As pastor of Sovereign King Church, I send a message each week to the men of the church encouraging them in the faith. ( I also do this for the women and students in the church.)
I thought it might be of encouragement to others to share this week's devotional for the men.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
E. Michael Jones wrote this about an Israeli military tactic: At 4:30 pm on March 30, 2002, Israeli military forces took over Palestinian TV stations when they occupied Ramallah in the West Bank, immediately shutting them down. What followed was a little more unusual. Shortly after occupying the Al-Watan TV station, the Israeli forces began broadcasting pornography over its transmitter. Eventually, according to a report from The Advertiser, an Australian newspaper, the Israelis expanded their cultural offensive against the Palestinian people by broadcasting pornography over two other Palestinian stations, the Ammwaj and Al-Sharaq channels. One 52-year-old Palestinian mother of three children, according to the report in the The Advertiser, complained about "the deliberate psychological damage caused by these broadcasts." "Why in the world," one woman wondered, "should one do such a thing?"
According to the official explanation, Israeli troops began broadcasting pornography over captured Palestinian TV stations because they wanted to spread freedom among the Palestinian people.
That explanation of for their tactic is a lie.
Remember the account of Samson. Israel was invincible militarily so the Philistines decided that they had to get at the Israelite leader by other than military means. Unable to defeat him in battle, they decided to seduce him sexually. Once Samson succumbed to Delilah's wiles, he lost his power, and Israel lost its leader. They could find him then not on the field of battle, but rather to use the English poet John Milton's phrase "eyeless in Gaza, grinding at the mill with slaves."
The Israeli army knew from that story that lust makes a man blind. Lust darkens the mind and takes a man from the battlefield.
E. Michael Jones says “A man without a mind is not a formidable opponent; therefore, lust can be used as a weapon by rendering an opponent "blind" or irrational and, therefore, incapable of mounting a coherent attack or counter-attack. At this point we are beginning to see the dim outline of why the Israelis were interested in broadcasting pornography. It wasn't because they were interested in promoting freedom; it was because they were interested in promoting freedom's opposite, namely, bondage or slavery because slaves, especially people who are the slaves of their own passions, do not make good fighters.”
Our enemy Satan knows this better than any. He knows that a man burdened down with sin, in particular sexual sin, is a man too laden to run the race marked out for him. In order to give in to lust, a man must put down his sword and shield. A man without a sword and shield is no warrior. Many men sit out the battle God calls them to expand the kingdom and take godly dominion because they are blinded by their sin. Many men who were in the battle get taken out of it and made ineffective because of lust, pornography, and other sins.
The scripture today commands us to set aside the sin that so easily ensnares us. How do you do that? You keep your eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of your faith. Where you have been tempted and have given into lust, confess it and trust Christ for forgiveness. Look to the true joy found in him that the fleeting pleasure of pornography and lust cannot hold a candle to. If you have fallen prey to lust, repent and flee it. Don’t let it keep you defeated. Put your shield on and take up your sword against your own sin.
I want to encourage you men that you are not alone in this battle. You have fellow soldiers who have all taken their hits. We are often beaten, battered, and bruised in the culture we live in. We need each other to help bandage each other up and fight for each other.
I love you men. May your week be blessed and may you fight strong but not alone.
I have this tin plated picture I bought that has one of my favorite quotes on it. It is a quote from a western philosopher you might have heard of named John Wayne. It says “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyways.” I love that quote and it is an encouragement to me in a lot of the battles that we do. Sometimes when we are called to go out and engage in different things at the abortion mill or street preaching, I am reminded that even though you are afraid, you do it anyways because it is the right thing to do. I think of the quote when I am doing pastoral counseling and I need to say something, and I am scared to say it, but I know have to do it anyways.
When we think about courage there is more truth in this quote than I think the good cowboy knew and that is this: We will all fear something. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is having more fear in the right object than you do the wrong one.
We live in a time when I think that many in the church in America are scared to death. We are. We're living in a time when it seems as if the enemy is gaining ground. In such a short period of time, it seems as if morality has and is rapidly changing. I say seems because we often have a short sighted view of history. But it does seem that the enemy is taking ground. Persecution is on the horizon and already here.
Fear has captivated the church and keeping it from being effective. Fear in combination with a love of comfort has made so much of the church ineffective. These two things have captivated the church: Comfort and fear.
We are comfortable with the world and the world's things. We are comfortable in our positions. With that comfort comes fear of the loss of it. We fear being hated. We fear being persecuted. We fear the loss of reputation or loss of friends and family. We fear man. This fear makes us ineffective.
