1 Corinthians 5:9-11, 6:15-20 New Living Translation (NLT)
9 When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10 But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer[a] yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.
15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16 And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.”[a] 17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.
18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
Imagine an old, dilapidated house. In the middle of the dining room, under a large farm table lies an exquisite, one of a kind rug covering the aging hardwood floors. The rug is a masterpiece. Beautiful. Unique. Intricately made. The homeowner inherited it from her Father.
Beneath the rug however, lies deeply hidden secrets. They remain locked in darkness below the trap door which leads to the basement. No house guest, no family member, no friend knows they’re there. The Father knows. So does the homeowner. Desperately she hopes, prays even, that no one ever invades the darkness. For she couldn’t bear to see their disgust once the secrets were exposed. Surely, she assumes, everyone would reject and condemn her.
Occasionally, in the dead of night, when she has trouble sleeping, her mind begins to wander…..her eyes soon follow. Before she knows it, she submits her will to the lust. Her body, overwhelmed by temptation, commits a terrible act, again. Again! Shame immediately covers her. She runs to the dining room, desperate for relief. She pulls the rug back, unlocks the trap door, and shoves more secrets into the basement.
On other nights, she wakes drenched in sweat. Heart racing, her mind is consumed by fear. She tries to convince herself it’s only a bad dream. She runs into the dining room, stomps on the rug that is covering the trap door and shouts “I am more than a conqueror!” But she doesn’t believe it. She goes back to bed, wraps herself in the familiar blanket of shame, and fretfully falls asleep. The next day she wakes feeling utterly defeated and completely alone.
I was that homeowner.
The old, dilapidated house was my body.
The rug was my new life in Christ.
The locked trap door was my old life.
The dark basement was my soul.
After years of torment by residential demons in my body & soul that claimed squatters rights when I indulged in sexual sin (and others indulged against me), I finally allowed Jesus to gently pull back the rug. We opened the trap door together and His Spirit gave me supernatural courage to face the enemy who had been hiding in the basement for decades. Some demons were immediately evicted as I confessed and repented for each sin. But some required a greater level of humility when I needed to ask others in the body of Christ for help. I engaged my strong will and faced my fear. I invited them to climb down into the basement with me and Jesus. They prayed with me. They saw my shame. I confessed my sin. I gave up control. I repented. I forgave. They battled the enemy with me. They cheered when Jesus led me out of prison. They celebrated when the chains that bound my hands and feet fell off. They rejoiced when I experienced the promise of freedom in Christ!
Since then, I’ve had the privilege of walking into many deep, dark, basements with Jesus and others. I’ve witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit cast out demons and set captives free. I’ve seen believers experience abundant life as they’ve confessed their sins and been HEALED, body and soul!
My fellow homeowner, if you are a believer, stop indulging in sexual sin. RUN! Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. God bought you at a high price. Jesus laid His life down for you. His blood covers all your sin. You’re already forgiven. He can set you free from the evil that resides in the basement of your soul. You are not the only one in the neighborhood who has indulged. You are not the only one in the church who has locked the trap door to keep the secrets hidden. Ask the Holy Spirit for help. Ask others in the body of Christ for help. The Father wants to restore your old, dilapidated body. The Son wants to gently pull back the rug, unbolt the trap door, climb down into the basement with you and shine a light into the darkness. The Spirit wants to cover you with His armor and deliver you from the enemy. Victory IS possible!
Revelation 19:6-9 The Message (MSG)
6-8 Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of a mighty cataract, the sound of strong thunder:
The Master reigns,
our God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Let us celebrate, let us rejoice,
let us give him the glory!
The Marriage of the Lamb has come;
his Wife has made herself ready.
She was given a bridal gown
of bright and shining linen.
The linen is the righteousness of the saints.
9 The Angel said to me, “Write this: ‘Blessed are those invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.’” He added, “These are the true words of God!”
Luke 15:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)
15 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
Maybe it’s just me, but have you ever read a passage of Scripture over and over again and think, in your arrogance, “yeah, I get it?” Until someone says “many people get confused by it [this parable], but….?” And you are instantly offended?
Just me? Ok.
When I re-read the above passage, the Holy Spirit breathed life onto the page and BOOM, revelation invaded my soul. Humbly, I cried out, “Oh….God…I’m so sorry for leaning on my own understanding….thank you for revealing your truth to me.”
I had always assumed the 99 were already saved, and God abandoned them. I was continually irritated when this message was preached in seeker friendly services (what does that mean, anyway? “Seeker friendly”?!). Pastors would declare, “it’s not about YOU, it’s about the one.” Excuse me? What does THAT mean? Am I not loved by God? Am I to be abandoned in the wilderness when He goes after the one?
No. No. No!
The 99 represented the Pharisees and teachers of religious law. They had no relationship with the Shepherd, even though they belonged to Him. The 99 stayed in the wilderness, instead of following the Shepherd.
Here’s the deal: The Shepherd loves all His sheep. He died for all of them. But, He goes after the one. The one He chose before the foundations of the earth. He leaves the 99 who reject him. He pursues the one. He finds the one. And when the lost sheep humbles himself, the Shepherd picks him up, puts him on His shoulders, and carries him home.
I am the one.
I was part of the 99. I stayed in the wilderness for decades. I was raised in the church. I knew about God. I was involved in religious activity. But I did not know the Shepherd. I was lost. I was a notorious sinner.
Now I am found!
The Lord left the 99 to search for me 19 years ago. ME! He chose ME before the foundations of the earth. He pursued ME. He found ME. And when this stubborn sheep humbled myself before the Great Shepherd, He picked me up, put me on His shoulders and carried me home. There was joy in heaven for ME!
I am the one.
(Thank you, @realcoryasbury https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xx0d3R2LoU )