Reality check on sexual temptation

What does it take to bring down a King? Consider a sad moments in Israel’s history to answer this question.

“One evening (King) 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).

This story doesn’t have a good ending. A glance at a beautiful woman ended in the tragic death of a faithful man.

Here’s a fact of life

The sight of a beautiful woman has special power to hold men captive. The atmosphere changes when a good-looking 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’s a universal reality and essential to our survival. But natural gifts are easily perverted in the hearts and hands of fallen people. Attraction easily degenerates into lust and leads to immorality and — people get hurt.

Few things can hold as much power 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 this causal sight from the roof top.

An innocent glance?

It’s possible that David knew in advance what he could see from the roof. It’s also possible that David should have been somewhere else. Prior to the verses describing what David saw from the roof, 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).

Is there a point here about King David not being where he should be? He obviously was not focused on more important concerns.

The gate to temptation

Scripture emphasizes sight as the source of temptation. Consider four examples:

  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).

A covenant with your eyes or pluck them out

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). We must cut off the source of temptation to conquer it.  

In relation to sexual temptation, Jesus spoke in radical terms, “…if your right eye offends you, pluck it out” (Matthew 5:29).

Although not intended to be taken literally, Jesus advocated dealing decisively with the source of evil. This is the big battle for men. The power of lust is real and difficult to overcome. 

Dealing with sexual temptation is a daily battle for men and most women really do not understand the intensity men experience.

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.” 

A word to the married

Sex is a major source of marital conflict because of the thing that makes it possible. Sex involves men and women and they approach differently. Understanding this can help solve some of the problems.

I like to suggest that men approach sex like a microwave; woman are more like the crock pot. I use this illustration to say that generally the physical act of sex registers more with men while the relationship leading to sex is more significant for women.

Couples can have a better love life when husbands are intentional and take initiative in building relationships and wives are more intentional and take initiative in sexual matters. 

Wives are God’s source of protection for husbands. Couples must view sexual frustration as a threat to their marriages. Prolonged sexual abstinence should never be permitted in a marriage. (see: I Corinthians 7:3-5).

Winning the battle

This battle cannot be won without strong support and 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 mind against temptation.

An added help comes from consistently placing yourselves under biblical teaching and in transparent Christian fellowship.

Yet we should always remember that the feeling temptation is not wrong; acting on it is the problem. Don’t let the evil one keep you in a state of defeat and discouragement! 

Just for men

A helpful proverb admonishes men, “Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys kings.” (Proverbs 31:3). King David could not take back that moment of temptation and sin. Gratefully, he found forgiveness with God but not without significant damage and loss. A moment of passion can easily turn into a mountain of trouble.

Questions for Discussion

1. What words best describe your experience in relation to sexual temptation?

Sustained victory, struggling, defeated, overwhelmed, good days and bad days.

2. What are your primary sources of struggle with sexual temptation: TV, internet, movies, magazines, books, relationships, etc… 3.  How does the following teaching of Jesus relate?

  • 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.”
  • 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 for overcoming sexual temptation? 5. What can we learn from James 1:13-18? 6.   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” (Prov 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 ).

7. Find someone willing to memorize the following Scriptures with you: (it helps to have to say them to another person)

  • 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.”
  • 1Thessalonians 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”
  • 1John 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.”

Steve Cornell

This entry was posted in Addiction, Behavior, Dating, Defeat?, Guidelines for living, Heart, Hope?, Love, Lust, Marriage, Passion, Purity, Relationships, Sex, Sexual temptations, Sexuality, Spiritual disciplines, Spiritual growth, Spiritual inventory, Spiritual transformation, Temptation, Walking with God, Wives and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Reality check on sexual temptation

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  4. Mel says:

    Wow this is so helpful. I’m a single Christian virgin 33 and struggling terribly. Raging sexual attraction to the wrong person, thoughts…etc. I’m bookmarking this page. God bless you

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