JACKSON, Tenn. – May 8, 2009 – Christians must take drastic measures to remove sexual sin from their lives because being pure in God’s sight provides immense joy, Ben Mandrell told Union University students April 29.
Mandrell, pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., spoke in a chapel service about commonly misunderstood topics in Matthew 5:27-30. Jesus says some things in the Bible that people don’t understand, Mandrell said.
In the Matthew passage, Jesus speaks about sexuality and the truth about purity. He reminds the people that adultery is wrong, but also adds that if man even looks at a woman lustfully, he commits adultery in his heart.
Mandrell cited two things that Jesus is not saying in these verses. First, Jesus is not saying it is wrong to be sexually attracted to the opposite sex.
“This is the way we are wired,” Mandrell said. “This is the reason for marriage. He gives us this desire.”
Second, Mandrell said Jesus is not teaching that sexual thoughts are the same as sexual acts. Being tempted by an impure thought is not what lust is according to Jesus’ teachings. Instead lust is when a person entertains the impure thought, Mandrell said.
“It’s not just to look upon a woman lustfully, but to continue looking on a woman lustfully,” Mandrell said. “This is when sin begins to become an infatuation.
“Sin begins in your thought life,” Mandrell continued. “It begins in your heart. It begins in your motive. It begins in your soul. It doesn’t begin in a bedroom.
“Do you see what Christ is doing?” Mandrell asked. “He’s raising the bar on personal holiness and he says you’ve got to deal with the problem.”
In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus tells his audience to gouge out their eye if it causes them to sin. He tells them to cut off their right hand for the same reason. Jesus is not calling for self-mutilation, Mandrell said, but he is saying that people need to do whatever it takes to remove and avoid sexual sin in their lives.
“If this means losing your most valuable possession, than do it.” Mandrell said. “You’re better to lose your most valuable possession than to lose purity and the heart of God.”
Mandrell then challenged the women to question their wardrobe and ask themselves, “Am I contributing in some way to sexual sin in this culture?”
“I am convinced that you all in your station of life, between 18 and 29, are coming up on more moments of decision than you will ever have in your life.” Mandrell said. “What you’re going to study, who you’re going to marry, decisions about your purity, decisions about the future -- these things are coming at you quickly.”
Mandrell said there are two paths to take when it comes to sexual purity -- the path of lust and the path of love. He said the path of lust never satisfies. It always wants one more thing, but it is the more popular path.
“When people travel the pathway of lust, they will never find holiness or happiness,” Mandrell said. “What Jesus is trying to do is restore your peace, your joy and your happiness.”
Audio from Mandrell’s chapel address is available at www.uu.edu/audio/Detail.cfm?ID=412.