Recently, an old friend of mine named William confided to me over the phone that he was becoming discouraged about his thought-life. Although he pastors a thriving congregation in a big city, he has had to battle with sexual lust for his entire Christian life. Over the years William has gradually gained the victory over lust, but recently it seemed as though all the ground he had gained had been lost. Every time he went out into public, his hormones seemed to rage within him. The body of every pretty girl he happened across came under his intense scrutiny. “It seems like I can’t even control myself anymore,” he lamented to me.
I have learned from experience that men who are maturing in the Lord concurrently grow in their strength to deny the temptation to lust. I knew William sincerely loved the Lord and was faithful in his daily devotions. Something had to be amiss for him to have such a pronounced lapse in his thought-life. A person doesn’t simply start failing for no reason. Just as there are cause-and-effect laws that govern the physical realm, likewise there are laws that operate in the spiritual realm.
As we talked, I began asking probing questions, looking for clues that would solve “the case.” It wasn’t long before I could see the problem. The growing power of lust had really come about through a series of seemingly unrelated events.
It began when two separate couples in his congregation—both of whom had been offended with him over trivial matters—had banded together and were now causing division in the church. Their backbiting and divisiveness had been extremely painful to William.
Although he rarely watched secular TV anymore (because of its carnality), he now found himself uncustomarily plopping down in front of the television set when he got home from work every day. He was attempting to escape the painful reality of what was happening in his church through the mind-numbing effects of TV watching.
“William, I think I know what your problem is,” I told him. “I want you to open your Bible and read Romans 13:14 to me.”
It took him a minute to get his Bible and find the passage. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts,” he finally said.
“Even though the Lord certainly understands what you’ve been going through, the spiritual principle of reaping and sowing to the flesh still applies. The enemy has beaten you down lately—and at a time when you really needed the Lord’s strength—you have turned to the TV set instead. Not only have you missed out on the spiritual refreshment that comes from being in the presence of the Lord, you have exacerbated your problems by feeding your flesh. You see, making provision for the flesh literally means to provide for its sustenance—to keep it alive and healthy—and that is what you have been doing by watching television. So here’s what I recommend to you:
- Get on your knees and repent to the Lord for giving yourself over to lust,
- Unplug the TV, at least until you break the habit you have re-established with it
- Spend a couple of hours soaking in the Word of God. It will refresh you.”
And that is exactly what William did. His phone call to me a few days later telling me how much better he felt didn’t surprise me. It certainly is true: “the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption.” But just as true is the rest of the verse: “the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
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.
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