Scripture Reference: 1 Corinthians 6:15-20, 1 Corinthians 15:33
Breaking Soul TiesDr. Erwin W. Lutzer | November 3, 2002
Selected highlights from this sermon
Soul tie: a bond between two or more people that unites them in purpose and desire and in relationship. It can be positive with the right people or negative with the wrong people.
A sexual relationship outside the covenant of marriage is an alien, foreign, defiling bond that has the power to paralyze you, to make you a slave to that person, and can start a spiral that will lead you deeper into sin.
Soul ties can be broken because God is a God of new beginnings. No matter how strong those bonds are, no matter how far you’ve fallen, God is able to pick you up, cleanse you and restore your soul.
People have a great deal of influence over us, and that influence can either bless us or it can curse us. Seldom is it entirely neutral.
Destructive ties are often times built deliberately with manipulation and seduction, sometimes quite innocently. Let me give you some examples of what I call soul ties. I may define the expression later, but I’m speaking, for example, of friendships. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Parents, memorize that verse. Make sure that you know the friends of your children, because your children will eventually become like their friends. And I think of the many parents who have said, “You know, if only we had known, because our child went to college, or he went to high school, and he became friends with other peers who led him or her astray.” Remember that you will become like the people with whom you feel most at home and most accepted.
Friendships – yes! Leadership! I’m thinking, for example, of the awesome power that false cultists have, and false religious teachers. How can they take young people and others and turn them into zombies without will power, unable to get away from their grip, treating them as slaves? And those captives stay there.
There is a verse in 2 Corinthians in which Paul says very clearly, “I am concerned that you might receive false teachers with another gospel (and then notice this phrase), and receive another spirit.” The Bible says that in the end days there will be seducing spirits. There is a transfer of spirits I am convinced between false cultists and their devotees. And that’s why they will follow someone over a cliff. That’s why they will cut off all ties, and lose their will power, because they are in the presence of a man with irresistible power who casts a spell upon them with other spirits.
And then I think, for example, of relationships. And these relationships may not be sexual. We’re going to be talking about that in a moment, but these might just be emotional bonding relationships where one soul is open to another soul, and one soul controls the other soul with whom it has been bonded.
My wife and I know a man who actually was in seminary with me, and the pastor of a number of churches. He married a lovely woman and had three nice children. They began to do prison ministry, visiting people in prison, and she falls madly in love with a man on Death Row. Not only is this bonding so strong, so overwhelming, so euphoric that she cannot resist it, she divorces her husband so that she can (quote) marry this man, whatever that might mean, in prison. But also–here’s the shocker–she no longer is concerned about her kids. Wow!
I hear that throughout the country. It’s not just that the man or the woman left for another lover, but suddenly a loving parent no longer cares about their children. They are under the spell of someone whose polluted soul has polluted them with this euphoric experience, and as a result they have found "their soul mate," and off they run into the sunset, which will eventually turn into the darkness of night.
What is a soul tie? It’s the bonding between two people or more, and this bonding unites them in purpose, in desire and in relationship, and as a result of that bonding it can be very positive if it’s with the right people, but very destructive if it is with negative people.
Let me give you an example. Here’s a young woman, a Christian, a Sunday school teacher, loves God, wants to serve Jesus, fine home! She goes to work in a firm where a man seduces her. He comes by her desk, tells her all these wonderful things, tells her how beautiful she is, how desperately he really does need her. She knows what he’s doing, but she’s flattered by the attention and so she listens and she opens her soul. And pretty soon a polluted soul comes to this young woman, who may have a rather pure soul (or she is a virgin), and lo and behold they end up then being intimate. She does what she promised herself that she would never do. After it’s over, he degrades her and demeans her by ignoring her, and he begins to do the same thing with a woman across the hall. And even though she has been demeaned, humiliated, shamed and degraded, nonetheless, when he calls, she is there for him, and she becomes bonded to an evil man.
I never understood those stories until I understood soul ties, because the story I told you is a true story, and today, very briefly, we’re going to be answering questions such as, “Why is it that one person may have such power over another to lead them astray, and even if "they do them dirt," which is an expression that I’ve heard often, they’ll always go back, and they’ll always sense that obligation, that devotion, that irresistible influence to return, even if it’s abusive?”
