The power of sexual temptation

The sight of a beautiful woman has special power to hold men captive. The atmosphere changes when a lady enters a room full of men. This will always be the case and it’s not entirely wrong. God designed a natural attraction between the sexes. It exists among all humans and is arguably essential to our survival. Yet what is natural easily becomes perverted in the hearts and minds of fallen people. Attraction becomes lust and people get hurt.

 _________________________

Exhibit one - Enter one of the saddest moments in Israel’s history.

“One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her” (II Samuel 11:2-3a).

There are many temptations in the world but few hold as much sway over a man’s heart as the sight of a beautiful woman. All the enemies of Israel could not combine to control David’s life like what he saw from the roof top. Was it an unexpected glance? Is it possible that David should have been somewhere else? Prior to these verses, we read, “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem” (II Samuel 11:1).

Along with possibly being in the wrong place, it’s probable that David knew in advance what he could see from the roof top. But, whatever the factors, men will always be drawn to the sight of beautiful women. The fact that this woman was bathing occasioned more visually captivating lust in David’s heart. At that critical moment, David had a decisive choice to make. Would he allow what he saw to place its grip on him and cultivate lust in his heart?

Four Scriptures emphasize the eye as the igniting source of temptation

  1. Eve was drawn to the forbidden fruit after “she saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it” (Genesis 3:6).
  2. When a man named Achan hindered Israel by giving into temptation, his confession exposed the common path of temptation: “When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them.” (Joshua 7:20-21).
  3. David saw the beautiful woman, sent and inquired about her and finally sent messengers and took her (II Samuel 11).
  4. Jesus emphasized the power of sight to cultivate a heart for evil when he said, “…I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28).

What can we learn from this pattern?

Consider Job’s example when he said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl (Job 31:1). If sight is the source, deal with it at that point. On the theme of sexual temptation, Jesus spoke in radical terms when he admonished, “…if your right eye offends you, pluck it out” (Matthew 5:29).

Although not intended literally, Jesus taught us to deal decisively with the source of evil. Clearly, this is the battle for all men. The power of lust is real and difficult to overcome. The Christian apologist Josh McDowell once said,

“Show me a man who can control sexual passion and I’ll show you someone who can control every other area of his life.”

Dealing with sexual temptation is a daily battle for men and most women do not understand the intensity of it. Internet pornography has only intensified this war against the soul. Many women are also being lured into the battle on this level. 

For those who are married:

Sexual love is a primary way for a wife to love the man God put in her life. I don’t know any easier way to say this. Sex is important to men and they tie a good bit of their identity to it. This can become a problem if a man is self-centered and insensitive to his wife. Men must realize that sex is more than a physical act; it’s part of a relationship. Men must be intentional about cultivating true companionship not just demanding sex. But the truth is that men will generally desire more sex in marriage than women. Couples must view sexual frustration as a threat to their marriages. Prolonged sexual abstinence must not be permitted in a marriage. Scripture identifies it (sexual abstinence)  as an opportunity for the evil one (see: I Corinthians 7:3-5).

For all who battle:

Since temptation has physiological implications that produce addictive attractions, stay healthy by balancing life with exercise, activity and rest. Recognize times of vulnerability. When we’re tired we are often more vulnerable. Try to keep your computer use to public places. Get some accountability software and a trusted friend to help protect you. 

Sexual purity cannot be maintained without consistent discipline of the mind. A good place to start is to maintain daily time with God in Scripture and prayer. Memorization of scripture also fortifies the one against temptation. An added help comes from consistently placing yourselves in transparent Christian fellowship. But none of this is a magical formula to protect one from feeling tempted. Feeling temptation is not the issue; acting on our feelings in a way outside of the God-ordained boundary is where the sin occurs.

A proverb just for men

“Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys kings.” (Proverbs 31:3). What a powerful reminder of the power of sexual temptation! This stuff is potent! This has the power to bring down the best and strongest of men! King David could not take back that moment of temptation and sin. He found forgiveness with God but great damage resulted from his moment of passion.

Six action points

1. What best describes sexual temptation for you?

victorious, struggling, defeated, overwhelmed, good days and bad days, ____________________?

2.  Identify your primary sources of struggle: TV, internet, movies, magazines, books, relationships, etc…

3.  How should we apply Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-30?

“You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)

John Stott explains: “If your eye causes you to sin because temptation comes to you through your eyes (objects you see), then pluck out your eyes. That is, don’t look!  Behave as if you had actually plucked out your eyes and flung them away, and were now blind and so could not see the objects which previously caused you to sin. Again, if your hand or foot causes you to sin, because temptation comes to you through your hands (things you do) or your feet (places you visit), then cut them off. That is: don’t do it! Don’t go! Behave as if you had actually cut off your hands and feet and flung them away, and were now crippled and so could not do the things or visit the places which previously caused you to sin” (Sermon on the Mount, p. 89).

