The young man told me an unbelievable story. He was telling me about an activity that was popular in his college dorm. It was called "hogging."
As he explained what this activity was, it became clear to me that this young man was engaging in a very sinful and demeaning sexual activity. By many standards, his behavior was considered deviant and misogynous.
Clearly, hogging is when a man purposely seeks out an overweight or unattractive woman to satisfy his sexual appetite. Many times, it is a game, a form of competition that men do to see who can have sex with the largest woman. It is not unusual for a group of men at a bar decide to "spice up" the most overweight or unattractive woman or it occurs when it is close to bar closing and a man decided he will "settle" for this woman rather than go home alone. This type of behavior is disgusting, despicable and wrong on so many levels.
This young man was starting to feel a twinge of guilt for his behavior. The night before he was involved in a "rodeo" where his friends hid in his bedroom and took pictures of his sexual activity and then jumped out and surprised the woman, humiliating her and telling her it was all a competition. This last encounter ended with the young woman breaking down in tears, angrily crying hysterically and threatening to call the police for sexual assault.
It's disgusting the path that sin takes in men's lives. The desire to seek sexual thrills coupled with competition makes men stupid. This selfishness leads to treating people like objects, forgetting that other people have needs and feelings as well.
His behavior reminded me of a section of the Bible where Paul is speaking to first generation Christians: "Don't you know that wicked people won't inherit the kingdom of God? Stop deceiving yourselves! People who continue to commit sexual sins..." Then Paul reminds them that even though they have engaged in sexual sins, that they have changed... "That's what some of you were! But you have been washed and made holy, and you have received God's approval..."
This young man didn't have a Christian heritage on which to build, just like these first generation Christians. He thought that what he was doing was "normal, what guys do." Fortunately, the Holy Spirit was speaking to him, letting him know that abusing women and seeking sexual thrills and competition is not "normal." And he was listening...
God takes pleasure in uprightness, in those who seek to please Him before pleasing their own sensual desires and selfishness.
This young man changed for the better. He is now walking in righteousness, seeking God's will for his life. He is forgiven. He is now made holy. He is receiving God's approval.
God changed this young man.
Allow God to change you.
BE A MAN.
"We're gonna put our money into a computer rather than marriage counseling." This was a statement from a man with a rather troubled marriage. "I don't think counseling is going to help us any. We can spend time together in front of the computer and find good resources there." I looked at his wife and she, in a rather pie-eyed fashion, gave her tacit permission towards her husband's solution to their many marriage troubles. He proceeded with a rather lengthy story about how a new, more powerful computer, would be the solution not only to their family woes but also the difficulties in his marriage. "We will gather around the computer as a family and make our computer a place of bonding, we'll become stronger if we invest in that rather than counseling." I attempted to protest but he had won his wife over to his point of view. They cancelled their remaining sessions and I never saw them again.
Do you think the computer helped this marriage? A computer is amoral. It is neither evil nor good. It is what is done with the computer that brings in the morality.
I have been able to watch this man's behavior from a distance and unfortunately, his life has fallen apart. His wife divorced him. Several things transpired that she could not live with: 1) he used the computer for watching porn, 2) he used the computer to develop relationships with numerous women with whom he had affairs, 3) he was arrested for having sex with a patient, 4) he was also arrested for domestic violence and 5) he lost his medical license.
The computer also affected his children. One of his children became addicted to pornography (from the same computer), another was charged with sexual molestation and must now register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, the rest of his children have completely cut him off, wanting nothing to do with him.
I'm not saying that if they had continued in counseling that everything would have been perfect and these problems would not have occurred but I think it is ironic that the very thing he convinced his wife would solve all of their problems seriously contributed to his moral failure and the subsequent behavior of his family. I'm also not saying that the computer was his main problem. His main problem (in spite of claiming the name of Christian) was old-fashioned selfishness. He was not allowing God to transform him.
I'm writing this to you to ask you a few questions:
Into what are you pouring your time, energy and money?
Have you convinced yourself that possessions will bring your happiness?
Or have you invested your life into accountability, honest relationships and seeking God's will for your life?
