As we wrap up our Theology of Sex series, we welcome new blog contributor Ryan Viner, the Sr. High Youth Pastor at Independent Presbyterian in Memphis, TN. The following letter is written by Ryan to a person who had asked for his help in encouraging a teenager struggling with sexual sin.
1. Understand your personal sinfulness
This is a great place to start because it will help him understand his depravity and need for a Savior. It is important for him to learn that God hates sin and that this particular sin he is coming to you about is not his only sin. If you only deal with sexual impurity then you will only be treating the petals of the flower while the root system is sick. For example, in my past, sexual sin comes from a lack of trust in God to provide a way for me to express myself sexually, coupled with my desire to be my own god and live to please myself. There are many more things that are inherently broken about me, and I desire for God to put all of it back together for His glory. I do not want to see God just release him from porn, masturbation, and lust, but redemption from sin – my old way of life. Let us pray that God brings your friend to that point. In closing, ask him to search himself and to pray that God will help him understand what part of his sinful-self causes him to run towards sexual impurity. A good question to ask here is what is his sinful motivation that brings him to act out in the sin of sexual immorality – make your friend deal with his sinful roots and ask him to pray for God to heal those places of hurt and confusion.
Scripture: Romans 3:10 and Ecclesiastes 7:20
2. Know what God says about sexual sin in particular
It was extremely helpful for me to see what God has to say on this subject. As you know I really feel the church doesn’t teach on this topic enough so your friend will be served well to see what the Father teaches his children about sexual sin.
Scripture: I Thess. 4: 2-5, I Cor. 6:18, Proverbs 6: 20-29
3. Look for the grace of God all the time
And not only that, but also see the power of Jesus and the work he has done to free you from this sin – this is crucial because we must know how God has made us a new creation so we can learn to live like a new creation. Encourage him to know that he was not bought with gold, silver, or coins but with the blood of Christ, the lamb without blemish or defect. Knowing this helps us to be holy because He is holy and He is living in us. This to me is the best part, which makes “Christianity” beautiful and its message true. The God of the universe doesn’t leave you to figure things out and get clean, He personally cleanses you by turning the gun on himself and then He goes one step further – he takes up a home in us and dwells within each of his children. We need to always encourage brothers in Christ that God hates this sin more than we ever could and that He fights this sin in you everyday because He sent a Spirit to live in us that is envious and jealous for our affections. God will not stop until we are forsaking our kingdoms for His kingdom and desires (I Titus 2:11-15).
Scripture: Colossians 1 (the whole chapter), Colossians 3:1-10, I Cor. 6:9-11 (here, notice the last part)
*** It is important to take Satan and this sin seriously and it is also important to know God’s victory and authority over sin, death, and Satan. If he attributes too much power to this sin then he essentially worships it as a god in his life; encourage him to worship the God who “treads our sins underfoot” (Micah 7:18-20). These sins are big- but not bigger than the God who frees us from them.
4. Learn the art of confessing your sins to both man and God – James 5
and Hebrews 4:14-16
It is huge that your friend knows God always wants him to come into His presence even when your friend feels unworthy. Satan wants us and your friend to feel unworthy and therefore retreat from God’s presence because we are not “clean or right” and once we take ourselves away from God’s presence the propensity to sin grows greater and greater. Help him to remember that the sacrifices God desires are a broken and contrite heart; our Father is pleased when His children come to Him upset over their sinfulness and looking to Christ as our worthiness and source of cleanliness.
5. Expect to be called into repentance by man and by the Spirit
This connects with the previous point (2 Cor. 7:8-13); here, Paul has initiated a process of repentance. An example of one of the Holy Spirit’s roles about convicting us and leading us into repentance can be found in John 16:8.
6. Don’t ever be discouraged in such a way that you are spiritually depressed – Romans 8:38-39
There is much in the Bible about perseverance and a steadfast, workman-type faith. We are encouraged to be diligent in our love for God. If we do believe that our God sanctifies His redeemed people we must encourage our brothers struggling in sin to be steadfast in seeking purity – we must also help them to understand that it is a process and that they will “fail” on the way to “winning” because Jesus always wins. If we expect perfection then our brothers who are struggling will be strangled by an inability to perform, they must see that Jesus performs for them and that when they fall down into this sin that they can get back up because Jesus lives forever and intercedes for them everyday – this is how we are saved completely (Hebrews 7:25).
In closing, the more you know Christ the more you know your sinfulness and need for Him, and the more you see the power of Christ to free you from your sins. I pray that your friend begins to put God’s word in His heart and meditate on it and that he falls in love with the Father.