- The Washington Times - Monday, February 28, 2000

The words of Jesus, "The truth shall set you free," are about spiritual freedom, our freedom from sin.
There are many dimensions of spiritual freedom. In our study of the Ten Commandments, we come to the seventh, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," and we learn about our freedom to have sexual purity, to have chastity.
Today, I want to relate this to the biblical concept of "calling." In our Reformation heritage, all men equally serve God to His glory. Hear the words of Puritan theologian William Perkins, who said, "The action of a shepherd in keeping sheep is a good work before God, as is the action of a judge in giving sentence or a magistrate in ruling or a minister in preaching."
Our primary calling is our relationship with God. Sin has cut us off from that, but in the New Testament, in Ephesians 2, we are again "made alive in Christ." …
We are made able again to pursue that primary call, to love God, to delight in Him… .
The Reformers also understood there was a secondary calling in this world. In God's creation, He gave Adam and Eve the possibility to know Him, but God also gave them a job. In Genesis 2, it said "before that time, there was no man to keep the garden," to develop its potential… .
In God's providence, which is infinitely wise, holy and good, He places us in different circumstances. He gives us different gifts, abilities and opportunities. There is much diversity and liberty in this idea of our calling… . It is our work, and what we spend most of our time doing.
Our spiritual calling and our secular callings are not opposites. They are like a hand in a glove. In the movie "Chariots of Fire" the Scottish college runner Eric Little was talking to his father, a missionary in China, and he said to Eric, "You can glorify God by peeling a spud if you do it to perfection." Eric said, "God made me fast. When I run, I feel His pleasure." …
Our work and talents can be consecrated to God, and they have application to our freedom of fidelity and chastity.
Lack of diligence in our calling can expose us to sexual temptations. The Bible gives us plenty of examples. We read that King David sent his troops into battle, and he stayed behind. He was sleeping one afternoon. That is when he saw Bathsheba bathing, and committed adultery with her… .
The Scriptures say that the woman who would lead a young man astray is "dressed as a harlot" and "her feet do not remain at home." The implication is, she doesn't stay where she is assigned.
Proverbs 31 says of the godly woman, "the heart of her husband trusts in her." She provides for the the household, and she is diligent in her calling. She does not wander away to seek out other partners.
These are examples of how practical, positive callings keep us out of temptation. Running water accumulates no scum, but standing water does. There is great promise in diligence and concentration on what the Lord has given us to do. Proverbs says, "Let your eyes gaze straight ahead," and Paul talks of an athlete's focus and self-control.
Diligence is not a silver bullet to escape sexual temptation. Not pursuing God is the primary problem, but it may also come from being idle. Young men, I believe, have a special need to be busy, using mind and body. Paul tells Timothy to "flee from youthful lusts."
If we cannot accept our circumstances as God's calling, at least for now, we may set ourselves up for a fall. Women who work at home may feel discontent because many in society demean that calling. One of the practical effects of women joining men in the workplace, I believe, is that it exposes both to greater temptation.
Parents, we must teach our children diligence in their work, and I define diligence as "enthusiastic excellence."


Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Clarence G. Newsome, dean of Howard School of Divinity.

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