Sex is Not the Problem (lust is) - Blog

Date March 15, 2012
Author Rev. Eric D. Naus
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sex is not the problem book coverCrossroads has an ever-growing list of our most recommended books that we believe every Christian college student should read!  In our day, perhaps the single biggest problem facing college-age young adults is the onslaught of sexual immorality and the day to day fight against lust.  In light of this, we’re happy to recommend the following book as a fantastic resource to anyone wrestling with the topic.

This review is written by our college pastor, Eric Naus.  Eric and his wife Abby have a passion for gospel-fueled growth, and they delight in helping students find ever-growing freedom from the power of sin through Christ, as well as deepening satisfaction in the glory of God.

Sex is Not the Problem (lust is)

By Joshua Harris

It’s hard to find a Christian book on sexual purity that strikes a biblical balance.  Some books are too vague to be helpful.  Others are too specific with descriptive examples that make you feel more tempted by reading them! Some books are loaded with specific lists of “dos” and “don’ts” and unintentionally promote legalism.  Others are so vague that they lack practical helpfulness with real life situations!

Into this tricky mess comes a helpful but theological, practical but gospel-centered book by Joshua Harris, Sex is Not the Problem (lust is). If you’re a college-age young adult desiring Christ-centered purity in your life, I strongly recommend you give this short but powerful book a read!

Before diving into practical tips, Harris begins with a strong theological and gospel-centered foundation.  He stresses that sex itself is not evil or dirty to God.  God invented sex!  He made human beings to experience the incredible gift of sexual pleasure (chapter 2).  The real issue to be fought is lust, which Harris simply defines as “craving sexually what God has forbidden” (p. 20).  Harris suggests that in our fight against lust, we must check three things: first, we must make sure that our standard for holiness is biblical (“not even a hint of sexual immorality” – Eph. 5:3).   Often times Christians lower the bar, treating the intake of lust like a “diet,” rather than aiming at the Bible’s high standard (p. 25).  Secondly, we must make sure that our source of power to change is right – that source is the gospel!  “Willpower” and legalistic rule keeping will never take us very far.  We need the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ as our basis upon which to fight lust day by day (chapter 3).  Finally, we need the right motive in the fight – the unwavering grace of God (chapter 3).

With a biblical foundation in place, Harris spends two thirds of the book addressing specific topics and giving practical advice about the fight against lust.  Topics include:

  • How to “custom-tailor” your plan against lust, recognizing that people struggle uniquely (chapter 4)
  • The different challenges guys and girls face in the struggle (chapter 5)
  • The difficult topic of masturbation (chapter 6)
  • How to ingest media like movies and TV responsibly (chapter 7)
  • The necessity of accountability (chapter 8)
  • The importance of Scripture (chapter 9)
  • How to use the internet wisely (p. 173ff)

I found these chapters wonderfully practical, full of concrete tips and biblical wisdom, as well as deeply convicting.  Yet, at every point, Harris constantly throws the reader back to the cross of Jesus as the ultimate source of deliverance and power.  To quote Harris:

Remember that your hope for change is based in God’s grace.  It’s because Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins that you can stand justified before God and know that He will sanctify you day by day.  You can press toward God’s standard of not even a hint of sexual immorality in the unshakable confidence that through faith in Christ you stand before God with not even a hint of guilt” (p. 171).

I pray you’ll read this book, find your soul encouraged and inspired, and then invite a friend to read and discuss it with you as you journey together toward deeper, satisfying, holy pursuit of God! 

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