4.   What do you find most helpful in dealing with sexual temptation?

Memorize these verses

Verses to guide us to victory over sexual temptation:

    • Ephesians 5:3-5 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 “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; …”
    • Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
    • Proverbs 6:32 “But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself.”
    • Proverbs 28:13,14 “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.”
    • Psalm 32:1-2,5 “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’– and you forgave the guilt of my sin”
    • 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
    • Romans 13:14 “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
    • 1 Peter 2:11-12 “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

5.   Read and discuss the following

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18).  What level of pride is required to believe that sexual sin could overtake Lot, Samson, David (“a man after God’s own heart”), Solomon, the Corinthians and a host of modern Christian leaders, but not me?  Paul’s warnings deserve a prominent place on our dashboards, desks and computers: “But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Gal 6:1); “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”  (1Cor 10:12).

God does not want us to be presumptuous, but neither does he want us to be paranoid.  We do not have to live each day teetering on the edge of immorality or paralyzed by the fear of a sudden fall.  In the specific context of seeking to be sexually pure and resisting sexual temptation, the wise man says this to his son:

“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared” (Proverbs 3:21-26).

If we walk daily with Christ, being alert to what’s happening in our minds and implementing steps of  righteousness and wisdom, then we can go our way “in safety” and “not be afraid.” (From: Sexual Temptation: How Christian Workers Can Win the Battle,  Randy C. Alcorn )

6. Relate I Corinthians 7:3-5 to this subject.

Steve Cornell

6 comments on “The power of sexual temptation

  1. Jodi Young RN says:

    Very interesting article, also very degrading, to women that is.
    When God created sexual relations he created them male and female-not male. It is not my “duty” to please my husband, it is my pleasure, in the same way it is not my husband’s “duty” to please me but his pleasure.

    I grew up in a christian environment and knew from a young age that some day I was going to get married and that my husband would not be visually attracted to me for the simple reason that my body is not a “10″ body that our society teaches is attractive. The teaching that I was taught in the church in regards to this subject were devastating to me, doing irreversible damage-FROM THE CHURCH. Sure enough I was right. I have a wonderful faithful husband who was 32 when we married (he is now 48)and a nonchristian for those 32 years and had a subscription to a magazine. That magazine over the course of his adult life messed with his mind permanently. He is not visually attracted to me the way in which a husband should be. I am a attractive 38 year women but like I stated I never had that type of body.

    Reading your article made me feel like a piece of meat, to be used for his sexual pleasure. I do believe that there are many men who really do not have a daily issue with sexual temptations simply because I have known many through the years. My husband and I have had extensive and honest conversations about the temptations we face, whether they be visual or not, and to him, a man, this is not a daily battle. Does he notice, of course, who doesnt, but to exagerate the temptations puts fear and hurt in many women, myself being one of them. I will even go a step further and admit that in my marriage I am the one who struggles with lust, and I’m the wife.

    I agree with what you said about being their for my husband, but you stated it as if all men were such victims and we as their wives should be there to be there needs. God knows all the temptations that we as humans face and he even acknowledged in his word that we should not deprive our spouse. So if He knew that all men would face “so many more” temptations than women then why did he not adress it is such. What I’m trying to say is if God did not say something or direct us to do something-then who are we as mere humans to do that.

    I mean no disrespect in my comment because I have full love and respect for all my brothers and sisters in Christ. But please consider the fear, hurt, and jealousy that that can put into a womens head.

    Jodi Young

  2. Catherine says:

    I really needed this article. Thank you so much. The verses you gave are a strength to me. I am a young girl, age 19, and was really struggling with sexual temptation. I am saving sex for marriage, but a also want to have a pure mind before then as well. My body is the Lord’s temple and I want to honor God with it. Thank you for being a blessing to me. God Bless you.

  3. Dinesh says:

    plz help me my spirit is not willing but my body is forcing me to do such things.unwillingly commiting adultery help me plz hope u will

  4. What if it isn’t your eyes that lead you astray, but your mind? How do you “pluck” that out?

  5. Anonymous says:

    fill your mind with the word of God indeed you will conquer

  6. […] immediately, a man added a comment and link to a site about the power of sexual temptation.  It gave references to biblical scriptures relating to abstinence of sex in a marriage.    And […]

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