Escaping Sexual Sin Before it's Too Late
By Rev. Marty O'Rourke
Overcoming Temptation Will Cost Your Pride Dearly
Why are so many strong Christians succumbing to sexual sin? We must
remember that we as Christians do not live in a vacuum but in a culture
filled with temptations that stir lust. Many people have fallen because
they underestimated the power of sexual temptation.
Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth has the strongest
teaching about sexual sin because Corinth, like our culture, was saturated
with sexual temptation.
The Bible declares that God is faithful and no matter what temptation
we face, He will provide “a way out so that you can stand up under
it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
God’s will for us is to overcome temptation, but it will cost
us dearly, especially our pride. The preceding passage (1 Cor 10:12)
warns us: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful
that you don’t fall!” God is telling us that the first step
in overcoming temptation is to beware of the attitude, “It couldn’t
happen to me.”
As the wisdom of Proverbs says, pride sets us up for a fall.
The Rev. Gordon MacDonald, a wonderful pastor and at one time president
of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, shares in his book Rebuilding
Your Broken World about a time when he was asked about how Satan
might get him. He answered:
All sorts of ways, I suppose; but I know there's one way he wouldn't
get me. “What's that?” He'd never get me in the area of
my personal relationships. That's one place where I have no doubt
that I'm as strong as you can get. A few years after that conversation
my world broke wide open. A chain of seemingly innocent choices became
destructive, and it was my fault. Choice by choice by choice, each
easier to make, each becoming gradually darker. And then my world
broke -- in the very area I had predicted I was safe -- and my world
had to be rebuilt.
He goes on to quote from My
Utmost for His Highest: “An unguarded strength is actually
a double weakness.” Here is a man of God with a good marriage
who had written books on family life and yet fell into adultery. Why?
Because he thought it couldn’t happen to him and left this part
of his life unguarded.
If David, who was “a man after God’s own heart,”
Gordon MacDonald, and many other strong men and women of faith yielded
to sexual temptation, it could happen to you. God is telling us through
these words of Paul -- “So, if you think you are standing firm,
be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12) -- that
our vulnerability to sin increases when we think it could not happen
Almost all Christians, especially Christian leaders, who have fallen
to sexual temptation would tell you that they did not think it could
have happened to them.
1 Corinthians 6:18 warns us, “Flee from sexual immorality.”
It is easy for pride to convince us that we don’t really need
to FLEE, and that this instruction is for weaker Christians. We mislead
ourselves into thinking that instead of fleeing we can stroll away,
looking back once in awhile, because we are strong enough to resist
or flirt with temptation. Admitting that we need to flee takes real
Christian humility. Remember, overcoming sexual temptation will cost
your pride dearly.
When do you need to flee?
- When you find yourself thinking about a “friend, co-worker,
ministry partner, counselee” and how much you enjoy being with
this person -- FLEE!
- When you look forward to spending more time with this person and
you make sure you look especially nice if you know you might see your
“friend” that day -- FLEE!
- If you begin to fantasize about being with this person or knowingly
start touching your “friend” in “innocent “
ways -- FLEE!
- When you become more secretive about your interaction with your
“friend” because people like your spouse might “misunderstand”
your friendship -- FLEE!
- If you receive cards, e-mails or presents from this person that
you would not want your spouse to see -- FLEE!
- When you find yourself comparing your spouse in an unfavorable way
to your “friend”-- FLEE!
- If you start confiding in your “friend” about your marital
problems -- FLEE!
Anytime we feel we must keep something secret, this would indicate
that sin is crouching at our door. If you are experiencing sexual attraction
to someone – or experiencing some other kind of temptation over
a few days – go to your spouse or someone you can trust in the
Body of Christ. Bring the secret out into the light of day and ask for
prayer and accountability.
Satan loves it when we keep secrets in the dark because of shame, fear,
or pride – but remember, darkness is overcome by light. Often
this alone can break the power of temptation, but it will cost you your
Many are unwilling to sacrifice their pride by admitting their struggle
with sin to get the help they need. There is great wisdom in these words
by Rick Warren:
If you’re losing the battle against a persistent bad habit,
an addiction, or a temptation, and you're stuck in a repeating cycle
of good intention-failure-guilt, you will not get better on your own.
You need the help of other people. Some temptations are only overcome
with the help of a partner who prays for you, encourages you, and
holds you accountable.
Tragically, too many people – because of family background, having
experienced sexual abuse or abandonment, or having a long history of
struggling with lust – need significant ministry, yet are unwilling
to get help until they are forced to do so after yielding to sin.
Yes, there is a price that your pride must pay to overcome temptation
– but please take a moment and consider the much greater price
of yielding to temptation. Consider the damage to the cause of Christ,
to your family, and to your Christian witness, along with the pain you
will cause yourself and the ones you love the most.
God has given us everything we need to overcome temptation, but it
will cost our pride dearly. However, I plead with you to consider the
even greater cost of yielding to the temptation.
CBN prayer counselors are available 24-hours-a-day if you need someone to talk to or pray with. Call 1-800-759-0700 to speak to a caring friend.
If you need help, check out these counseling referrals on CBN.com
Stanley Greg, Betrayal
Gregory L. Jantz, Too
Close to the Flame
Gordon MacDonald, Rebuilding
Your Broken World (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988) 53
Oswald Chambers, My
Utmost for His Highest
Rick Warren, The
Purpose-driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 2002) 212.
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Marty O'Rourke is Rector of Church
of the Messiah in Chesapeake, Virginia. Marty has written and taught
extensively on sexual purity and marital fidelity in the church. He
is often called upon to teach a seminar he has developed called 'Guard
Your Heart: Sexual Misconduct Prevention for Ministers.' This seminar
is designed to help Christian leaders avoid the pitfalls of sexual temptation.
For more information, you can contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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