This love of comfort and a fear of loss of it has created a new reformation in the church with its own five solas. Instead
Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Glorie, we have today because of cowardness and comfort embraced Sola feelings. My feelings dictate everything. How I feel is the determiner of what is right and wrong. How I feel determines how I will act. With that we have embraced Sola Relationship. I feel that I have a relationship with God. Its all about me and him alone drinking coffee. Christianity has become void of the commands of Christ and hyper individualized in such away to have eroticized it. Salvation is me and my relationship alone and who are you pastor to tell me about my relationship with God.
We get there through Sola Pragmatism by Sola Niceness for Sola Ego- my own glory alone.
Cowardliness makes us unfaithful. It was fear that kept the Israelites from taking the promise land. The twelve spies entered the land and ten of them came back only seeing how wicked and evil and big the people and their gates were. They were afraid and did not believe what God said and so they wondered around the wilderness for 40 years rather than taking the promised land.
Fear led them to not belief God and therefore they wasted away their lives. Fear will lead us into unfaithfulness and compromise in order to not be hated. Fear of man and love of comfort and ease make our love of God grow cold and cause us to compromise on the battles we face.
Yet God calls us to be courageous. He calls us to be bold. Over 50 times the scriptures say “take courage.” 143 times the scriptures say fear not. God calls us to courage and boldness. He calls us to faith. This courage is as I said earlier not the absence of fear. It is fear in the right object that will lead to courage. It is the fear of the Lord. When we fear God rightly and above all else, we find that he upholds us and strengthens us to take courage. He will enable us to take the promised land and to disciple the nations.
The word "tolerate" is used 4 times in the New American Standard Bible and all four times it is used in a negative light:
2 Corinthians 11:19 For you, being so wise, tolerate the foolish gladly. (This is said sarcastically)
2 Corinthians 11:20 For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face.
Revelation 2:2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;
Revelation 2:20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
God in his word condemns those who think they are being wise, kind, and evening loving by accepting sinful and false teaching in their midst. He commends those who do not tolerate evil. Many in our culture talk all the time about tolerance but what they mean is exactly the thing that God condemns. But there is one time in scripture that the word "tolerance" is used in a positive light:
Ephesians 4:1-3 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The KJV does not use the word "tolerance" but instead uses the word "forbearing." Matthew Henry says this about this passage:
Forbearing one another in love signifies bearing their infirmities out of a principle of love, and so as not to cease to love them on the account of these. The best Christians have need to bear one with another, and to make the best one of another, to provoke one another's graces and not their passions. We find much in ourselves which it is hard to forgive ourselves; and therefore we must not think it much if we find that in others which we think hard to forgive them, and yet we must forgive them as we forgive ourselves.
We might call this forbearance true Christian tolerance. This is a love that is displayed in humility and gentleness and patience. This love overlooks the ways we can be tempted to take offense. We live in a world where everyone is looking to be offended at all times. To be offended is to be made a victim and to be a victim is to be powerful. We are especially offended if someone disagrees with us. True Christian love for our brothers and sisters however will not stop loving them even when they dare to disagree with us. Now as was shown in the beginning, this is not a tolerating of evil. Christians rightfully stand opposed to evil. We rightfully correct and even rebuke each other when we fall into sin. But Christian tolerance between brothers will overlook quirks of personalities or things that may cause offense. Christian tolerance won’t nitpick each other to death but realize that every one of us is on a path of sanctification.
True Christian tolerance will involve brothers being able to disagree and disagree vehemently. It means being able to argue even passionately with a brother over truth and at the end of the day still maintain love. The example of this is two young boys getting in a fist fight and then after getting up off the ground and dusting themselves off, they go fishing together.
Our world doesn’t know this Christian tolerance. For them tolerance means we must accept all beliefs as valid. We must ignore the fact that there is truth and accept all truths as valid. Worldly tolerance is not about love in the face of real disagreement. It won’t tolerate real disagreement. Worldly tolerance will tolerate evil but not a battle for truth. That’s why some of the most intolerant people are constantly talking about tolerance.
Christian forbearance though is between brothers and sisters in Christ. It doesn’t sugarcoat real disagreement. It doesn’t make truth relative. It doesn’t affirm that all positions are equally valid. Nor does it tolerate evil. Instead it is love, the kind of love where two brothers can fight it out and still consider each other family. It will not nitpick to death but allow love to cover a multitude of sins. But it also won't stand by idly and let a brother go down a path of destruction. It will correct, reprove, and rebuke with the word of God.
Will you tolerate your brothers enough to fight for the truth with love in humility, gentleness and patience? Will you tolerate your brothers enough to patiently bear with things that you could take offense at? Or will you be like the world and when the going gets tough, quit and take your ball home. The Apostle Paul says this is work to be done with diligence so that the unity of the church will be preserved.
