The Josh Duggar and Ashley Madison scandals have – so far – stayed off of Edify Hub. Even now, I don’t intend to write about them, but the buzz they stirred up has made it impossible to escape a very important point.
Even someone that I consider to be a fine, upstanding Christian can end up living in a world of horrendous sin.
By itself, that’s not the scary part, though. Here’s what’s frightening to me:
I think of myself as a fine, upstanding Christian.
My parents were careful about the kinds of influence they allowed in our home. When necessary, they took drastic steps to keep their children in an environment that would encourage Christian growth. My siblings and I are all involved in some way with Christian ministry.
And yet I am as capable as anyone else of destroying my witness, my testimony, and my life.
The embarrassing devastation of an estimated 400 church leaders all at once calls up a huge question. And it’s not “Why?”
Two hows, actually.
I am just as capable as anyone else of destroying my witness, my testimony, and my life.
How does it happen?
First – How does someone intent on serving Christ end up spending money to seek out a sin as obvious as adultery? These weren’t careless, innocent relationships “accidentally” turning serious and adulterous. From what I can understand (and I’ll admit, I deliberately haven’t researched the details) these were explicit searches with a clear cost.
To understand how someone can stoop so low, I only have to understand the process I’ve followed when I surprise myself with sin.
“I can’t believe I just did that.”
Yes. I’ve said that after finding myself following a flesh-gratifying path much farther than I expected.
How does that happen?
When I look at Galatians 5, I see an interesting difference between the presentations of the works of the flesh and of the fruit of the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is singular. When the Spirit is in control, that fruit – the whole collection of attributes – will be visible.
The works of the flesh is plural. When the flesh is in control, any of those works may show up.
And what’s the first of those works in the list? Adultery.
When I allow my physical desires to determine my decisions, I am sending myself down a shameful road that ends at “I can’t believe I just did that.”
How do I prevent it?
The second question is – How do I keep from finding myself at the end of that road?
Simple. Walk in the Spirit.
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
I said “simple.” I didn’t say “easy.”
I wake up with the best of intentions. Then, in a moment of weakness, I take a step toward fleshly gratification.
Maybe it’s a clickbait headline on Facebook. Maybe it’s a doughnut in the office break room. Maybe it’s a complaining conversation by the water cooler.
It happens before I know it. I take the lure, and suddenly I’m on the ramp to the highway of “self” focus.
And I’m not walking in the Spirit.
What if there were a fence I had to climb before I could start down that shameful road. What if I had an alarm that sounded after I took a few steps? What if there were some way to alert me when my flesh started to take over – before I travelled too far?
I don’t know of anything quite that general, but I do know of some tools that have helped bring awareness to specific kinds of temptation.
- Internet temptations – I have written extensively in the past about internet accountability software. Both CovenantEyes* and Accountable2You* can help serve as a fence or an alarm – for a person who wants to keep himself pure.
- Culinary temptations – Once upon a time, I used the Lose It! mobile app to track everything that I ate. Knowing that I had to take the time to record a doughnut was often enough of a hurdle that I would skip the treat altogether. When it wasn’t, I knew there was a permanent record of the indulgence, and an explanation when my weight would increase. After a while, the recording became burdensome, and I stopped. Now my weight has climbed again, and I know a lot of it is from yielding to those culinary temptations.
No software will ever make a person spiritual. No app can measure when I sow to my flesh. But because even a “fine, upstanding Christian” can land in shameful sin, I want to do everything I can to get an early warning when I begin to wander down that path of fleshly gratification.
Enlist the help of an accountability partner to help alert you when your focus shifts to self-gratification.
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