God is very clear about His will: It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
I have heard that this man is now trying to repair the damage he has done and is trying again to live a life that is pleasing to God. I find that encouraging.
Please pray for him.
BE A MAN.
Most Christians today like to say that all sins are “equal” in the eyes of God, that there is no scale of less or worse sins, that a white lie or a homicide alike would have been enough to require Christ to die on the cross. We say this in theory, but in practice, we know that a white lie won’t get you kicked off the church leadership team. And a homicide likely will.
In practice, there are some sins that are socially acceptable, even in the Church. There’s one sin in particular that has pervaded our society and churches so silently we hardly give it a second thought, and that is the constant hunt for more over what is enough. Or, in an uglier terminology, what is known as gluttony.
When I think about gluttony, I think about my desire to shove a dozen donuts into my mouth and wash them down with chocolate milk. Or perhaps it’s my tendency to mindlessly feed chips to a stomach that’s no longer hungry. Many of us can look at the sin of gluttony and think, “That’s not really my struggle.” Or, we think, “What’s the big deal?” After all, most congregations have compulsive over-eaters among them, and they’re not considered “less spiritual” or “backslidden” for it.
But gluttony has never been merely an addiction to food. And if we look at it in its original definition and context, gluttony becomes far closer to home than we’d like to admit.
At its simplest, gluttony is the soul’s addiction to excess. It occurs when taste overrules hunger, when want outweighs need. And in America, where upsizing has always been part of the American dream, it’s often difficult to distinguish what is hard-earned achievement and what is indulgent excess. In this sense, even the most athletic and toned among us can be gluttons. Any of us can be.
All desire for excess stems from a lack of satisfaction. I’m not satisfied with my portion—be it the portion on my plate, in the marriage bed, or in my bank account. Because I’m not satisfied with my portion, I then seek a greater portion. But because every portion is a finite part of a finite whole, I am constantly chasing an excess that can never satisfy.
This is the story of Genesis 3. What was the sin in the Garden of Eden if not a desire for excess? Adam and Eve were given beautiful sights and beautiful tastes in the absence of shame, but what made the garden a paradise was not any of this. It was a paradise because God walked in the cool of the day with them. And yet, Adam and Eve’s downfall was because they deemed even this as not enough. They weren’t content with their portion of paradise, and they reached out—to disastrous consequence—for more.
Like them, we are ravenous beings. We embody bottomless cravings that constantly paw at the next attractive thing. Our appetites are as strong as death, Proverbs 27:20 tells us. We are always on the move for the next thing that can satisfy and slake our restless thirst. This endless pull is the engine of gluttony. It propels our souls ever toward excess.
And yet, the desire for “more” is not inherently bad, but it is often misdirected. What we need is a relentless appetite for the divine. We need a holy ravenousness. Our craving souls can turn and become enthralled by a goodness that is found in the presence of an all-glorious God. There is only one infinite source of satisfaction that can satisfy our bottomless cravings.
A taste of His supreme grace is enough to lure an appetite long held prisoner to lesser portions. If stolen water is sweet, lavished grace is sweeter.
And here’s a strange side effect: The more we drink deeply of the endless love of an infinite God, the more our tastes will be changed. The deep bright marrow of grace will drip down into the restless souls of the ever-hungry.
In pursuit of lesser portions, our tastes have dulled. We’ve become numb to our real hungers, filling them with lesser fare. But when we return to the source, we taste anew.
Psalm 34:8 challenges us to see the difference for ourselves: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” I think Paul understood this verse when he told the people at Lystra that God gives food and gladness so that our hearts would turn from vain things and turn to the ultimate satisfaction of who God is (Acts 14:15-17).
Consequently, if God has ordained that His goodness can be tasted and seen (and, I would submit, heard, smelled and touched), this has at least two direct implications. First, it means that every finite pleasure and satisfaction is meant to point us toward the infinite pleasure and satisfaction of God. My admiration for a sunset, then, need not stop at that horizon, rather it can curve upward into praise and gratitude. Second, it means that if our desire for "more" is misplaced, then certainly it can be redirected to something good as well.
