The Lookout | 9.15.13
By Alan Dowd
To get an idea of how sex-soaked our culture is, try to look at life from
the perspective of an innocent child of, say, six years of age. He is bombarded
by suggestive, sexualized images: the magazines
at the grocery-store checkout, TV shows celebrating the hookup culture, the way
women (and girls) dress, what boys (and men) get away with, music videos that
leave nothing to the imagination, TV commercials pushing soft drinks and chips
and beer and lingerie—and even candy.
That’s right, candy. A popular
commercial features animated M&Ms candies dancing to the hit song “I’m Sexy
and I Know It”. The lyrics—“look at that body...look at that body”—pulsate while
the characters talk about taking off their clothes at a party.
If you think I’m too sensitive
or too square, consider the Colorado first-grade boy who was suspended for sexual
harassment because he sang that very song to a female classmate. He probably didn’t
know what the song meant, but after just a few years of being marinated in our
culture, he was saying things that no six-year-old boy should say—and no
six-year-old girl should hear.
Given all the junk being
spewed at our kids, they aren’t innocent for long. They grow up fast because
our culture makes them grow up fast. So how do we protect them—and ourselves—from
all this junk?
We should remember that God
has been dealing with this human frailty of the flesh from the beginning.
Adam and Eve gave into the serpent’s temptation, it was a kind of lust. Genesis tells us that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were drunk with lust. Potiphar’s wife “took notice of Joseph,” and with a brazen
bluntness befitting today’s popular culture, she demanded, “Come to bed with
David watched Bathsheba bathing late at night. It’s worth
noting that he wasn’t supposed to be there. The passage in 2 Samuel 11 tells us
it was spring, “the time when kings go off to war.”
Yet David, the king of Israel, “remained in Jerusalem.” In other words,
bad things happen when we are not where we’re supposed to be.
Worse, the poison spread throughout David’s family. Amnon,
one of David’s sons, lusted after Tamar, one of David’s daughters. Driven “to the point of illness” by lust, Amnon attacked her.
Samson’s lust for Delilah led to ruin; Solomon’s countless
bedmates led to idolatry; and the list goes on.
In the New Testament, the story of Herod and Herodias is
laced with lust. Matthew’s account tells us Herod had taken Herodias, his
brother’s wife, as his own. Herodias then used her daughter, Salome, as a
The Samaritan woman’s days and nights were shaped by
loveless marriages and lust. The woman caught in adultery was a prisoner to the
lust of others. Paul’s letters underscore that the Roman world of his day was a
society consumed by sex.
In short, God has seen it all. He wants us to avoid the
destructive mistakes of so many others. And He offers us plenty of ways to do
By encountering Him
Perhaps we are too familiar with the One who stooped low to
call us “friend” to notice that He is perfectly pure. He’s so holy that our
ancestors dared not pronounce or write His name. His law is so perfect that we
cannot even keep the letter of it, let alone approach the spirit of it.
When we encounter Him, we start to grasp this holiness. And
in this, we start to die to sin. As Paul put it—perhaps mindful of his own
struggles with the flesh—“I do not understand what I
do. For what I want to do I do not do…For I have the desire to do what is good,
but I cannot carry it out.” Who can rescue Paul—and us—from this lifelong
struggle, “from this body of death”?[iii]The One who is remaking us in His image.
By knowing the Word
The Word is “sharper than any double-edged sword,” as
Hebrews says. “It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Jesus quoted the Word when the enemy tempted Him in the
desert. Each time the enemy whispered a lie, Jesus answered with the Truth. We
need to become that familiar with the Word—with Jesus.
By calling for help
Paul reassures us that “the Spirit helps us in
By instructing us to ask Him to “lead
us not into temptation,” Jesus underscores the enemy’s strength, our weakness
and—most important of all—His sovereignty. It’s as if Jesus is saying:
“Instead of asking for strength to overcome temptation, let me help you avoid
Paul promises us in his letters to Corinth that when we are
tempted, God will “provide a way out.” Likewise, in a
letter to Timothy, Paul advises, “flee the evil desires of youth.”
But we need to have a place to flee to, which means our
bookshelves, computers, DVRs, car stereos, iPods, SmartPhones, Facebook
accounts—should be safe zones.
By armoring up
On those occasions when we are tempted, Paul reminds us that God clothes us
with armor to withstand the enemy’s schemes.
Paul was right to invoke the image of battle. After all, the enemy wages war
with God through us. In fact, we are the battlefield.
The helmet of salvation covers my mind, which directs my
thoughts. Indeed, Paul’s letter to the Romans advises, instead of being conformed “to
the pattern of this world,” “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”[iv] I cannot do that if I’m marinated in the world
rather than the Word.
The Lord issues me the shield of faith to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”—all the
lures he fires my way. Without the shield—without my faith—I am defenseless.
But with just a mustard seed’s worth of faith, Jesus can move mountains
The breastplate of righteousness protects my heart. Proverbs
reminds me that the heart is “the wellspring of life.” Its waters can be pure
Like the author of Hebrews, Paul equates the Word with a
sword. I can use it to fend off the tempter only if I know the Word.
The belt of truth holds everything else in place. Knowing
the One who called Himself the Truth helps me steer clear of the danger zones.
God fits my feet with the gospel of peace. I should bring
peace—rather than poison—wherever I go.
The armor covers me in such a way that, miraculously and
mysteriously, the Father sees the Son when He looks at me. He doesn’t see my
failures. He sees the One who defeated the tempter.
God knows we will sometimes lose the battle. When that
happens, we need to seek forgiveness. David offered a roadmap in Psalm 51. We
should think of David’s words as an assurance—not as a license to keep
sinning—for God is not a hapless pushover.
[i] See Genesis 39.
[ii] NIV Study Bible, Kenneth Barker, ed., text note
Matthew 14:6, p.434.
[iii] Romans 7.