After having looked at the nature of the battle for purity and holiness and the factors surrounding it, we concluded the previous blog with the two basic devices at our disposal to engage in and achieve victory in this ongoing battle. These are Truth and Flight – the Truth of God’s word and fleeing from sexual immorality of any kind. Truth represents our firepower while Flight our strategy. We also noted that like bullets fired simultaneously from the twin barrels of a double-barrelled shotgun, these mechanisms are wholly complementary and only effective in tandem with each another.
Both these mechanisms (truth and flight) are the sound prescription of scripture itself. As we shall see they are indeed the tried and tested, proven and successful methods of achieving victory in this real and personal battle that all of us face – albeit in differing measures. Let us look at these two mechanisms in more details.
Truth (God’s word)
Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
The unchanging and eternal truth of God’s word remains our most powerful and formidable ally not only in this battle for purity but in our struggle against sin full stop. This is the number one and irreplaceable firepower that we need to constantly amass and store within us if we are to consistently stand up against sin in our own lives. Constantly taking in, meditating on, studying and memorising God’s word is an irreplaceable element in our long term struggle and strategy against impurity, immorality and all kinds of temptations in general. We need to focus on and develop our relationship with the word of God across multiple platforms ingesting, digesting, absorbing and storing it in our hearts in order to draw it out in times of need.
In Psalms 119:9 King David poses a question which he answers himself under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. In other words, by allowing God’s word to guide and inform his decisions and actions. The term “young man” is indicative of struggles a young man would face to keep his way pure, struggles a young man is faced with by virtue of his age, implying sexual purity.
Each time the devil approached Him with temptation (Luke 4:1 – 13), the Lord Jesus hit back with truth from God’s word. Each time He commenced His defence with the phrase, “It is written…” referring to scripture which resulted in Him firmly standing His ground and emerging victorious on all accounts. The Lord Jesus’ example in singularly using God’s truth to resist and overcome the temptations he was faced with demonstrates not only its legitimacy as the weapon of first choice but its potency and effectiveness in our lives too.
It is therefore imperative that we are continually, “into” God’s word if we are to access it for battle in times of need. We should not allow anything to distract and distance us from our ongoing engagement with the word for it will surely reduce our capability to successfully wage this war.
Second, when it comes to resisting sexual temptation the sure path to overcoming it is flight, not fight. Sexual temptation is not to be entertained or accommodated in any way, shape or form, or given any ground or space in our thinking and action. The only strategy that works is zero tolerance, total abstinence.
The sexual passions of the sinful nature or the offerings of the world and the enemy are not negotiable – they are to be halted, stopped at their inception, nipped in the bud. It is no use attempting to pacify or appease them but flee from them. The consistent, categorical, repeatedly proven and unwavering scriptural advice or pattern has always been to flee from these raging desires of the flesh.
1 Peter 2:11
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
The nature of this enemy is such that the moment you start negotiating with it, it starts to gain ground and the upper hand over you because when you do stay to negotiate you are already communicating weakness. The Apostle Paul’s command to those in the throng of the battle with sexual immorality was to do nothing else but flee – Flee from sexual immorality. (1 Corinthians 6:18a)
And that is exactly what Joseph did in the Old Testament too – he fled (whatever the cost) when confronted with the most intense and up close and personal temptation of sexual nature (Genesis 39:6-12). Joseph was not prepared to concede any ground or to give in in any measure or to compromise. He drew the line and stood by it even when it cost him his job.
Here is the one and only universal remedy for sexual temptations of all kinds – flight. You flee from them, you don’t accommodate and entertain them, you don’t baby and pamper them, you cut off their supply line and starve them; not dwell on and by so doing feed them.
Here is this apostle Paul again this time speaking directly to his young protégé Timothy on how to deal with youthful passions:
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)
Don’t expect some mystical power to hold and uphold you in there, there is none and there will be none – you have to go, simply depart, take leave of, walk away from it and in its place direct your youthful drive and strength in pursuit of “righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Turn away from those passions and instead of concentrating on them and their gratification, channel your youthful energy and passion elsewhere, in the pursuit of the noble values of righteousness, faith, love, and peace.
So join the club, do this in fellowship with like-minded folk, brothers and sisters; get in there and pursue what is right, that which has to do with faith, love and peace together and in partnership with other saints, not on your own. And this is precisely one of the key roles of the fellowship of the brethren – so that we can together pursue what is right, what has to do with righteousness, peace and love. These are the things we are to pursue together and support one another flee the passions of the flesh that wage war against our souls.