Is the desire for excess sinful? It depends on whether the soul is addicted to a finite excess or an infinite excess. Do we ever think of gorging on God? Do we relish the chance to spend a few more minutes in prayer, hidden away from the world for just one more taste of the divine? When was the last time we lingered long over the pages of an open Bible because we just couldn’t stop admiring the honeyed flavor of an ancient truth? If the Bible is the story of the only infinite good, why do we spend so much of our lives at lesser tables?
We Christians have so tamed our enjoyment in God that we cannot fathom what such thrill-seeking would even look like. Feasting on God is as foreign to most Americans as an empty stomach. Why can’t we fix our souls on the only goodness who can handle our cravings? Why do we chase the more mild flavors of money, food and sex?
If only we would not stifle our gluttonous cravings, but turn them in the right direction. If only we would feast on an infinite God who offers fullness of life, rather than these lesser tables with the far milder flavors of money, sex, food and power.
As George MacDonald put it, “Sometimes I wake and, lo, I have forgot.” Sleep is like a reset button and my hunger is misdirected often. I think I’m hungry for the finite, but I’m really hungry for God. To remember, we need to taste daily, deeply and constantly of the goodness of God. So let us turn together, and feast rightly.This post was written by Jason Todd of Relevant Magazine. For the original post with comments, go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/practical-faith/socially-acceptable-sin
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
It’s happened to most of us. We’re cruising down the street, singing along to Justin Bieber’s sweet new jam when all of the sudden, some imbecile swerves in front of us and cuts us off. Not only does this give our hearts a shock, it usually unleashes a little monster we like to call “road rage.”
Our knuckles whiten, we grit our teeth, we may even let a dirty word fly out of the side of our mouths. We give our horn a long, harsh push or—even worse—we slip up that one finger that tells this reckless renegade exactly what we think of their driving. It’s so easy to lash out since, after all, we don’t know this person. They’re just some anonymous moron drifting in and out of traffic as they please.
This scenario is a classic American experience: we believe we have the right of way, someone compromises that right, and we take offense, often reacting in impulsive, unwise ways. And it doesn’t just happen on the road.
When you think about it, the same thing happens to us all the time in the public square—anywhere, really, where ideas are presented, debated and shared. And on the Internet, particularly, it happens a lot.
As with any large gathering of souls, the Internet consists of many different people from many different upbringings offering up many different opinions and beliefs. And for those of us who are fortunate to live in countries that afford us the freedom to live and believe as we choose, we’re granted the right to choose where our loyalties in religion and politics lie. Those choices aren’t taken lightly nor held loosely, and most of us defend them with our very soul. This being the case, the Internet often disintegrates into a hotspot of disagreement and offense; bursting with arguments, insults and accusations with little or no warning.
We’ve seen it happen recently in discussions of gay marriage, gun laws, abortion, gender roles and more. Someone posts something that offends our beliefs, and a counter is quickly posted elsewhere. It’s as if those attacking our beliefs and opinions are actually attacking us personally, and that’s something we just cannot and will not allow. What once had the supposed potential of a calm discussion soon turns into slurs and insults being tossed back and forth, growing more and more hostile as witnesses enter the fray to defend their friends and own opinions. Names are called, orientations are attacked, and opinions are ransacked—until it all descends into digital chaos. All because someone took offense to an individual’s opinion and acted out.
This begs the question: What right do we have to be offended at someone else’s opinion or beliefs in the first place? We certainly have the right to disagree with another’s stance, but to take a personal affront to the beliefs of another speaks to something else entirely. It’s as if we’ve adopted the type of selfish mindset that expects everyone to shape their every thought and response to what we’ve chosen to believe.
Who are we to assume that our opinions hold more value than those of another? In reality, each of us possesses the equal right to believe as we wish. We may not agree on faith or politics or a million other things, but we can be centered enough to realize that differing opinions are not a call for anger and harsh actions.
