These are two books that I have been reading and have been using in counseling for those struggling with sexual immorality. Since both of these books were read during the same time and are relevant to my counseling sessions, I want to consolidate or streamline the review for both these books into one post so that you guys will not need to search for the reviews in two different areas. Without further ado, I want to to say that the book: Secret Sex Wars: A Battle Cry for Purity, edited by Robert S. Scott and Sexual Detox: A Guide for the Single Guy (short read) by Tim Challies were great reads. Most of my time was spent on Secret Sex Wars since it was a longer read.
Both books have been instrumental for me and has guided me step by step in confronting sexual immorality. As for Secret Sex Wars, this book deals with sexual immorality by addressing the important role doctrine plays in sexual purity; the fear of God, the will of God, lessons to be learned from fallen men, living free from the slavery of sexual sin, living in God’s grace, putting sin to death before it kills you; and training young people concerning the aggressive and demonic cycles of sexual sin before it engulfs them.
The book Secret Sex Wars makes it clear in chapter one, “Slaying the Fiery Beast,” – that there is a connection between truth and purity. An example of that connection maybe found in Psalm 119:9-11,
“How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
10 With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You” (NASB).
Do you see the connection? The connection maybe found in the bold words. The idea is that truth ushers in purity. In other words, purity cannot exist apart from doctrine. One who seeks God’s Word will live a godly life. Another example can be found in 1 Timothy 1:8-10,
“But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.”
From 1 Timothy 1:8-10, we see that those who live ungodly lives, live that way because they live apart from God’s Word.
In chapter 2, “Fearing God When No One Else Would Know,” the author builds his case from Genesis 39 (Joseph and Potiphar’s wife). One statement that was penetrating was his quote from John Owen, “What a man is in secret, in these private duties, that he is in the eyes of God, and no more” (41). According to the author, to fear God, one must understand these following areas, “the Bible and dark places, the nature of the secret battle, temptation’s enticements, temptation’s blindside, temptations’s persistency, temptations’s vulnerable moments, word of caution to the true warrior, temptation’s susceptible moments, escaping Potiphar’s house (‘accept personal responsibility, understand harmartiology, remember divine accountability’), developing a defense to win your secret war, and checking your distance.”
Chapter 3 which is entitled, “Living According to the Will of God,” is based off of 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8. Here the author provides exegetical and practical truths to help one live in accordance to God’s will. One thing I appreciated about this chapter besides the critical exegetical insights, are the intensely practical truths as demonstrated in figure 1. In figure 1, the author lays out a diagram that looks somewhat similar in this link: Sexual Purity Diagram
The chart conveys the notion that one who desires to please God must know the will of God. If you do not know God’s will, you cannot please Him. His will is found in His Word. An example of God’s will is as follows, “Your sanctification.” God’s will is for one to be sanctified. He wants you to be separate from sin and wants you to be devoted to Him. A person who does that is striving after sexual purity. Of course sanctification must be applied in all areas of life, but in Paul’s context from 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, he wants the Thessalonian believers to be sanctified by abstaining from sexual immorality.
In Chapter 4, “Learning from Men who Have Fallen,” the author’s main points are derived from 2 Samuel 11. He uses David’s sin as a paradigm for men to learn from. Some mistakes that David committed were his undisciplined leisure time, looking/wandering eyes, lust; his refusal to confess and repent; to name but a few – lead to his moral failure. One must take heed to the mistakes David made. To do the opposite or to turn a blind-eye would be dangerous because one will fall under the consequences of sin and God’s chastisement.
As for chapter 5, “Living Free from the Slavery of Sexual Sin,” the author goes through Romans 6:19-23 to point out the importance of living free from the slavery of sin. Being free from sin does not mean you will not sin again or be perfect, but it does mean that you will no longer have a desire to be enslaved to sin’s power because of your identity in Christ. Our identity in Christ is found in the Gospel. The author points out that there is “no safe sex outside the bounds of marriage” (120). The goal of sin is to rob your devotion away from God. To prevent that, one must take heed to what Paul said in Romans 6:19, “I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in furtherlawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.” Besides the slavery to sexual sin, sanctification brings freedom because its work does not bring death and its benefit is eternal life.
