Today’s episode is mature in its theme, so heads up to parents with young ears in the car or in the house. It’s mature in its themes. And I say that not simply because we’re talking about sexual sin today. That’s part of it. It’s also mature because we’re going to talk about the revolting nature of sexual sin and what it says about us as sinners. If you don’t think sexual sin degrades our human dignity, or if you don’t think sexual sins insult God, then you too are likely not mature enough for this episode either. That’s also what I mean when I say this episode is for a mature audience.
Our question comes from a young man. He doesn’t give us his name, but here’s what he writes: “Dear Pastor John, I’ve come to a sad point in my life where I am willing to sin without repenting. I’ve fallen into the sin of having sex out of marriage, of my own selfish wants and desires. This has caused me to seek out sexual pleasure through pornography and other people in private. Though I realize the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual damage it does to me — and I’ve seen these effects very clearly in my life — I don’t seem to have the will to stop. I’ve read on excommunication throughout Scripture (Matthew 18:15–18; 1 Timothy 1:20; 1 Corinthians 5:11–13). And I realize it’s mainly a last resort for the church to discipline a believer. I have not been contributing to my local church, nor the body of Christ as a whole. My question is, Should I take the first steps in resigning and excommunicating myself from the church because of my sin? Though this breaks my heart to think about, I would rather dwell in my sin alone than claim Christ in public, all the while still blaspheming his name in my heart.”
Let me try to come at this question from two different angles. The first is a simple and straightforward answer to the question, “Should I take the first steps in resigning and excommunicating myself from the church because of my sin?” The second angle I want to come at it from is a plea and a warning, an urgent warning that I want to give to this young man and to many like him who are sinning and describe themselves as not having the will to stop.
I want to make this wider appeal and give a wider warning because in recent weeks I have received several other communications besides this question, where men are describing themselves as victims of the power of temptation over which they cannot triumph. In this particular case, here are his words: “the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual damage” he’s doing to himself, he says — and he even goes so far as to say that he’s blaspheming the Lord’s name in his behavior, in his heart attitude. It’s all sin, and he knows it.
So those are the two angles from which I want to address this man.
Make No Provision
So first, a simple (I think), straightforward answer to the question, “Should I excommunicate myself from the church?” is no, you shouldn’t. That’s not what you should do. You should, number one, make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14). You know how the enemy approaches you. Cut off his path before he gets there. Block him before he arrives. Don’t walk along the precipice where you know he pushes you over. Get out of the river before the current surges toward those deadly rapids that he’s drug you through so often.
Second, go to your pastors, and tell them everything that you are doing, all the sin. Just tell them. Confess your sins, the Bible says, to one another (James 5:16). Ask them to help you and pray for you and fight with you. If you remain in sin, it’s their responsibility to lead the church to excommunicate you, not yourself. That’s not your job. The goal is not to get excommunicated. The goal is victory over destructive sin. You do your part. Let them do their part. That’s my first angle. Straightforward answer: no, self-excommunication is not what you should do.
You’re a Man, Not a Dog
But mainly, I want to say to this brother, and so many like him, that it is not noble to be a slave, or a dog returning to his vomit, or a washed pig rolling around in the mud. That’s not noble or admirable or cool. Let that sink in. Just say that to yourself.
In 2 Peter 2:19, it says that those who promise freedom through sin are themselves “slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” Slaves — slaves. Let it sink in, brother: slaves. Is that the identity that you want, that has power over you? “I’m a slave. Hey, everybody, listen up. I’m a slave.” Three verses later, Peter gets even more graphic and says, “The dog returns to his own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire” (2 Peter 2:22). “Hey, everybody. This is my identity. I’m a dog eating my vomit. Come watch me eat my vomit. I’m a pig.”
So I’m asking you, I’m really asking you, is that worth it? You get thirty minutes of pre-orgasmic euphoria, and thirty seconds of orgasmic pleasure, and then days of feeling as noble as a dog in heat while the pressure builds to roll back into the mud like a pig with no soul. Let it sink in. Say it. Preach it to yourself. Is that the kind of human being you are willing to be?
