Keep On Running
A common theme I notice when talking with men—young and old—about this constant battle is that oftentimes people “fall off the wagon.” One young man told me he would be pure for a few days and then “fall back,” and in my accountability group, the stories were similar: we met every week, men from the ages of 28-70 and there were times when some of the guys had what they would call “a slip.” I like what Hugh Houston says in his book, Jesus Is Better Than Porn: “For the person who is looking for an excuse, a trigger is all it takes to crash and burn. A trigger comes along and a binge soon follows. But none of this is written in stone. It is not inevitable. I had to learn that in actuality there are no ‘slips,’ only bad choices which I make of my own free will.”
We have a tendency to make our sins sound more innocent than they are. A slip sounds better than a deliberate plunge but oftentimes, that’s exactly what it is. When we come across a trigger or temptation, we need to obey what God has instructed us to do:
“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” (Ephesians 5:3)
“God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
The Bible has a lot to say about sexual sin. We know we are to flee from temptation and have nothing to do with sexual immorality, but what does the Bible have to say about facing the pressure of sexual temptation day after day? This seems to be the problem a lot of men have. Well, first of all, just because the struggle with temptation might happen day after day, that doesn’t negate God’s commands to flee, to keep running from the temptation, and to keep yourself pure. Secondly, we do have a direct example of someone who was facing the pressure of sexual temptation day after day and we find his story in Genesis 39.
“Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. ‘Come and sleep with me,’ she demanded. She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day,” (Genesis 39:6b-7, 10a)
This is where Joseph lived and worked, and the wife of his master is lusting after him, demanding that he sleep with her, pressuring him day after day. Sound relatable? We face the pressure of knowing the web addresses of places we shouldn’t go. We are tempted with an oversaturated market of streaming shows and movies that sound entertaining, but contain nudity and sexual images we shouldn’t expose our minds to. It’s hard enough not to go to the website or watch the movie/show, but Joseph was faced with the wife of his master lusting after him and demanding he sleep with her. But we do not read of Joseph “slipping.”
“But Joseph refused…. ‘How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.’” (Genesis 39:8a, 9b)
How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God. If only David had considered this when he saw Bathsheba on the roof. If only Lot’s daughters had considered this before sleeping with their father. If only Abraham had considered this before agreeing to sleep with Hagar. If only Tamar had considered this before dressing like a prostitute; if only Judah had considered this before paying for the prostitute. If only Amnon had considered this before raping his half-sister. If only we would consider this when temptation comes knocking.
Now Potipher’s wife did not give up on Joseph, just as our temptations and triggers do not go away. She caught him when no one else was home and tried to force him to go to bed with her. Our temptations can be this same way: Satan will strike when no one else is home and try to force us to sin.
“She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, ‘Come on, sleep with me!’ Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house.” (Genesis 39:12)
Joseph does what we are commanded to do: he runs! The next time you come across a trigger or temptation, obey God’s command and flee from it—RUN! If the temptations keep coming, day after day, or even hour after hour, repeat what Joseph said, “How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” And keep on running.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.