In chapter 6, “Putting Sin to Death,” Colossians 3:5-7 becomes the focal point. That passage states, “ Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.” One who puts sin to death, does not cover it up because he understands like the author mentioned, “Open sins on earth are open scandals in Heaven” (137). Secondly, when he puts sin to death, he does not internalize it, but because of His identity in Christ, he has an entirely new attitude toward sin; and he understands that the “heart of the matter is the matter of the heart” (138). Thirdly, as the author clearly states it, putting sin to death does not mean you replace one sin with another. What I have just explained is what you should not do when putting sin to death. On the other hand, here is what you should do: 1) hate sin passionately, fight sin violently, and deal with sin decisively. You do all of that because you love God and because God loves you. The author then goes on to explain what sins must be put to death. The answer to that – “…You must put to death any and every sin that threatens your devotion to Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus desires, deserves, and demands our total devotion, absolute allegiance, and complete commitment” (143). The question will still linger in one’s mind in terms of sin: “Why do I need to put sin to death?” The author answers that by giving four fundamental reasons: God commands it, the nature of sin demands that we put it to death, the wrath of God, and the grace of God that is in operation in a regenerate person.
The last chapter, “Training Our Sons to Overcome Temptation,” was penetrating and refreshing. Just as Paul taught young Timothy (2 Timothy 2:22; 3:10-17), so should Fathers teach their sons and young believers who have no biblical father-figure about the importance of living for God. They need to be discipled. If not, the world will disciple them.
As for Sexual Detox, this book covers the pornification of the marriage bed, breaking free from sexual sin, theology of sex, selfish sex, detoxification, and freedom. This was a very practical read and will be helpful for the single guy. The author puts much emphasis on the theology of sex and its implications on marriage. Although this book is intended for single guys, it is still helpful for married couples. For example, he mentions some of the dangers that needs to be taken seriously in the context of marriage.
Besides the book review, I am also including a homework assignment that can be used as a means to help someone be set apart for Christ. You may use this to help counsel someone committing adultery, fornication, etc. The particular scenario is more geared towards a person who committed adultery, but there are some content and principles in it that can be germane to different particular counseling case related to sexual immorality.
HEART ON THE TABLE
- To take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
- To be complete in Christ (Col. 1:28)
- To trust and obey (Rom. 12:14-21)
- To mortify idols (Col. 3:5-11)
- To worship the Lord with holy joy (Jeremiah 15:16)
Before we even start this five part series, I believe that it is imperative that prayer is the necessarily step to be taken first. Prayer is a gift from God that God grants to us. As a gift from God, it should be used with great joy. As you eat food with great joy because it sustains life, so too should prayer be utilized with great joy because it sustains our spiritual lifeline. But before one takes a step into the holy of holies via prayer, one must be careful before praying before a holy God. A holy mentality is much needed when it comes to fighting sin. Please read Psalm 51 to see David’s example of having a holy mentality in conjunction with prayer when it comes to fighting sin. The setting of Psalm 51 takes place after David committed adultery and murdered Bathsheba’s husband.
In lieu of having a holy mentality when praying to God, we need to understand that prayer is not only important because it is our spiritual lifeline, but our Lord and Savior expects us to pray. And since He is our Lord and Savior—that is enough for us to take seriously. Here are a couple of phrases from a couple of verses where Jesus expects us to pray: Matt. 6:5, “When you pray…”; Matt. 6:6, “But you, when you pray…”; Matt. 6:7, “And when you are praying…”; Matt. 6:9, “Pray, then, in this way…”; Lk. 11:9, “So I say to you, ask…; seek…; knock…”; Lk 18:1, “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray….” Other verses in the Bible that is very clear concerning prayer is Col. 4:2 and 1 Thess. 5:17. Col. 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer…”; and 1 Thess. 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing….”
