By Rob Thorpe
We all know where the door is. You know….”that” door. The door to that sin that always seems to bring us down, and leave us feeling guilty, shameful, and like a failure. For most men, that door is the gateway to some sort of sexual sin.
There is something that draws us to that door; something powerful; something tantalizing; something we know is wrong, but we continue to go back to it. We all know the path to “that” door for us. For one it may be the computer. For another, the television. For some it may be the cute retail clerk or the bank teller. For some it is more of a mental door, a fantasy life that no one knows about but you and God. For many it is a female friend, or a friend’s wife, or an attractive colleague or business contact.
Each time we go there it seems it is easier to find and not as far away as it once was. Somehow we are mysteriously fed by the danger. We know we shouldn’t, but our senses come alive to the adventure, even though we know it could cost us dearly.
Why then, if we know where the door is and the steep price we pay (or could pay) for opening it and going in – do we keep going there? Are we addicted? Can we help ourselves? Are we slaves to our flesh? Is there any relief in sight, or is this the battle we must fight our entire life on earth?
We all know the Bible is very clear when it comes to dealing with sin of any kind. Even though we are forgiven by a generous, loving Father, we know sin has consequences, and some are life altering. Because God loves us and desires us to live an abundant life, free from the bondage to sin, He has also provided us “all things” we need to live that life. So what do we do with what we know?
Step 1 – Give Up
Sounds easy, but it’s not. Jesus said if we would “seek His kingdom, and righteousness first – He would provide us everything we need in this life. He told the disciples to “follow me, and I Will Make You fishers of men.” If we will deliberately and daily follow Him, (truly walk with Him, listen to His voice, and do what He says) He promises to “make us” into the men, husbands, dads, etc. He desires us to be – and we want to be.
The first step out of the bondage of sexual sin of any kind is to acknowledge that we can’t free ourselves. We must give up and become desperate for Him. Desperate for time with Him. Desperate for long periods of time in His presence – in prayer and marinating in His Word. We have to make it our top priority, every day, or we will start to feel the magnetic pull coming from the door. Acknowledge that we can’t free ourselves, and fall on our face in humility and desperation.
Read Psalm 103 … and read it often. We have a gracious, patient, loving, powerful Father, and He is anxious to help us get free and stay free – but we have to do the following, and we have to choose to follow every day. He can’t make us do that part.
Romans 8:5 – Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
Romans 13:14 – Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
We are the only ones who can “live,” “set our minds,” “clothe ourselves,” “do not think about.” You and I both know that we can’t seem to do any of these for very long or very consistently. We can’t free ourselves; we don’t have the power, and may not even want to. The old “I’ll try harder next time,” or “I’ll never do that again” sort of false promise to ourselves (and to God) just doesn’t work. We have to give up and run to our only hope – Jesus.
He has everything we need, and He is longing to help.
Stop trying to make it happen in our own strength and become desperate for His. In John 15:5, Jesus plainly reminds us “we can do nothing” on our own. We need His strength, wisdom, courage, and grace to ever have a chance at living in victory morally.
It is hard work to let go, trust Him, and walk in obedience to what He is saying to you every day. Much like an alcoholic’s journey to stay sober or an overweight person trying to lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off, we have to adopt a new lifestyle paradigm. We have to walk in that paradigm, and face the temptations of life every single day. There is no day off or any “fudge day” when we can let our guard down and indulge “just a little” as a reward for our good progress.
Jesus walked in daily obedience to His Father. He told his disciples to “deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow Him” (Matthew 16:24). He tells us the same thing. We must choose to “deny our self-pleasing tendencies,” “take up our cross (life of surrender/death to our sinful tendencies) every day,” and then choose to “follow Him”. Day in and day out, every day from here on out. That is hard work. Without His strength and grace to energize and motivate us, we are toast.
But notice in this passage that we also have a role to play, and no one can play it for us. We are the only ones who can “deny ourselves,” “take up,” and “follow.” God will empower us if we ask Him to, but He won’t do it for us. This is a daily work that only you and I can do. Another powerful passage relating to our topic is - Galatians 5:16.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. This powerful promise from God is contingent upon us making a daily, continual choice to walk (put one foot in front of the other) by the Spirit’s power and direction.
Living a life of moral purity is a journey that is broken down into days. Each of those days is broken down into moment-by-moment choices that we make. We have all the power, resources, and help we could ever need available to us in Christ, but the choosing to walk in that power is up to us. It is not a one-time prayer; it is a lifestyle choice. The alcoholic chooses not only to not take a drink, he must choose not to go to the bar, or have any access to alcohol at home, or go out for drinks with colleagues/friends, or listen to that voice in his head that says, “He has worked hard and deserves a drink or two.” He lives in a continual state of battle, and he must continually “deny himself, take up his cross, and follow” if he is to overcome.
We, too, must make choices every morning, and throughout each day, that we will surrender and follow. We must do the hard work of following Someone else’s lead. We have to decide to “walk by the Spirit.” God promises that if we do – we WILL NOT carry out the desires of our flesh. That is pretty black and white. That is the hope, the answer, the freedom that we seek.
By the Spirit,
Rob Thorpe is the author of two popular books directed at husbands;Husband – A User’s Guide, and ReNEWed – A 30-Day Devotional Challenge for Husbands, and is the founder and director of Square1 Ministries and C.R.E.W.
Rob is a frequent speaker at Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conferences nationwide, has appeared on VTN and has written numerous articles for marriage-related blogs and magazines. He is host to the Internet’s largest husband-specific blog (http://square1ministries.com/blog) and is followed by thousands on Twitter (http://twitter.com/husbandmentor ). His third book, CHOICES, is due to be released in the summer of 2012.
Married since 1975, Rob and his wife Billie live in Little Rock, Arkansas, and have three sons, three daughters (in-law) and 5 grandchildren.