Professor: Temptation calls for radical action
Published April 5, 2007
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)—When Robert Plummer started dating his future wife, the couple made what may seem like a radical commitment: they would not kiss each other on the lips prior to marriage.
Though many Christians and non-Christians alike think such a high standard is extreme or legalistic, Plummer said in February at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, such radical steps are necessary to forsake sexual sin and live a life of purity. Plummer spoke to students during the school's annual Give Me An Answer collegiate conference; the theme this year was, "Does God Care About Sex?"
"Maybe the world says you're an idiot to act that way," said Plummer, who serves as assistant professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern. "But we're called to that kind of radicalness. And what we really need in terms of radical steps for many single young people is accountability and standards that the culture says we don't need.
"The culture says, 'Be your own person. You can handle it yourself.' Pride says, 'That won't happen to me.' From experience and from the warning of Scripture we know our hearts are deceptive. We need that accountability. We need those standards."
Unless believers take radical steps to cut off the sources of evil sexual desire, sinful sexual acts will occur, he said. Plummer recommended such acts as canceling Internet service if online pornography is a temptation, refusing to be alone with a member of the opposite sex and making it a practice not to watch video clips on the news with sexual content.
Committing sexual sin can be like stepping into quicksand where a person's heart, mind and body are taken captive, Plummer said.
"Some people think sexual sin is just like a valley they walk down in," he said. "... But the Proverbs say it's not like a little valley you can walk in and walk out of. Sexual sin is a deep pit that you fall in. And you're stuck down there. You're mired in that. It's not easy to get out of this. There is an entrapping nature."
Though true believers may fall into sexual sin at times, a life of unrepentant sexual sin is a denial of a person's claim to know Christ, he said.
"If you live a life of sexual sin without conviction or repentance, then that's really a denial," Plummer said. "You may say, 'When I was 12, I came to know Christ.' But if you're really not troubled by the sexual sin in your life, then that's really a denial of that claim."
Sexual sin is so serious because tolerating it is a form of idolatry, he said, noting that idolatry is simply putting something other than God on the throne of a Christian's hearts.
"That's really what it is," he said of sexual sin. "Let's call it what it is. One is valuing one's immediate pleasure over God's clear commands. One is loving self rather than loving God. The first step in being free from sexual sin is calling it what it is. Engaging in sexual sin is to hate God and hate your neighbor."
Believers who have fallen into sexual sin should be encouraged because repentance and confession bring about amazing results, Plummer said.
Some may think that turning from sin and confessing it is only an act Christians commit at the beginning of their Christian lives, but Plummer said repentance and confession should be patterns of behavior throughout the Christian life.
In addition to confessing sin to God, confessing to another trusted believer can be very helpful in the process of being delivered from sexual sin, he said.
Those struggling with sexual sin should also be encouraged by the fact that Jesus was tempted in every way we are but was without sin, Plummer said.
"What is the temptation you're facing?" he said. "Can you imagine: Christ was tempted in that way, and yet He is able to sympathize with us and give us grace and mercy. So be encouraged. Christ was tempted in the way you are, but He did not sin."
Christians should never think that sexual sin is an unavoidable part of life, Plummer said, because the Bible teaches that men and women can resist giving in to temptation by God's power.
"Be encouraged," he said. "Freedom and victory from sin comes from the power of the Holy Spirit as Christ is enthroned in your heart."