Article at Desiring God and Sexual Immorality

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Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
Yesterday I saw an article at DG that showed the results of a poll, stating that self-professed Christian men under 30, 50% of them professed to on going p0rn use. The percentage went down as the age went up, but the overall use was quite high among self-professed Christians.

My question is, can these stats reflect actual regenerate persons? Can truly regenerate people struggle with this? Paul says the sexually immoral will not inherent the Kingdom.
So how is it possible that a truly regenerate person could really have on going sexual immorality (even if they strive against it but fail)?


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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
The fact that Paul warned the Church in his letters of sexual immorality is evidence that Christians may struggle with sexual immorality. He reminds them that slavery to sin is characteristic of their life outside of Christ and calls them to give battle to sin as those no longer enslaved to the passions of the flesh. A Christian ought to fear to give in to lust and ought to be killing sin in his members but the struggle itself is not a sign of spiritual death per se.
 

LilyG

Puritan Board Freshman
The sexually immoral "will not inherit the kingdom of heaven"... Welp, that's every last one of us. Apart from Christ. We are all depraved by nature. The very term "struggle" indicates a war. A life of continual struggling, failing, and repentance is blazing evidence of a genuine Christian. To be concerned about sin is no mark of an unregenerate person (Romans 7). Praise God for His mercy to us in Christ!
 

Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
Even those that may never fully conquer this particular sin?


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Paul1976

Puritan Board Freshman
I recall a sermon from Martin Lloyd-Jones where he described the difference between a regenerate and unregenerate person as follows. Both can and at point do fall into serious sin. An unregenerate person might be quite content to remain in that state. Of course, they may hate the consequences of the sin (you might picture a non-Christian alchoholic strugglin, and perhaps succeeding, at breaking that addiction). But, they do not hate the sin itself, and would happily continue in it if it were free of consequences. A regenerate person may fall into equally serious sins at times, but will hate the sin itself, and cannot remain in that state happily. I think the good doctor said the Christian would be miserable in that state, but it's been a few years since I heard the sermon.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones idea stuck, and I'm leaning towards accepting it, although I'm not sure I could point to enough scripture to state it as decided fact.

I would say a Christian may well fall into this particular sin, and may well struggle for years or for life. Others might struggle with pride for life, and I believe that to be a more serious sin (not to say sexual sin isn't serious). A good check of genuine conversion is not complete victory over sin, but hatred of the sin itself rather than its consequences. We will all have lingering sin in some form this side of eternity.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
One who keeps returning to the same sin should have no assurance that he is repentant of it (repentance = turning away from, not just magic words). If faith and repentance are required for salvation, one should not keep returning to (in this case) p0rn and maintain that he is a Christian. Our election is always sure in God's eyes, but from our perspective it is not apart from perseverance. Peter says it well:

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
If the study you quote is accurate and 50% of "Christian" men return to this regular sin-- assuming that they continue in it-- they should not be calling themselves Christians as they are defiling the priestly office to which they were called (Rom. 12:1-2).

Unfortunately, the "carnal Christian" is becoming the norm in our society...
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Graduate
I recall a sermon from Martin Lloyd-Jones where he described the difference between a regenerate and unregenerate person as follows. Both can and at point do fall into serious sin. An unregenerate person might be quite content to remain in that state. Of course, they may hate the consequences of the sin (you might picture a non-Christian alchoholic strugglin, and perhaps succeeding, at breaking that addiction). But, they do not hate the sin itself, and would happily continue in it if it were free of consequences. A regenerate person may fall into equally serious sins at times, but will hate the sin itself, and cannot remain in that state happily. I think the good doctor said the Christian would be miserable in that state, but it's been a few years since I heard the sermon.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones idea stuck, and I'm leaning towards accepting it, although I'm not sure I could point to enough scripture to state it as decided fact.

I would say a Christian may well fall into this particular sin, and may well struggle for years or for life. Others might struggle with pride for life, and I believe that to be a more serious sin (not to say sexual sin isn't serious). A good check of genuine conversion is not complete victory over sin, but hatred of the sin itself rather than its consequences. We will all have lingering sin in some form this side of eternity.
I can see this. I came across a site called Your Brain on p0rn and it is informative at what it does to the brain, though largely from a scientific point of view. It is obviously secular and they state their intention is not to ban p0rn. The testimonials on their indicate they hate the consequences of it regarding their sex lives but, they do not hate it, hate it, only what it has done to them specifically. The whole site gives off that vibe. Maybe it is a tad of common grace but certainly they do not hate it because God hates it.
 

RAR

Puritan Board Freshman
One who keeps returning to the same sin should have no assurance that he is repentant of it (repentance = turning away from, not just magic words). If faith and repentance are required for salvation, one should not keep returning to (in this case) p0rn and maintain that he is a Christian. Our election is always sure in God's eyes, but from our perspective it is not apart from perseverance. Peter says it well:

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
If the study you quote is accurate and 50% of "Christian" men return to this regular sin-- assuming that they continue in it-- they should not be calling themselves Christians as they are defiling the priestly office to which they were called (Rom. 12:1-2).

