Much has been written on the topic of temptation over the years. There are cute videos (The Marshmallow Test), great books (Tempted and Tried, by Russell Moore), and even better scripture on the topic. Some of us are tempted by sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2), others by food or drink, and others by the desire to be rich (1 Timothy 6:9). We all have desires that wage war within us that become needs and rule our hearts (James 4:1-3).
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 says, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Last Wednesday night in Merge, we did another Merge Late Night on the topic of infidelity. For some of the highlights from the last Late Night, see this post: 4 Things People Who Have Had Affairs Want you to Know.
This time, the topic of temptation kept coming up. Specifically, if God has indeed provided “a way of escape” from temptation, then what are some of those escapes? Each member of the panel shared one way to avoid temptation. Here are seven ways to avoid sexual temptation:
1. Do not travel or find yourself alone with someone of the opposite sex (other than your spouse). OK… I know I sound a little militant here, but I would strongly consider some boundaries with people of the opposite sex in the workplace. Be highly cautious, and prevent – at all cost – meals alone, car rides alone, or travel alone with someone of the opposite sex. Some of you don’t have an option here. If this is the case, overcommunicate with your significant other and look for all opportunities to bring others along with you.
2. Bounce your eyes. Don’t maintain eye contact for more than a few seconds with someone who is not your spouse. The eye contact feels good to be noticed, which soon leads to a smile, which can then lead to further contact.
3. Know where your identity lies. If you are confused about where you find your value and worth, and you don’t find it from the Lord, you will look to others to provide it for you. Soon a compliment from another person catches your attention and you look to find your significance in others.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). You are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27-31). You are valuable enough that God would send His Son to die for you. If you don’t understand this one, check out a ministry like re:generation that can help you discover your true identity in Jesus Christ.
4. Love the Lord. I love this one. Love the ‘Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind’ (Matthew 22:37), so that all else, anyone else, pales in comparison to the richness of knowing God.
5. For an affair to take place, desire has to meet opportunity. This means you can either decrease your desire (see #’s 3 and 4), or decrease your opportunity (#’s 1 and 2). When I abide with Jesus and when I avoid tempting situations, I am much less likely to be drawn into temptation. Many affairs begin with co-workers, so be especially cautious in the workplace.
6. Be intentional about spiritual intimacy. This one dovetails well with #4 above. Abide with Christ: read your bible, journal, meditate on scripture, pray. Whatever it takes to draw you closer to Christ and to your significant other. Reading the bible will not prevent you from having an affair, but you are much more likely to abide with Christ and resist temptation when you are in an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.
7. Speak highly about your spouse, in front of them and behind their backs. Michael Hyatt calls this “adultery repellant.” I like Hyatt’s phrase. I want to speak so highly about my spouse that I remove all doubt in the other person that I am anything but madly in love with (and exclusive with) my bride.
8. (Bonus #1) If you are tempted, address what is wrong in your marriage. We are always less temped if our marriage is awesome. Temptation should sound alarms that something isn’t right and we need to address it. If this is your story, check out marriagehelp.org.
9. (Bonus #2) If you are tempted, tell someone: your community group, accountability partner, co-worker. Give them a name, some specifics, and ask them to pray and hold you accountable.
Much more can be said and this list is not exhaustive by any means. It has been good for my soul to see this list come together. The couples who led us at Merge Late Night are full of incredible wisdom. At the same time, they are full of hurt and pain from the past decisions and choices to give in to sexual temptation with someone other than their spouse. Don’t take my word for it, take theirs and heed their counsel by avoiding temptation.
What else would you add to this list? Which one of the 7 (plus 2) listed above best will you apply today? Please share below. I think it would be great for us to mutually encourage one another on this topic.