God's Battle Plan for Purity: Strategy Two: Count the Cost of Failure
Strategy Two: Count the Cost of Failure
Just as with any battle plan, one must count the cost of failure. What will be the cost of being overcome by sexual temptation? We see this strategy used when Solomon counseled his son in Proverbs about the lure of the adulterous woman. Solomon, who had many wives and concubines, knew the consequences of sexual immorality well. He himself was conceived through an adulterous affair, and he struggled with his father’s lust. Consider the costs of sexual immorality in Proverbs 6:27-35:
Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished. People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house. But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away. For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. He will not accept any compensation; he will refuse a bribe, however great it is.
Though talking about adultery specifically, many of these consequences apply to lust in general. Solomon said, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?” The answer to the rhetorical question is, “No!” With adultery specifically, he said a person “destroys himself” and blows and disgrace will be his lot, and the shame will never will be wiped away. The consequences last forever. Can anyone escape the penalties of indulging in lust? No. It is impossible. As mentioned, sexual immorality is a sin against one’s own body (1 Cor 6:18). It always affects one’s body, mind, and spirit. It leads to mental and emotional baggage that is later carried into one’s marriage. Personally, I still struggle with explicit images and thoughts from things I saw and experienced before marriage. I carry those as baggage with me from the sins of my youth. Sometimes, the consequences are physical sickness such as STD’s. Other times, it is an unplanned pregnancy—potentially leading to an abortion. When married, the costs become greater. Marital unfaithfulness leaves brokenness and carnage in its trail. A brokenhearted spouse and emotionally damaged children are just a few of the consequences. In order to win the battle against lust, one must count the costs of failure.
As a married pastor with a daughter, I always think of the consequences of falling to my lust. I think of the pain it would cause my wife, the destruction I would be raising my daughter in, believers who might fall away from Christ because of my example, and being disqualified from ministry (cf. 1 Tim 3:2, 1 Cor 9:27). The consequences would be devastating, and like Solomon said, the “shame will never be wiped away” (Prov 6:33). Certainly, there is always forgiveness, but forgiveness does not negate the consequences. God forgave David for his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, but the consequence was the sword never departing from his home and losing their first child together.
Another consequence of sexual immorality that must be considered is its effect on our relationship with God. In the Beatitudes, Christ said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God” (Matt 5:8). The word “pure” means unmixed. When we allow lust and other wrong desires to enter our heart, it hinders our relationship with God. It separates us. David said, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18).
Have you counted the cost of failure to sexual temptation? Fifty-six percent of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic sites.[i] The seeds cultivated in a man or woman’s youth, often bear destructive weeds in marriage. If we are going to win the battle against lust, we must count the cost. It is simply not worth it.
O Lord, keep us from dishonoring your name and damaging ourselves and your people. Make our feet like hinds feet and keep us from stumbling (Psalm 18:33). Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us (Psalm 51:10).
What are some potential costs of falling into sexual immorality for both the single and the married?
How can considering the cost help in one’s battle against sexual temptation?
Do you ever consider the costs of this battle? How has it helped? If not, why not?
What other questions or thoughts did you have about the section?
What ways can you pray in response? Take a second to pray as the Lord leads.
[i] Accessed 8/25/2015 from http://www.covenanteyes.com/pornstats/