“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Matthew 16:24 ESV
(Parts of my post today are adapted from an excellent blog post by Steve Gallagher, founder, and president of Pure Life Ministries.)
Let’s cut right to the chase: If you are a professing Christian and yet living a life of secret sexual sin, you are living the self-life, and you are a modern-day Pharisee. I’ll explain later what Pharisees and sexual immorality have in common. But, for now, let’s focus on the oxymoronic aspects of trying to live for self and yet saying you are living for God.
The lure of sin is the lie that, if you would just get what you want when you want it, you will be happy and fulfilled. Jesus said, in so many words, that is nonsense. As with every other of Satan’s lies, it is the opposite and leads to an empty life of selfishness and hypocrisy. In fact, it leads to death (James 1:15). As the river of sin runs through your daily existence, it erodes your soul. If allowed to continue, it creates a “Grand Canyon” of emptiness and despair and misery.
It is not difficult to see how Internet porn has become that river of self-indulgence. With the advent of virtual reality (VR), the porn industry is projecting it will become a 1billion-dollar annual business by 2025. Damon Brown, the author of the book Playboy’s Greatest Covers, said, “It seems so obvious: If we invent a machine, the first thing we are going to do with it – after making a profit, is to use it to watch porn.” The canyon grows deeper.
But what do those 1st century Pharisees we read about in the New Testament and modern-day “Christian” porn addicts have in common? More than you might think! First, the Pharisees were just so proper and stately on the outside, and yet Jesus said that on the inside, they were full of dead men’s bones (uncleanness). Their lives and their positions in 1st century Jewish society depended on “putting up a front.” Jesus wasn’t fooled then, and He isn’t fooled now by your showing up in church every week and boisterously singing praise songs.
Also, the Pharisees had a form of godliness (which depended on those outward appearances mentioned above), and yet their supposed faith was utterly devoid of power. This lifestyle leads to a reprobate mind. Imagine saying that you love God and, at the same time, making plans to kill His Son? How does one get to that place in their thinking? By descending ever deeper into the “Grand Canyon of Self.”
If you are squirming a bit as you read these words, it may be because you are attempting to lead the double-existence life. That life pretends to live for God while living for self. If you find yourself in that river of despair deep within the canyon of self, I implore you to reach up to the Lifeguard of your soul who stands on the Rock – who, in fact, is that Rock of your salvation. There is freedom from the river of our culture that flows downstream inexorably toward a Lake of Fire.