Sexual purity is a frontline battle issue for Christian men. Most all men struggle with purity in the battlefield of the heart. According to Jesus, that is right place to engage the fight. Sexual sins happen in the heart long before they happen with another person.
Jesus boldly declared, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Many men who have avoided physical relationships with other women are still guilty before God of heart-level adultery.
In another place Jesus included sex sins in a long list of vices that all start with the heart. “And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:20-23).
Rightly did wise King Solomon advise his son, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). God made sex. God gave sex as good gift to be enjoyed regularly between a husband and a wife. The desires for sex in your heart are a good thing, but they must always be aimed at your spouse (or completely controlled if you are not married).
The world around us is saturated with sexual temptation. From advertisements, novelty sex shops, and flagrantly immoral TV shows and movies to the provocative ways so many women dress men are assaulted with sexual provocation. The godliest man will be tempted almost every day. The question is how will he handle these temptations. Will he give in to further immoral thoughts, or will he reject those thoughts by the power of the Holy Spirit and think about things that honor Jesus Christ?
Vital ways to win the daily fight are cultivating a close walk with the Lord, being part of the best church possible, having godly friendships with other men in the church, and nourishing a great relationship with your wife. Regular relations with your wife are commanded in the Bible as a major help toward avoiding lustful temptations (1 Corinthians 7:1-6).
But what about the traveling man or those cases where you are not physically able to be with your spouse? This could be a pilot on a four-day trip, an officer serving in the military overseas, a man on a business trip overnight, a pastor on a mission trip, having a wife away visiting a friend, or countless other situations requiring you and your spouse to be in different places. Is purity possible in such situations? Of course it is! You will never be tempted so much that you have to sin (1 Corinthians 10:13). Purity will be a tougher fight, but it is a fight you can and must win by the grace of God.
Being in another city can amplify sexual temptation because men feel invisible and often have different kinds of temptation readily accessible. I wish there was a sure-fire formula to prevent all failures, but there is not. God intends us to always have to depend on him on our trips and to always use the means he has given to us to war against our remaining sin. Still, I think there are some practices that are helpful in staying close to God on road trips.
Just being aware of the massive danger helps us to stay on the alert. I suppose if I was on a battlefield in the Middle East, I would watch my step more closely than in a park here at home. I have tried to resolve to avoid as much temptation as possible on some trips when I am in a hotel room alone. Sometimes I refuse to turn on the television in the room at all, and I always refuse to go places, even nearby, if I know that they include dangerous temptations. Stay out of harm’s way.
Using your time alone to have extra time with the Lord in Bible reading and prayer is another huge help. Solomon reminds us in a context about sexual purity about God’s continual presence with us, “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths” (Proverbs 5:21). If a friend is sharing the hotel room with you, the temptation is so much less than when you are all alone. But we are never really alone in any room, are we? How important it is to always be aware of the presence of the Lord in such situations. He is the one who matters most.
I have also been helped by being around other believers as much as I can on road trips. Sometimes I have searched out a Christian friend in the town I am visiting. Having another brother nearby that I have had contact with has been a great reminder that I am never alone and never unaccountable.
Even when I don’t have fellowship with a Christian friend, I am thankful for brothers (and a wife) back home that I can stay in touch with and to whom I will certainly give a report when I return home. Thank God for the gift of good Christian friends that love you enough to faithfully ask you how things are going with regards to sexual purity.
God’s holiness demands that we fight against all temptations to lust after anyone we are not married to. A little lust is not all right. Lust in a dark hotel room in another city is not all right. God sees in the dark, and he will judge us for even our stray thoughts.
Because God is holy and because he loves lustful sinners like you, he sent his son, Jesus, to suffer and die on the cross. God treated Jesus as if he committed lusts thoughts and sinful acts like yours, so that he could offer his righteousness to all who call upon him.
If you have been giving in to lustful temptations, and even if you have are in a sexual relationship with a woman you are not married to, God is gracious enough to forgive you. Your marriage or your relationship may not make it, but you don’t have to go to hell. Repent today! Beg for God’s forgiveness. Get with a godly pastor or mature Christian friend for help in walking with the Lord according to the purity he requires of us all.
“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5).
By John Crotts