Genuine prayers allow one to take every thought captive, be complete in Christ, to learn how to better trust and obey, mortify idols, and to express our joy to the Lord.
PART 1: Hear God’s Word concerning your sin.
In 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Paul instructs young Timothy to preach the Word. It is evident that when the Word is preached, there is a hearer (s). Hearing the word of God was a crucial element in Old Testament and New Testament times, and is crucial now. God’s word helps us better understand God and God’s will for us.
Please listen to two sermons during this week and write any notes that convicted you. Since God has gifted the church with teachers and pastors, it is important to learn from them. Please listen to Pastor John MacArthur’s sermon called, “Hacking Agag to Pieces. Here is the link: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-128/hacking-agag-to-pieces. For the second sermon, please listen to John Piper’s sermon called, “This Is the Will of God for You: That You Abstain from Sexual Immorality. Here is the link: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/this-is-the-will-of-god-for-you-that-you-abstain-from-sexual-immorality.
- After reading Hebrews 5:11-14, please describe what time of listener you were during your adulterous affair. Were you a bored listener or a joyful listener? If you were either a bored listener or joyful listener, please explain why.
- In lieu of Hebrews 5:11-14, were you a milk drinker or solid food eater during the time of your adulterous affair?
- When you had the adulterous affair, did you wanted to remain as a milk drinker or solid food eater?
- Please list down the specific sins that you need to put to death in your current life (Robert S. Scott, SR., 152).
- Please provide the biblical steps that you want to begin now in order to mortify sin (Scott, 152).
- Please list down how you are going to subdue sin when it becomes difficult (Scott, 152).
- Are you willing to take the necessary steps to put sin to death in your life after hearing God’s message about sin? Why or why not? Please explain (Scott, 152).
STEP TWO: Read God’s word.
Please read Psalm 119 everyday throughout the week. Pray while reading Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is a powerful chapter that displays the glories of God’s word. Since the psalmist had a high view of God’s word, you too, need to have a high view of God’s word. God’s word cleanses the soul and spirit. Also please make great effort in trying to memorize Psalm 119:1-8
- What was your mentality of obeying God’s words at the time of your affair?
- Where you happy in terms of your relationship with God when you were in sin?
- Was there a desire in terms of conforming to God’s word at the time of your sin?
- Before you desired to receive counseling, what was your priority in terms of obedience to God?
- Was there something more satisfying in the time of your affair besides Jesus Christ?
- Why do you desire to come to counseling sessions? Please explain clearly.
- After reading Psalm 119, endeavor to memorize Psalm 119:1-8, and answering the above questions, are you ready to make a declaration of war against sexual immorality?
STEP THREE: Study God’s words.
Studying God’s word is crucial because it provides illumination. Without studying, we will not be able to have proper discernment and wisdom. Studying God’s word allows you to take your thoughts captive to Christ, be complete in Christ, learn how to trust and obey, mortify idols in your heart, and to have joy in His word as seen in the psalmist when he wrote Psalm 119.
Also, please continue to memorize Psalm 119:1-8 if you have not done so.
- Please list down the activities that need to be eliminated or decreased in order to mortify your sin (s) (Wayne A. Mack, 168).
- Please study these following verses and try to understand what the author is speaking about and see how they apply to you: 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; 2 Tim. 2:22; Matthew 5:27-32; Jude 7-8; 2 Cor. 10:4-5; 1 Cor. 9:24-27; Gal. 5:24; Rom. 8:32, 37; 1 Cor. 10:13; Romans 13:11-14; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 7:1-27; Proverbs 7:1-27; Proverbs 5:20-25; Proverbs 13:20; Proverbs 17:14; Proverbs 18:10; Proverbs 19:3; Proverbs 22:3; Proverbs 23:26, 27, 28; Proverbs 26:20-22; Proverbs 29:3; Proverbs 29:18; Proverbs 27:12, 17; Psalm 119:9-11; Acts 20:32; Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:7-16; Ephesians 5:22-33; and Hebrews 13:4.
- Was the affair the reigning influence in your heart? If so, why?
