Sexual Purity

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 Ex 14:13 And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.
 14 "The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace."
 15 And the LORD said to Moses, "Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.
 16 "But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
 17 "And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen.
 18 "Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen."
 19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them.
 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.
 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.
 22 So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

 23 And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
 24 Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the LORD looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians.
 25 And He took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians."
 26 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen."
 27 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
 28 Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained.
 29 But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
 30 So the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.
 1Th 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God;
 2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;
 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,
 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.
 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
 Mt 15:21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed."
 23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us."
 24 But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
 25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!"
 26 But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."
 27 And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."
 28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

 Let’s set the scene from our OT lesson. Pharaoh had finally consented to let the people go. The Lord went before them in the form of a cloud and led them to a peninsula by the Red Sea. Now that’s not bad, I mean there’s water on three sides, but you can always just turn around and find another way out.....unless of course an army happens to be in hot pursuit.

And that’s exactly what happened. Pharaoh had a change of heart and started to chase after the Israelites. And suddenly it’s looking like this cloud that went before them wasn’t such a hot idea after all.  It didn’t start out that way. The Bible says that initially the Israelites left Egypt with boldness.

But by the time we catch up to them here in our text, (just two verses later) the Bible says, “they were very afraid.” Pharaoh’s army was in hot pursuit and here they are at Gills Rock in Door County and the ferry is out of service. They have no place to go.

Stupid Christianity! We’d of been better off continuing to live in sin! “For it would’ve been better for us to serve the Egyptians (symbolic of sin and the world) than that we should die in the wilderness!” (Ex 14:12)

There it is again. “Wilderness!” The place where the true church of God will always be found! Because it is in the wilderness where we are forced to rely or trust in Him. That’s the essence of the Gospel! Salvation is something that God does for us, not something we do for Him, and so it is built on trust. Abraham believed God, )trusted) and it was accounted to him as righteousness.
I don’t know how many of you use Portals of Prayer as part of your daily devotions, but yesterday’s devotion included a profound statement concerning trust. It said, “God’s purpose for our lives is to bring us to trust Him fully.”  That says it all!  From salvation to living out our salvation the purpose for our existence is to trust Him fully.

This account in Exodus is such a great picture of trust as it relates to salvation, a picture of  what it means to let go and surrender to Jesus. The people had a choice. Turn around and remain in slavery to sin, or step into the Red Sea. Take a leap of faith and trust Jesus for their salvation.

“Stand still! And see the salvation of the Lord!” “Stop crying to Me about it Moses, tell the children to (take the leap of trust and ) go forward!”

Something very special happened when the Israelites took those steps of faith into the Red Sea and we read about it in 1 Cor 10:

1Co 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,
 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,

 Paul likened this event to baptism! It was a “type” of water baptism! It was the water (the sea) and the Word (Jesus as represented by the cloud!) This was the means of grace that God used to deliver the Israelites from Egypt, (sin)
It is the same today, Jesus (the cloud) leads us to the waters of baptism, by His authoritative command given in Mt 28:19, Go (you little Moses’s) and make disciples (make followers) by baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Make them pass through the waters of baptism! And I will deliver them from Egypt (sin) Ask yourself this question: “Does anyone of these Israelites become a follower if they turn around at the Red Sea? No! “He that believes (trusts) in the cloud and passes through the water (is baptized) shall be saved!

What about after baptism? What happens if the people climb out of the Red Sea, delivered from sin, and then refuse to continue to follow and trust the cloud? They cease being disciples or followers don’t they. They cease having faith or trust and they are damned whether they are baptized or not.

And look what happened! Paul continues:

3 all ate the same spiritual food,
 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.
 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play."
 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;

God was displeased with these people because of their lack of trust, and because of their blatant idolatry and because of their sexual immorality. 23,000 died in just one day as judgement for their sexual sin.

Their sexual sin was twofold. They had committed harlotry with the unbelieving women of Moab and this led to actually worshiping the gods of the Moabites.  So the first thing that serves as an example for us is to not get married to an unbeliever.

Young people, ask God to help you make up your mind in this matter now! Decide now, that your future spouse will not be a Moabite. That your future spouse will be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ!  

The Bible consistently forbids and warns against being married to an unbeliever.

 Mal 2:11 Judah has dealt treacherously, And an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, For Judah has profaned The LORD'S holy institution which He loves: He has married the daughter of a foreign god.
 Ezr 9:12a 'Now therefore, do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons;

Why would God consider these “mixed marriages” an abomination? Aside from the dangers of leading to idolatry, they  also profane (or make common) they taint  the institution that God loves,....namely marriage.

