In 1916, Ireland resisted the tyranny of Great Britain, then the worldís foremost superpower, with the emotional battle cry Sein Fein. This Gaelic phrase is translated as ďourselves aloneĒ. While it helped the Irish people collectively to forge a free nation, this attitude of total independence has become a stronghold for many of todayís Christians. We must not be deceived. God does not want our walk in Christ to be by ourselves alone, through our own flesh and power. Neither should the church sit idly by, watching believers struggling with sins and thorns in their sides. Christians must learn to help their fellow soldiers seeking relief from bondage, particularly in the area of lust.
For too long the Church has simply said repent, just donít do it. Quit looking at stuff. Settle your issues. Crucify your thoughts, quit masturbating, stop peeking at the pixels, donít burn with lust---donít do this, donít do that. Our relationship with Christ becomes based in behavior; what we do in our own flesh, not what God wants to do through us. Yes, we must go and sin no more. Yes, it does take a conscious decision on our part to willingly resist carnal desires. Walking down the road of life in our own power, however, can only lead to a dead end of pride based on what we ourselves can achieve. This is especially hard for men to deal with. After all, weíre not exactly known for public humility. Mercy and grace are needed, especially for those daily tormented by their secret sins.
Yes, sin is sin and shouldnít be excused and explained away. It clearly hinders oneís walk in Christ. Proverbs 26:11 ďJust as a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returns to his follyĒ. Godís ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. Neither is His sweet smelling savor similar to that which is common to all man.
When we walk in the flesh, we take up a stench, putrid odor that is not pleasing to God. The fleshly vomit snuffs out the heavenly salt, which looses its effectiveness. We become like the carnal world. Sin then affects our life and total being. Our relationship with God suffers. Why? Because rather than dying to self, we become trapped by sin. Weíd rather keep our stink, wallow in our puke, than allow Christ to dress us in robes of righteousness and trust Him to lead us where we are to go. Our faith, or trust, must become one in Him. So simple to do, yet for many this is very hard indeed.
Help may be possible for those whose sexual urges appear to be burning out of control by considering the cases of Joseph, David, and Solomon. Though each man faced similar fleshly temptations, they represent different lessons we can learn on how God deals with this lethal burn.
In the first example we have Joseph, son of Israel. While in Egypt, Joseph was seduced by Potipharís wife, who wanted him to bed her and commit adultery. For Joseph the answer was simple. He instantly fled from adultery with Potipharís wife. No flinching, no turning back, no looking behind. Joseph didnít allow his drive to dominate where he was going in life or alienate his walk with God. So strong was his conviction that he sacrificed his reputation by going to prison. Where sex was concerned, Joseph didnít care; his heart was pure and remained dedicated to God. Accordingly, most spiritual leaders praise Joseph because he chose Godís answer and didnít give in to short- term circumstances.
The point missed is not that Josephís heart was totally yielded to God in this area. For Joseph, hesitating to flee from adultery was never an option. The devil could not gain a foothold into his life through sexual longings and the urge. For many, Josephís example remains the end goal, or what we hope to become over time. Joseph represents those who have not yielded their loins unto Satan. We definitely want to be strong in faith and trust God to work His way in us. Unfortunately, with regards to lust not every Christian is a Joseph.
The second example is King David. David, the author of the Psalms, a mighty heroic warrior and strongman, leader of Israel, and a man of integrity was considered a man after Godís own heart. But Davidís heart was far from perfect. He was a womanizer, taking several wives, numerous concubines, and other women to fill his fleshly appetites. The famous example of his fall with Bath Sheba has been told and retold throughout the ages. One night, alone and restless, David noticed an attractive young woman bathing on the balcony next door. Like Joseph, temptation had come. David could have responded by fleeing, averting his eyes and returning inside to the palace, but that isnít what happened. David gazed upon Bath Sheba and as he did the temptation became stronger in his mind.
First the sin began in his heart; David burned for her. He wanted to have her beyond everything else in his life. Then Davidís mind began to devise ways to enjoy her charms. He sent for her, did the dirty deed with the seed, and satisfied his burning passions, bringing temporary relief. But Davidís sin grew and ripened into a bitter harvest. Davidís murder of Uriah and marrying Bath Sheba was his attempt to justify his lust. God wasnít fooled; He knew Davidís heart. Nathanís words convicted his heart and repentance soon followed.
Davidís heart truly grieved because he recognized that his sin had separated him from God. God still loved David, but He couldnít fellowship with him as before. Not every crevice of Davidís heart was open. David would have trouble in this area throughout his entire life. It was his thorn in the side. David recognized he couldnít fight against lust alone and wrote Psalm 51 for just this occasion. Though David couldnít work out his lust in his own strength, he deeply grieved and yearned to remain close to God. David, who didnít have the New Covenant of Christís grace and mercy, still cried for mercy. He knew he needed help and wasnít too proud to ask God.
The final example is King Solomon. Historians have defined Solomon by many reputations. The wisest man ever born, author of profound proverbial wisdom and deep spiritual insights, builder of Godís temple at Jerusalem and a splendid royal city and palace. He was a strong leader and just, able king. Sadly, there is another side to Solomon, however, that is also remembered.
