Numbers 25:1-18 (Part 1) – No Matter How You Justify It, Sexual Sin is Still Sexual Sin

Posted: October 17, 2016 in Book of Numbers, Uncategorized
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Numbers 25:1-18 (Part 1)

Moab Seduces Israel

It was 1991. Dunlop Slazenger Corporation, the golf and tennis company, my employer, had just moved into its brand new headquarters on Pleasantburg Drive in Greenville just the year before. The corporate headquarters was a bunch of twenty and thirty somethings. We were all a group of young bucks that enjoyed working together. We were made closer as we were all going through QIP (Quality Improvement Program) training once a week for a whole afternoon. There were two sets of classes. Those classes seemed to draw us all closer together. We were all learning to work collaboratively to solve problems in the company. Relationships began there. It seemed that everybody was having affairs within our organization. Up to that point in my life, I was the clean cut, altar boy type. Naïve as hell.

 

I had my reasons. My first wife had put me through my own living hell of her drug abuse. Two stints in rehab. She had her own affair during all that craziness that was her period of drug abuse that changed our marriage forever. There was this martyred hatred that I had for her for what she had put me through. After she had gotten clean though, she had transferred addictions in that she had transferred addictions to spending money. I never knew how much money we really had at any given time. Add to that, she was the only woman I had ever been with. I was angry and was looking for something to happen in a place that was ripe for it. A bunch of young folks at place where the senior management was not setting the example but participating in the whole who is having an affair with who mentality. I wanted some of the thrilling action. I did want to be left out. As well, I had been through hell in my marriage and I deserved it. Then, as part of the quality program classes, I met a woman that found me attractive, found me funny, who was living in a physically abusive relationship with her husband. And it happened. I began an affair with the woman who would become my second wife eventually. I felt so alive again. She was sane and inviting and warm and loving where my first wife was somebody that I had to clean up after, make exceptions for, was such a demanding person to be in a relationship with. I was young and grabbing for a life I had never experienced before. She was normal and she had desire, serious desire for me. It all was justified in my mind. I deserved this happiness and this passionate desire that I felt. With all the trouble that I had put up with in my first marriage, how could this affair be wrong. I deserved it. I deserved to be happy. I had been through so much with my first wife that I would go into great detail here, but even my church friends at my wife’s family church took great pity on me for the things I had been through with their niece, cousin, etc. It was the first justifiable adultery in the world as far as I was concerned. Torrid moments stolen away together, secret phone calls from pay phones (back in the day when we had pay phones), wishing and wanting to be together. Daydreams of a life together. Sneaking away for real life moments together. Voice mail messages. It was all very exciting, dangerous, and thrilling. I deserved it. I deserved to follow the desires of my heart. How could it be wrong? Right?

 

That was my life from 1991-1993, living the affair life. Living the double life. Justifying in my mind why it was right. I was in love, really in love, with another woman. Anybody who knew my first wife and my first marriage was not surprised when it all became known. I literally had been through hell and back with my first wife. I got my freedom from that through that affair. But I only thought those years of my first wife’s drug abuse was hell. From 1993-1996 to a major extent and throughout my second marriage (1995-2004), my first wife made my life away from her even worse that it was being with her. The second marriage, with the woman with whom I had the affair, had its own problems where I was so dependent on her that I made her my god and she saw my past life and anything to do with it as a threat to what she could have for herself and her kids. My kids were a threat. It was all a big fat mess. My first wife and her hatred for me and my second wife and the whole my kids vs. your kids issue with my second wife all played major roles in making me second marriage work its way toward its ugly end in 2004. Not to mention the financial pressures of alimony and child support. Those pressures and my willingness to do anything to keep my second wife happy led me to make some incredibly foolish decisions about money. Because of the pressures, jealousies, and my mistakes with money (justified in my mind as the right thing to do to keep my second wife, my god, happy) ended up being her justification for stepping out on our marriage. The old saying “if they will do it with you, they will do it to you”  was true in the second marriage.

