It's a Sunday afternoon. I was just sitting at my kitchen table enjoying a book. Then I look down at my phone and I see I have a text message from a number I do not recognize. I click to open it up.
What I see is a picture of a scantily clad, beautiful young woman and the words, “Women looking for an affair. Are you looking for a hot date in your neighborhood?” Then there was a website to go to that was listed twice to make sure I didn’t miss it. I’m thankful I didn’t click any further.
Has this happened to you? Maybe it was not a text message, but rather a pop-up on an innocent website you were visiting that has nothing to do with women! Here we were just minding our own business, and “wham” – suddenly, we have an unwanted intrusion in our day – an uninvited guest to our headspace.
WHY does this happen, Gentlemen? And WHAT are we to do when it happens? Let’s explore those two questions.
The answer to “Why does this happen?” will not be surprising to many of you reading this. The answer is found in the book of Ephesians:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (2) in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— (3) among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3
Here is what Ligonier Ministries shares about those verses and how they relate to the WHY question:
Here Paul reveals the three great powers that enslaved us completely before we knew Jesus and which we must continually rebel against in the course of our growth in holiness — the world, the flesh, and the Devil.
The course of this world” (v. 2) refers to the ways of culture and society that oppose the Lord. There are ungodly trends in the world — materialism, naturalism, desire for instant gratification, and more — that once ruled all of our passions but are now defeated in Christ (John 16:33; 1 John 5:5). No longer our ruler, the world still appeals to our remaining sin, so we must maintain our guard lest we fall back into bondage.
In ancient times, the term air often referred to the spiritual realm of angels and demons; thus, “the prince of the power of the air” is Satan (Eph. 2:2). This leader of all that opposes God stirs up trouble all over the world, and he even endeavors to infiltrate and disturb the church (4:26–27). The Devil is fierce but easily put to flight when we resist him by the Spirit, as Jesus has triumphed over him (James 4:7; Col. 2:15).
Finally, “the passions of our flesh” and “desires of the body” (Eph. 2:3) refer not to our physical bodies, as if our corporeal form is in itself wicked. After all, God created all things good, including our bodies (Gen. 1:31). The apostle is speaking of our fallen nature, which Christ has subdued. It is a resilient foe, however, that remains until our glorification. We must therefore seek daily to mortify it and deny the sins that seem the most appealing to us (Rom. 6:12–14).
So, these three bullies are trying to barge their way into my life and your life every day. The Apostle John said the same thing in 1 John 2 when he talked about the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” We, as men, must be aware of those bullies and continually use the resources God has given us to fight back.
But in addition, another answer to the “why” is that we, as men, have been called in the Bible to be the spiritual leaders of our families. So our three archenemies are firing arrows of temptation at us frequently to try and trip us up. They don’t want us to teach our kids about the Bible, or pray with our wives, or spend time reading and studying God’s Word. These bullies want to trip us up over our failure – knowing we can get stuck in guilt and shame and become passive rather than leading our wife and family.
Beyond understanding what is happening, the Lord is calling us to take action to fight these three uninvited bullies in our lives. And while I cannot cover every possible action step that God may be calling you to take, here are three to get you started in asking God what His next steps are for you:
Cry Out to God: When you and I are tempted, the first place we need to run is to our Creator, Savior, and King! He is aware of our situation and truly desires for us to cry out to Him in prayer. You can simply cry out in prayer in your own words, or you can use the words of a Psalm like Psalm 130:1-2 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! And do not forget that the Lord is faithful to help us in temptation: For because He Himself (Jesus) has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18. And do not forget that, as a Christ-follower, you have the Spirit of God living in you. He is the supernatural power to say NO to temptation!
Call on Others to Help You: When it comes to following Christ and fighting temptation, this is NOT a battle God has designed you to walk by yourself! We are called to live in community with others - and for us to bear one another’s burdens. The problem for me, and most men, is that we resist telling others our real struggles. I foolishly believe I can handle it on my own. But there is real help the Lord has for us when we humble ourselves and reach out to other Christ-followers for help! When the Word says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”, I am reminded that the pride that keeps me from telling others also keeps me from the empowering grace God has for me. God’s answer is humility and reaching out for help. With this grace God gives and the encouragement of others, we can fight our tendency to be prideful or passive so that we can walk as He has designed us to walk - in the power of His Spirit that lives in us!
Carry Weapons in the Battle: As Christ-followers we are taught to look to Jesus as our example. So what did Jesus do when He was tempted? Over and over again, we see Him using Scripture to battle temptation. One author called this “God’s Permit to Carry”! We are to know and carry specific passages from the Word of God to help us. Two of my go-to passages are 1 Corinthians 10:13 and James 4:6-7. But you should also check out Galatians 5:16-17, Romans 6:11-14, and Hebrews 2:14-18. Don’t go into the daily battle we face without God’s Word as a vital weapon in the fight!
Going back to the story I started with, I wanted to let you know how I responded to that tempting text message. First, I blocked the number of my phone so I would not get any future texts from it. And second, I also shared what happened with my wife that same afternoon. She thanked me for telling her and for resisting the temptation.
When you are tempted, be sure to tell others. This does at least two things: it brings the temptation into the light where God can work, and it invites in the prayers and encouragement of the individual or individuals you share it with.
For you and for me as men, we know that more temptations will come. Let’s use the resources God has given us to fight those temptations so we can be consistently victorious in our battle with temptations to sin!
Prayer: Lord, thank You for providing the weapons I need to fight the temptations that will come to me today and every day of my life. Help me to cry out to You for help, to humbly call on others to walk with me, and t0 use the sword of the Spirit so that I can resist the temptation as I stand strong in You and the strength of Your might. In the Name of Jesus!
1) If Jesus used Scripture to fight temptation, then we should follow His example. This is probably not a new thought for you. But in order to do that, we have to know Scripture to resist the temptation. Make a commitment, right now, to use God’s Word to help. Write down one or two of the verses below on several index cards and put them in places you will see them frequently. Or put a verse on the home screen of your phone. Or memorize a couple of verses over the next week. Get creative with what works for you. And please, ask others to hold you accountable to do this, maybe even finding another man to work on these verses together. Suggested verses: 1 Corinthians 10:13, James 4:6-7, Galatians 5:16-17, Romans 6:11-14, and Hebrews 2:14-18.
2) Take time to read a Desiring God article entitled: You Will Regret Giving In: What to Do When Tempted (2). This super helpful article gives you and me four very practical steps to help us when we are tempted. Again, I encourage you to read this, share it with your wife or another man, and work together to fight temptation, not alone, but with others who are in the battle with you. Link Here to the Desiring God article on Temptation
Written by Glen Solberg, Abiding Marriage 2023. All Rights Reserved. Please email us at info@AbidingMarriage.org with any comments or questions.
(1): Ligonier Ministries Devotional Online Post: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. LINK: https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/world-flesh-and-devil
(2) Desiring God Article on Fighting Temptation: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/you-will-regret-giving-in
Photo by Steve Buissinne on Pixabay