Second, why is that one act of immorality oftentimes begins people on a spiral of immoral relationships? Why is it that a man or a woman can come under the spell of someone else and abandon their families to go off with their soul mate? Where is this transference of power seen most clearly? Well, I think that it is seen most clearly, actually, in the sexual relationship, and that’s what we are going to talk about, and we’re going to be answering the questions that I’ve just raised. But you need to be patient because I need to give you some background.
When God created man, He created him from the dust of the ground. But when He created woman He did not create her from the dust of the ground. He caused Adam to sleep, and when he was sleeping, He then took out his rib, and He created the woman from the man. In other words, He separated femininity from masculinity. And now these two individuals were to mirror the Trinity. You remember we talked about that in the first message in this series. Just like the Trinity has both unity of essence and yet individuality of personality, that’s what the marriage relationship was supposed to be, representing the highest and purest form of communication and of understanding. Do you remember how the ancient Jews (and even present day Jewish interpreters) said that the Holy of Holies was actually the bridal chamber? This was to be the most special and the most sacred relationship on earth, mirroring of all things, God.
Of course, as a result of sin, this relationship has been greatly polluted. But what is marriage? Marriage is really two bonds. There’s the bond of the covenant, whereby two people agree that they are going to live together “until death do them part.” And then under this covenant they are to enjoy and to fulfill the relationship with a sexual union. I have to say in parenthesis that there are some people who say that if you are bonded to someone sexually, you are already married to him or her. And that is not true. And that has led to many wrong decisions, unwise decisions of relationships that young people have sometimes gotten themselves into, though as we shall see in a moment we understand why they might think that way.
And then in addition to that, of course, you have these two bonds. Now today there are people who say, “Well, we don’t need a marriage bond because what’s a marriage bond anyway? We’re just living together,” which sends two contradictory messages. One message is, “I love you so much that I want to live with you and be intimate with you.” And then the other message is, “But I don’t love you enough to commit myself to you for the rest of my life. I want an escape route in case it doesn’t work.” I’ve had couples say to me, “Well, what’s a piece of paper anyway?”
My wife and I have both sold houses and bought houses in the 33 years we’ve been married. I remember one time we sold our house to very good people. I think they were even Christian people. They were reputable people. Why didn’t we just shake hands on it and that’s it? I mean, what’s a piece of paper anyway? But no! You know, we had an attorney. They had an attorney. Why did we insist that these papers be signed? It’s because what we were saying was two things. Number one, after the ink is dry and you leave this building, even if you go down the street and find a house that you’d prefer to buy above ours, tough luck. This is the one that you are stuck with. That’s the first thing we were saying. You can apply that to marriage if you want (laughter). That’s fine.
The second thing that we were saying is, “Hey, you don’t move in. You don’t put any furniture in this house until the ink is dry on that piece of paper.” And what we are saying when we bond together in a covenant is, we are covenanting together that this is a relationship till death do us part. When the Bible says that Adam knew his wife, it doesn’t mean that he simply recognized her in the Garden and said, “Oh Eve, I recognize you. I know you.” It is the highest form of communication of commitment, the euphoric sexual relationship mirroring the uniqueness of our relationship on earth mirroring God. Wow!
Well, now what happens when you have all those alien bonds, when you’ve got all those relationships outside of marriage? What happens when you have polluted bonds? I want you to take your Bibles now and turn, if you would, to 1 Corinthians 6, which I always regard as the most important section in the entire Bible on sexuality. There is more wisdom here than all the humanistic books that have ever been written, more wisdom than written in so much talk about sexuality. People talk about it humanistically and have no idea what it is that they are dealing with, and yet they say very interesting things. It’s all here in God’s most holy Word. What we need to do always when we are in trouble is go back to the manufacturer’s handbook.
You’ll notice it says in verse 15: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?” What he’s really saying is that if a Christian who is united with Jesus has a relationship with a prostitute, Jesus has to become a part of it because this isn’t just a physical relationship, as we’ve been emphasizing. It is mind, emotion and will. It is soul. It is body, yes! But it’s all that-so Jesus has to put up with this. In all of His purity, somehow He has to live with the pollution of this bond.
