During this coronavirus I’ve had the opportunity to call many friends and catch up. It’s been such a joy and at the same time, so many have been hurting. One friend told me the heartbreaking story of her son who has left the Lord. He had such a yearning to serve the Lord all throughout his life, but he was enticed away by sexual desire.
The deeper he chose to involve himself sexually, the farther from the Lord he drifted and decided that Bible was only true in some parts. He now is not walking with the Lord nor has much to do with his parents who have tried to love him through this. His mama’s heart is broken for him.
I was watching a video awhile back and Frank Turek, at the end of his talks, invites people to come ask questions. One girl got up and talked about a friend of hers who had left the Lord for atheism. Frank asked her if her friend had recently become involved in an inappropriate relationship of any kind. The girl answered that indeed, she had.
Certainly there are times in each of our lives that we have been tempted by sin and began to drift. And the first thing we do is drift away from Christian fellowship, drift away from time in the Word and in prayer, and drift away from the Lord. No one is immune.
“The Peor Incident”
“It’s worship,” they said. “Come worship with us.”
Justification isn’t hard when desire runs strong. The women of Moab had been instructed by Balaam to entice the men into sexual sin (Num 31:16). It didn’t take much for the men to go and “worship” with the Moabite women, eating nice food but that which had been sacrifice to idols, and indulging sexually to the beautiful women of the temple prostitutes.
“So Israel aligned itself with Baal of Peor, and the Lord’s anger burned against Israel” (25:3).
They had left Almighty God to serve Baal, well, actually to serve their lusts. God was sickened by this and a plague break out among the people of God. It was treachery by the people of Moab and it was unfaithfulness from the Israelites.
As a people consecrated to God, the Lord had Moses gather all the leaders and then all the men who had aligned themselves with Baal. They were then killed in broad daylight.
“When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. But when they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved” (Hos 9:10).
The Midian Incident
While the people were still weeping and grieving over The Peor Incident, an Israelite man came through the camp with a Midianite woman in his arms, right at the camp at the entrance of the tent of meeting which was the sacred place of worship, and in front of Moses. He brought her to his relatives, took her into his tent and they started doing their stuff. Brazenly.
Phinehas, the grown-up grandson of Aaron grabbed a spear in his hand, ran to the man’s tent, and drove the spear through them both. At this point the plague that had started from the Baal worship in Peor and had continued until this time was stopped, thanks to Phinehas righteous zeal.
We see that the Midianites had done the same thing that the Moabites had done, openly enticed Israel to sexual sin (25:18). And the Israelites had responsded the same way–quick to be unfaithful. Does anything arouse jealousy and anger more than unfaithfulness? Other lovers?
Sexual Acts Gone Sour
The people of Israel were to be a holy and consecrated people unto God. They were given very specific sexual boundaries and sexual looseness was a rebellion against God.
Now in this crazy world where people take Scripture to do evil, this does not mean that we are to go killing people in the church who are involved in sexual immorality. Not at all. The people of Israel were a special people set aside for a special reason.
But what we do need to understand is that sexual immorality has no place among God’s people. And that can look like many different things–pornography, sex outside of marriage, same gender relationships, etc… These are clearly seen throughout the Scriptures as evil. And we must deal with it and not just turn our heads.
But how do we deal with it?
- We must understand that the first step in the gospel message is repentance. It isn’t a case that we can continue in these things and serve the Lord. We cannot have both God and sin.
- Sinners were attracted to Jesus because of his love for them. And Jesus never compromised the truth, telling them plainly, “Go and sin no more.” We must do the same of both.
- Our goal should be to walk with people in their repentance and restoration. It isn’t a perfect, clean journey, but oftentimes a very messy one. The addictions are real and the brokenness that feeds them painful. Our mission is love.
- It is wrong to condemn same gender relationships and yet do nothing about the couple that is living together before marriage. We need to address both.
- For leaders, we must speak the truth and act with love. It is not enough to ignore those openly living in sin within our congregations. In gentleness and love we must speak to them and engage where they are at. The goal is to draw them into relationship with Christ. But if after much time and talking and gentleness and love, sin persists without them engaging in the process of repentance, we must also deal with that as well. It may even mean asking them to leave our fellowship. This should be done with gentleness and love as well, but without compromising truth.
- We must walk in humility, because sexual sin isn’t far from each one of us. No one is immune to the lust of the flesh. It takes the strength of community to stay the course. Community.
We are living in a day and time where even within the church, sexual indiscretion is accepted or just ignored. Right now, the god of the age is sex. Every issue revolves around this–abortion, same gender relationships, gender identity confusion, living together, etc… And while the people of this world are going to endorse these, the people of God are to be set apart.
Jesus died for these sins. He died so that we can turn to him, repent, be forgiven and be reconciled back to him. If there was never a need for repentance, Jesus would not have had to die. But he did die. He died to make atonement for our sins and pay the price with his own blood.
So let’s walk together in holiness. And let’s walk together in helping each other through our struggles. But let’s journey forward on the path of righteousness.