- Is Christ enough for you? If not, how will your life end up in this earth and after you die?
- What is your view of sin? Do you see it as an offense towards a holy God?
- If you do want to stop the affair, please explain why you want to stop the affair. Is it because you just want fire insurance so that God will rescue you from Hell or is it also because you desire true joy and forgiveness in Christ?
- Write down in a journal daily about your good and bad thoughts when temptation arose.
STEP FOUR: Memorize God’s word.
Memorizing God’s word is imperative. I believe that the psalmist in Psalm 119:11 understood it. He says, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” He knew that to treasure His word, would empower him to not strive after ungodliness
- Have you memorized Psalm 119:1-8?
- If you have memorized Psalm 119:1-8, were there any changes in your behavior?
- Are there any other resources outside the Bible that is anti-Christianity that you love to memorize?
- What is your desire, reason, or motive to memorize God’s words?
STEP FIVE: Mediate on God’s word.
1 Timothy 4:5 says, “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Joshua 1:8 says, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
- Do you have a passion to memorize God’s word?
- Do you hunger for His word?
- What does the word meditate mean? Please provide your answers. We can discuss this word further in the counseling session.
- With meditation and with all the other major timeless truths mentioned in the other parts, will you have a desire to obey God (see James 1:22; 4:17).
- Share with your wife about what God has been teaching you; and also take your wife out on a date.
- Read Secret Sex Wars: A Battle Cry for Purity by Robert S. Scott and write down quotes from the book that had the biggest impact on you.
- Have you repented (2 Cor. 7:10) from this sin and trusted in Christ forgiveness?
- Please study 2 Corinthians 7:9-11. What are the two types of the repentance that you see? What is godly repentance and worldly repentance?
- “9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will ofGod produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter” (NASB).
- Is your life meaningful/only have worth if…
- “I have power and influence over others.” (Power Idolatry)
- I am loved and respected by _____.” (Approval Idolatry)
- I have this kind of pleasure experience, a particular quality of life.” (Comfort idolatry)
- I am able to get mastery over my life in the area of _____.” (Control idolatry)
- people are dependent on me and need me.” (Helping Idolatry)
- someone is there to protect me and keep me safe.” (Dependence idolatry)
- I am completely free from obligations or responsibilities to take care of someone.” (Independence idolatry)
- I am highly productive and getting a lot done.” (Work idolatry)
- I am being recognized for my accomplishments, and I am excelling in my work.” (Achievement idolatry)
- I have a certain level of wealth, financial freedom, and very nice possessions.” (Materialism idolatry)
- I am adhering to my religion’s moral codes and accomplished in its activities.” (Religion idolatry)
- this one person is in my life and happy to be there, and/or happy with me.” (Individual person idolatry)
- I feel I am totally independent of organized religion and am living by a self-made morality.” (Irreligion idolatry)
- my race and culture is ascendant and recognized as superior.” (Racial/cultural idolatry)
- a particular social grouping or professional grouping or other group lets me in.” (Inner ring idolatry)
- my children and/or my parents are happy and happy with me.” (Family idolatry)
- Mr. or Ms. “Right” is in love with me.” (Relationship Idolatry)
- I am hurting, in a problem; only then do I feel worthy of love or able to deal with guilt.” (Suffering idolatry)
- my political or social cause is making progress and ascending in influence or power.” (Ideology idolatry)
- I have a particular kind of look or body image.” (Image idolatry)
Challies, Tim. Sexual Detox: A Guide for the Single Guy. Cruciform Press, 2009.
Scott, Robert S. Secret Sex Wars: A Battle Cry for Purity. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Publishers, 2008.
Mack, Wayne A. A Homework Manual for Biblical Living. Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co, 1979.
Keller, Tim. “Tim Keller: Diagnostic On Idols of the Heart.” Take Your Vitamin Z. Entry posted April 23, 2013. http://takeyourvitaminz.blogspot.com/2013/04/tim-keller-diagnostic-on-idols-of-heart.html (accessed May 5, 2013).
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