Now notice what it says: “Or do you not know (verse 16) that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh.’” Now there is a priority of spirit over flesh, as Paul goes on to say. “But the two are one flesh,” and what does he quote? He quotes Genesis. The two shall become one flesh. Wow! He uses the relationship in which there is no pretense to love. There’s not any sweet talk about how much I love you. All that there is, is raw lust for money. It’s the most degrading form of relationship other than rape. And Paul says that in that context the bonding still takes place, defiled though it might be. Those are alien bonds. They are bonds outside of the covenant of a one-man-one-woman marriage relationship. And all bonds outside of that covenant relationship biblically are alien, foreign, defiling bonds.
Now what I’d like to do in the next few moments is to, as quickly as possible, but also as helpfully as possible, give you the consequences of alien bonds. When we take a relationship that God has called holy, and we take it out of its context of holiness to use it for ourselves, there are consequences.
First of all, there’s the power of the first bond. When a man wants to ensnare a woman and introduce her to prostitution, for example, what he will do is he will rape her, demean her and humiliate her. And in that degrading relationship she will become his slave so that she will bond to him. We’ve talked about the transference of spirits so that she will now become his, so that she will be paralyzed. All of the good thoughts that she’s had about herself will be degraded, and as a result of that power she can now become his slave. And that explains why there are partners today who want to go back to their first partner. I’ll say more about that in just a moment. So that’s the first kind of power.
Let me talk about a second kind, and that has to do with sexual orientation. I read a book a number of years ago by someone who studied this in detail, and said that any one of us males could become a homosexual if we had been molested and introduced into the homosexual lifestyle say from about the age of 12 to 14, 15 or 16. And stories abound that this is the case. I have been hesitant in the last months to make any comments about the struggles of the Roman Catholic Church and their priests. And the reason I’ve been hesitant is because we as Protestants have our own problems too, so we’re not pointing any fingers. We’re not throwing any stones at all, but did you notice that when the story broke there was this almost national consensus that it would be blamed on celibacy? That was the culprit. Well, I want to tell you something. I’m no fan of celibacy, but I need to tell you that you could be celibate for 100 years and it would never change your sexual orientation. The issue has to do with homosexuality among the priesthood. And if you think that I am bashing gays, remember that the gay report itself says that 70% of all homosexuals had a relationship with a teenage boy. And consequently it is this that determines… If you want stories and if you want documentation… I don’t have time today except to tell you that you can be led in a wrong direction by an early bonding–an alien, defiling bond that connects you.
And then, of course, as I mentioned, the desire to return to your first lover, or a previous lover because–well that’s obvious because… My goodness, do I have time to say this? See, there’s something within us that tells us that when we get married we should be pure. You know that a national magazine–not a Christian magazine–said that there are young women living with their boyfriends who, before their marriage, live celibate for a number of weeks or a number of months because God implanted it within the human being to say that somehow “marriage is supposed to be special, and I should be saving myself for the altar.” Wow!
Let’s hurry on. You have the power of the first bond. Secondly, there’s the door to promiscuity. Why would one alien bond begin that spiral? It’s rather obvious, isn’t it? You see, if you are bonded in a polluted bond, you feel defiled anyway, so what you’re going to want to do now is to recreate that whole situation, to recreate the euphoria that God intended that a pure bond should have within marriage. And what you want to do is you want to find it somehow, so you begin to go from partner to partner, and each time you say, “This time it will be different,” but, of course, it never is.
There’s a good book written entitled, Every Man’s Struggle. It’s a book on pornography, but the author said something very interesting. He said that when he was in college the first time he slept with a girl, it was with a girl he knew he would marry. The second time it was with somebody he thought he might marry. And the third time it was with somebody whom he was quite sure that he would not marry. And on and on the spiral goes. I could tell you stories of a 16-year old girl, but I don’t have time for all the stories. Why? It’s because what they’re doing is they are wanting to create this bond. They are wanting to connect. The deepest part of their soul has been awakened, and what they want to do now is to find someone to have that really awesome connection, someone to have a permanent connection with but, of course, seeking it in all the wrong places. They are looking for something, which at this point, they cannot have. I’m not saying there isn’t redemption. I’m simply saying you don’t find it where you think it might be.
