In part one of this study I asked a question. If one of the most celebrated believers in the Old Testament couldn’t resist sexual temptation, how can I? It’s funny because there’s a word that I find interesting when the Bible talks about dealing with avoiding sexual immorality. It tells us to flee from sexual immorality. I think this direction speaks to the severity of this temptation. Don’t try to fight off sexual temptation, don’t try to defeat it through strength of will, the Bible tells us to RUN FROM IT.
1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
Here’s another example, as one of my favorite people in the Bible, Joseph, deals with this exact situation. He’s working as a slave here, and has found favor with his master. But it turns out it’s the master’s wife he needed to worry about.
Genesis 39:6-12 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. 11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.
Homeboy straight ran out the house nekkid. Or maybe he had on some sort of underwear, I don’t know, but the point remains the same. Joseph demonstrates the principle that’s later taught to us in the New Testament. He doesn’t sit there and try to reason with her, he doesn’t start trying to fight off the temptation to give in by reciting some purity pledge, the dude straight up flees the premises! He takes off! Because this guy got it. He understood that people are extremely vulnerable to this kind of temptation.
The Bible doesn’t instruct us to run from things very often. As I’ve studied it, it generally tells us to do the opposite, and charge our enemy, confident in assured victory thanks to God. Think about this. The Bible doesn’t tell me to run from the devil. It tells me to stand my ground and face him down.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Think about this, like seriously consider it. I’m told to FACE DOWN THE DEVIL and yet I’m also told to RUN AWAY FROM SEXUAL IMMORALITY. That’s the power of sexual sin. That’s the power that turned David into an adulterer and a murderer, that turned Solomon’s heart away from the Lord. So when the Bible tells me to run from something, I’m going to listen.
As I close this out, I want to look at this subject on a practical level. What does fleeing from sexual immorality look like in the modern world? Because like you, I live in this modern world. And like a lot of you, I struggle with this stuff. It is, by far, the easiest avenue for the enemy to attack me. In no other aspect of my life have I come under fire more severely than in my purity. It’s an area of my life that I have to stay constantly on guard, to be always vigilant.
So, practically speaking, what does fleeing from sexual immorality look like in the modern world? For me, it starts by watching what entertainment I consume. Some of the most popular shows on television today are filled with scenes of a graphic sexual nature. And so I try to make smart choices about what I watch, because sometimes it doesn’t take much to get our minds going in the wrong direction when it comes to sexual temptation. I’ve had to abandon shows I dearly loved because there was sexual content in them that caused me to start thinking impure thoughts.
Another practical thing I believe in is accountability. Get sexual temptation out of the darkness and shine some light on it. Find someone you trust, someone who loves you, and set up an accountability system with them. Maybe they check your internet browser history at the end of every day, maybe they set a passcode on your TV that only they know that blocks the viewing of “adult” entertainment. Whatever form this accountability system takes on, it’s going to help you. The things we hide in the dark we tend to continue doing. But once that light’s turned on, you can never go back. People can’t help you if they don’t know you have a problem, so as awkward as the first conversation may be, you have to admit to someone what’s tripping you up so they can start helping you get past it.
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Sometimes fleeing from sexual immorality might be actual fleeing, just like it was for Joseph. But whatever form it takes on, first you have to break away from society’s view on this stuff and accept God’s view on this stuff. Because most of society thinks a little sexual content isn’t a big deal, and a big portion of society thinks that A LOT of sexual content isn’t a big deal. This is the world we’re in, these are the things we’re exposed to on a daily basis, and I understand that it’s easy to fall in with the world on certain issues. Especially ones we want to fall in with them on. But the Bible gives us clear and absolute direction on this. God’s called us to be pure. Again and again he presents sexual immorality as a sin on the level of all the other sins we knowingly work to avoid. It’s a temptation so strong that it brought down some of the Bible greats. A temptation so strong that we’re instructed to flee from it.
PRAYER AND CLOSING
Father God, as I close out this week of posts, I just again cry out for purity in your people. I cry out today for a wave of conviction and awakening to sweep through your people. Show us the ways in which we’ve indulged sexual immorality, make us aware of the areas of our life that are impure. Give us the strength to flee, no matter how it makes us look. Give us the strength to run out of the house in our undergarment, like Joseph did. Let me care less about looking stupid or silly and more about fleeing sexual immorality like your word tells me to. Give me the strength to stand up to friends who pressure me to watch shows that I know have content that’s going to cause me to stumble, use my quest for purity as a testimony that could influence others. God, I just want to be closer to you, to live my life more in line with the way you tell me to live it. Because the closer I get, the better my life is. The closer I get, I understand more of you, I experience more of you. And that’s all I want in life, is to have more of you, Jesus. I want to be like you, I want to do the things you did, to impact people’s lives and show them your incredible love. So I close out this week of posts with one last cry for purity. Return us to a place of incredible purity and right thinking. Give your people the wisdom and strength to break away from anything that is causing them to stumble in their quest for purity. Wash us clean, Lord, and lead us on a new path. The delights of your kingdom are so far beyond any delight of the world. Let us rest in that knowledge, and let us delight in purity. I pray this in the name of Jesus, for the glory of God, amen.
If you struggle with this stuff, it’s time to step up and tell someone. I know it’s hard, because I was there. The first time I opened up with someone about this it was so awkward and difficult, but it was the best decision I ever made. Tell someone that you’re struggling. Pray with them about it, set up a system of accountability, stay in contact about it, and stop being afraid to bring it up. Keep it out in the open.
I love you guys. It’s really just on my heart that we have to stop pulling away when we’re struggling. People stop going to church, they stop reaching out to people, and guess what, things just get worse. Lean in when you struggle. Did you disappoint God, did you stumble in a big bad way? Don’t run from church, run to church! Secret shame just compounds and multiplies. Confess your sins, grab onto the forgiveness that Jesus paid dearly to obtain for us, and then repent from those sins and turn towards a new lifestyle. When you feel like pulling away from God, lean in further than you ever have before, instead. He accepts the broken and the weak, and if you’ll let Him, He can turn us into mighty, beautiful things.