Unfortunately, the "carnal Christian" is becoming the norm in our society...
:up:
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
From the LBC:

Chapter 13:paragraph 2. This sanctification is throughout the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abides still some remnants of corruption in every part, wherefrom arises a continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
Our battle with the flesh is 'continual' and 'irreconcilable' this side of glory.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Even those that may never fully conquer this particular sin?
In Christ, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, a true believer absolutely will fully conquer not just this particular sin but all particular sins. But this fullness of conquest will not happen in this lifetime.

While here, we continue to struggle. And while we struggle hard, it's important to remember that our sanctification is God's work in us and it takes place in his timeframe, which is often not as quickly as we might like.
 

LilyG

Puritan Board Freshman
One who keeps returning to the same sin should have no assurance that he is repentant of it (repentance = turning away from, not just magic words). If faith and repentance are required for salvation, one should not keep returning to (in this case) p0rn and maintain that he is a Christian. Our election is always sure in God's eyes, but from our perspective it is not apart from perseverance...

If the study you quote is accurate and 50% of "Christian" men return to this regular sin-- assuming that they continue in it-- they should not be calling themselves Christians as they are defiling the priestly office to which they were called (Rom. 12:1-2).

Unfortunately, the "carnal Christian" is becoming the norm in our society...
That is no encouragement to any Christian. All of us have our own sinful inclinations and and tendencies we war against in this life.

I love this old excerpt from Thomas Brooks' " Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices", from an old thread: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/31349-Often-Relapses-Into-The-Same-Sin
 

Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
In that excerpt, what does he mean by Enormities and Infirmities?


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Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
"self professed Christian" really runs the gamut. I mean you have cafeteria Catholics there I suppose and non church members of all stripes and members of very liberal churches. Perhaps Mormons and JWs and similar are also included, what they call a Christian is usually really, really broad.
 

LilyG

Puritan Board Freshman
In that excerpt, what does he mean by Enormities and Infirmities?
I assume by "enormities", he is referring to sins that are more heinous and physically destructive than others. Such as murder, active homosexuality, adultery.

Evenso, note that numerous believers in the bible fell into even serious, gross sin, some with extended periods of impenetince.
 
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Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Yesterday I saw an article at DG that showed the results of a poll, stating that self-professed Christian men under 30, 50% of them professed to on going p0rn use.
One might want to question the propriety of such polls to begin with. I would never go up to another person and ask "How many lustful thoughts have you had today?" Why not? Because it is none of my business to pry into other people's secret sins. Nor is it the duty of pollsters to do so either.
 

Vox Oculi

Puritan Board Freshman
Is it possible to avoid searching for images or videos on a computer? Certainly.

Sins that require overt participation through a physical act of some kind are easier to stop than sins within the mind. That's simply because you have more control over your body than you do over your thoughts.

I daresay it's easier to mortify the sin of serial promiscuity than the sin of fornication, and easier to mortify fornication than to mortify the sin of p0rnography or masturbation, and easier to mortify them than to mortify the sin of lustful wandering eyes, and easier to mortify that than to mortify the sin of imagining an adulterous encounter in the privacy of your inner thoughts. And even easier to mortify that than to prohibit all thoughts of temptation from occurring whatsoever.

Where does one draw the line? It's not so much an objective thing as it is, to quote Todd Friel, you ought to be "moving in a direction of holiness," i.e. farther from the beginning of the sentence to the end as you progress through your walk.

That can be hard if you're already starting at "squeaky clean" from an outside, human perspective. It is for ourselves to know and evaluate our own progress. Radical honesty is necessary. Be careful not to do it as a work that you offer to God. But ask Him for help that you can have victory over sin and live a life pleasing to Him, not as if you're adding anything to how much He loves you/earning favor, but simply because it's the right thing to do and He's placed an inexplicable desire in you to simply do what He desires for its own sake.
 

Paul1976

Puritan Board Freshman
I think part of the reason this particular topic is a bit difficult to reconcile with the necessity of sanctification is that when someone says "I'm struggling with [insert sexual sin here]," they often mean "I'm currently engaging in [insert sexual sin here] and, although I recognize it's inconsistent with my professed faith, I'm not actually doing anything to change." In other words, "struggling" doesn't involve any discernible struggle.

We have plenty of examples in scripture of believers falling into a variety of sins, and in some instances not dealing with them until external circumstances force the issue. I would be very hesitant to say that all Christians will have sufficient victory over a sin, even serious ones, that they do not fall back into it at times. But, when they say they are struggling, they mean it. I would also say to someone not struggling that their lack of desire to defeat that sin is an indication they may not in fact be regenerate, in which case they have a far bigger problem than whatever sin they are involved with.
 

