Robert Jeffress - Graze In Your Own Pasture
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Moral compromise has become an epidemic in our culture. The lines of appropriate behavior have become blurred and boundaries we once considered sacred are often sacrificed for the sake of momentary pleasure. Today, we'll discover God's safe places for sexual expression, and where he has posted danger signs to keep us from getting hurt, in my message titled "Graze In Your Own Pasture". On today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
I read the account of a group of Florida teenagers who were found guilty of a brutal murder. They had taken the lives of three innocent citizens. Their weapon was neither a gun, nor a knife. In fact these teenagers were not even present when their victims were killed. But they were guilty of the crime. As a prank, these teenagers had removed the stop signs at a four-way intersection. The result was motorists when they should have stopped - they proceeded. The result was a fiery crash that cost them their lives.
Today we're living in a culture in which people are trying to remove the stop signs that God has put into place. Stop signs for our benefit. Our culture is telling us that it's okay to proceed when God has said to stop. They're telling us it's okay to engage in behavior which God has forbidden. And whenever we ignore God's stop signs, God's boundaries in our life, the results are much more catastrophic than even a fiery automobile crash.
Today as we continue our series on the Book of Proverbs, we're going to look at one of those stop signs that God has put into effect for our benefit. It's a stop sign that is being routinely ignored today. But if we are going to master the art of living well, which is what proverbs and these series is all about, we have to pay attention to this stop sign. It's a stop sign regarding our sexual behavior. And the stop sign is very clear, it's very simple. God's word says: no sex outside of marriage. That boundary, that stop sign has been put into effect for our benefit, yet when we ignore it we are putting our emotional, our spiritual, and even our financial well-being at risk. Instead of ignoring that stop sign, Solomon the wisest man who ever lived learned the hard way that the best way to experience emotional and sexual fulfillment in life is to follow God's guideline which is simply to graze in your own pasture. And let's look at that in the scripture today.
If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to Proverbs 5. Proverbs 5. Solomon understood perhaps better than anyone the cost of sexual immorality. Do you remember the circumstances regarding Solomon's life? Remember his parents? King David and the woman Bathsheba. You would think that Solomon would have learned, but he didn't. The fact is Solomon inherited his father's proclivity for sexual immorality. By the way, dads here today, if you're living an immoral life don't be surprised when your sons and daughters fall into immorality as well. They learn that behavior from you. There are some things that are better caught than taught. That's both true positively and negatively. Your kids are watching you and they are going to imitate your behavior. That's exactly what happened to Solomon.
Why is it that intelligent men and women, many of whom claim to be Christians, why is it so many of them are willing to jeopardize their career, abandon their families, and even reject their faith in order to follow and fall into a relationship that is destined to fail? Remember the Bible says: as a man is in his heart, that is his mind, so is he. All immorality begins in the mind. There is wrong thinking that leads a person into sexual immorality. And today for the few minutes that we have, we're going to look at what I call five fatal fallacies found in the Book of Proverbs. Five fatal fallacies in our thinking that lead to sexual immorality and especially adultery. Let's jot those down today.
Number one, what's the fallacy, the error that leads us into sexual immorality? It's the thought that it could never happen to me. It could never happen to me. Now, speaking of stop signs, I need to stop here and give a word of explanation. When Solomon writes about sexual immorality, he is primarily referring to adultery. But this stop sign that says "No sex out of marriage" talks about any kind of sex outside of the marriage relationship. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 Paul wrote, "Flee immorality. For every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body". That word "Immorality" in Greek is the word "Pornea", we get our word "Pornography" from it. And the word pornea is an umbrella term. It refers to any kind of sexual activity outside of the marriage relationship.
The reason I mention that is because today we're going to talk about what Solomon says specifically about adultery. But what he says about adultery is also true about fornication, premarital sex, it's true about homosexuality, it's true about pornography as well. Now, what does the Bible say about this? First of all, the Bible says don't ever fool yourself into saying: it could never happen to me. Some of you are already starting to feel a little self-righteous right now. You say: well, pastor, I could never fall into doing that. Don't fool yourself. The fact is anyone of us is capable of falling into sexual immorality. I'm capable of falling into sexual immorality. And the reason is two-fold. The reason all of us are susceptible to sexual immorality is, first of all, because we have all inherited a corrupt nature. We have this corrupt nature.
