a function of the body. Why make a big deal about sex"?
Well, sex is more than just a physiological function. There are now physical consequences of immorality. It is something that is doomed to consequences if you dabble in immorality, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases are some of the things that we experience and can experience if we disobey God in this area of sexuality. For example, in Romans 1:27, Paul is writing about what happens to people who reject the knowledge of the true God and create their own God in their mind. And he talks about the spiral that leads them further away from God. And one of the things in that downward spiral is sexual immorality and he centers on one kind of immorality, homosexuality.
Listen to what he says in Romans 1:27, "In the same way, also the men, abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons, their own bodies, the due penalty of their error". Some people, and maybe rightly so, talk about sexually transmitted disease being in Paul's mind here. They receive a penalty in their own body for engaging in immorality. And certainly there are a number of diseases that are specifically prevalent among homosexual behavior because as Paul says in this chapter, it is unnatural. Literally, it goes against nature, but it's not just homosexuality, it is premarital sex. It is adultery that are also condemned.
Now, I know some people say, "Well, that was back in Paul's day. But we're so smart today, we can prevent those kind of physical consequences of immorality. Just use a condom". Well, I did some research this week, a little internet search to find out the statistics about condoms. Did you know condoms fail 18% of the time? Now, just imagine you went out to DFW Airport, you're about to get on board a plane and the ticket agent said on the intercom, "Now before you board, you should know that there's an 18% chance this plane is gonna crash today". How likely would you be to get on the plane? Probably not very likely. Listen, there is no safe sex when it comes to God. You cannot safely sin against God without consequences. One of those consequences may be the physical consequences, but that's not all. There are emotional consequences of immorality that leave regrets in our heart.
Let me tell you my observance of more than 40 years of being a pastor. When people, single people are involved in a romance and that romance goes south and they break up, sure, it's painful but they get over it. Eventually, some get over it quickly. But if you had introduced sex as a part of that relationship, premarital sex, or if it's an adulterous situation that has extramarital sex as a part of it, when you end that kind of relationship with somebody, it causes all kind of pain, both in their life and in your life. I've seen cases and you have too when two people involved in an illicit sexual affair, one person calls it off, the other turns into a stalker, or engages in revenge porn, or resorts to violence, sometimes even murder. Why do those emotions run so hot? Because sex is not just the joining of two bodies together. It's the joining together of a person in body, soul, and spirit.
And God said that about marriage in Genesis 2:24, "So then they are no longer two but one flesh. What God has joined together, let no man tear apart". And there is emotional pain that is associated with sexual immorality. Finally, there are spiritual consequences of sexual immorality. That's why it's different than any other kind of sin. Look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19, "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you're not your own"? When you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within you. And when you sin, any kind of sin, you're asking the Holy Spirit to join in that sin as well.
That's why Ephesians 5 says, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God". But when you're involved in sexual sin, now this is gonna be blasphemous to some of you, but just think about it. When you join yourself to another person, you're inviting the Holy Spirit of God to participate in that act of immorality as well. You say, "Well, that's impossible. The Holy Spirit of God can't sin. If he's in you, he can't sin". Well, where does he go, then? Does he abandon you? No, that's heresy to say that the Holy Spirit abandoned somebody who's been baptized with the Spirit of God. Where does he go if you're involved in sexual immorality? Listen to James 1, verse 15. We're gonna study James next year, but here's a preview.
James 1:15, he's writing to Christians, by the way, he says, "When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death". The result of sin, especially sexual sin for a Christian, is death. That word thanatos means separation. What kind of separation is he talking about, physical death? Physical death is the separation of our spirit from our body. Do we die the moment we sin? Thankfully not, or we'd all be 6 feet under this morning. He's not talking about physical death. Well, then is he talking about spiritual death? Spiritual death is the separation of our spirit from God. Well, not if we are in Christ Jesus, we don't have to worry about eternal separation.
What kind of death is he talking about? I believe when a Christian engages in continual, unrepentant sin, he goes into a deathlike kind of existence, where there is a separation in some spiritual sense between that person and God. I think it's a separation Jesus experienced on the cross, when he voluntarily took on our sins. He experienced the abandonment by God. Remember what he said, "My God, my God, why have you," what, "forsaken me"? James is saying in some sense, when you're involved in sin, especially immorality and it's unrepentant sin, you are separated from God. When sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. No, all sex is not like all other sin. There's a special consequence of sin, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually, especially sexual sin. We've got a great illustration of that straight from the Bible.
In 2 Samuel, chapter 11, the story of King David, remember David's story? He was at the zenith of his power as king. He had just recovered the Ark of the Covenant. He had captured or defeated the Northern Kingdom. Jerusalem was the new capital. It had never gotten any better than what David was experiencing. And yet at that high point, that's when temptation came. One night when he should have been out fighting with his men, he was taking some time off. He was just resting, when he looked out his window and noticed a beautiful woman bathing on the rooftop of her house. Her name was Bathsheba, and you know the rest of the story. He ordered her to come over to his place. They engaged in immorality, she conceived a child, David tried to cover it up by having her husband killed.
