You don’t have to dig deep on the Google machine to find a story of some high level Christian leader who has fallen prey to a sexual failure. Some of us may not even need to look past our own church, community group, pew or even household.
The avenues of access might be new, but the problem is age old. Our hearts are broken. Our bodies are active participants in our groaning for a future, total redemption. The unfortunate side-effect of our over sexualized, or “sexually liberated” culture is that such sins are all too common. We are almost unfazed by it. However we must not let this be the case in our own hearts. In order to prevent this, and aid in our resistance, below are five thoughts, or principles, we must take to help us rightly frame this issue. Following these principles are ten action steps which all believers should be willing to take as precautions.
1. Don’t assume the gospel.
In Ephesians 6 we see the VBS sanctioned “Armor of God.” However it is important to note that there is not one aspect of this armor which can be divorced from our salvation: the truth has set us free (John. 8:32), our righteousness exists because we have Christ’s righteousness (Rom. 10:4), the gospel is the message of salvation, faith is what counts us as righteous (Rom. 4:3), and the Spirit is the seal of our conversion (2 Cor. 1:22). The only way I will be able to withstand sin of any sort is not to attempt and move past my conversion, but to stand in the Lord and in the power of his might daily.
2. There is no such thing as personal sin.
All sin is corporate sin, it affords no private sector. I think it is a JC Ryle quote which says, “It is unfortunate that sin is contagious and holiness is not.” Sexual sin is a sin against one’s own body (1 Cor. 6:18), but it is also a sin against the other person, a sin against your future potential spouse, and a sin which hurts the church as you are internally failing to live as one who is redeemed.
3. There is something better than sex.
And that is salvation. Sex is temporary and fading (Mark 12:25). To attach and give throne to such a ruler is folly. When Paul says that a couple who “burns with passion” should seek to marry (1 Cor. 7:9), he is not also saying that sexual tendencies must be acted on. It is reasonable to assume all believers can go without sex. It makes a great friend, but an awful king.
You need to have theoretical principles, but fail safes are needed (see below). Be willing to cut off your hand to save your soul (Mark. 9:43).
Sexual sin is grievous. Nasty. Shameful. But these shameful things are not over the gospel of grace and the light of Christ (Eph. 5:11-14). Because our dirty laundry has been seen by the Holy God, we don’t fear revealing it to other sinners. We want to ask them for prayer and help in removing it, and accountability in our fight against it.
As mentioned in principle number four, our thoughts must be reinforced by our actions. James cautions us to be not only hearers, but doers of the word. Our salvation should inform our lives, and our principles should guide our actions. Here are ten action steps to take in the prevention of sexual sin.
1. Talk to someone.
Even if you don’t wrestle frequently with this sin, talk to someone about the few places where it is an issue or concern and invite them in.
2. Get some padlocks.
You wouldn’t want to rule a country without an army. You shouldn’t want to browse the internet without a filter. Pray you don’t need it but get one so that you have it. Let someone else set the password.
3. Watch your phone.
Now a days you can get around content filters, cables, and locations by using your cellular network. You can get apps which help protect your from morally inappropriate websites. But you should also be willing to give your phone password to someone, and be willing to hand it over to them when they ask for it. Who are you calling? Texting? Contacting?
4. Buy a glass house.
Try not to put yourself in situations where you and a member of the opposite sex are in a private, secluded space. Even if there is no attraction or desire. I used to put my wife (then my girlfriend) on speaker phone when I would have to drive a youth girl home from youth group. In counseling settings ask another person to sit in with you, meet in a coffee shop, open a door, knock down a wall, do something.
5. Mind your movies.
Most movies include some sort of nudity now. While none of it is needed, there are some movies which play up the fantastic idea of sexuality. It is nudity for the sake of titillation. We can’t afford these films. When entertainment comes at the expense of your soul, you are just a new sort of Coliseum.
6. Do something.
Be wary of too much free time. Idleness is the breeding ground for the imagination and the sinful action. Get a hobby, write a letter, go to the gym, play with your kids; don’t let free time turn into folly time.
7. Protect purity.
This is from Randy Alcorn’s little book, “The Purity Principle.” He picks his entrances to stores so as to avoid magazine covers. Where in your life can you do such things? We can’t expect to eliminate the appetite if we keep going to a buffet. A focus on purity elevates our motives from trying to avoid something to trying to achieve something (purity and a life which pleases God).
8. Surround yourself with healthy marriage relationships.
Christians love their sex. But good, mature, Christians love their spouses more. Surround yourselves with those who radiate this truth.
9. Destroy anonymity.
If you are going somewhere, buying something, or meeting someone and you are too worried to use your own name or credit card, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Put your name places. This helps protect you, but also helps others correct you.
Daily. Pray that your affection for Jesus will displace your secret desires. We can do all of this, but without the help of God we can only address the symptoms. Jesus gets at the heart. Don’t underestimate that.