There is a part of me that should be kept chained in the basement.
I would go so far as to say that there is also a part of you that should never be allowed out to terrorize innocent victims.
It is an insatiable beast, unstoppable if unleashed. And yet we often treat it like some cuddly little lap dog. The reality is far more gruesome. At certain phases of the moon this beast within transforms into a ravaging horror, snapping the feeble bonds a half-hearted soul might tether it with.
What is this deep, primitive part of our psyche?
What we experience initially is temptation. Something crosses our path (or our mind) which sparks a desire. At this, sin springs alive, enticing us to evil.
There are only two options; give in, or fight. Giving in has an apparent appeal of gratifying the desire and ending the temptation. Fighting on the other hand will continue indefinitely, to a very bitter end — death of either temptation or tempted.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
(James 1:13–15 ESV)
Unfortunately, giving in results in slavery to whatever the sin was that tempted us (John 8:32 & 2 Peter 2:19). There are dire warnings against turning away from purity in Christ to wallow in sin (2 Peter 2:20–22). For this reason we have to take steps prior to being tempted so we will not buckle under it.
Have you ever seen any of those old werewolf movies? You know, those in which the terrified man, dripping with sweat, chains himself in the basement and says to his friends, “Whatever you do, no matter what I say or how I beg, don’t let me ought of there.” He sees the full-moon coming and he’s taking action to protect everyone against himself. (Russell D. Moore in Should I Marry a Man With Pornography Struggles?)
A person who takes God seriously will be truly terrified of falling into sin. This is something I need to keep being reminded of. There are so many who are quick to label as legalism any attempt to take action against sin that the christian subculture has become very liberal and careless about how destructive sin is.
Jesus has defeated the power of sin to condemn us, but we are still commanded to fight it (Matthew 2:29–30).
What you need is not a sinless man. You need a man deeply aware of his sin and of his potential for further sin. You need a man who can see just how capable he is of destroying himself and your family. And you need a man with the wisdom to, as Jesus put it, gouge out whatever is dragging him under to self-destruction. This means a man who knows how to subvert himself. (Russell D. Moore in Should I Marry a Man With Pornography Struggles?)
Occasionally I am reminded that I actually take more care over the safety of this body which will only live about 70 years than I do of my soul which will live forever in either heaven or hell. When doing activities in which my eyes could be injured I wear protective glasses to prevent it. Do I protect my soul from what passes through my eyes?
I take precautions to avoid injuring my hands from cuts or being broken. What am I doing to prevent injury to my heart by foolish actions done without thinking through the potential consequences? Am I wearing protective equipment? (Ephesians 6:10–18)
One of the most important things you can do is take measures to keep yourself from sin. I challenge you to think right now of whatever temptation is most troublesome in your life currently. Then figure out one way to reduce the chance of giving in to it.
Take concrete steps to put this into action. Do it now while you are not being tempted so that when you are, the crash barriers are already in place above the precipice. Don’t wait until full moon and then wish you had done something earlier!
Image of young man in prison: iStock
Image of werewolf awakening: Olivier Martins (flickr)