It’s impossible to grow up in a culture so obsessed with sex—and unbiblical ideas about it—without two things becoming very apparent: Sex is far more powerful than we imagined, and each of us—no matter what we’ve done in our past—are dealing with a brokenness from God’s design in this area one way or another.
This kind of sexual brokenness affects every person born under the weight of a fallen nature and a damaged culture. Whether or not you’ve done things you regret in the past or wrestle with lustful desires, the reality is either because of our own experience or simply being exposed to a culture obsessed with sex, this kind of sexual brokenness from God’s perfect design and plans affects every single one of us.
However, the Gospel reminds us of a Healer who knows how to meet our deepest needs, fill them with Himself and heal every part of our soul. It’s a restoration to His design and perfect will for our lives.
Casting the First Stone
In John 8, we see how Christ responds to this, and I think it’s one of the most encouraging stories for those of us aware of our need. One morning, Jesus went to the temple and began teaching. Soon after, the scribes and Pharisees brought “… a woman who had been caught in adultery …” threw her down at the feet of Jesus and reminded Jesus (who actually wrote the Law, see John 1:1), that the Law of Moses commanded them to stone such women.
Now, here is where the Gospel is seen so richly. After Christ put the men in their place asking them to throw stones if they were without sin, his words to the woman caught in sin are some of the most comforting to those of us who have spent years living under the weight of our own brokenness.
Christ looks at her and says: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more.” Wait. Did you see it? Can you feel the ground shift beneath her feet? Can you see the faces in the crowd?
This woman, who had likely spent her life trying to earn acceptance and love in the arms of lovers, was suddenly given the thing her soul ached for the most: to be fully known and fully loved. The people in her life didn’t fully love her, and those whose love she tried to earn she never let fully know her, but here, here was a God who knew her darkest secrets and loved her completely. Jesus didn’t give her a command, a rule to go follow before she earned acceptance. No, he accepted her fully, then she was told to go and sin no more.
Do you see the beauty of the pattern?
True change, wholeness and healing comes from realizing you are accepted in Christ, just they way you are. Not because of what you did, but because “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses (as was the woman in the story) made us alive together with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:4-5) It is “for by grace you have been saved through faith…it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8-9), not your own doing. Love and acceptance is the soil where true change and healing grow.
This is what I’ve learned from all my years of trying to free myself from my own sin and brokenness: God’s acceptance of me is the power that frees me from sin, not what I attain apart from my sin. God looked at me, called me his son and, just as he said to the woman, he said to me: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). When I grasped the reality that the adulterous woman in the gospel grasped, the sun broke through, and I finally saw the freedom I had longed for years for.
It is only the power of the love, pleasure and acceptance of our Creator that will free us from our sin and heal us. Many times, sexual temptation can be the symptom of a soul aching for acceptance and value that can only be found in Christ. As God reminded Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (Jeremiah 1:5), as Job says “you clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews.” (Job 10:11), as David praises God saying: “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14).
God designed you, he knows your frame, he breathed breath in your lungs and put blood in your veins. He crafted your soul to know and worship him. He designed sex to be a wondrous, glorious, gift, and he designed it for your good and His glory (Rom. 8). He knows what will bring you life and He knows things outside of His design will only bring pain.
Thankfully, He also knows that nothing is outside of His grace, and to receive it, you can come just as you are.