Even so, some feel it is their right to incite us to anger—or to be incited to anger themselves. If we’re honest, we sometimes take the stance that our taking offense is a spiritual posture—one of speaking truth, combating lies and championing What Is Right. This may be true or it may not be, but in the words of Paul, if we have not love, we are “nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2).
These interactions can lead to bruised feelings and angry responses, simply because that’s our first reaction as human. But as Christians who seek to be examples of God, it is our responsibility to turn away from those who would offend and malign us with aimed insults. Is it easier to respond in anger once we’ve been offended? Without question. But because we are called to love this world and to be more through Him, we should not only refuse to engage those who come at us with hate, but choose to look upon them with grace and a loving heart as well.
At the very root of our Christian identity, we are called to love this world as God loves us, and that means without condition. We are to show the kind of love 1 Corinthians 13:5 describes as not rude or irritable nor insistent on its own way. The disagreements aren’t going anywhere. We just have to accept the call of loving the naysayers anyway.
In the end, it’s not easy to respond well to that which offends or hurts us, but if we choose instead to fill our hearts with the love and grace of God, there will be no room for the pain or offense this world brings. Speaking out of offense rarely brings about good things. But speaking out of love—that’s what can move mountains.This post was written by Corey Copeland of Relevant Magazine. For the original post with comments, you can go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/taking-offense-not-part-christian-calling
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Several years ago, I got into a debate with a close friend and the conversation went quickly south. What began as a discussion about our theological and political differences ended up in a shouting match in which each person's character was called into question.
I went into the argument with a "win-at-all-costs" mentality. Winning a disagreement was the only way I knew how to disagree, but what I lost wasn't worth the victory. I said plenty of things I didn't mean. As the saying goes, "I won the battle, but lost the war." And lost a great friend in the process. We haven’t spoken since.
I may have won the debate, but it wasn’t worth the cost.
We’re never going to agree with everyone we come in contact with, but we must learn how to disagree in a way that honors Christ and His body.
Disagreement is an increasing norm in our lives, but we're marginally equipped. It's much easier to post disparaging remarks on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and news articles. Digital disagreement allows us to hide behind a screen.
Just take a sampling of the Christian blogosphere, where heated debates on who gets into heaven, the biblical role of women and gay marriage, just to name a few, are commonplace. Spend time scrolling through comments where any of these discussions take place and you'll immediately lose your faith in humanity.
All of this painfully illuminates the question: Why can't Christians disagree well? Why are we so comfortable tarnishing the name of Jesus—whom we all call “Lord”—just so we can win the argument?
Christians spend much of their time focused on how to engage the un-Christian world around them—and rightfully so. Yet in doing so, we sometimes lose our ability to navigate conversations and relationships with our own brothers and sisters.
John didn't hold anything back when he said: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). We usually apply this to our relationship with unbelievers, but loving “one another” in and amongst our own is an incredible witness as well—for better or for worse. So how can we turn this around? What do we need to do in order to disagree with our brothers and sisters in love.
First, we need to understand that the underlying theme that allows for disagreement to happen in a healthy way is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence can be simply defined as seeking to understand before being understood. It's human nature to fight for your supposed “right” to an opinion and your supposed “right” to be heard. But the reigning mark of our faith is not holding on to our personal rights, but offering our Christ-reflective unconditional love. It's easier to hoard the opportunity to push someone else down than to sacrifice your right to be heard. But to uphold the name of love, this is often the harder, better way.
Emotional intelligence is sacrificing your rights in order to care for others. This is deeply rooted in the Christian faith: "In humility value others above yourselves" (Philippians 2:3). By focusing only on yourself—your opinion, your agenda, your perspective—you shrink the world. Your problems become the lens you see everything through. You isolate yourself from a world looking for attention, love and human kindness. You cannot care for others when the world revolves around you. And you cannot build the Church body if all you are concerned about is yourself.
Yet in focusing on understanding the other, in an intentional act of love, your world expands. By seeking to understand before being understood, "our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection—or compassionate action," says psychologist Daniel Goleman in Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships.
Just like in any family, conflict among Christians will never go away. But when we learn how to seek understanding before being understood, we can begin to have healthy disagreements.