The Russian dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, "The line that divides good and evil runs through the heart of every man". Every one of us is capable because of this inherited corrupt nature, but there's a second reason we're all susceptible to this sin and that is because we have an active opponent. We have an enemy who has set his sights to destroy every one of us. In Ephesians 6:11-12 Paul writes, "Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places".
Did you get that word in verse 11 - we're to stand firm against the schemes of the devil? Remember that word "Schemes"? Methadia in Greek: literally means "The blueprint". Do you understand that satan has a blueprint for your destruction? Satan has a unique custom-made plan to bring you down. He has a plan to destroy everything important to you in life. And part of that plan not only includes the destruction of your faith, but the dissolution of your marriage. He wants to bring you down morally, and he has a plan to do just that. And it's a plan that is uniquely crafted just for you. You know some people ask: well, is satan omniscient? Does he know everything? No. Is he omnipotent? Can he do all things? No. Is he omnipresent? Is he everywhere at once? No. But even though satan isn't omniscient, even though he can't read your mind, the fact is he doesn't have to because he watches you very carefully, and he knows exactly when you are most vulnerable toward sexual immorality.
Listen to what James said in James 1:14, "But each one of us is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust". Now this is key, folks, to understanding how satan is going to bring destruction into your life. How are we tempted when we are, first of all, carried away? That Greek word "Helko" means "To be drawn with an inward power" - that refers to our corrupt nature that we have. What is it that causes sin? It's first of all our own corrupt nature. We're tempted when we are carried away, that is drawn: but also when we are enticed.
Listen to this, satan is a master fisherman. He already knows you have that hunger - we all have that hunger toward emotional and sexual fulfillment - and he knows just the right time to plop that piece of temptation right in front of us. Don't let yourself think that you are above this: that it could never happen to you. In Proverbs 18:12 Solomon says, "Before destruction the heart of man is haughty (prideful), but humility goes before honor". Listen to me, our corrupt nature that we all have: our active opponent satan himself, whom we all have, means not one of us here today is exempt from the possibility of sexual immorality.
Fallacy number two that leads to immorality and destruction: we are only friends. We are only friends. You know, most affairs, most sexual immorality begins as a friendship that is set to meet some great emotional need that we have. Solomon understood that. He knew how easy it was for friends to turn into lovers: and that's why he said in Proverbs 4:23, "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it (your heart) flow the springs of life".
See, the fact is ladies and gentlemen most affairs don't begin in the bedroom - they begin in the heart. Now I'm not saying for those of you who are married that that means you never ever engage in a conversation with somebody of the opposite sex, but what I am saying - and more importantly what God's word is saying - you better be very careful. Because what can begin as an innocent, superficial conversation can suddenly turn into an intimate conversation that meets some deep emotional need that you or that other person has: forming an emotional bond that eventually expresses itself sexually. And that's why we need to be very careful about friendships with those people of the opposite sex who are not our mate.
Fallacy number three that leads people to immorality, and especially adultery: if it feels so good, it can't be so bad. Sounds like a country-western song, doesn't it? If it feels so good, how could it be so wrong? You see the power of a temptation lies in the pleasure of the temptation. The reason Solomon is so stridently in the Book of Proverbs warning against sexual immorality is not because it doesn't taste good - it's because it tastes great. That's why he warns us about it. As somebody once said, if stolen waters weren't sweet, nobody would steal the waters. Solomon understood that. Now I think one of the great errors those of us who are pastors and teachers of the Word of God is we don't tell people the truth about sin.
You know we're up here all the time telling people how horrible sin is, how terrible it is, how depressing it is and so forth - and what happens? Our people go out and begin to sin, especially in this area of sexual immorality and guess what they discover? It's not like a preacher said it was. It's a lot of fun. It's exhilarating they find out. And then they start to wonder: well, if the preacher was lying to us about that, what else has he lied to us about? No it's time to start telling the truth about sin, especially the truth about sexual immorality - sexual immorality is fun. It's stimulating. It's exhilarating - for a season. For a season. Listen to what Solomon said in Proverbs 5:3-4, "For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech: but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword". Solomon is saying: that bait that looks so appealing and so attractive - don't forget - there is a hook in the middle of it that will cost you your life.
