Can someone have assurance when they struggle with sexual sin? Answered by Jimmy Buehler
Hi, this is Jimmy. On today’s episode of ask Theocast, I’m going to seek to answer the question, “Can someone have assurance when they struggle with sexual sin?” It’s a really good question, and I want to try to handle it with sensitivity and with grace; but, I do want to rephrase the question and then we’ll work our way back to the original. I’d like to rephrase the question to ask, “Can a genuine Christian struggle with sexual sin?” I would say to that, well, yes.
Paul says to us in the book of Romans, chapter seven, beginning in verse 15, “For I do not understand my own actions. I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate.” If you’re familiar with Romans chapter seven, it’s Paul’s inner dialogue, you could say, of his own battle with the flesh and his own battle with sin. Let’s just be honest. Particularly for guys, although I don’t think that this sin is outside of the world of women, but speaking particularly to guys, this is a real struggle. Pornography and images and things that we should not be looking at on the internet are so readily available to us, and it’s a thing that a lot of guys just frankly get really entangled in. I know even from personal experience that it can be a really difficult struggle. I also want to be sensitive to say that we need to be careful in how we talk about sin.
A lot of times, we just want to think of sin as something that we do, our outward actions, but time and again, particularly in Romans two as well as in the sermon on the mount in Matthew five through seven, Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles talk about sin being kind of a power within us, that God’s law is weighty and God’s law is not cheap. It presses in, not only into our actions, but God’s law actually presses into the level of our hearts. This is why Jesus says, “You have heard it said that you shall not commit adultery,” but Jesus says, “but I say to you, whoever looks upon a woman with lustful intent has committed adultery in their heart.”
This is where I want to begin to go back to the original question of, “Can someone have assurance when they struggle with sexual sin?” Well, think of it like this, can someone have assurance when they struggle with any sin? You know, we like to pick on sexual sin and we like to pick on alcoholism or whatever, some sort of addiction, whatever it may be, but we often neglect some of the more grievous sins that God talks about, one of which is pride. So, can a genuine Christian who struggles with pride have assurance? I would say yes. Therefore, can a genuine Christian who struggles with sexual sin have assurance? I would say yes. Why do I say this? Well, in Roman seven, if you read through and you see Paul’s struggle with his own flesh, you get to the end of Romans seven in verse 24 and he says this, “Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?” In verse 25 he says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So then I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin.” Now, this is the verse I want to look at, Romans eight one, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
I think that’s really good gospel news, that even in this life, as we struggle with sin, and that can include sexual sin, we struggle knowing that the victory lies outside of ourselves. The victory lies in Jesus Christ. Now with that said, I want to be careful, because that doesn’t mean that we can go on sexually sinning in a high handed way. Certainly there are a lot of resources and there are a lot of ways and means by which we can receive help. Particularly, with a sensitive issue like that, I would encourage somebody who’s struggling with sexual sin to go to somebody who is licensed and credentialed to perhaps get some help and think through that addiction in some really helpful and biblical ways, but I would say our assurance never lies in our ability to defeat sin. Our assurance always lies in Christ’s ability to defeat sin, which happened in his life, death, burial, and resurrection.
I know that this is a really hot button issue and that a lot of people struggle with this and it can bring a lot of shame, but ultimately, when we fight sexual sin or when we fight any other sin, we fight it with this status forward mindset that by grace, through faith in Christ, we receive forgiveness and we receive the Spirit, who helps us and enables us to fight sin. The enemy is going to work really, really hard to get you to struggle on the day in, day out, but we fight with our eyes looking to Christ. So, hopefully this answer is helpful to you. I know it’s not going to be a night and day difference, but we pray that, through the hope of the gospel, sin could be rooted out, especially a sin that brings as much shame and guilt as sexual sin. You can find more resources like these at theocast.org. Thanks for listening.