Facing sexual temptation? Keep this in mind!

“See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.”  Hebrews  12:16 (NIV)

The recent demise of the Herman Cain campaign was sobering and painful to behold.  Whenever a well respected man’s reputation comes into question, as his did over charges of sexual impropriety, it triggers a gamut of emotion.  We hope against hope that it isn’t true.  We wonder how in the world such a thing could happen and possibly have been going on for so long without anyone blowing the whistle.  We stand in amazement that someone who is so successful and seemingly so intelligent would jeopardize everything they have attained in life, and the promise of a preferred future, in exchange for some momentary sinful pleasure. 

But it happens all the time.  History is replete going all the way back to the days of Esau, with countless individuals who traded their inheritance for a bowl of porridge.  Sadly, the cemeteries of the world have far too many people in them who went to their graves with regret over all the good in life they forfeited in exchange for the evils of sin.

Esau, the first born of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, was slated to receive both the inheritance rights as well as the patriarchal blessing.  He was a man’s man, an outdoorsman, a hunter and rough cut man of passion.  In his day, he was what might be termed a hunk. 

Esau probably would have made a great politician.  Strong, passionate, outspoken leader types have a way finding their way into places of influence.  But every person considering a run for political office should keep in mind this scriptural advisory:  “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23 NIV)  Anyone who has any skeletons in the closet or hidden sins, be assured, they will eventually be exposed and you can count on the press and media to help.  Don’t kid yourself, those who find themselves in the public eye need to keep a strict private eye on their own lives.

One day, Esau came home from a day of hunting in the wilderness.  Exhausted at days end and famished for a meal, his deceitful brother Jacob finds him in a weakened and vulnerable state.  Esau is not unlike any one whom the devil delights to prey upon with temptation.  Jacob, the devil’s advocate, agrees to give him some of the stew he is brewing, but with one stipulation.  Esau must trade his rights as a firstborn son to Jacob in exchange for the meal. (Genesis 25:27-34)

Esau proceeds to make the same mistake everyone does when they give into self gratifying temptation.  He sacrifices the promise of enduring benefits by trading them in exchange for fleeting pleasure. “’Look, I’m dying of starvation!’ (not really) said Esau. ‘What good is my birthright to me now?’” (vs. 32 NLT)

It is important to note the lesson which the writer of Hebrews draws from Esau’s debacle.  He calls Esau “godless” for doing that.  Strong words.  But he also likens Esau’s failure to the nature of sexual sin and the toll taken on a person’s life and future through “sexual immorality.”

“See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.”  (Hebrews 12:16 NIV)

Sin is sin in God’s eyes, the Bible makes that clear.  All sin separates us from God and requires confession and forgiveness through the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from all its unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-10) 

But the Bible also singles out sexual sin as particularly toxic because of the fallout connected with it.  Too many times it mars the lives of everyone affected by it; consenting participants, perpetrators, victims and all those who know them.  The recent Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, is a case in point.  Save for the grace and the forgiveness of God, restoration of all that is lost through sexual transgression is nearly impossible.  Where else is this verse more true?  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23 NIV)

The Apostle Paul in writing to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith, offers all of us some critical advice to keep in mind in the face of sexual temptations.  It is like Paul is painting a picture for Timothy of the rich inheritance that is his in Christ, and in turn, ours as well.  In many ways it is not unlike the inheritance that could have been Esau’s. 

“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a utensil God can use for his purpose. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”  (2 Timothy 2:21-22 NLT)

If you are struggling or trapped in some sexual sin, or know someone who is get some outside help. Your life in God and too many other lives depend upon it!

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