Fallacy number four leads people into sexual immorality: it's a wrong thought that, well, I can stop any time I want. I can stop any time I want. You see the problem with sexual immorality, and any kind of sin, is not only is it pleasurable it is also addictive. The fact is you cannot sin just a little bit and stop. When you sin once, you sin again and again and again. Peter said it this way in 2 Peter 2:19, "By what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved". The Bible says when you engage in sexual immorality, the first time you do it leads to second time, the second time leads to the third time, and before you know it - you're enslaved. There are some of you right now who are engaged in pornography, you're engaged in premarital sex, you're engaged in an adulterous relationship and you say: well, I can stop any time I want. Really? Then why aren't you stopping now? The fact is sin never leads to freedom. It always leads to slavery. By what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
Fallacy number five that leads to immorality and destruction: nobody is getting hurt. Really? Oh, there are a lot of victims when it comes to adultery. The victims include the innocent mate, the children, perhaps the greatest victim of adultery is the adulterer himself. There's no such thing as victimless sin. Sin always destroys people around the sinner, but sin also destroys the sinner himself. Listen to what Solomon said in Proverbs 6:32, "The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense: he who would destroy himself does it". How is it that sexual immorality, especially adultery destroys a person? Consider, first of all, the physical cost of sexual immorality. The physical cost. You know, there are some people and in our culture sometimes we portray the adulterer as the victor, but most of the time he is the victim. All this talk today about safe sex: you cannot safely against Almighty God without consequence.
The Bible says the only way to truly engage in safe sex is to obey that boundary that God has put into effect - no sex outside the marriage relationship. But that's not the only way sexual immorality destroys our lives. There's not only a physical cost, there is a financial cost. The fact is immorality can be very painful to the pocket book. Listen to Proverbs 6:26, "For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, and an adulteress hunts for the precious life". The fact is sexual immorality: especially adultery can be very, very costly. To you men listening today, I want you to think about this. If you're engaged in adultery, just think about what it might cost you. If you're engaged with a coworker, and she happens to be a subordinate, you can experience a sexual harassment suit: even if that's not the case, you might lose your job. How long could you go without a paycheck? And even if you don't lose your job, just think about the cost that immorality will lead to if you end up getting divorced? I mean think about having to support two households, two rents, alimony, child-support payment, and all those other costs that go along with the dissolution of a marriage.
It's very expensive to disobey God's commands. Divorce can be financially costly. But thirdly consider the emotional cost of sexual immorality. You know there's some people who say: you know, I know it's dangerous, I know it can be financially costly, but I am so desperate to love somebody and be loved by somebody who understands me I'm willing to take that risk. Hear me this morning. That promise of sexual and emotional fulfillment outside of marriage that is dangling in front of you - that is only an illusion, it's only a mirage. You are not going to experience permanent emotional and sexual fulfillment outside of the marriage relationship. It's time that we start telling the truth about sexual immorality of any kind. The truth is, it's appealing, it's exhilarating, it's pleasurable only for a season.
What's the key to experiencing sexual and emotional fulfillment in our life that we all desire? Solomon gave us the prescription for that kind of fulfillment in Proverbs 5:18-21. "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times: be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner? For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he watches over all his paths". Perhaps that last sentence is the strongest argument for abstaining from sexual immorality.
There are some of you right now, some of you watching, listening to this message - you're engaged in sexual immorality: you think nobody knows what you're up to. That may or may not be the truth. But God knows. He's watching, he's judging, and eventually he will act. What I would say to some of you this morning who are engaged in sexual immorality, whether it's: fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pornography - don't confuse God's patience with God's tolerance for your sin. That's the mistake that king David made. He was engaged in this open relationship with Bathsheba. Day after day went, no consequence. Month after month passed. No consequence.
And David began to think to himself: well maybe I'm special, maybe I operate under a different set of laws because, after all, I'm a friend of God: I'm the king. Maybe God doesn't care about my sexual immorality. Maybe God doesn't even really exist. But on a day that began like any other day, the prophet Nathan came into the court of David: he pointed his finger in front of David and said: thou art the man. And that was the Day of Judgment for David. That day's coming for you as well. Don't confuse God's patience with God's tolerance. The only reason he hasn't intervened yet in your life is, perhaps, because he's given you one last chance to repent. For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord and he watches over all of his paths.