The way you think and feel and act about money, sex, and power puts your heart’s treasure on display—either God, or something he made.
- Power is a capacity to pursue what you value.
- Money is a cultural symbol that can be exchanged in pursuit of what you value.
- Sex is one of the pleasures that people value, and the pursuit of it.
Therefore power, money and sex are all God-given means of showing what you value. All your power, all your money and all your sexuality are God’s gifts for putting on display the supreme worth of God’s glory.They are given by God as means of worship.
Think about how you have felt, thought and acted in regard to money, sex, and power in the last 24 hours… week… month…. What does that suggest about what you are treasuring? What would it look like for you to use power, money, and sex to display the supreme worth of God’s glory?
Disordered sexuality stems from a disordered relationship with God—specifically, a relationship in which the glories of creation are preferred to the glory of God.
Romans 1:21-23 (NLT2)21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.
This exchange applies to all our sexual sins: adultery—exchanging a spouse for an illicit partner; fornication—exchanging God’s call to chastity in singleness for unmarried sex; lust—exchanging purity for pornography.
All of them—all of our sexual sin—is rooted in this: we don’t treasure the glory of God as supremely desirable over all things. We the fleshly pleasure persuade us that one illicit pleasure or another is more to be desired than God. In the darkness, we fondle the smooth ebony brooch hanging around our neck—not knowing that in the light we would see it is a cockroach. That’s what it means to live in the dark, where God is less to be desired than sexual pleasure.
Sexual sin grows in the soil of blindness, darkness, and ignorance about the all-satisfying greatness and beauty of God.
1 Peter 1:14 (NLT2) So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.
Romans 12:2 (NLT2) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
In his first letter to believers throughout the Roman Empire Peter writes that they and we have been “born again”;
1 Peter 1:3 (NLT2) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,
And after the freedom of that new birth sin should no longer control our passions, exposing the lie of sinful sexual desires.
1 Peter 1:23-25 (NLT2)23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.24 As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades.25 But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.
There is nothing inherently wrong with sexual desires the danger of those desires is that the first and most important desire is not for God but for our own pleasure. We prefer our sexual pleasure over God himself.
Romans 1:24-27 (NLT2)24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies.25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other.27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
But praise God and thank Him for the glory of His grace. He has made a way, through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, for sexual sins to be forgiven. He has made a way for sexual sins to be forgiven and we be cleansed of all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-10 (NLT2)8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 NIV Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
It's strange that despite Paul's warning many Christians still pursue wealth. Paul warns that desiring to be rich is deadly. However protection from those desires comes when you are content.
Philippians 4:12 NIV I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
In my post “What Does Contentment Really Mean?” I wrote this;
Contentment is defined as a state of happiness or satisfaction, but is that what it really means to be content? Is having a new luxury automobile, that dream home, that job you have wanted, the perfect family, a comfortable retirement, all that’s needed for us to be content? If you're like most people, including me, you never really get to complete satisfaction. You may get to the happiness part, but my guess is that few of us ever reach the satisfaction part of the definition.
What we usually do is settle for less and then say we're content but we're really not satisfied. We have settled for less.
But contentment is not settling for the consolation prize. It is being in a place of extreme satisfaction. Being content in Christ has nothing to do with our emotions or our stuff. It is resting in Him knowing that He will provide everything that we need materially, emotionally, or spiritually.
Matthew 6:31-34 NIV So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
What was the secret?
Philippians 3:8-9 NIV What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
In other words, to put it in modern terms, when the stock market goes up or you gets a bonus, you say, I find Jesus more precious and valuable and satisfying than my increasing money. And when the stock market goes down or you face a pay cut, you say, I find Jesus more precious and valuable and satisfying than all that I have lost. The glory and beauty and worth and preciousness of Christ is the secret of contentment that keeps money from controlling us.
Proverbs 29:2 NKJV When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.
When great power is wielded in the pursuit of great good, we stand amazed and rejoice.
God has appointed human government to wield power for good. When power is wielded to do justice, we rejoice. On the other hand the people groan under wicked authority.
Power may pursue great good, but it may also pursue great evil.Morally, power is no better than the goal it pursues. It is “good” only in the way that a saw is good—and one can use a saw to cut firewood but also to deface an heirloom.
Not only is power dangerous because it can be used to bring about evil, but also because it can be used to exalt the one who has it. Since all humans admire glory, and power can be part of glory, we are all tempted to seek this admiration by getting this power. We love to be admired and praised, and so we bend what power we have toward getting applause. In other words, our power is employed to exalt ourselves. This is a great danger.
Romans 1:18-23 NKJV For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
The reason we abuse power is because we don’t delight in the glory of God’s right to all power. When we are blind to the glory of God’s passion to be known and loved as the source and sum of all power, we take it for our own, and use it for ourselves. That is not why God created the universe—or us.
Putting It All Together
The preference for other things over God is like replacing the sun at the center of the solar system of our lives with an inferior planet—such as money, sex, power or simply self—so that the planets of money and sex and power, which were once held in their God-glorifying orbits, are flying wildly and dangerously out of orbit.
Money is zigzagging everywhere, awakening covetousness and greed, and becoming the currency of “pride in possessions”
1 John 2:15-17 NIV Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
Sex is spiking up and down erratically in fornication and adultery and pornography and public nudity—or even the fear of sexuality, as if it were not a good gift from God. And power is thrusting itself through everything in every manner of self-exalting control and domination and exploitation.
All of this ruin and destruction come because we have exchanged the glory of God—the blazing sun—for other things—things that cannot hold our lives together. We find more pleasure in these other things, and other persons, than we do in God. We were made to live with God as the center of our lives.
Psalm 16:11 NIVYou make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
But there is deliverance. In spite of the way we have all insulted God by our preference for other things, God, in his unspeakable mercy, has done what we cannot do for ourselves, to give us a future and a hope in him.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.