We can learn to focus on areas of agreement over areas of disagreement. And perhaps then, we can restore our reputation of love.This post was written by Tyler Braun of Relevant Magazine. For the original post with comments, go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/why-dont-christians-play-nice
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
In testimony that shocked Florida legislators, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood explained that “her organization believes the decision to kill an infant who survives a failed abortion should be left up to the woman seeking an abortion and her abortion doctor.” But what else should we expect from an organization that has made countless millions of dollars off the killing of unborn babies?
As reported March 29, 2012 by the Weekly Standard, these legislators were “considering a bill to require abortionists to provide medical care to an infant who survives an abortion,” similar to the Born Alive Protection Act that Barack Obama voted against four times before he was president.
Rep. Jim Boyd was so taken aback by the testimony of Alisa LaPolt Snow, the Planned Parenthood lobbyist, that he said to her, “So, um, it is just really hard for me to even ask you this question because I’m almost in disbelief. If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”
She replied, “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician.”
What? The baby survives an abortion in a Planned Parenthood clinic and is fighting for its life, and Planned Parenthood isn’t willing to say, “Yes, we want to see the baby’s life saved”? Of course not. If it was up to the mother and doctor to terminate the baby’s life inside the womb, why not continue the barbaric act outside the womb?
Rep. Jose Oliva, also incredulous, asked Snow, “You stated that a baby born alive on a table as a result of a botched abortion that that decision should be left to the doctor and the family. Is that what you’re saying?”
Snow replied, “That decision should be between the patient and the health care provider,” to which Oliva rightly countered, “I think that at that point the patient would be the child struggling on the table, wouldn’t you agree?”
Snow was obviously caught off guard and could only reply, “That’s a very good question. I really don’t know how to answer that. I would be glad to have some more conversations with you about this.”
In other words, even I can’t pretend to defend my own ridiculous position here.This post was written by Michael Brown. For the original post, go to: http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelbrown/2013/04/01/planned-parenthood-confirms-its-babykiller-status-n1554041BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
What should you do when you find yourself attracted to another woman? Here are some helps: 1. Avoid being alone with her. Ensure that your spouse is with you whenever you must be with this person. If not, tell your spouse ahead of time and/or immediately afterward.
2. Stop fantasizing about being with her romantically and/or sexually.
3. Don't open Pandora's box by telling her that you are sexually attracted to her. It will only complicate matters more. She may turn around and accuse you of harassment.
4. Share your feelings of attraction with a close friend who can hold you accountable.
5. Take responsibility for all your actions. You are not to blame for your feelings but you are responsible for the actions that follow your feelings.
6. Try to look at the whole picture. A few moments of passion can lead to a lifetime of regret and hurt.
Taken from The Sexual Man: Masculinity without guilt
BE A MAN.
So often, a person only reveals a difficult period of his or her life after the event, while reflecting on the event. This is especially true of "testimonies" given at church. A person stands to thank the Lord for seeing her through a dark period of life; meanwhile, many people stare in wonder how most of the rest of us were unaware of her living through such an event. I, too, used to live a privatized life. If I was struggling through a rough patch in my life, I would keep it all to myself, unwilling to share my pain or difficulties. Part of the reason for my privacy was fear, part of it was shame, and another part was pride. I have decided not to live my life like that any longer. I intend on being transparent about my struggles. I think that in doing so I can honor the Lord, live a more honest and thus healthy life, as well as give comfort to anyone who may be experiencing the exact same feelings.Over the last month or so I have felt loneliness unparalleled -- never have I felt this lonely. This lonely period began when I discovered that the only friend I had (in my area) was not really a friend, in the true sense of the word. Our relationship, unbeknownst to me, has never been one of true friendship but of convenience. If this certain person could not find anyone else to spend time with, then I would do. I was unaware that our so-called friendship was in this sad state of affairs. Now, in other periods of my life, I would have responded differently to this tragic state. But at this vulnerable point in my life, when I most need a close friend (with whom I can spend time and confide and share my thoughts and feelings, as well as reciprocate), I am left all alone and very hurt. The friend I thought I had was not really my friend at all.I often