Self-fulfillment often Empty

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.

So let us put aside the deeds of darkness

and put on the armor of light

Romans 13:12

Some bright young people in Dallas are putting together devotional guides on pertinent issues facing the American church. One interesting series is entitled “Help, No one Is Talking about Sex.” They asked me to contribute one piece (of about 30 total) on “Using Sex as an Escape” based on Romans 13:13-14.

Interestingly, the passage fit with new thinking for me, that is how our disciplines ought to focus more on our future goals than on rules or models from the past. For example, if the Church Age is an age of relative darkness spiritually and if the next coming of Christ brings a new day (and I think these are true) then we ought to be preparing ourselves for that future life. Instead, we tend to indulge in the immediate pleasures of the night. This is the gist of Romans 13:13-14. My devotional follows the verse.

Self Fulfillment That’s Empty

Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires. – Romans 13:13-14

What’s so wrong about wanting to feel good? Maybe nothing; maybe a lot. It depends on the context, that is, the setting that surrounds the action.

If your goal is to satisfy your pleasure at the cost of someone else’s demise, that’s exploitation. If the only thing you’re thinking about is your sexual gratification, you manipulate others, treating them as objects. That won’t keep your battery charged. It’s empty.

The context of this passage includes immoral living (sex outside of marriage) as an activity “of the night” (verse 12). If we look forward to the future, we ought to be aligning our behaviors with the daylight. So what’s your reaction when the lights are turned on and your actions are in plain view?

God gave us sexual feelings and desires to be fulfilled with a spouse in the privacy of an intimate lifelong committed relationship. Imagine using a gift of a violin used to paddle a canoe! Imagine using the gift of persuasion used to exploit others. So it is with the gift of sex used solely for self gratification. Wrong purpose; wrong context; wrong application. The misuse of the gift creates guilt. A seared conscience is not the answer to a guilty conscience. The answer is to behave in ways that could continue uninterrupted if the lights were turned on all at once. Paul exhorts you and me to live our lives relationally, transformed into His image by enjoying our gifts in the context for which God designed them. The result is fulfillment that lasts.

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