Unlike Joseph, Solomon did not flee from adultery when it first happened. Davidís son kept seven hundred wives and had three hundred concubines. This is of course the official count and excludes court prostitutes, commoners, and ďone-night standsĒ. Solomonís heart was totally immersed in his sin. Nothing could wrest it from him. So great was his lust that Godís threat of taking his kingdom from his heirs did not dissuade him from fulfilling his sexual desires. Over time Solomonís heart turned away from God and downward toward his loins. He was truly a stud in his own mind. For the services rendered, Solomon built his wives temples to their gods, including one devoted to the sex deity Moloch. Unlike in Davidís case, the Bible does not record any instance where God sent a prophet warning Solomon to repent. Israelís king was fully committed to burn by himself alone.
For all his head knowledge and worldly wisdom, Solomon never developed his heart before God the way his father David did. Solomon neither learned to value women for their minds nor see their humanity the way David did with Abigail. The weaker vessel existed solely to gratify the kingís flesh. How far this stronghold has permeated the popular culture is demonstrated by the fact that Solomonís thousand no longer shocks congregations. Modern society is filled with examples of men bedding tens of thousands.
Those in bondage never fully realize that God gave men a sex drive to be used within the confines of marriage and for developing deep, lasting intimacy with their soul- mates. Pleasure has become confused with what is forbidden. We think we must burn inside, only then can it be truly paradise. It feels so good, so pleasing. Our bodies ache to enjoy. We want it and we want it right now.
The problem is that we try to live pure by ourselves alone. We think weíre doing well before God because we gather up strength to resist a few fiery trials. We grow confident in our own sight. Then unexpectedly the trouble comes. Rather than seek help, however, we return to the foul, stinky puke that lodges deep inside our souls. As we walk through the desolate places, temptation shows up and bids us follow. We fall quite willingly. We glimpse a peek of this, take a gaze at that, and grope outward. Mind and soul become one flesh, pounding, pulsating, and dominating our spirit.
The greek word pornie, translated for fornication is also the same root for pornography, or graphic adultery. This plague is causing despair and destruction throughout the lives of countless individuals, mostly men. It is now Americaís third largest export. Whether at the strip bar or in the college dormitory, this plague has become deadly, gruesome, and out of control and is making inroads into the Body of Christ. The visual image becomes the real thing in many minds. They think sheís wonderful, glorious, and hot. The burn is back. ďJesus who?Ē is the reply, a smirk, and then click, take a long, fast drive down the information superhighway, exiting through the site of carnal manna to satisfy the urges of the loins.
For those Christians captive to the burn, David and Solomon is a more recognizable situation. Our hearts continually lust after female flesh. We know we need help. We are confused. We look at women not with respectful admiration but with a hungry panting the way a dog devours a piece of meat. It is hard to face the fact that a part of us, like David, yearns to walk in Godís grace and presence while still demanding to burn without consequences, greedily chomping down the forbidden fruits of sexual impurity. When we itch we want to scratch, it feels like heaven when we do. We say we want to be close to God, yet our lust prevents us from entering into His high place and holy of holies with a clean conscience. Yes, we know we are in sin; we hurt and need help.
Countless sermons continually exhort us to do better. Lust is just too horrible; we canít allow it to permeate our lives, seep through our souls, and sap our spirits from developing into mature children of God. We know we canít walk this dry place alone. We become parched, praying for an answer, any oasis that can cleanse us from our vomit.
At times we cry out: Dear God! Canít you take my thoughts away? You know I love You above all flix, all pix, all girlfriends, porno, and silicone? You know I want to be close to you in everything I do and think. I want to be your friend, like David was. PleaseÖhelp me. Enlighten my heart to your word. Send me across the path of others who can strengthen me when Iím weak, listen to me when I cry, dry my tears as they flow. Please, heal my hurts.
The way out is not by our own power and in our own strength. It is through total submission to the blood of Jesus Christ and what He has done at Calvary for our sins. The lamb of God, our sacrifice, died so that we might have new life, a new hope in Him. Jesus knew that during our lives we would be in times of desolation and would need His help. As a body of believers, we must maintain fellowship with those who can hold us accountable in our faults and weaknesses so that we may become strong. Learning to say no to sin is not an instant decision but a gradual process. Day by day, hour by hour, second by second. Each step taken, asking God for forgiveness and grace, and seeking comfort from godly friends, are needed. In 2nd Chronicles 7:14, God exhorts us to pray, humble ourselves and turn from wickedness; only then will He hear our cry. The book of James says to resist the evil one and he shall flee from us. If we confess our sins, He is truly faithful to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But above all, we must be willing to turn from that which consumes us.
True freedom from lust cannot come by ourselves alone; it takes a willing heart to rely on Jesus Christ, His word, and those whom He chooses to send across our path. The choice is ours. Depend on Him and find true freedom from lust, or go it alone and allow the darkness and bondage to remain.
Jason Brown, a former local government employee and graduate student at Oral Roberts University is currently writing a book regarding issues from a Christian perspective. This paper was originally presented in speech form at an informal menís group in November 2000