Saturday, 14 February 2015

What Jesus said about.................Sex, marriage and relationships

Bible Readings: Matthew 5:27-30 and 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Human beings have many different kinds of relationships, the most important of which are those through which they express and receive love. 
In English we only have one word for love whilst in Greek there are four.
Storge             love for family, parents, children, your brothers and sisters
Philia               love for you social group/friends
Eros                 romantic or sexual love, 
Agape             God’s love (underused word Christians adopted to describe God’s love.)

1.  Sex is more than just a physical act.
The AV uses the word “knew” when it refers to a couple having a sexual relationship. The Hebrew word for sex is “yada” which literally means "to know."
Sexual intimacy is not just physical but is about knowing a person’s emotional and spiritual side. God designed sex to be a way for people to know their partners in a way that is exclusive to their relationship.
 It’s not because Christians are against sex that they are hot on chastity before marriage and fidelity in it; on the contrary it is because they value it so highly. Sex is too good a gift of God to cheapen.” Canon Michael Green
When Jesus talked about marriage he said, "So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together let no man pull apart" (Matt 19:6).
When people have sex they may not feel it or recognise it has happened but they have bonded with the other person.  They have given not just their bodies but themselves to the other person. 

2. Sex needs boundaries                                                                                                                                   
When society talks about safe sex; what it usually means is sex that doesn’t end in a pregnancy or a person being infected with a disease. People need not only physical protection when it comes to sex but guidelines which keep a person safe emotionally and spiritually.
"Sex is like a great river that is rich and deep and good as long as it stays within its proper channel. The moment a river overflows its banks, it becomes destructive, and the moment sex overflows its God-given banks, it too can become destructive."  (ANON)
In our society today many people, who are not religious at all recognise that sex needs boundaries but many people today have their own moral guidelines regarding sexual behaviour. The difficulty with everyone forming their own code of behaviour is that it is not always clear that the people we get involved with have the same set of values.
God’s version of safe sex is abstinence until marriage.  This is not because he is a kill joy but because it is sometimes necessary to experience short-term frustration for long-term blessing.
God is our creator and he invented sex!  If someone has invented something then they are the best person to explain how it works best and how to enjoy it best.  We can also trust God on this because he is a loving Father. When a parent places restrictions on a child sometimes it can be because they are harsh and mean but more often it is because they long to protect them from harm.  God knows that sexual wounds are among the deepest and most profound wounds that can be inflicted on a person so he created a special kind of relationship to provide a safe context for sexual expression- It is marriage. It is not that we won’t get hurt in marriage because since we live in a fallen and sinful creation, all of us are broken to some extent or another. However marriage provides the safest context for us to enjoy our sexuality.
In all the teaching on love, marriage and relationships there is no suggestion in the Bible that single people live less fulfilling lives.  God calls some people to a single life, just as Jesus lived a single life. God blesses people who make the choice to remain single and celibate.

3. We can live in freedom
For many people, the media frenzy around sexual matters is not fun or a joke but a pressure.  Our society tells us that if we are not having regular sex, whether or not we are married, there is something wrong with us.
 “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognise what he wants from you and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops a well formed maturity in you.”   Romans 12:1
The Greek word for lust is epi-thu-mos – epi means to add to signifying that something is being added to a normal drive.  Some find themselves struggling to control their desire for sex within God’s guidelines from a pressure within themselves.  The Bible calls this lust. 
This can be applied to all kinds of things. We should all have an appetite for food, but there are times when have extra cravings for it. It applies to some peoples craving for an adrenalin rush and of course to sexual desire.
There are consequences for giving into lust in these areas. Weight gain is obvious regarding food.  Many young men in prison today are there because they let their lust for excitement lead them to steal cars. When men and women have given into lust they have sometimes lost relationships that took years to build for a moment of gratification and sometimes a life-time addiction.
Jesus challenged us not to add onto the God-given sexual drive by polluting our minds with lustful thoughts.
 I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
Remember Satan is a liar.
The devil will always tempt us to believe that what we want outside of God’s will can satisfy us. It never does.
Remove yourself from danger
Don’t go near the things that draw you in.  It may be what you watch on TV, what sites you go onto on the computer, or just the company you keep. 
Re-direct your attention
None of us can escape temptations coming our way at some point.  Every temptation is first a thought introduced to your mind. Paul advises that we take every thought captive and take it to Jesus.
 Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise let your mind dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:11)
Ask yourself, “If this thought becomes action, will the outcome be lovely and contribute to excellence in my life? Is it something for which I can praise God? If the answer is no then dismiss that thought and don’t have any more to do with it. 
We need to remember that whatever lust we are trying to deal with in or lives will power alone with not be enough.  We need the Holy Spirit’s power.  We are not on our own. 
“Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

If we feel that this subject doesn’t apply to us we need to remember:

·         that there may be those who seek wise counsel from you.

·         that because we belong to society and when society handles things well we all benefit and when it doesn’t we are all affected in some way.   

·         the millions of people today who are victims of human trafficking and sexual slavery and pray for them.

·         to pray for people in “eros” relationships, that they will know what it is to live in the freedom of God’s way for their lives? 


1.       What do you think about the fact that today’s sermon was about sex?

2.       What other subjects do you think we should be preached about but are often neglected? 

3.       What are the consequences of living outside the boundaries of the commands God has given for our good in regards to sexual purity?

4.       How do we maintain the standards of sexual morality in the church without alienating people who either do not agree with our views or who have failed to live according to God’s commands?

