Adultery. It’s a common word and a common occurrence in our society.
Lt. Kelly Flinn narrowly avoided court-martial for adultery and insubordination. Gen. Joseph Ralston left the candidacy for the top military position when a previous affair spawned an uproar. Everyone—from presidents to preachers—is subject to the temptation.
But adultery’s stain goes deeper than the individual. More dishonor has come to the name of Jesus Christ by sexual sin than any other sin.
C.S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters, said, "No man knows how bad he is until he has tried to be good. There is a silly idea that good people don’t know what temptation means."
We must learn from the Lord to enjoy full mastery over sex, His marvelous gift. "For God did not give us the spirit of timidity," Paul reminds us, "but the spirit of power and love and self-control."
Proverbs 4:23 exhorts, "Above all else, guard your heart, for out of it flow the springs of life." How can we do that?
Monitor your fantasizing and daydreaming when your mind is idle. Refuse pornography, whether written or in movies or videos.
You can talk yourself into sexual sin. It happened to a friend of mine. He had won thousands to Christ during 25 years. Suddenly he left his wife and became hard and rebellious, even pretending to return to evangelism. I found out that for years he had secretly watched pornographic films, yet preached heavily against immorality. Eventually, like a serpent, it bit him. It has happened to better people than you and me.
Believe them, accept them, reaffirm them. Study Malachi 2:13-16 and 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, and make Joseph in Genesis 39 a model. He faced, resisted and triumphantly ran from temptation. But be ready! As my mentor, Ray Stedman, said, "Woe to the man who has to learn principles at a time of crisis!"
The Word of God, as our meat and drink, keeps the inner man and woman strong and sensitive on a continuing basis. "Your Word I have hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:11).
Resisting temptation by quoting scripture still is a mighty tool.
One preacher I know allowed himself to become enchanted by an attractive, sensuous convert who had made advances shortly before he led her to Christ. He resisted and she had converted.
Three years later, he saw her again. He drew close to offer an "innocent" kiss nothing more, he tells us when the young woman started quoting, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). He left in a hurry!
God will remove His hand from your service to Him if you allow lust to lead you to actual sexual immorality. Samson lost his power. "He did not know that the Lord had left him" (Judges 16:20). So many friends started out well—winsome, friendly, authoritative. Where are they now? I can think of half a dozen on the sidelines because of money, sex, or pride. Useless, lonely, fruitless, bitter.
Failure does not occur suddenly, overnight, in one blast of a careless moment or the explosion of uncontrolled passion. Dr. George Sweeting of Moody Bible Institute said, "Collapse in Christian life is rarely a blowout. It’s usually a slow leak." When a man takes that fatal step, it has been gestating in his soul for months, perhaps years. Toying, daydreaming. One step at a time, the sensitivity level lowers. Then, the unthinkable occurs.
Have you stumbled in this sensitive area of your life? Confess, make amends, clear yourself with the proper people. Where are you in your walk with God? If you must get reconciled to Him, do it now! "He who comes to me, I will in no way cast out," the Lord has said.
Sexual holiness demands we not play games in flirting, body language, and clothing. In the cases of fallen men I know, they first failed in precisely those areas. Keep friends accountable before drastic failure, discipline, and sadness happen.