I, Pastor Joseph, received this letter from a brother in Christ who wanted to share his battle with and victory over sexual immorality and lust while calling both men and women to join in with this battle. I believe this heartfelt letter should move us to a love for God’s design for sex and for personal holiness. I hope that men will be encouraged in their battle with temptation and I pray that women will be convicted to love modesty and chastity because they love God and love their neighbor.
Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ,
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me”.
I was born with a sin nature, a son of Adam. The first recollection I have of sexual immorality springing forth in my life I recall like it was yesterday. At around 8 years old I became aware that there was something “different” about men and women as a teenage girl who enjoyed sunbathing in her brown and tan bikini for all the little neighborhood boys to watch caught my attention one summer. At the time I didn't know what it was about her, but knew there was something there to be conquered, something I desired. As I grew older, my innocent curiosity grew, and I received a typical Southern Baptist education regarding relationships between men and women: I was taught that sex was a big NO. There was no explanation that a healthy sexual relationship between a husband and wife was how God designed men and women. Sex was painted as off limits, taboo, and dirty. Guess how this reprobate young boy came to view sex in that environment? As this dirty, dark venture to be engaged in as an act of defiance.
Fast forward about 4 or 5 years. Spending the night at a friends house, I enjoyed my first beer, and my first glimpse of what would be recognized as hardcore pornography. 30 years later, I can still recall the scene that played out in my friends living-room on his big screen TV. I was lost, and the years of innuendo, sexually suggestive entertainment, and ignorant wonder exploded with that one glance. My sexual desires found an outlet that would dominate my thoughts and physical existence for decades.
“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death”. Though temptations were everywhere, I had no one and nothing to blame but myself and my own sinful desires. I was now firmly planted on this path. Do not fool yourself into thinking that since no smut magazines, pornographic dvds, or garbage over the internet comes into your home, that you have created a safe space, free from sexual perversion. All forms of media and entertainment are filled with what 20 years ago would have been called pornographic. Even more than that, the men in your life are quite adept at finding sexual stimulus wherever their eyes roam, hidden away in their minds. Your husbands, sons, and brothers are oftentimes incapable, and willfully incompetent to discern this sin. God created men with a desire for sex. When utilized in accordance with God's created order, one man one woman, in a monogamous relationship as husband and wife, this sexual appetite can be used for good, God's glory. But venturing outside of this design has horrific consequences.
In High school I found myself looking for teenage girls that would be the women found in the average smut magazine. I had a small collection of porn of my own by this time, which fueled my increasingly perverse desires. Friends viewed by my parents as “good” boys helped fuel this downward spiral. Bad company corrupts good morals….unfortunately I had no good morals to begin with, because I was a lost little boy, yet was considered to be a “good person” by most.
Two years into my stint in the military, my porn collection and appetite had grown to a footlocker full of sexual immorality, and had expanded to strip clubs and prostitution. I was totally in bondage to my sexual sin, yet didn't even realize it. A contributing factor was the increasing amount of young women who found liberty in their sexuality, displaying it for all to see, and oftentimes all too willing to assist a lost, sin ravaged soul down the broad road to destruction. Ladies, each of us will have to stand before God on judgement day and give an account. Men before God giving an account for their lusts, and women giving an account for their contributions to it. Men must be self controlled, a fruit of the spirit, but lest you think women bear no responsibility, please consider Proverbs 7.
My time after the military was no different, but a new wrinkle was added to the mix: marriage. By this time, I came to realize that my sexual appetite dominated me, but felt powerless to stop. Every. Single. Woman I saw and met became sex objects in my mind. Looking back, deep inside I hoped that marriage would save me. That I would marry this woman, and she would finally satisfy every wicked lust I had. What I had looked to for peace, marriage, became an object of resentment which wound up fueling even more sexual immorality. Jesus said if you even lust with a woman in your heart, you are guilty of adultery. My sin had moved from mental adultery to full blown, out in the open for everyone to see, depravity. Five years in, my marriage was in shambles. My cold dead heart was destroying the woman I promised to love till death do we part. Looking back, it was only God’s grace that kept us together.
I continued to into a spiral of pornography and drunkenness, attempting to fill my life with a myriad of “manly” activities to hide my growing effeminacies and mountain of sin. Around 11 years into my marriage, I found myself tired of running from God, knew I was a hopeless sinner, and knew I had nowhere else to go. I believe it was sometime that year that God opened my eyes, helped me see my sin and its end, and I cried out to Him for mercy. Help Me! And He answered. Forgive Me! And He did.