5.       Even as committed believers in Jesus Christ, we will continue to be tempted to sin because Satan is out to try to destroy our lives and the lives of our families. How does God help us to stand up under temptation?
God bless


What Jesus said about.........anger

Bible Reading:  Matthew 5:21-26
Jesus’ starting place is murder but murder according to Jesus is not the problem. Jesus connected murder with anger and whilst we may not commit murder we all have experience of anger.
Anger can range from mild annoyance to absolute frustration and can be manifested through actions ranging from, giving someone the cold shoulder to murder. When something goes wrong, seems unfair or does not go our way a surge of emotion rises in us. Adrenaline flows into the bloodstream, muscles tense and pulses quicken as the body prepares for response. Anger is a force within us.
1. Enlarge our understanding  v 21-22a
Jesus says we interpret this law on a superficial level and we need our understanding of what lies behind our actions enlarged. Jesus always goes to the heart. He’s saying that the real problem is living according to an uncontrolled inner life.
This is not to say that anger as an emotion is wrong in itself because Jesus himself became indignant a lot of times in the Gospels. The Jesus we find in the New Testament was not someone who didn’t allow anything to disturb Him. Instead we find a Jesus infuriated at injustice and openly expressing His anger at wrongdoing.
“In your anger do not sin.”  Ephesians 4:26
In fact if we don’t get angry sometimes for the sake of other people that can be sin.
But we must also notice that Jesus’ anger was not wrapped up with his personal ego. It was never born out of resentment about the way He had been treated personally.
“There are times when I do well to be angry but I have mistaken the times.” (George Matheson)
Anger is just an immediate response that alerts us to an obstruction of our will. It happens perhaps when we do not get want we want or when things aren’t happening as quickly as we want them to.  But then we make a choice about whether of not to indulge it.We are always better at defending our rights than facing up to our responsibilities for others. We can often get angrier about the fact that the bus is late than over the fact that every day innocent children are being sold into prostitution.                                                                                                  
A process that starts with angry feelings, which are then nursed, can turn to hatred. If unchecked the result is sometimes actual murder but even when uncontrolled anger doesn’t result in physical killing, it is still very damaging.
To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontation still to come, to save the last toothsome morsel of both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back - in many ways is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is you. The skeleton at the feast is you.” (Frederick Bruchner)

2. Express anger wisely v 22b
The fact that people wrote about Jesus’ anger shows that Jesus did not repress anger but expressed it. Otherwise how did they know he was angry?
Pushing anger down does not deal with it.
The force that may do a great deal of damage when released in a fit of temper may do equivalent damage if repressed. The repressed angry person falls into the trap of avoiding people, the silent treatment, negative wise cracks and self-pity. And the people whom they feel they have been wronged by are bewildered because they do not know the reason for their coldness.
Love often expresses itself in honest confrontation. Differences of opinion do not necessarily equate with an absence of love.
If we read the New Testament we see that Jesus did not deny His anger but He never lost His temper or control of Himself.  So often we think that anger can only be expressed by blowing up or quarrelling using bitter and angry words or through
To call someone Raca was not a mild jibe but to call them an idiot with an attitude of arrogant contempt. The word may have originated from the sound a person makes in clearing the throat in preparation to spit at them.  The word fool comes from the Greek word “moros”. Using this term about someone was not to criticise their abilities or mistakes but to cast aspersions on their moral character. It was to take their name and reputation from them and brand them as a despicable person. In our day the equivalent could possibly to call someone a pervert.
Jesus is not suggesting that everyone who utters the word fool is heading straight to hell but he is making the point that anger unleashed through thoughtless words can lead to killing someone’s sense of self-worth and their character.
This does not mean that we should never say anything that might hurt another person’s feelings. When we are warning another away from sin we will have to say things that may upset them. But we need to be careful the way we do it. 
“Preach the Word…correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2)

3. Expect God to get involved v24
Worship was a major concern of the scribes and Pharisees. They spent much time making sacrifices, offering prayers and giving tithes. But it could all easily become heartless external ceremony.
The word picture of a person offering their gift at the altar was a familiar one to Jews. Every Jew realized that sin caused a breach in one’s relationship with God, and Jesus points out that harbouring anger puts us at odds with God. Our relationship with God is inextricably linked to our relationships with people. If an situation involving unresolved anger comes to mind when we are at worship it is possibly  be the Holy Spirit is at work in our memory.

4. Engage in positive action  v25-26
It was not uncommon in his day for a person to be thrown into prison because they owed someone money. If you were proactive and could reach an agreement with the person before the case came to the judge prison could often be avoided.
Jesus tells the story to drive home his point that we cannot harbor anger for a time and wait until we feel like forgiving the person. Time is of the essence. The longer we wait the more entrenched hostility becomes.
“What if they won’t forgive or don’t want to reconcile with us’?
With the right motive, in the right spirit we are to attempt to make things right. God will honour our efforts. The one offended may need time; healing and God may have a work to do in their hearts.
“If it is possible as far as it depends upon you, live at peace with everyone.”
(Romans 12:18)

“We don’t solve the problem by looking at the provocation and excusing our anger, we solve it by looking deep within ourselves at our own hearts and dealing with what we see there. We must give our anger to the Lord and let his Spirit fill our lives.  (Stuart Briscoe)
Paul lists self-control as a by-product of having the Spirit of Christ living within us. It is something that is grown within us as we co-operate with God.
For many people anger has become a problem and they still get angry for all the wrong reasons and respond to it in all the wrong ways. In fact we sometimes don’t even know why we feel such rage and irritability and we try to fight it.
That is not the Christian way. The advice of the Bible is not to fight our hurts our resentments but to express them by surrendering to a loving Father. We need to reject the hold anger can have on our lives.
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other since you have taken off you old self with its practices.” (Colossians 3:8-9)
As we yield ourselves up to God His Spirit fills us.  This is not a spirit of fear but a spirit of power of love and of self-control.