Toasty

Puritan Board Sophomore
One may stop looking at pornographic material, but that does not mean that he has stopped thinking lustful thoughts.

A young boy may stop being mean to his sister after being disciplined by his parents, but that does not mean that there is love in his heart towards his sister. He may have stopped the mean behavior, but that does not mean that the hatred in his heart was removed.
 

Toasty

Puritan Board Sophomore
The regenerate are changed, but that does not mean that they will live a sinless life. There is a difference between changed and being sinless.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
My 2 cents: It all comes down to "practicing". If you are practicing it and embracing it, you are possibly still in your flesh. Big difference, spiritually speaking, between indulgence and doing battle.


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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
On another aspect of this, I think these studies/ surveys in such articles about lust are worse than useless since it is highly unlikely they will be accurate. If they are estimating too high they may give some an excuse for further licence. If they are estimating too low they may discourage some souls. And do they tell anything about how often the participants were committing this particular sin or how many of the participants were regenerate or unregenerate?



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LilyG

Puritan Board Freshman
On another aspect of this, I think these studies/ surveys in such articles about lust are worse than useless since it is highly unlikely they will be accurate. If they are estimating too high they may give some an excuse for further licence. If they are estimating too low they may discourage some souls. And do they tell anything about how often the participants were committing this particular sin or how many of the participants were regenerate or unregenerate?
Indeed.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
One who keeps returning to the same sin should have no assurance that he is repentant of it (repentance = turning away from, not just magic words). If faith and repentance are required for salvation, one should not keep returning to (in this case) p0rn and maintain that he is a Christian. Our election is always sure in God's eyes, but from our perspective it is not apart from perseverance...

If the study you quote is accurate and 50% of "Christian" men return to this regular sin-- assuming that they continue in it-- they should not be calling themselves Christians as they are defiling the priestly office to which they were called (Rom. 12:1-2).

Unfortunately, the "carnal Christian" is becoming the norm in our society...
That is no encouragement to any Christian. All of us have our own sinful inclinations and and tendencies we war against in this life.

I love this old excerpt from Thomas Brooks' " Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices", from an old thread: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/31349-Often-Relapses-Into-The-Same-Sin
Of course we war against these things all our lives. But is there any comfort when we don't see the Holy Spirit's work conforming us to the law of God? Christ says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).

114. Can those who are converted to God keep these commandments perfectly?

No, but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of such obedience, yet so that with earnest purpose they begin to live not only according to some, but according to all the commandments of God. (Heidelberg)
ARTICLE 1 Those whom God, according to His purpose, calls to the communion of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and regenerates by the Holy Spirit, He also delivers from the dominion and slavery of sin, though in this life He does not deliver them altogether from the body of sin and from the infirmities of the flesh.

ARTICLE 11 The Scripture moreover testifies that believers in this life have to struggle with various carnal doubts, and that under grievous temptations they do not always feel this full assurance of faith and certainty of persevering. But God, who is the Father of all consolation, does not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able, but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that they may be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10: 13), and by the Holy Spirit again inspires them with the comfortable assurance of persevering. (5th Head)
All I am trying to say is that since we do not know our election like God does (objectively and infallibility), if we see a lack of fruit, what assurance should we have? Christians will struggle with sin for their entire life for sure, but repentance is not simply knowing that it was wrong or feeling guilt, but rather turning away from it.

I hope that clarifies...
 
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Vox Oculi

Puritan Board Freshman
All I am trying to say is that since we do not know our election like God does (objectively and infallibility), if we see a lack of fruit, what assurance should we have? Christians will struggle with sin for their entire life for sure, but repentance is not simply knowing that it was wrong or feeling guilt, but rather turning away from it.

I hope that clarifies...
Indeed; the difference between metanoia and metamelomai.
 

LilyG

Puritan Board Freshman
All I am trying to say is that since we do not know our election like God does (objectively and infallibility), if we see a lack of fruit, what assurance should we have? Christians will struggle with sin for their entire life for sure, but repentance is not simply knowing that it was wrong or feeling guilt, but rather turning away from it.

I hope that clarifies...
Our sanctification does function to assure us, sure. But it is not the basis of our assurance. If it was, we are setting ourselves up for uncertainty, depression and despair.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
All I am trying to say is that since we do not know our election like God does (objectively and infallibility), if we see a lack of fruit, what assurance should we have? Christians will struggle with sin for their entire life for sure, but repentance is not simply knowing that it was wrong or feeling guilt, but rather turning away from it.

I hope that clarifies...
Our sanctification does function to assure us, sure. But it is not the basis of our assurance. If it was, we are setting ourselves up for uncertainty, depression and despair.
I think you may have created a false dichotomy. We're not saying anything different. James 2:18 may help.

Blessings.
 
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