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Coming to Christ is the ultimate reality check, as it makes us face the fact that our sin is our biggest problem. Every day, a believer must face the reality that original sin distorts us, actual sin distracts us, and indwelling sin manipulates us. This distortion, distraction, and manipulation create a wedge between us and our God. We are in a war, and the sooner we realize it, the better.

Sexual brokenness comes with boatloads of shame, as sexual sin is itself predatory: it hounds us, traps us, and seduces us to do its bidding. Sexual sin won’t rest until it has captured its object. When our conscience condemns us, we sometimes try to fight. But when shame compels isolation, we hide from the very people and resources that we need. We whiteknuckle it until Satan deceptively promises that sweet relief will come only from embracing that lustful glance, clicking that Internet link, or turning off the lights to our bedrooms and hearts and embracing the fellow divine image-bearer that God forbids us to embrace.

We sexually broken sheep will sacrifice faithful marriages, precious children, fruitful ministries, productive labor, and unsullied reputations for immediate, illicit sexual pleasure.

We may pray sincerely for deliverance from a particular sexual sin, only to be duped when its counterfeit seduces us. When we pray for deliverance from sin by the atoning blood of Christ, this means that I know the true nature of sin, not that I no longer feel its draw. If you want to be strong in your own terms, God will not answer you. God wants you to be strong in the risen Christ.

People who are sexually broken—you and I—need to know in a deep way the following scriptural realities if we are to find freedom in Christ and minister to other sexually broken people.

God’s Love

God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Christ’s death is personal. It is “for us.” If you are in Christ, His atoning love comes with the power to save you from your sin and from your guilt. Sexual sin produces three things that push God’s love away. First, its practice over time sears the conscience, making us numb and dumb to the beauty of holiness. Second, because sexual sin flourishes in secret, it isolates us from the family of God. Third, sexual sin usually involves another person, and therefore it draws someone else into sin, thus increasing sin’s expanse and harm. If you suffer under the weight of sexual sin, come to Jesus, because His yoke is rooted in God’s love. God is love and He is for you. He is advocating for you. He wants you to know His love.

God’s Forgiveness

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgression to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin (Ps. 32:3–5). We live in a world that increasingly teaches the idea that self-forgiveness resolves shame. The idea of self-forgiveness comes from a false and bereft anthropology of personhood. We did not make ourselves, and we therefore cannot forgive ourselves. Because God is for you, He wants to forgive you and restore you. He loves a broken and contrite heart.

God’s Healing through Christ

He sent out His Word and healed them and delivered them from their destruction (Ps. 107:20). He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Ps. 147:3). Through His blood, Christ satisfied God’s justice. In this supreme act of love is the solution to the nagging guilt of sexual sin. By His stripes we are healed (Isa. 53:3).

God’s Providence for Your Pain

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Cor. 1:3–4). Sexual sin has consequences that we cannot control and don’t even see until the Holy Spirit un-scales our eyes. Sexual sin is a ruthless taskmaster. Abortion requires the death of an unborn child. Homosexuality requires the condemnation of God’s creation ordinance. Adultery requires the betrayal of vows before God and the destruction of “one flesh.” Pornography requires sex slaves and casts women and children in the sex trafficking industry. When believers commit sexual sin, we spit in the face of God. When believers repent and forsake sexual sin, we are restored.

God’s providence has a place for your pain. Because you see what others blinded by sin cannot see (yet), you are a signpost to God Himself. You see the blood on your hands, you feel the lifting of its penalty and guilt, and you work as God’s ambassador.

God’s People

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13). We in the church are each other’s way of escape. God has already prepared a way of escape, through His Word and His Spirit, and also through the body of Christ and the simple practice of hospitality. The open door to your house and your heart is some brother or sister’s way of escape.

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold, now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29–30)

Jesus speaks here of the family of God whose love and presence and kind company are what the Lord uses to return “a hundredfold” whatever you had to leave to come to Christ. The gospel is costly. And it is worth it.

But these scriptural principles are not cue cards. You cannot minister to the sexually broken until you have imbibed God’s Word, drinking long and hard from its deep wells. Our sexually broken neighbors do not primarily need to be tutored in the Christian worldview; they need to be brought to the foot of the cross. Before we can do this, we ourselves must “profit from the Word” (to borrow the title of A.W. Pink’s book). We must know for ourselves that repentance is the threshold to God.

Ministering to the Abused and the Abusers

What the Future Holds

Keep Reading The Christian Sexual Ethic

From the November 2015 Issue
Nov 2015 Issue