Heb 13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

It is God’s desire that His institution of marriage be regarded as honorable or “extremely valuable,” among all.  Marriage is to be viewed as a priceless treasure. A hallowed institution.

There is no room to introduce impurities into a marriage. And marrying an unbeliever adds spiritual impurity into the mix.  If the two become one flesh, should they not also be of one spirit?

But that’s not all, the marriage bed is also to be undefiled. Let’s not sugar coat it here, God is talking about sex. This sexual defilement  can come before marriage, (fornication, and other illicit sexual activity) or after marriage, (adultery) through sexual trysts of body and mind, or divorce. Either way, it is a “judgeable offense to God.

How does God judge these offenses? Well, for those who continue in them, and refuse to repent of them, the Bible tells us that idolators, fornicators, and adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God

 1Co 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

“And such were some of you!” In other words, you don’t have to remain in these sins, you can come back to the forgiveness, and sanctification, and justification, conveyed to you at your baptism!

Does God judge these sins in other ways? We can’t say for sure, that’s up to Him, but shouldn’t aids, std’s, and the increase in cervical cancer due to pre-marital sexual activity tell us something? The world says let’s beat this cause of cancer from sexual activity with a mandatory vaccine.

For our part, let’s seek to vaccinate our children with Jesus and pass along this warning from God’s Word: Flee from fornication!
Purpose in your heart now, today, with the help of God, that you will not engage in pre-marital sexual activity. And if you are engaging in such activity that today is the day you will stop!  This is God’s will for you, your sanctification, your purity, your setting apart of the sex act, the reproductive act, for the marriage bed.

Let’s look in greater detail at our epistle lesson today as this matter is addressed by the Apostle Paul.

 1Th 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: (The Greek word used here means “purity.” And in the context of this passage, he can mean nothing else but sexual purity. This is the will of God! Sexual purity!

” that you should abstain from sexual immorality; (all manner of sexual sin before marriage.)

 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,
 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

Each of you should exercise control over your body in the matter of sexual activity. This control starts with sexual purity and putting a priceless untouchable bar code on the reproductive act that says “my virginity is reserved for “two becoming one flesh” in marriage according to God’s will.  Virginity and purity are to be viewed as priceless treasured gifts  to be given to each other on the wedding night and throughout the entire marriage.
But that’s not the picture the world paints is it? That’s not what you hear in the locker room is it guys? That’s not what you hear at sleepovers is it girls? It’s not what TV tells you. It’s not what you’re getting at the movies. It’s not what you’re hearing in your health classes either.

Well, you are hearing it here. Paul says in effect that those who do not know God may treat sex like a dog in uncontrolled passion and lust, but not so for those who know God! You have been set apart in your baptism, you are a peculiar people!

A people who are to treasure sexual activity as a pure and priceless gift from God reserved for the permanent bond of marriage between two of His spiritual children! This priceless gift is to be exchanged between one man and one woman for a lifetime.

Now, let’s look at still another aspect of this idea of keeping your sexual purity.

6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.
 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.

Do you know what’s being said here? Any pre-marital sexual activity is defrauding or ripping off your brother. Not only are you cheating your future spouse out of the priceless gift reserved for marriage bed,  but you are causing someone else to receive damaged goods on their wedding night.
 By the way, these “damaged goods” are the only reason that Jesus cited for permissible divorce. That’s what He meant when He said, “whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality (fornication, illicit sex before marriage) and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

He said the marriage could be invalidated if there was evidence of “fornication” pre-marital sexual activity, ...damaged goods, but that was the only reason.  This teaching of Jesus which shows up in several places in the Scripture, underscores the permanence of marriage in God’s eyes.

Don’t defraud your brother or your sister or yourself in this matter. Keep the goods intact, undamaged!  (Yours and others!)

What if you have already failed in this area? What if you have devalued marriage? What if you have defiled the marriage bed? Well, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, what do you do with all your other failures? You confess them as sin, and receive His forgiveness.

 1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Then you start anew, remembering the words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians: “Such were some of you.” I know sexual purity is difficult. Always has been, always will be. It seems the devil uses everything in his arsenal to damage the “institution that God loves.”

But there are three words found in our gospel lesson that I want you to employ in the battle. They’re found in Mt 15:25

“Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me.”

Ask the Lord for help. It is one of the ways that we worship Him. Admitting our weaknesses and turning to Him for help is a high form of praise. He is able! Trust Him! He delivered the Israelites from an impossible situation and He certainly is able to deliver you from sexual temptation as well. Trust Him! It’s His purpose for our bring us to trust Him fully, even in the matter of sexual purity..