Before we know it, summer will be here. I can already picture long weekends down the shore, the scent of freshly-cut lawns, the sounds of the ice cream truck, and… a bunch of stuff I’d rather not see.
Like women who are dressing to get attention. Babushkas get traded for bikinis, and that’s a temptation for most of us men.
We want to honor God and the women around us, but that doesn’t just happen all by itself. It takes some effort and intentionality.
In this post, I want to convince you that it’s worth the effort and then give you 7 specific strategies for success.
Lust: What’s The Big Deal?
Some of my secular readers, and even some Christians, may be thinking, ‘Seriously, what’s the big deal? There’s no harm in just looking. Or not much, anyway’.
Is that really true, though?
Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.
Jesus isn’t naive. He understands that it’s worse to actually sleep with someone than to look at them with lust. His point is that wrongful desire, which we can’t see, is ultimately behind our sexual sin, which we can.
Lust & Your Favorite Dessert
Author Paul Tripp illustrates this by using an everyday example we’re all (waaay too) familiar with. Dessert. Let’s say we’ve just finished dinner and we’re stuffed. We know we shouldn’t eat that strawberry shortcake staring at us from the middle of the table. But, truth is, we really, really want it. The obvious truth is that we don’t want to just look at the cake. We want to eat it.
It seems crazy to say it, but lust works the same way. Lust doesn’t just want more lust. It wants the actual experience. (See David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11). That’s why Jesus says what we do with our hearts and eyes is a big deal.
As we rapidly head toward summer and the temptations it presents, we need to be convinced sexual purity is critical if we’re going to stay safe and love the people around us.
Are you convinced? Really?
7 Secrets For A Lust-Free Summer
If you are convinced, what can you do about it?
- Attack it at the root. Since all our actions can be traced back to the hidden, but real, dynamics of our hearts, this is where the real battle occurs. Biblical counselor John Bettler has a great, short article where he lays out the ‘pyramid of lust’. I can’t unpack it all here, but read the article and pray through it. The basic idea is that underneath obvious sexual sin at the top of the pyramid lies less obvious relational and ‘life’ lusts that drive it. For example, someone’s struggle with pornography may really be about an easy escape from his loneliness. Dealing with that is the key to long-term transformation.
- Build community. This should include some loving accountability, but goes way beyond it. We need to develop healthy, give-and-take relationships where using and objectifying people become less and less natural.
- Be where God has placed you. The story of David’s downfall with Bathsheba begins with this interesting observation: ‘In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war… David stayed behind in Jerusalem’ (2 Samuel 11:1). That set the stage for him to see Bathsheba and everything unraveled from there. Sometimes what God is calling us to do is hard, but doing it insulates us from other, far worse things.
- Memorize relevant Scripture. As a starting point, check out this list of 25 verses. Extra credit: find passages that force you to think a little, like 1 Timothy 6:6-10. This passage is actually about money, but can easily apply to other challenges like sexual sin. So you have to engage with it (and God) instead of just robotically memorizing it.
- Use the Joseph strategy. When Potiphar’s wife tried to take Joseph to bed (Genesis 39), he didn’t stand there and have an extended discussion with her. He ran away. If certain situations are a temptation for you, why not just avoid them as much as you can?
- Be careful what you watch and consume. We know that our bodies will pretty much reflect what we eat, right? It’s the same with our eyes and hearts. Are you discerning about what you watch on TV and Netflix? The stuff you look at online? If you need to make changes here and have been putting it off, make a commitment to do it. Today. And tell someone else so that you actually follow through. Covenant Eyes, Net Nanny, and OpenDNS (whole-house filter) are some good starting points.
- Be thankful for your spouse or boy/girlfriend. If God has blessed you with a wonderful boy/girlfriend or spouse, thinking about them is one of the best ways to honor God – and them! – that I can think of. My wife Sharon is awesome. She’s beautiful, funny, a devoted mom, is all-in with our ministry and loves God more than me. When I think about her, stuff that could be tempting loses its power. Even if you’re in a relationship that isn’t great, though, focusing on what is great about it will only help you.
Obviously, this isn’t a magic formula or quick fix. But our efforts in this direction really add up and it’s worth it.
Summer is just around the corner and we need to be prepared. Although our culture doesn’t think that keeping our minds and eyes pure is a big deal, God says it is. With a little consistent effort this is a fight we can win.
Questions For Reflection:
- Which of the suggestions above would help you the most as you prepare for purity this summer?
- How can you specifically start to apply it?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!