A few nights ago I watched about five minutes of "To Catch a Predator." It was stunning to witness the very moment when a man's life came tumbling down. Everything he had built for his career, his family, and his own freedom was destroyed. To see something like that happen is a sobering thing. One man was in his sixties. A whole lifetime...rubble. I think the way the program sensationalizes this issue probably throws bait to men who have never even been tempted in this way. The producers should be ashamed of that. I won't be watching it again, but it did give me a lot to think about.
I had spent that very morning reading about King David's moral failure with Bathsheba, the conception of their child, the murder of her husband, and the death of their firstborn. (See 2 Samuel 11-12.) David had been a man after God's own heart. He was the Lord's anointed. How did that happen? It terrifies me that a person can fall from such heights. It terrifies me that the flesh I am bound to until God calls me home is capable of anything - absolutely anything - given the right circumstances. Praise God that His grace can restore and redeem us, but I would rather not have to go there. Been there, done that in the teenage years. I do not want to suffer like that again. Ever. I would rather God take me home.
One of the major wake up calls I had regarding my lack of a consistent quiet time earlier this summer came when I was driving home from aerobics. I was listening to someone like Chuck Swindoll on the radio and whoever it was said that the Holy Spirit is faithful to warn us that we are walking into destruction if we are not quenching Him. I already knew it, but I needed to hear it again LOUD AND CLEAR. I realized that my lack of consistent time with the Father was causing me to compromise in what I watched, listened to, read, said, and thought about. The Spirit was being quenched and was therefore not full in me. I had started becoming numb to His conviction in certain areas. I had made myself vulnerable to my flesh and to the tempter of my flesh. At that point, I basically threw myself at God's feet in repentance and said, "Hide me, Lord. Fill me, Lord."
Ladies, many us are believers. Many of us love the Lord with all our hearts and can't imagine disobeying Him so blatantly that we destroy everything He has given us. Many of us are surrounded by the eyes of people who do not know Jesus and we are trying to show them that our faith is authentic. Many of us serve in our churches, are perhaps even married to ministers, and have the respect of other godly women. But we are not immune to temptation. We are not above or beyond walking into destruction. The fact that many of us do not realize this or forget this makes us prime targets.
It is incredibly easy to crack open a door to temptation. We know the enemy of our souls is not going to keep it cracked. He will blow it open with such force that we won't know what hit us. So my plea to us is this - let's take great care to guard ourselves from inviting temptation. I believe it will come at times for the purpose of testing, but we do not have to welcome it through our actions. Here are some ways we can take action:
1) Let's do things that foster the filling of the Holy Spirit so that we will be able to sense His warnings. (Having a daily quiet time, regularly confessing sins of thought, word, and deed, Bible study, accountability, etc.)
2) Let's avoid opening doors to temptation and demonic activity. If God has said NO to something, it is for our protection. If we are reading, watching, or listening to se*ually explicit material, we are inviting pain into our lives.
3) Let's tell someone when we're being tempted. The moment we speak it out, a measure of its power is broken over us. Thank You, Jesus. This also gives us the benefit of having someone to pray for us and hold us accountable.
About a month ago I read something that God had specifically and loudly told me not to read. I foolishly underestimated the effect it would have on me. Because I opened that door, I spent two weeks suffering the mental bombardment of memories of everything I had ever done. When Jesus told the woman at the well everything she had ever done, it gave her life, hope, and freedom. (See John 4.) But this was not Jesus speaking to me. It was the voice of the accuser. It brought condemnation, guilt, powerlessness, and captivity. I feared that the changes God had made in my life over the past seven years were not real. False. I am a new creation! (See 2 Cor. 5:17.) What do you think he would have accomplished by convincing me that I wasn't really different? Scary.
The point is, if I had known what I would be inviting into my life when I disobeyed God, I would have never done it. When David first gazed on Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop, he didn't get to consult a list of consequences he would suffer. He didn't know it would end in murder and the death of his child. If he had known, he wouldn't have done it either. Here's something we can count on - sin will stay around longer and do a lot more damage than we ever planned for. Therefore, let's do whatever it takes to guard ourselves, and therefore our families, from this destruction. It is more than worth it!
I could write a book about this, but thankfully my mom already did. It's called When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. I think it holds an incredible message for anyone who has fallen, who has a loved one who has fallen, or who wants to guard herself from falling. That pretty much covers everyone.
Here's a little bit of what the Word says about this topic:
"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you...Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him" (John 14:15-18,21).
"Flee from se*ual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins se*ually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
AND HERE'S SOME GREAT NEWS:
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).
"For this reason [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted" (Hebrews 2:17-18).
"These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:11-13).
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13).