The National Park Service called it a "controlled burn" - they set a fire near Los Alamos, New Mexico to remove 900 acres of dry trees and brush. But the controlled burn got out of control. It destroyed some 5,000 acres of private property and parkland, it caused the evacuation of the entire population of Los Alamos, and it destroyed some 200 homes. And saddest of all, the Weather Service had warned the Park Service that there would be high winds, high temperatures, and low humidity - prime conditions for a fire to spread. But apparently their warnings were ignored, and a fire they thought they could control did more damage than they could have ever imagined.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I'd like to have A Word With You today about "The Fire You Think You Can Control."
The mistake made by the Park Service in Los Alamos is a mistake that millions have made over the years - when it comes to the fire of sexual desire. They thought it was a fire they could control - but they were wrong. And the damage has been tragic.
God talks about the fire in our word for today from the Word of God in Proverbs 6:25. He says, "Do not lust in your heart after (a woman's) beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes." Then God uses some vivid imagery to describe what lust really is and what it really does - "Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?" Translation: when it comes to lust and flirting with sexual desire, there is no such thing as a "controlled burn" - it's going to cause a lot of damage.
Today, the fires of unholy passion are being fanned by forces that spread them very far, very fast - the constant sexual images available on television, in videos, in magazines, on billboards, in advertising, and on the Internet. It takes a conscious, stubborn commitment to avoid the flames of lust - to, as the Bible says, "Flee the evil desires of youth" - not fight wrong desires, but flee them.
One example of the fire out of control is on the Internet. A recent seminar at a conference of the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity reported that online sex addiction is a growing epidemic that is tearing partners apart and creating a dangerous new compulsion. One expert told the psychologists that cybersex is changing the definition of sexual compulsion "like crack cocaine changed the field of substance abuse." Surprisingly, the numbers of those visiting sex chat rooms or pornographic sites were nearly equal for men and women.
This seminar reported that Internet sex is creating a compulsive need for cybersex that can literally choke the life out of marriages. But long before the Internet, lust has been twisting people's view of love, of sexuality, and of commitment. It may be that you have believed the rationalization that you can just check it out without anything being damaged. That is a lie that leads to shame, to bondage, to scarred relationships, and to alienation between you and God.
You can ignite the fires of sexual desire by feeding your fantasies (the images of twisted sex) or by a physical relationship that is stirring up desires you cannot possibly satisfy righteously. And God has given us warning. This fire you think you can control will get out of control - and you will do more damage than you could ever have imagined. Your protection against the inferno is the commitment of Job 31:1 - "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully..." It's a choice. The payoff? Beauty instead of charred remains.