A note from Pastor Paul “Now the works of the flesh are evident which are; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (GAL 5:19-23) This past week my daughter Samantha who recently graduated High School was asked a question by her friend on social media regarding sex and drinking. They were discussing Galatians 5 which contrasts the “works of the flesh” with the“fruit of the Spirit.” Now the friend she was talking to, was a young man she met in Boulder while sharing the gospel with college students during an outreach called “Jesus Burgers.” This young man seems very interested in Jesus but is still struggling to turn away from the temptations of sex and drinking. She then walked him through Galatians 5, showing him that things like premarital sex and drinking are works of the flesh, not “the fruit of the Spirit.” In other words, continuing in those behaviors do not demonstrate that the Holy Spirit is in you and changing from the inside out. He basically responded by saying that “if those things are natural, or if God made them, then how can they be sinful?” In fact, here’s a screenshot of his exact question:
As I discussed this with Samantha, I felt that many young adults (as well as those of us who think of ourselves as young adults… you know who you are), could benefit from what I shared with her. This time of the year I often have our High School Graduates come up to the stage and we pray for them, and then I give them a Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible to equip them to be able to defend their faith. Many of these young adults like my daughter are very bold for the Lord. WHAT ABOUT SEX AND DRINKING? So, if God made these things and if they’re natural, then what’s wrong with doing them? How can they be sinful? While it’s true that God made these things. He created sex to be enjoyed in the context of marriage (Gen 1:28, 2:24, Heb 13:4) and in the Scriptures “wine” is used as a symbol of joy. For example, Psalm 104:15 tells us that just as God made grass for cattle to eat, He also made “wine which makes man’s heart glad.” When these things are done God’s way, they are a blessing. In fact, when they are done God’s way they can be blessed by God. However, the problem is when they are not done God’s way or when they are abused. In the Bible drinking in moderation is not considered sinful, but drunkenness is. For example, Proverbs 20:1 says, “Wine is mocker, strong drink a brawler” the NIV says “beer is a brawler.” Drinking in excess can be harmful in a variety ways. As Proverbs mentions “strong drink or beer is a brawler,” in other words excessive drinking can lead to violence. It’s estimated that two thirds of domestic violence situations the aggressor had been drinking. Likewise, 4 out of 10 child abusers have admitted being under the influence of alcohol. On average, over 40 percent of inmates who are incarcerated for violent crimes were under the influence of alcohol during their crime. So, an occasional glass of wine with a meal, or a toast at a wedding can be a time of joy, but the abuse of alcohol can cause pain and heartache. Likewise, God created sex to be enjoyed in the context of a healthy marriage. Among the blessings of sex are procreation God told Adam and Eve “to be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Intimacy or closeness and oneness in the marital relationship is another blessing Gen 2:24b says, “the two shall become one flesh.” However, just as alcohol can be abused so can sex, and the consequences are just as tragic. Last year 4.8 million people 1.0 million of them are children, were the victims of sex trafficking. According to the CDC 70% of the women involved in the pornographic industry are survivors of incest or child sexual abuse. These statistics illustrate how something created by God to be beautiful, when abused and misused can become painful. THE NEXT GENERATION Clearly, the abuse of sex and alcohol demonstrate that we are living in dark and sinful times. However, as I look at this next generation I am encouraged. When I think about the High School graduates like my daughter Samantha, or Andrew Cronk, Gabby Unruh, Jordan Abbot, and Emma Barret, I get excited. We have a group of young adults in our midst who are bold for their faith looking for opportunities to share the gospel. They are committed growing in their relationship with Christ as they go to mid-week Bible Studies like Reach on Thursday evenings. There is a group of young adults who courageously go to Boulder every Friday looking for opportunities to share the gospel and pray with college students during an outreach called “Jesus Burgers.” As Moses was passing the baton of leadership to Joshua, the leader of the next generation he told him to “Be strong and courageous” (Deut 31:7, NIV). Indeed, among us are very strong and courageous leaders rising up for the next generation. But I think they may do more than lead their generation, they might be inspiring ours as well. The Apostle Paul wrote a young leader named Timothy and told him “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1Tim 4:12, NIV) Perhaps those of us who are not quite as young as we once were (you know who you are), can look at the boldness and courage of this next generation and be inspired to be “strong and courageous” in the midst of our generation. If you would like more information regarding Reach on Thursdays contact Zach Boutan at (720) 355-3043. For information about Jesus Burgers on Fridays contact Timothy Smith at (720) 724-3449.