Why “How Far is Too Far” Is a Really Bad Question

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You’ve heard it asked before. “OK, so sex before marriage is wrong, but how much can we do and still be good with God?”

I’m not sure if there’s a worse question a dating couple can ask.

There are two reasons this is a bad question:

1. It assumes God’s promises aren’t good for you.

That question has an underlying mindset that God is out to keep us from having fun. So yeah, we’ll give Him lip service because we don’t want to get struck with a lightning bolt or go to hell, but lets still have as much fun as He’ll let us before that happens. After all, God is out to get us, and everyone knows that it is satisfying to have as much fun with as many different partners as possible. Sex in a faithful, lifelong monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is no fun. (BTW, the numbers prove otherwise.)

2. It doesn’t come from a heart of love for God.

If I were to tell you that I love you as a friend, but right after that, ask what would be the minimum requirements to maintain our friendship, what would your response be?

What if I did the same thing to my wife? “Babe, I love you. Now, what is the absolute least I have to do in order for you to not divorce me?”

Rightfully, you would question whether or not I really loved you or loved my wife. A true heart of love seeks to do whatever it can to make the one he loves happy. And if someone seeks the minimum, it is likely a sign that his allegiance lies elsewhere.

When we ask the question, “How far is too far,” let’s be honest with ourselves. It does not reflect a heart that wants to love and serve God. It reflects a heart that wants the benefits that God gives without actually giving God anything of value. In the same way a guy wants to use his girl to satisfy his flesh (or vice versa!), it shows he wants to use God to do the same thing.

A Better Question

There isn’t one person in Scripture that was viewed as positive who wanted to do the minimum requirements to serve God. There is also not one command for Christians to go as close to sin as they can without “crossing the line.”

In fact, Scripture says Christians should “flee” unrighteousness.

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things (1 Tim 6:11).

Flee sexual immorality . . . (1 Cor 6:18).

Flee from idolatry . . . (1 Cor 10:14).

Flee youthful passions . . . (2 Tim 2:22).

When Joseph was drawn by Potiphar’s wife to sleep with her, he didn’t get as close to intercourse as he possibly could and still maintain he was free from guilt. No. He ran away as fast as he could. He fled.

The question men and women of God must ask ourselves when it comes to dating isn’t “How far is too far in being physical?” The question to ask is, “By God’s grace, how far will He empower me to pursue righteousness?”

Asking this question seeks God’s best and encourages a loving response to God instead of trying to manipulate Him. Let’s start with asking how we can please God, not how much we can get away with.

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How Satan Tempts Us

19350The father of all lies hates us. He’d love to see us burn in an eternal hell, and he’ll do anything he can to make it happen.

Here are three ways he might try:

1. Get us to doubt God’s Word. 

Satan’s words to Eve in the Garden were “Has God really said . . . ?” (Gen 3:1). The first step he takes is to undermine the authority of the Word of God in our lives. God clearly told Adam and Eve His Word, and the first thing Satan did was try to cast a little doubt on it.The deceiver’s doubts might come to us a little differently, but with basically the same intent. “Maybe this just wasn’t translated well.” “Well, God couldn’t really mean we should actually love our enemies.” “There’s no way God could really hate divorce. That’s such a strong word!”Once we have doubted God’s Word, we’re right where Satan wants us–unstable, and ready to be tossed to and fro by another wind of false doctrine.

2. Create a false reality.

“You will not surely die . . .” (Gen 3:4). This is the part that’s a flat out lie. Satan loves denying the truth of God and encouraging people to “exchange the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 2).Satan will do whatever it takes to convince you that the consequences of sin aren’t as bad as God has said they would be. The pain won’t be that bad. There isn’t anything after this life, so live it up! Sex before marriage doesn’t cause distance and emptiness! You won’t feel remorse or have life-long issues after you abort your baby! Hell isn’t real!A false reality results in faulty actions. If the tempter can get you to dilute the consequences for your actions, then you’re pretty close to hooked.

3. Cast doubt on God’s good intentions for you.

“God knows that when you eat of it, you will be like God . . . ” (Gen 3:5). Here Satan convinced Eve that God didn’t have her best intentions at heart. She believed there was something she was missing out on; something God was holding from her that would have made her life better.This is exactly what happens when Satan tempts us. When we hear a command of God and are tempted to disobey Him, we think, “I’m missing out on all the fun!” In this moment what we’re really telling God is, “You don’t really care for me. You’re holding out. You don’t have my best intentions at heart.”What we don’t realize is that fullness of joy is in the presence of God. He is a well that does not run dry, and everything that could ever satisfy us is God Himself. God’s ways are for our good! Not exactly like medicine (although His good discipline is painful), but because they actually result in our happiness and flourishing!