Conveniently located on the busiest corner in the city, directly across the street from the library and next door to the public restrooms, I couldn’t miss the building. Its proprietors, having ingeniously carved little signs into the sidewalks around town, directed me right to it.
Once inside, I followed a long snake-like hallway through the maze of tiny rooms—just big enough for a single-sized bed in each. As I made my way past each of those cubbyholes, I began to ponder the fate of the girls who once worked in this house of prostitution. You see, this establishment has been closed down for some time now. It is located in the ruins of the city of Ephesus, in the province of Asia.
Walking through the ruins, I wondered if some of those early Ephesian Christians frequented this brothel. How many of them were sexual addicts? What did the First Century pastors of that church—men like Paul, Timothy, and John—do to help those struggling saints? One thing is for sure: they didn’t pass them off to a psychologist! No, it is certain they turned to the Word of God, the ONLY source of wisdom for a believer struggling with habitual sin.
Today, just as in biblical times, sexual sin continues to be the single greatest cause of defeat for Christian men. While prostitution remains a problem, the greatest area of temptation facing today’s Christian men is pornography. Thanks to the Internet and X-rated videos, we can have an Asian brothel right in our own home.
Nevertheless, just like two thousand years ago, the answers we need are only found in Scripture. Perhaps the following verses from Proverbs 7 are the very words to which those early Christian pastors referred their men. To bring it up to date, I will substitute the word pornography for prostitute in this passage:
Listen to me, young men, don’t let your desires get out of hand; don’t let yourself think about pornography. Don’t go near it, stay away from where it is, lest it tempts you and seduces you. For it has been the ruin of multitudes—a vast host of men have been its victims. If you want to find the road to hell, look for the places that offer pornography. (1)
The advice Solomon gives here is just as relevant to us today as it was to the men of the early Church. In this portion of Scripture, he gives us the following important tips:
Don’t Let Your Desires Get Out Of Hand
First, don’t let your desires get out of hand because they will determine the course of your life. Perhaps this is why Solomon said in another section of Proverbs: “Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life.” (Pro. 4:23) Jesus said it this way: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mat. 6:21; NASB)
The desires that a person allows to lead him will determine his lifestyle. I can safely say that every Christian I have ever dealt with who had a problem with porn also lived a life that revolved around pleasure and entertainment. Kept in their proper perspective, one can have his little indulgences in this world. Unfortunately, many men believe that they should be able to fill their lives with them.
Solomon is telling men struggling with habitual sexual sin that they cannot expect to break the addiction to immorality until they first change their lifestyle of pleasure that is making it possible for this addiction to thrive. A man must change the course of his life from one that revolves around carnal desires to one that is centered upon the things of God.
Don’t Go Near It
The second piece of advice given is to avoid those places known to harbor temptation. Once more we turn to the words of Solomon, again substituting the metaphor of the prostitute with that of pornography:
Young men, listen to me, and never forget what I’m about to say: Run from pornography! Don’t go near where it is, lest you fall to its temptation and lose your honor, and give the remainder of your life to the cruel and merciless, lest strangers obtain your wealth, and you become a slave of foreigners. (Pro. 5:7-10)
The second pointer the old wise king gives is to avoid those areas that house sexual temptation. For men today, this means more than staying away from the obvious sensuous places such as the red light district where porn shops, strip clubs, and massage parlors abound. It means that we must cut off every avenue the enemy might use to lure us into sin.
Obviously, if the Internet is the source of the problem, then the struggling believer must find a way to protect himself from it. I will offer a couple of ideas here. The first possibility is to get a good online filter that will protect you from having access to anything pornographic. Another possible solution is to have a password that only your wife knows, so that it is not possible to get on the Internet without her presence. If for some reason these two answers will not provide the protection you need, then you simply must disconnect your computer from the Internet—you cannot afford not to.
Don’t Let Yourself Think About It
That brings us to Solomon’s final tip: guard your minds and hearts. If you sit around thinking about the Asian brothel, it will only be a matter of time before you find yourself headed downtown. The following quotation comes from At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry:
The initial step into sin is allowing the thought of temptation to fester. It is extremely difficult to thwart the processes of thought once entertained. James said that a person is tempted “when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust...” This illustrates a man’s lust actually picking him up and carrying him to a place where he cannot defend himself and then enticing him. It is almost as if his carnal desires momentarily take control of his mind and carries him away to some dream world where he is then utterly defenseless. Once there, he is swallowed up in the evil imaginations of his own sick heart.(2)
The best time to stop a temptation is when it first starts. When a man begins contemplating the temptation, the sin becomes larger and larger in his mind. Before long, all of the consequences of sin—hurting loved ones, drifting further from God, and so on—are crowded out of his mind by the delicious thought of sin. The time to fight temptation is when it first appears.
It is very easy to allow the mind to drift into sensuality but very important to stop carnal thinking in its tracks! There are no “pat answers” that stop enticing thoughts, but there are three things a man can always do: Ask the Lord for strength to endure, read the Word, and focus one’s thoughts on the things of God. There is always a “way of escape” for those who look for it!
My visit to the Asian brothel was a reminder that sexual temptation has been one of the devil’s chief weapons against believers since the earliest days of civilization. But along with the problem, the Lord has provided the ageless wisdom found only in Scripture: Don’t let your desires get out of hand; don’t go near it; don’t let yourself think about it!
(1) Unless otherwise noted, Scripture passages are from the Living Bible.
(2) At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry, copyright 2000 by Steve Gallagher.
Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.
Copyright © 2016 by Pure Life Ministries. Permission is granted to use, copy, distribute, or retransmit information or materials on this page, so long as proper acknowledgment is given to Pure Life Ministries as the source of the materials, and no modifications are made to such material.