Let me give you another consequence, and that is guilt and anger. By the way, it also can result in sexual addiction, which is one of the messages in this series. There’s also guilt, anger and shame. Now all over I meet couples who say, “Oh no, that’s not true of us. We are just so happy, and we are relating well.” Yeah, give your relationship a little bit of time.
What I’ve discovered is that in the initial aspects of an alien bond, it may be fulfilling because at last somebody in the desert has found his oasis. And there seems to be a connection. And I have had people tell me that during those days when this whole thing started, whether it’s adultery or whatever it is, it was so wonderful. It was so euphoric. They say, “I felt such a strong connection,” and catch this now, “I put God on hold. I, in effect, said, ‘Lord, I’m going to deal with this, but I’m going to deal with this later. I can’t deal with it now because I’ve got too much going and this is too (quote) beautiful.’” But it will come. The regret will be there, the anger, the lashing out, and the blaming. Inevitably it will be there.
Number four, there’s the elusive… I call this the elusive, exclusive bond. Elusive, exclusive! What do I mean by that? There are some people today who, because of their path, find it very difficult to get married because they are not sure that they’d be able to maintain a commitment to one partner. Understandably so, they’ve been bonded to this person, and bonded to that person. God joined them over here. One flesh the Scripture says! One flesh with this person! One here! And so I’ve had people describe their souls to me as being scattered because it was never God’s intention that it be that way. And so, as a result, they go along in life.
I remember one woman telling me, with tears, that she slept with other boyfriends until the night before her wedding to her guy, because she was thinking (This is contemporary thought now). you don’t have to really be committed to one person until you are married. (chuckles) What do you think? Do you think that she was true to her bond after she was married? What makes us think that an immoral man will become moral just because he said some words, but his appetite and his values have not been changed by God? How can we possibly be so naive?
(Sighs) Do you understand now why young people say to each other, “Well, you know what we’ll do? We’ll just do it once and God will forgive us”? I’ve had them say, “What’s the blood of Christ for? If He can’t forgive this, what’s it all about?” God does forgive us. As a matter of fact, the next message in this series is on God’s forgiveness. But the simple fact is that once you have been involved, nothing will ever quite be the same again.
Well, what do we do about it? I’m only going to sketch it today very quickly because we’ll be dealing with these issues in other messages. First of all, there is cleansing. The Bible says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us, but to cleanse us also. The reason that cleansing is so important (Some people who are forgiven have never been cleansed.) is cleansing is the subjective work of God by which our consciences are purged. In the next message we’ll emphasize how God restores dignity to people, because as long as you are filled with self-condemnation, you’ll never be able to put your past behind you. But it’s the cleansing of the conscience. It’s not only being pure, but sensing that the defilement of the relationships are gone. So there is cleansing, and that’s available to you today, my friend.
There is also what I’m going to call fleeing. The Bible says, “Flee youthful lusts.” Could I speak candidly to you today? I think I’ve been pretty candid. Have I not been? I like to speak plainly. I don’t like it when people leave saying, “What does he really believe?”
Do you realize, folks, that there are some people that we should stay away from? There are some people who have such awesome power–soul power, connectedness–that we could come under their spell, and we, too, could be among those who leave it all behind to find the love of our life and to find this and rejoice in this soul mate. And then all that we need to do is to add some verses of Scripture. We could say, “And it is God who brought this soul mate to me.” We’re all capable of that.
There are some people who should not know your telephone number. And there are some people whose telephone numbers you should not have, because all of us are vulnerable to soul ties, which have awesome power, particularly those of you who have been in past relationships.
A woman said to me one time, “You know, when I think of going to a city in which there is the man with whom I had my first relationship which was so beautiful…” She didn’t marry him. In fact, he wasn’t even a Christian, but she said, “We had a wonderful thing going,” and she said, “When I go to that city I would not even dare go alone because I’m afraid I might call him up, and we might begin to have a relationship all over again.” That’s not an example of weakness, folks. That’s wisdom. That’s applying the Scripture that says, “Flee immorality.” So there’s such a thing as fleeing.