picture loneliness as a chasm because that is how it feels -- like a space of emptiness that needs filling. "But the Lord should fill that chasm," some say. Well, that sounds nice; that sounds like the typical, Christian, spiritual-yet-superficial pat-answer to every situation. But I cannot see the Lord, nor can I audibly hear His voice, or hug or touch or punch and be playful with Him like I would a friend. The Lord gives us like-minded friends who can excite the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell (hopefully pleasant). "Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin" (Prov. 18:24 NRSV). In my present situation, little did I know that I had the former but not the latter. This present loneliness is also coupled with a deep sense of rejection. The one is as hard to bear as the other. What I am learning from this experience is how to choose a friend more wisely in the future. The saying is true: we cannot choose our family members, but we can choose our friends. Nor can we choose if or when loneliness will visit us: all of us, no matter our age or social status, are susceptible to a brief encounter with loneliness (or depression or rejection). Spouses and members of large families often sense loneliness as much as any single person; so the mere presence of people in our lives will not guard us from its grip.Some people, when experiencing loneliness or depression, merely endure it instead of praying or calling someone or watching a movie or going for a walk; they merely sit and endure the grief and pain, the emotional and mental torment. For some, enduring these times is all they can do; they feel paralyzed by their emotions or mental state.I know firsthand that there are many people in the world today, Christian and non-Christian, who are lonely and depressed. I know so because I receive their emails. None of us should deny the fact that at certain times in our lives we must drink the cup of loneliness. We do not like this cup. We try to avoid drinking the contents of this cup. But often we are forced to take this cup, press it to our lips, and drink.I think the aversion we sense to such an experience is natural. We should not feel guilty because we try to avoid feeling lonely or depressed. However, Henri Nouwen has some sound advice:Whenever you feel lonely, you must try to find the source of this feeling. You are inclined either to run away from your loneliness or to dwell in it. When you run away from it, your loneliness does not really diminish; you simply force it out of your mind temporarily. When you start dwelling in it, your feelings only become stronger, and you slip into depression. The spiritual task is not to escape your loneliness, not to let yourself drown in it, but to find its source.1Why finding the source of your loneliness is so very important, he admits, is because "it leads you to discern something good about yourself."2 For me, that goodness is grounded in the fact that I consider myself worthy of friendship, with much to offer a friend. I despise this loneliness because it reminds me that I actually have been rejected, and it hurts. During Jesus' darkest hours in the garden at Gethsemane (lit. "the place of pressing"), He confessed to being deeply grieved, to the point of death, praying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me" (Matt. 26:39). Do we not pray the same prayer when we are facing some of the darkest hours of our lives? We all want our respective cups to pass from us. This cup of loneliness is mine to drink for now. No one else can drink from this particular cup. I must drink it, and I must drink it alone. A time will come when the contents of this cup will be depleted. I can then wash the cup, dry it, and place it back into the cupboard. I look forward to that day. 1 Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom (New York: Image Books, 1998), 36.
2 Ibid. This truly honest post was written by William Watson Birch. You can find the original post with comments here: http://www.classicalarminian.com/2013/01/the-cup-of-loneliness.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Jesus tells us that we are to be perfect as He is perfect. However, being human, it is impossible to be perfect. What do you think Jesus meant by this statement?
Here is a good example of perfection. Maybe it is close to what Jesus was meaning. A piano student practices day and nite on a musical piece until he can execute it without error. His piano teacher would say that he plays“perfectly.” However, if he hasn't moved on and is still playing the same piece a year later, he is no longer perfect.
Another example. Let's say that you have a son with whom you are gardening in the hot sun. He sees you sweating and obviously becoming overheated. He thinks to himself, “I'll go get dad a glass of water.” He goes into the house and gets a dirty cup out of the sink and fills it with lukewarm water out of the tap without any ice. He carries it by the rim so that his grubby fingers get into the water. He joyfully brings it to you, knowing that it will help your thirst. When he gives it to you, you look inside the glass and notice that the water is not very clean. What do you do at that point? Do you chastise him for bringing you a glass of dirty water? Nope. A loving father would praise his son and gladly accept the water and drink it down. You have a perfect son. His intent was to please you.
