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phillip-lee5-2016-450sqThe book of James sheds light on this important question: “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.” (James 1:14-15)

There is always a time gap between conception and birth. A thought occurring in our mind can be either killed or nurtured. If it grows, it gives birth to sin. That is where our ability to choose comes into effect. We make the choice whether or not an improper heterosexual or homosexual sexual thought (temptation) will become sin.

It’s a fact that much of modern society is preoccupied, if not consumed by sex. Today, many Christian men and women are highly disturbed by their sexual feelings. For some, sexual obsession has become a form of worship. Anytime we give our hearts, minds and bodies over to remain in a state of sexual arousal, we are indeed doing exactly what the Apostle Paul talks about when he refers to worshiping created things rather than the Creator.

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:24-25)

As the prophet asked in Ezekiel 33:10, “How should we then live?” In a society that is so permeated by sex that even the most dedicated Christian is affected? More specifically, how does a Christian man or woman face and deal with sexual temptations – whether gay or straight?

First, we must understand and believe the clarity of Scripture that Jesus, our Savior and High Priest was tempted Himself and understands our temptation. Please embrace and take comfort in Hebrews 4:14-16: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

It is a fact that God knows our struggles, understands and forgives our failures. More than not, the questions most people face when confronted with temptation is not “Does God care?” but “Do I care?” Clearly, within Scripture God has made an abundance of resources available to us that we are sometimes unwilling to employ. Therefore, let’s be honest. We sin because we choose to sin rather than because we are left without resources by a God who doesn’t care.

According to the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized us 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.” Clearly, when we choose to ignore the resources offered to us by God, we fail.

Every now and then, I am challenged by someone that feels I should not speak so frankly and openly about sexual and relational brokenness. The view, by some, is that by making people aware I may be encouraging them to participate. I do listen, even trying to take them seriously due to their usage of the following:

“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Romans 13:12-14)

While I do respect their opinion, I still believe we must know the enemy and understand both the subtle and the obvious ways he tries to affect us. Making people aware of dangers is not the same as thinking about how to gratify 
the desires of the sinful nature.

So, what do you and I do when we fail? Ultimately, it’s pretty easy to keep the right focus and attitude when sexual temptations have been resisted successfully. However, when any man or woman has given into sexual temptation, “What’s the use?” is all too common to surface. “I’ve blown it and so I just might as well do some other things also,” is anything but the thought, attitude or approach recommended by Jesus. I guarantee you that in adopting or embracing these mentioned thoughts or actions will only lead to deep guilt as well as continued sexual frustration and spiritual frustration also.

When Jesus confronted individuals who had sinned and who were truly repentant, His response was always the same. He forgave the sin but also challenged the person to forsake it and begin living a better way. Once our sin has been admitted and we see our sin as God sees it, it is imperative we place our full attention and focus on our Savior and no longer upon our sin. Do not remain in a mode of mentally replaying your sin. That, in and of itself, can become an obsession.

When we are purposed to keep our eyes on Jesus, we see victory. This absolutely gives us hope. However, when we continue to fix our eyes on our recurring brokenness or sin, we will see only defeat which can easily transcend to becoming ashamed even to look at Jesus. We must keep our focus and attention on our source of hope rather than that which is broken. That is exactly why a regular time of reading Scripture and praying is essential. It puts our attention on Christ where it belongs.

One more time – look at the Savior, not at the sin.

I really believe that any discussion about sexual temptation would be incomplete without a look at the way David dealt with his own sin. David was brutally honest with God, which just may be why, despite his sin, he was called a man after God’s own heart. In Psalm 51:5-12 he writes:

“Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of our salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

God would never call us to a standard He would not also empower us to meet.

When do heterosexual or homosexual temptations become sin?

There is a way out.

Pastor Phillip Lee
Executive Director
His Way Out Ministries
Member of Restored Hope Network

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