Here is the final installment in this series on temptation.  If you want to read more about Stress or Anger, then check out part one and part two in this series.

Just as brief recap...check out Proverbs 14:11-12 and discover something about temptation.  Temptation never comes to us and says "Hey, let me help you ruin your life and destroy your family!"  No.  On the outset, temptation appears to be pleasing.  The lure of something promising gratification but ultimately only bringing brokenness and destruction.  

In the first post, I talked about Sal or Tessio being one of my favorite characters from The Godfather because of the insight his role provides for understanding temptation.  Sal was an underboss for the Corleone crime family but when it appeared they had lost power, he betrayed them and conspired with a rival family.  This is what temptation is in our's opportunistic, crafty, devious, and always scheming for a way to take advantage of us...and Lust is certainly one of those temptations lurking outside the perimeter of our self-control trying to invade our lives.

The best book I have ever read about sexuality as it relates to men is "Sex, Men, and God" by Doug Weiss.  This is a must read for any man and if you are married, you should read this book together like my wife and I did about 12 years ago.  If you have male children, you are responsible for not only understanding your own sexuality but you are responsible for teaching them!  Don't fail them as too many fathers have before us.  He also has a book for women entitled "She Has A Secret."  Even if you would not characterize your temptation as an addiction, these resources are a must read to truly understand how God created you as a sexual being and the right way to celebrate our capacity for pleasure.

2 Samuel 11:1-4 gives us three powerful insights into how men fall prey to the temptation of lust.  In the account of David's horrific actions pursuing Bathsheba, committing adultery, and eventually murder in an attempt to hide his transgressions, we can see how temptation led to these egregious trespasses.  I want to talk specifically to men today...

The first clue is in verse one where the Bible tells us "...David stayed..."  meaning that David should have been with his men at war instead of remaining in Jerusalem.  Isolation will always lead to vulnerability to temptation.  If your life isn't immersed in relationships with other Christian men, you are vulnerable to the temptation of lust!  And our personalities must stop being permission to withdraw from the depth of relationships that we need in order to build up our defenses.  Even the most introverted person should have a few men who they know at a deeply personal level and who know him at a deeply personal level.  Every man should also have some men in their life who are a little farther along in their spiritual journey who they can trust and rely upon when they need to talk about their struggles.  Those conversations about struggles should take place with their core group of friends and those they trust to lead them.  Men, you are responsible to pursue these relationships.  Passivity will trap you in a place of always waiting for these relationships to form...and they never will if you don't engage.  Make room in your schedule for men's groups, be at church every weekend, serve in ministry, go on missions trips, and participate in special events.  If you don't share time and space with other Christian men, you are not creating the opportunity for deeper relationships to form.

The next clue is in verse two where the Bible tells us "...David looked..." meaning that David allowed his eyes to intently gaze upon an image he knew would would be sexually arousing.  Men, the rooftop of our modern world is technology.  If you don't have a plan to limit your access to everything you could see, you are vulnerable to the temptation of lust.  Pride needs to stop being permission giving in your life!  Pride keeps us from asking for help!  The web link above for Dr. Weiss will offer you a myriad of resources to help limit your access.  If you have a modern cable service for home entertainment, they come with a multitude of parental controls and ratings/channel blocks.  If this is a struggle in  your life, set up these restrictions and give the passcode to your wife.  Pride is cowardice!  I'm telling you men...if you don't take these steps and you fall prey to the temptation of lust because you didn't limit your access then you will never lead your family as strong as you should because you will feel morally compromised.  Your eyes must be tethered directly to your will.  What you see is your responsibility.  If my vision (eyesight) is not under the control of my will that is in turn committed to pleasing God then my life's vision (direction in life) will be misguided by lust.

The final clue is in verse four where the Bible tells us "...David sent..." meaning that David had a sense of entitlement to satisfy his sexual pleasures.  Sexual pleasure is not a right.  Sexual pleasure is a privilege.  This privilege does not belong to me.  The privilege of sexual pleasure belongs to my wife.  This is what the Apostle Paul was trying to communicate to the Church of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 7:3-4.  Until you see your capacity for sexual pleasure as a responsibility to protect instead of a desire to satisfy, you are vulnerable to the temptation of lust.  And if you are not married, your capacity for sexual pleasure belongs to your future wife.  And if you have no plans to ever be married, then your capacity for sexual pleasure becomes a sacrifice to God.  We are bombarded every day through entertainment, creative arts, advertising, opinions of popular figures, and a collective societal view that misleads us in our beliefs about sexual pleasure.  If you are one of those men who diminish the success of other men because you think your libido is just too strong to resist, you are demeaning yourself.  Check out 1 Corinthians 10:13 and see that every person is expected to resist every temptation because God does not allow us to be tempted beyond your ability to overcome.  Let's stop being entitled and start being responsible.

So let me make you an offer that you can't refuse.  No, not the kind from The Godfather that is coercion.  This offer is from Jesus and is irresistibly good!  John 10:10 promises us a life lived to the fullest possible measure!  We have been created by God with a heart for an appetite for life that will only ever be fully satisfied when we are fully committed to a life of devotion to Jesus!

Pastor Fred