“Nobody wants to be a fool, a dupe, a lackey, to be content with being made a fool by Satan.”
The reason the Bible describes your condition over and over as deception is so that you will feel like a fool, a fool — and you will refuse, absolutely refuse, to be a dupe any longer. Won’t you? I mean, nobody wants to be a fool, a dupe, a lackey, to be content with being made a fool by Satan. Really? Come on. Consider 2 Thessalonians 2:9: “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all deception [there’s the key word] of wickedness for those who are perishing, because they did not welcome a love for the truth so as to be saved” (author’s translation). “Deception of wickedness” — let it sink in. Wickedness deceives. It makes promises and snickers while you buy it — lock, stock, and barrel, deceived.
That’s how Satan does it. He tricks you. He dupes you. He makes a fool out of you. The Bible talks like this. This is Bible talk, not Piper talk. So wake up and say, “I’m not going to be a fool. I’m not going to be a slave. I’m not going to be a dog or a pig. I’m a man. So to hell with you, Satan. Get out of my life. I don’t belong to you.”
Stand Up and Strike
I mean, seriously. Let me be the voice of God to you for a moment — the voice of God to Job. God says to Job, “Get up. Get up off your four paws. Put on your two feet. I gave you two feet, not four cloven pig hooves to roll around in the mire. Stop sniffing around between the legs of another dog or mud and stand up on your two feet, not four. I’ll talk to you like a man. Are you a man? Then stop acting like a dog. I will deal with you like a man.”
For example, to use Ephesians 2:2–3, stop walking according to the age of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, in the passions of your flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. So stop acting like a spiritual dead man, a zombie slave with a hook in your nose, led around by the spirit of the age and Satan in your own animal passions. I’m pleading with you. I’m really pleading with you. Let these words sink in.
I don’t think you want to be a slave. Really, answer me. I wish you could talk to me. Do you want to be a slave? Do you want to be a dog, a pig? Seriously, you are being deceived, made a fool of, and you are willing to throw in the towel? No, don’t throw in the towel. Are you really willing to let Satan make a fool of you, a lackey, a flunky, a powerless, helpless slave to your genitals? Really? Come on. Let this sink in. You do not want to let that be your identity.
If you want to concede defeat before Satan and the spirit of the age and the animal drives of your body, you are being duped. You are being made a fool of, and I’m crying out to you in this APJ, I’m crying out to you, “Wake up. You’re not a dog. You’re a man. You’re not made in the image of a pig. You’re made in the image of God. Stand up and strike your sin.”
“Your body is not yours. It’s Christ’s. It exists for his glory, not for mud.”
Listen, Christian man — not just you, but all of you, listen. You were bought with a price. The agonizing blood of Jesus was the price. You’re not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). Your body is not yours. It’s Christ’s. It exists for his glory, not for mud. It exists to make Christ look magnificent, not for humping around on the back of stray dogs. You do not want to concede defeat and just roll over into the mud and say, “I’m a pig. I’m a dog. I guess that’s just the way I’ll be. I’m a fool.” No.
Submit Yourself to God
Here’s the word of God for you:
Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:7–10)
Did you hear that last phrase? That’s amazing. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” Yes, he will. Think of it. What does that mean? God wants you exalted. That’s what it means. It says he will exalt you. He wants to exalt you. Do you hear that? Not slave-like, dog-like, pig-like, deceived fools jumping from one orgasm to the next. Don’t roll over in defeat. Tell Satan where to go. Pick up the sword of the Spirit. Run him through. You’re a man. Christ has said he will be with you to the end. He will help you. If God is for you, who can be against you (Romans 8:31)?
So wake up, Christian friend. You are not destined for the fleeting pleasures of destructive sin. You are destined in Christ for fullness of joy and pleasure at God’s right hand forevermore (Psalm 16:11).