The concept of intent is the key in both of these illustrations. You know the intent of your heart (and so does God). Let's say you do something that you think could be very helpful but someone misunderstands your intent and believes that you are not a very good Christian.
For example, a Christian brother chastises you for going into a bar. Your intent, when you went into that bar, was to talk to your friend that is drunk in there. You went in there to take him home and prevent him from further harming himself. Now the Christian chastising you does not know your intent. However, you do and moreover, God knows. Therefore, you are sinless (perfect) in regard to your going into a bar, a place where many people would say that a Christian should not be. So, as God told Samuel of David, God looks on the heart. God looks at our intent.
Sinlessness (perfection) is to be judged by God only. That's why we have a hard time with this concept, we are looking through human eyes. Some Christians have been taught that “we sin every day in thought, word or deed.” Nevertheless, it is possible to go for a while without sinning. However, it is VERY RARE. If a Christian looks in the mirror and says, “I didn't sin today!” then he just sinned. If you go without sinning, you don't realize it. You don't realize it because you don't focus on sin but on God's righteousness and God's ability to empower you to live a victorious Christian life. We are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness.
You used to offer your body to impurity and wickedness. However, now, you offer your body as a slave to righteousness which leads to holiness. So, how do you offer yourself to righteousness?
Tomorrow, we will discover that together.
BE A MAN.
Early in our marriage, we would receive Victoria's Secret catalogs in the mail. Even back then, these catalogs were pornography. They've only gotten worse.
Nevertheless, I told Karyn about the draw those catalogs had for me and I asked her to not have those in the house, especially since we were raising boys.
By starving my eyes from those catalogs, they came to the point of having less attraction for me. Over time, by telling Karyn about the things that turned me on, she was able to help me. We would talk about those things that were tempting. It was liberating to tell her and she would continue to love me and shield me from those things that held my attraction.
After the boys were raised, I accompanied her to a Victoria's Secret store where she was trying on some clothes. Being the dutiful husband, I went with her. I thought, "I've gotten past that Victoria's Secret temptation. I can handle this now."
While I was sitting there, minding my own business and trying not to look at the images of scantily clad women on the walls, a very attractive young lady walked up to me and started talking to me. I was polite and talked with her. Then another attractive young lady and then another. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by three very attractive young ladies.
Well, my ego got the best of me. I started thinking, "these girls think I'm hot. They're talking to me because they really like me." I found myself paying more attention to them while they were flirting with me (or I thought they were flirting with me). Then it hit me. "What in the world am I doing? I'm almost old enough to be these young ladies' father!" Then Karyn came out of the dressing room and paid for some clothes she was buying.
When we got outside, I confessed to Karyn what had happened. She simply said, "of course those sales clerks were talking to you, you're safe. You're much older than them. The longer you stay in the store, the more likely I will buy something." Well, I'll tell you, my ego was instantly deflated. We continued our conversation and Karyn said that the clerks were occupying me so that she would spend more time shopping.
Why do I share this story with you?
Well I learned a few things about temptation:
- I said to myself before going into the store, "I can handle this." God says, "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall." Knowing this was a past temptation, it would have been wise to ask God for strength before entering. It might have been better to just not go into that store.
- I have a big ego and I need to keep it in check. "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." If I stay humble, God will give me more grace.
- Temptation changes. I thought that I had the sin of lust conquered. However, this temptation played into something different. I was on my guard for lust but not on guard for my ego.
- My ego got in the way of my ability to think clearly. These young ladies were just doing what they had been taught. "Keep the hubby happy and his wife will buy more stuff." I was being played and never realized it.
So, my conclusion, my goal of this post is this:
Do you let your ego go unchecked?
Do you humble yourself so that God can give you more grace?
If you think that you have temptation conquered, get ready. You will find yourself tempted in ways that you haven't been considering.
BE A MAN.