It has often been said that when you flee temptation, don’t leave a forwarding address. Many people say, “I’m going, but I want you to know where I’m going to end up. Contact me if you can.” Break it off!
One day there was a pastor here in the city (many, many years ago). He fell into immorality. He lost his church but wanted to restore his marriage. I had come to know him. He was a wonderful preacher. And he called me on the telephone, and I said, “The way you break off this relationship with this woman is you do it over the telephone with your wife present, and make sure it ends.” And he said, “Well, Erwin, actually I’m not going to do it that way. I feel I should see her one more time.” Can you guess the rest of the story? Of course, he left his wife and married her for greener pastures, which in the end turned out to be a desert.
So we have cleansing. We have fleeing. We have communicating. What do I mean by communicating? I mean wholesome relationships. Why do you think that the early church was so powerful that it turned its world upside down? I’ll tell you why. It says that it was united. The believers were united in vision, in passion, and in relationship. I’m misinterpreting it a little bit, but at my age I can be forgiven if I am sliding a little bit over this.
But that’s what it really says. It says they were (Oh yeah. I think I’m getting it right.) united in one heart, one soul, one mind.” Something like that! Wow! That’s what could make Moody Church such a powerful force in this city–to be united for the cause of the Gospel, for the love of people with one heart, one soul, one mind. Those are positive bondings that overcome and protect us from all the negative and destructive bonds that we’re talking about.
How do you like this for a bond? “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Wow! What a bond that’s to be. We’re to be bonded to God, first of all. And it is those healthy relationships that fill the vacuum, that give us the grace to stay away from the other bonds and to remember that we should guard our hearts with all diligence. Why? It’s because those hearts can be opened to wrong kinds of hearts and wrong kinds of relationships.
You say, “Well, Pastor Lutzer, what do you have to say to those of us who have a history of bonding – wrong relationships?” In the Old Testament there was a prophet by the name of Hosea, and he had a wife who went from one lover to another. There’s evidence that she was not just with one lover but that she fell into the hands of a man eventually who could not even take care of her. And Hosea, out of love, actually gave the man money so that that man could give money to his wife. Talk about love on the part of Hosea!
But God says this regarding her. He says: “I will take her into the desert and I will allure her.” Why the desert? Listen, there are some people who don’t wake up until they’re in a desert. As long as they have one little drop of water to drink, they’ll stay away from God, no matter how bitter it is. So, “I’ll take her into the desert. I will allure her. I will speak tenderly to her,” God says, “and I’ll win her back.” “And she shall sing there as in the days of her youth,” the Bible says. And the whole idea is this-that she shall be like a virgin again.
One day, many years ago, a young man came to me and asked about a certain lady who was here in The Moody Church, who before she was saved had a series of alien bonding relationships. And he asked my opinion, and I said, “Well, she is no longer a virgin in her body, but she is a virgin in her heart.”
I really do believe that there is something to the fact that God is a God of new beginnings. However strong those bonds have been, we need not be subject to them for we have allegiance to a new leader, and we’ve been bonded to Christ. And when we are bonded to Christ, we have the resources to break those other bonds that still keep leading us to sin and putting us under the sphere of influence of people who, in the end, will destroy us rather than bless us. They will curse us rather than give us hope in our journey of life. The bonds are broken.
What does the hymn writer say? I love these words:
He breaks the power of cancelled sin.
Many of you–your sin has been cancelled. I mean, you know, you’ve been forgiven, but the power is still there.
He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free.
His grace can make the vilest clean,
His blood availed for me.
Father, we invite Your blessed Holy Spirit to do a work in the lives of all of us, and the hundreds and hundreds of people listening to this message for whom it was specifically appointed. And we ask today, Father, that You shall grant grace to break relationships, to break off euphoric experiences that keep propelling people away from You, putting You on hold. And we ask today, Father, that deliverance shall come in making hard choices to say no. Grant that, oh God, we pray for we are Your people and we desire purity, but we are so vulnerable.
Now, what is it that you need to say to the Lord today? Whatever it is, would you just say it to Him?
Come to us, Father, because we need You so desperately for cleansing, for victory, for help and for wisdom, and help Your people whom we love, the people for whom You died. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.