And the Bible says eventually David sought and received the forgiveness of God. But for those six to twelve months he tried to hide his sin, he experienced physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences of his sin. For example, he talks about the physical consequences. It was as a result of his sin that his child, Bathsheba's child was born dead, died shortly after he was born. Not only that, they experienced the rebellion of a kingdom, a divided nation. All of those things were physical consequences of David's sin. And interestingly, he continued to experience those consequences after he was forgiven by God. Not only that, there were emotional consequences for his sin.
Listen to what he writes in Psalm 32, verses 3 and 4, "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; and my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of the summer". We know all about the fever heat of the summer, don't we? Isn't it just draining to even walk outside to open the door? It just saps the energy out of you. What David is talking about, the emotional vitality that God sapped out of him the moment he refused to confess his sin.
You see, worry drains us physically and emotionally. If you're involved in sexual immorality, like David was, you're always worried that somebody's gonna find out, or somebody's gonna read the text message, or somebody's gonna overhear a conversation. You're afraid that if your deed is found out, you might get expelled from school or you might get fired from your job. It's worry, worry, worry. That's exactly what David experienced when he tried to cover over his sin. Those were the emotional consequences, but there were spiritual consequences as well. He said during that time that he didn't confess his sin, he said, "God, your heavy hand was upon me".
There are some of you here, some of you watching on television, you're feeling the heavy hand of God. You're engaged in sin and you've covered over it instead of confessing it. And you feel like the Sword of Damocles is hanging over your head. You just have this sense that God is not gonna let you get away with this, that discipline, punishment is coming. And so every ache and pain you feel, every sickness you experience, every upheaval in your family, every financial setback you experience, you're thinking, is this God disciplining me? That's what it means to feel the heavy hand of God. Now, David ultimately found God's forgiveness, but forgiveness did not erase these painful consequences. Why is it that God allows us to experience his grace, but that grace doesn't erase the consequences?
Chuck Swindoll has a great word about the difference between grace and consequences. He writes, "Grace means that God in forgiving you does not kill you. Grace means that God in forgiving you gives you the strength to endure the consequences. Grace frees us so that we can obey our Lord. It does not mean sin's consequences are automatically removed. If I sin and in the process of sinning break my arm, when I find forgiveness from sin, I still have to deal with the broken bone". There are some of you right now who have great regret over a sexual mistake you've made. And you're wondering how can I deal with that? Is my life gonna be miserable from here on out? No, it doesn't have to be. But many of you are here at this stage in your life, and you're wondering, how can I prevent regrets about sexuality in the future? And we're gonna talk about both of those.
First of all, if you are guilty of sexual immorality, number one, acknowledge your need for God's forgiveness, acknowledge your need for God's forgiveness. Now, most of us, many people, view God as some kind of heavenly banker. And we view our relationship with God as a heavenly checking account. I'll guarantee you nine out of ten people think of God this way. They think of their relationship as a checking account. You know how a checking account works. You're continually dealing with credits and debits, you're making deposits and you're making withdrawals. And so we assume our relationship with God is the same way. You know, we're making deposits in our heavenly bank account. If we help an old lady across the street, that's one debt or $1 that gets credited to our account.
If we give to the United Way, we get $5 for given to the United Way in heaven. If we teach a Sunday school class, we get $10 for teaching that Sunday school class. We're making deposits in our heavenly bank account. Unfortunately, we're also making debits, withdrawals. You know, you honk your horn in anger on the tollway, somebody's trying to cut you off, that cost you a dollar. You get mad at your mate and say something you shouldn't say, that's $5. You have an affair with another person, that's $100,000.
And most people think what they need to do is just make sure the credits exceed the debits. That you have more deposits than withdrawals, and when you die, if you're in the plus column, you get to go to heaven. If the good you have outweighs the bad, you get to go to heaven. That's not how it works. Here's the flaw with thinking that way, there's nothing of value we can deposit into our heavenly bank account. We have nothing to deposit. Our so called money is nothing more than monopoly money. It's fake. It's worthless. Isaiah, the prophet said it this way in Isaiah 64, verse 6, the best we can do, our righteousness is like a filthy rag in God's eyes.
Now, that's bad news. Here's the worst news. We can't make any credits in our heavenly bank account, but we make debits all the time. Every hour of every day, every wrong thought we have, every wrong attitude we have, every wrong action we commit, all of those things keep adding to our sin debt. We go further and further in the hole with God every day that we live. Romans 6:23 says it this way, "For the wages of sin is death". Eternal death from God. Without Jesus Christ, we all die with a spiritual deficit, with a negative balance in our spiritual bank account. We have to acknowledge that if we're going to be forgiven of our sin, we have to acknowledge that we need God's forgiveness, that we can't pay for it ourselves.