READ: Proverbs 5, Mark 9, 1 Peter 1
TOTAL RUIN, TOTAL JOY
The strongest follower of Jesus is just one step away from total moral disaster. The sobering reality is that one poor decision leads to agony, for immorality is nothing less than a bitter death (Prov. 5:3). The encouraging truth is that we do not wake up one morning and decide to commit adultery. Sexual sin is but the culmination of a steady inward decline. If we are purposeful in a direction of holiness, we can trust the Lord to keep us pure over time. The Bible gives us simple and tested means to avoid the total ruin of moral failure.
Run. Purity is not rocket science. If you listen to the siren song long enough, you will eventually succumb to temptation. Proverbs 5:8 tells us that we must “remove our way far from her, do not go near the door of her house.” Like Joseph we just take off running, even if we have to leave our valuables behind. We run by not entering bookstores if we know we will flip through a novel looking for a juicy part. We run by deleting Twitter from our mobile device if we know we will search profile pictures of other users. We run by giving up Internet news if our fingers and hearts twitch to click on other things. We run by being super cautious around the opposite gender, maintaining a courteous emotional and physical distance at all times. We run by cutting good things from our daily habits, preferring to enter into life maimed rather than riding small pleasures to hell (Mark 9:43).
Rejoice. Proverbs exhorts us to revel in the wife of our youth (5:18). Joy in what we do have is a choice, not a reaction. We are not craven animals who cannot control our eyes or passions. Man and woman were created with the ability to choose faithfulness to his or her spouse. On a grander scale, the only way to overcome lesser pleasures is with higher ones. Immorality is fun and energizing, but only for a brief moment. We overcome the possible energy of sexual sin by keeping the greater joy of fidelity before us. Fidelity is sourced in God, not humanity, so the highest joys of faithfulness are available to the single and the married. We overcome the temptation and pleasure of sexual dalliance by inexpressible joy and full of glory of Jesus being pleased with our devotion to Him (1 Peter 1:8).
Obey. Peter tells us that we purify our souls by obeying the truth through the Spirit (v. 22) and that we are born again of incorruptible seed through the Word of God that endures forever (vv. 23-25). If adultery and sexual perversion is the inevitable result of a thousand little denials of the Spirit’s prompting, holiness is the undeniable product of a thousand little “yes, Lord” acts of obedience over time. We stay pure ten years from now by saying “yes” to Jesus and His Word today. Small repeated obedience breeds immunity to grand temptations.