I have been preparing and working with a group that is overcoming pornography in their lives. It started me thinking, what is temptation?
As I see it temptation is a chance to do something that we know is against our values, our beliefs or personal welfare. For some people who don’t make reference to any values or beliefs, it is just another decision they make.
The dictionary defines temptation as this:
1. A strong urge or desire to have or do something.
2. Something that causes a strong urge or desire to have or do something and especially something that is bad, wrong or unwise.
Giving in to temptation is rarely a single event. By our thought life and our actions we subtly prepare ourselves to make a choice that we probably wouldn’t normally make. If we take it from a Christian perspective, we stop reading the Bible, we begin to cut ourselves off from people who would help us make a good choice, we cease to pray. Then we slowly begin to make other choices that will quietly position us into being in a place where the urge can become too strong. Then we say, I just couldn’t overcome that temptation, when in fact we set ourselves up for that fall in increments for some period of time before. It might be a couple of days, it might be a week or longer. But unconsciously or maybe even consciously we are setting ourselves up.
In alcohol and drug rehabilitation they often refer to H.A.L.T. as a warning system for being in danger. Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired: If you are feeling one of these you need to address it. If you are two or more of these things you are in danger of relapse. It’s just a good policy not to make a decision with any of these combinations.
If we take pornography as an example, it is good to decide whether pornography is something we can be involved in or not, judging from our values and beliefs. Is it a good option for my personal welfare? Is it a good option for my family? These decisions need to be made well before we are faced with the choice.
As a Christian, setting up our defence systems before we act is a must...
1. Reading the Word of God so that right and wrong are at the forefront of our mind, not buried somewhere at the back. Our current social environment is rapidly changing in its view on pornography so it becomes highly unreliable. According to a recent Barna Report (2016) only one in two older adults think porn is wrong and it drops to one in three for teens and young adults. Therefore the unchanging Word of God provides a stable measure.
2. Pray: Your connection with God is paramount to you outworking His Word in His strength.
3. God is three in one. As we are made in His image, we are designed to operate in community. Make sure your personal support network is strong and up to date with your situation. Step past the shame barrier, reach out to someone you trust.
4. Carry a picture around with you of your wife, your children, your grandchildren. Before you make any decision that is likely to impact them, look at those photos.
5. Just WAIT. Like most urges or impulses it will weaken as time passes. So wait half an hour, then reconsider your choice.
Finally, remember you can make yourself far less vulnerable by developing a strong personal network and good personal devotions.
Until next time...