For many men, the daily bombardment of temptation and opportunity for sinful actions can be overwhelming. And when we begin to feel overwhelmed we can feel hopeless and soon find ourselves stuck in a cycle of sin, repent, repeat. In my walk towards greater purity and wholeness, I have seen that during the times when I succumbed to those temptations, it usually came down to a lack of faithfulness and a loss of focus.
Lack of Faithfulness
I used to be more focused on what I can control and less on what I needed to be faithful in. While it is important to recognize what we can and cannot control, I believe that it is more imperative that we learn how to be faithful in recognizing, renouncing and rejecting sinful temptation and opportunities. By being faithful in how we respond when tempted, we can create a stable foundation that allows us to stand firm in our actions and honoring in our responses. So what does practical faithfulness look like in the face of temptation?
I have learned that I have not been disappointed when I have taken the time to stop, and through prayer, invite God into the moment I am experiencing. I have seen the power of God’s Word when I have chosen to reject the tempting thought and instead meditate on the timeless truth of God’s Word. I have seen that holy and honoring choices are possible when good and proper boundaries have been erected and honored. And I have seen the truth of God’s Word lived out in my life when I have made the choice to flee temptation instead of pursuing sinful curiosity. While these steps are not a definitive list, I have seen that as I was faithful in applying these particular steps, I found a way out instead of looking for an excuse to stay in.
Loss of Focus
While I learned the lesson of what I can and cannot control and how to be faithful in how I respond, I knew that there was another piece to the puzzle. Reaching the goal of walking away from temptation isn’t found in only practical steps, it also includes a commitment to stay focused on the right person. At its core, temptation is only the opportunity to walk out in decisions that are all about me. Meditating on sinful temptation and giving into subsequent opportunity is one of the most selfish decisions we can make. It is a decision that honors no one yet dishonors those closest to you. Instead of only thinking of me, I have learned that where I place my focus will determine whether I take the slide into sin or the steps to purity. While taking the slide may be easy and temporarily convenient, I have found only regret at the bottom. However, as I make the choice to be selfless and shift my focus on those I love, I have found that while taking the steps requires more effort, I found great peace and joy in reaching the top.
As I read God’s Word, I see a principle that can be learned from the story of Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14. We read that Jesus is walking on water and invites Peter to step out and come to Him. As Peter steps out of the boat, he fixes his eyes on Jesus and begins to do the impossible by walking on water. As soon as he takes his eyes off of Jesus, he begins to sink. Likewise, this is a principle that can be applied in our walk towards greater purity and wholeness. When we take our eyes off of Jesus, and instead focus on the temptations and sinful opportunities before us, it is only a matter of time before we find ourselves swallowed up by them.
Moreover, while we can learn from Peter’s mistake, we can also learn from his good choice. He walked out in obedience, focused on Jesus, and for a period of time he did the impossible. As men in this modern world, we too can walk in obedience and focus on Jesus. And as we remain faithful and stay focused, we’ll soon experience on a consistent basis what we once thought was impossible.
End of article.