Sinners in Need of Grace

What's So Great About Sex? (7)

“What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet it if had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, 'You shall not covet.'”
Romans 7:7

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The way some Christians and some churches relate to the Law of God, you’d think it actually is sin. They don’t study it, preach it, or believe they have any responsibility toward it whatsoever. “We’re under grace, not law!” they cheerily assert, as their ranks are infected by every manner of sexual temptation and transgression, so that neither the congregation nor the clergy are immune from the destructive powers of cupiditas.


The seventh commandment sets out the strict parameters for the enjoyment of God’s great gift of sex. God knows us, knows what we’re like as sinners, and what we’re likely to do when left to our own devices. In the statutes and precepts attending the seventh commandment, God erects a careful hedge around human sexuality, limiting its practice to men and women in marriage before God, and forbidding all other sexual indulgences as deviations and abominations.

But what’s so wrong, let’s say, with lust? Or a little fooling around before marriage? Or even after marriage? Can looking at pornography really be so bad? Well, not according to the standards of our age of cupiditas. In our day sex and love as God designed them have been cheapened so that mere desire is the only standard to which we must adhere. If we desire something sexually – anything, whatever we can imagine – we ought to be able to have it. Now, of course, our society still puts restrictions on that: rape is still unlawful, as is child sexual abuse.

But in previous generations in this country, pre-marital sex was unlawful, adultery was unlawful, and homosexuality was almost unheard of. The Law of God, which formed a significant portion of the foundations of the American legal system, was clear on what constituted legitimate sexual practice. What was not regarded as lawful was discouraged or punished.

But as the country has distanced itself from the Law of God – aided and abetted by the churches of the land – sexual standards have changed, because the criteria for judging legitimate sexual practice have been rewritten. These days the Law of God is considered the enemy of human sexuality, while mere individual desire practically rules as king. As surely as our society has come to accept sex before marriage, adultery, pornography, and homosexuality, it can hardly be too long before the last remaining sexual taboos are discarded as well. Women and children, beware.

The rampant unlawful practice of sexual relations reminds us that we are sinners in need of the grace of God. Those who have set aside God’s purpose for sex and are following only their own desires know that such is not the way to real satisfaction and fulfillment. Christians must not shy away from talking about sex, as is too often the case. We need to understand the Biblical teaching about sex, why it’s so great, and what can happen when we abuse God’s plan for this gift. We must discipline ourselves to practice sexual relations according to the divine plan, for then we will know the joy and satisfaction that come from the right use of this good gift. And we need to talk about sex and sexuality with our neighbors and friends, helping them to understand the divine purpose and plan for sex, and discussing openly, frankly, and lovingly our concerns about the direction our society is headed in this area.

God has given us a great gift in sex. But it’s only great if we practice it as God intends. Let’s go for all the greatness of sex we can, shall we? And, at the same time, let’s help our neighbors to understand what God offers them as well – first, in our Lord Jesus Christ, then, in a life rightly ordered before Him.

Next steps

Meet with a few Christian friends. Share with them what you have been learning from this series on sex. Talk about ways your churches might become more effective in helping their members and the larger community to know the Lord’s plan and purpose for sex. Make yourselves available to help as needed.

This week’s series, What's So Great About Sex?, is available in a free downloadable format, suitable for group study.


For more insight to this topic, order the book, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power and the Only Hope that Matters, by Timothy Keller, from our online store. You might also benefit from reading the article, “Why Wait Till Marriage?” by Jimmy Williams.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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