 

I was an altar boy type at one time, always doing the right things. I was a preacher’s kid who lived a sheltered life of doing the right thing. Being a dependable sort. I was good egg. Never straying from the straight and narrow. By the end of my second marriage, I had slid so far down the moral scale that I was aghast at what my life had become. I was no longer an altar boy. I was a morally bankrupt man. I was so far beyond the line, the line was a dot in the rear view mirror. Sure, I could sit back and justify how the affair with the woman who became my second wife was OK. I could justify it because of the craziness of my first wife and her vindictive nature. I could justify how I was just trying to keep my goddess happy in my second marriage by ignoring my kids and making foolish mistakes with money as doing what it took to keep my marriage together. I could justify how I was the victim in all of it. But, bottom line, I played a role is the desert wasteland I found myself in 2004 after my second marriage ended. I could blame others but I had committed sins of all kinds that led me to the place I was then. My sins. My sins. Nobody else’s sins. My life was a result of my sins. It was only when I realized my role in my life and the decisions to follow sin’s siren call that my life became what it had become by 2004. Alone and thrown away. Sin’s slippery slope. Once you get on the slide, it’s hard to get off of it. Sin’s siren call will crash you into the rocky shore and leave you lost and alone when it’s done.

 

My own slide into sin’s snare is exactly what I thought of when I read today’s passage, Numbers 25:1-18, and how it seems so innocent and justifiable when listen to Satan’s call:

 

25 While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. 3 So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them.

 

4 The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.”

 

5 So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.”

 

6 Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand 8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; 9 but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.

 

10 The Lord said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. 12 Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. 13 He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”

 

14 The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was put to death was Kozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.

 

16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them. 18 They treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the Peor incident involving their sister Kozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of that incident.”

 

The passage doesn’t tell us how the Israelite men became involved in sexual immorality just that they did. We do know that sacred prostitution was a common practice of the pagan god worship of the ancient Middle East. At first, I bet, the Israelite men did not think about worshiping the idols of these women, they were just interested in sex. Before long, they started attending local feasts with their licentious sexual escapades, and idol worship. Soon they were in over their heads and absorbed into the practices of the idol worshiping culture. Their desire for sex and fun and pleasure was all justifiable to them I bet. It caused them to loosen their commitment to God and the ways that He had prescribed them to live. How often does our dabbling in sin seem OK at first? How many times do we, as we slide into immorality try to justify it as being OK? How many times does our dabbling become full blown participation and justification? How often does it become our ruin?

 

If you find yourself drawn to sexual immorality right now, end it. If you find your innocent flirtations beginning to go beyond the innocent stage and your thoughts are going to that place with that woman who is not your wife, flee! If you find yourself in an affair right now and you are justifying it in your mind as OK right now, stop it. No matter how you slice it, it is sin. Sure, you may have very valid reasons to your being in an affair right now. Maybe, your wife is a mean, vengeful, scorekeeping, vindictive, you are for me or you are against me type. Maybe even she has had an affair that you have forgiven. But, my friend, sin is sin. No sin is justifiable. When we stand before the pure and holy God, we will not be able to rationalize away our sin crimes as justifiable. Sin is sin. Sin destroys. I can stand here today and tell you that it is true. I have lived it. I am finally in a good marriage to a good woman and we together try to live our lives God’s way and in so doing, God has richly blessed us in more ways than we can count. My life is settled now and I know it and appreciate it. My sins, no matter how justified they were, caused a whirlwind of trouble in my life that I did not truly did begin recovering from until 2009. My slippery slope into sexual immorality that began in 1991 had it long ranging effects of an ever increasing spiral of the effects and reactions and other sins. I was a tempest sea my friends. I survived it only through God’s grace and forgiveness. It was only when I decided to start giving up each area of my life to God starting with my salvation in late 2001 and the painful process of letting go of my justifiable sins that I can stand on the shore today and say that I did not drown from it and it was only because of the grace of God and His nature of forgiveness.

 

I am no altar boy today. I am just a sinner in recovery. I am still a man who enjoys looking at a beautiful when she passes by. However, the difference now is I know that devastation was wrought in my life by choosing to follow the desires of the male mind. I do not want to live that way again. Those thoughts get taken captive quickly when the flashes of the pain that was my life living with results of sexual sin. No matter how you slice it. No matter how you justify. Sin is sin is sin is sin. If you find yourself there, run for the hills. Flee young man! Flee! God has a way out for you. When we stand before the throne of God, there will be no one around to blame our sins on. It will be just us and Him. Not to mention the fact that what seems so wonderful when sin’s siren call comes will destroy you. You sit there and say right now. It’s all right. My circumstances are different! No they are not. Sin is sin no matter what the justifications are. Flee! Run Forrest run! Get away. It will bring about your destruction my friend. Bank on it. Know it. Learn it. It will happen. Everytime. All the time. Without fail.

 

Lay down at the Father’s feet. Beg him to forgive you. And flee from the justifications of the rightness of your sins. Satan is a seductress who calls sailors to the shore only to crash them on the rocks. Flee from him. Do not listen. Steer your ship away from his rocky shores.

 

Amen and Amen.

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