Yet the porn persisted. I came to realize that while it was true that i was saved and forgiven, I had to join Job in making a covenant with my eyes not to look upon a young woman. I had to be like David and allow no worthless thing come before my eyes. For most of my life i had been the foolish young man walking past the door of the adulteress woman, foolishly believing that I could toy with hot coals and not get burned. “It's just one glance, just one TV show, just one click of the mouse”. God called me to another path. A path of warfare. Putting your sin to death is the name of the game. Cutting off hands, plucking out eyes, and doing so in the power of the Holy Spirit is the only hope for men and boys trapped in this sin. God transformed, and is still renewing my mind day by day to realize that sex, like every good and perfect gift, is from God. He has taught me that it is our sin soaked hearts which pervert this good thing He has given us. Men must take responsibility for their sin. They must own the desires of their heart, and obey God's command to flee sexual immorality. Ladies, your husbands, brothers, friends, and sons are weaker, and more susceptible to sexual sin than you can imagine. As if our own sinful flesh isn't enough, men and boys contend with Satan's lies which say “God is withholding good from you”, and a world full of women who have been influenced by the scourge of feminism. Sisters, we need your help. Help us to love our wives. Help us to love our sisters in Christ. Help us not have to avert our eyes in church. An aspect of this sin involves not causing another to stumble. Your language, eyes, and dress can all be contributors to sexual immorality, however, this does not negate the responsibility of men and boys to guard their hearts and eyes from sexual perversion. Ladies, a call for you to live and dress modestly, isn't a call for you to live as prudes, in bondage to men who cannot control their passions, but rather a call for you to reserve your sexuality for the man blessed to be your husband. There is nothing more beautiful than a Christian woman exercising her Christian liberty by seeing that she is not a cause for stumbling among her brothers. Christian women, we do need help. We are called to turn back those stumbling to the slaughter, to bear one another’s burdens, and I can assure you, those trapped in this sin, struggling with it, and waging open warfare against it, are in danger of stumbling to the slaughter and carry a tremendous burden hidden by shame, guilt, and pride. The men in every area of your life need your help.
“Your lust isn't my problem” you may be tempted to say.
What about your son or husband?
“I have liberty to dress in a way that I deem moderate”. Fair enough.
Does this liberty give you license to sin?
“Why this message, in this format, at this time”?
Because brothers and sisters, the Church of Jesus Christ is being ravaged by sexual sin, and it often seems that it's only “those other people” who are impacted. We cringe at the thought of God's created order being subverted by female “pastors”. We scoff at those who would twist scripture and hold up homosexual behavior as a healthy alternative lifestyle. We become righteously indignant at the fornication and adultery that has divided churches and destroyed lives. We herald the gospel of Jesus Christ as the hope for those trapped in these sins. We champion repentance, and demand accountability of all involved. But when it comes to the sin of lust, which often takes place in the dark recesses of one's own mind, we often say “deal with it. I cannot help the fact that my presence and how I carry myself leads you to sin. Get your lust under control”. These men cannot without the gospel. They cannot without the church living out their lives in a manner worthy of their calling. We are called to bear with one another's burdens, to lay down our lives for one another, to consider others more highly than ourselves. We don't give a pass to sin, we make war with the sword of the spirit, with genuine Christian love not afraid of getting dirty, with men and women saying together #metoo. We are all sin sick sinners in need of a savior. I am a sinner saved by the grace of God, and I want to see men and women flourish in the way God has created them, in the place God has called them.
Exodus 15:2 “The Lord is my strength and song....
Doug Wilson says the story of the bible is "Kill the Dragon, Get the Girl." Adam in the garden was given a dragon to fight and girl to protect. He failed. Our Lord is a warrior though and he crushed the dragon at the cross to redeem his bride the church. We are called to be like our Lord. We are warriors and the God of peace will crush Satan under our feet. We must rely on the Lord to be our strength. He is the one who saves us from our enemies. God is our shield in time of trouble to protect us in the midst of battle. He equips us with his strength to fight evil. We have the full armor of God and the sword of His word.
God is also our song. He is our joy. Though we must be strong, take courage, and stand firm, we also can take joy. We are joyful warriors. We are warriors who sing in the midst of battle. We aren't those who have been defeated. We are those who have been forgiven our sins. The debt we owe God that we cannot pay has been paid. We are free. We have reason to sing because the dragon has been defeated. We have reason to rejoice because the world and all that it is in it belongs to our captain. He has authority over all things. The flowers, birds, trees, fish, sky, animals, mountains, and oceans are his. And they are ours too. We get to enjoy the things God has made in their rightful way within the right priorities. We have true and lasting joy. With God as our song, we can enjoy what God has created lawfully without guilt and shame.
Don't lose heart in the midst of battles. Don't let the fog of war cause you to be cynical and defeated. Yes there are battles on all sides. Yes there are times when defeat seems possible. Yes there are real losses and real heartbreaks. But our Lord is a warrior. He is our strength and our song. We can fight and sing knowing that for those in Christ, the victory is secure.
Sunday 10:30 AM