By Norm Miller
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews)—Having dealt with the inability to conceive a child, the couple sat heartbroken, dejected and embarrassed in the pastor’s office. The counseling session wasn’t about infertility, but its cause. The husband’s sexual behavior while a student at a Christian college wrought him a venereal disease that rendered his wife barren.
Mike Stone, senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Blackshear, Ga., related the anonymous vignette while preaching Sept. 29 at Truett-McConnell College’s weekly chapel service.
Stone prefaced his sermon titled “Flee Fornication,” saying the church has dealt with the topic “in a variety of extreme ways in history and in contemporary culture” that included “silence” — as if sexual sin was “off limits or out-of-bounds to talk about in polite company.”
Contemporary churches in “this post-modern age, even so-called conservative, Bible believing, evangelical churches” don’t deal with this subject silently but do so “salaciously” using “crude language, crude humor, crude illustrations,” he said. Some preachers will “get down right vulgar as if in order to deal with vulgarity you have to get down into the gutter and be vulgar yourself.”
Rejecting both extremes, Stone said churches should not deal with sexual sin silently nor salaciously, but scripturally.
The Bible does not tell believers “to stand firm and fight the fight of faith,” regarding sexual temptation, Stone said. “Don’t … clothe yourself in the armor of God and think that you can win this fight.” The Bible doesn’t say fight, he noted. The Bible says, “Flee, flee fornication.”
Stone preached from Proverbs 7 – a chapter of instruction and admonition regarding a young man and a prostitute.
Stone pleaded with TMC students, faculty, and staff to recognize the possibility of falling into sexual sin, realize the pain in yielding to that sin, and learn to resist the pull toward the sin.
“You’re not so close to God that you can’t fall into sexual sin,” Stone said. “Hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear about a fellow pastor [or] someone who claims the name of Christ losing their testimony … family … marriage because of sexual sin. One of the greatest dangers,” he added, is to think, “I love God, so I’m immune.”
Quoting the late Adrian Rogers — former president of the Southern Baptist Convention – Stone said, “If you say you’re not temptable in this area of your life, then I’ll say you’re either no man or Superman, and even Superman had his kryptonite.”
“The most dangerous young man or the most dangerous young woman in this chapel service today is the person who says, ‘I don’t have any problems or temptations in this area of my life,'” Stone said.
Stone mirrored Solomon’s advice from the Proverb by summarizing four factors in recognizing the possibility of sexual sin: precepts that should be remembered, places that should be rejected, persons that should be refused, and persistence that could be resisted
Solomon described the harlot’s clothing in the Proverb as a clue to “the person who should be refused,” Stone said, and then he related a pastor’s account of a woman church member. She dressed immodestly on successive Sundays, and then complained to her pastor because the men of the church were leering at her.
That scenario reflects a common problem for the men Stone counsels as their testimony is that one of the worst places for them to deal with lust toward women is at church, he added.
For Christian women who say “the Holy Spirit lives inside of you” but attend church provocatively dressed, Stone said such attire “reveals to me that when you stood in front of the mirror, you didn’t stand in front of God and say, ‘Is my clothing giving off a claim to godliness?'”
Stone encouraged Christian women to dress appropriately, and to be sure they are not mistaken for the type of woman described in Proverbs 7.
Shifting to the pain of yielding to sin, Stone noted four sub-points: “a life of destruction, a life of disgrace, a life of disease, and a life of domination.”
Like and ox to slaughter, wrote Solomon, was the young man’s destruction in Proverbs 7. “Do you think that ox had any idea what was coming?” Stone asked.
Regarding a life of disgrace, Stone cited a former governor who was the front-runner in a senatorial race, but who had to withdraw because of an extra-marital affair with a former employee. Saying his intent wasn’t to be vulgar or crude, Stone asked, “How good could it have been to make the pleasure worth the price” that the governor had to pay?
Stone noted countless un-wed couples of all ages through the years of his ministry who had sworn off illicit sex after “a scare this month. … One month, two months later, she’s pregnant. … Once you have yielded to sin, any kind of sin, especially sexual sin, it is easy to become dominated by it,” he said.
Stone related and illustration about a fly that saw a narrow strip of yellow paper hanging in the kitchen corner and read thereon the words “fly paper.”
“That’s my paper,” said the fly. “That’s my paper.” But after lighting on the paper, the fly heard the paper say, “My fly.”
Urging his listeners to resist the pull of temptation, Stone asked them to jot down an equation: “Temptation plus opportunity equals trouble.”
“Her house is on the way to hell,” said Stone, quoting from the Proverb, “descending to the cambers of death. … I beg you by the mercies of God, flee fornication.”
Norm Miller is director of communication at Truett-McConnell College, which is affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Vicky Kaniaru, senior staff writer at Truett-McConnell College, contributed to this story.
Click to watch the sermon video. http://www.truett.edu/chapel/fall-2011-chapel/fall-2011-chapel-video-player.html
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