Men, You CAN escape temptation
One mile off the shores of San Francisco, is “The Rock” – Alcatraz Island. Shark infested waters surround the sea-pounded rocky coast of this tiny island, making it an ideal place to keep criminals isolated from the rest of the world.
To attempt an escape would certainly mean death. Armed guards, dangerous waters, not to mention the difficulty of trying to blend into society when your face is on wanted posters in every post office in the country.
But in 1962, three men disappeared from the island. They found a way of escape. They made sleeping dummies of themselves of plaster and paint to fool the guards, they made a raft out of rain coats, and disappeared into the night. The case has been open with the U.S. Marshalls for many years, with very few leads.
These men were criminals, and they found a way to escape their fate.
Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence. No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13
Sin can imprison us.
We can get caught in cycles and habits that are destructive, and can hurt our relationship with God.
For a long time, I struggled with porn and masturbation. I know that may sound ridiculous to many of you that I would consider it a sin, and maybe that’s a deeper discusion for another time. The principle, though, remains the same.
I had an addictive, habitual activity that was harming my relationship with my spouse, was harming my relationship with God. We can all identify with that – whether the sin is a bad attitude, or uncontrolled anger, substance abuse, or sexual sin, we have all been caught in our own Alcatraz at some point.
Even for many years, when I was “clean” and not acting out on those impulses, the temptation was still there. It was constant – like a bombardment of pressure to let my thoughts be unrestrained, and my actions be unrestrained.
It’s important to know and understand that being tempted is not sin.
To have a desire to do the wrong thing pop into your head is not a sin.
To have an immediate rush of hormones dump into your system when you see a pretty girl is not sin.
To feel your blood pressure rise and your fists clench when someone says something hurtful to you is not sin.
Sin is when you let that thought have unchained and unfettered access. Sin is when you allow that lust or that rage to feel at home in your brain.
When we do that, we are cultivating a garden where sin grows – like the mushrooms that grow in my shady compost pile.
Temptation comes for us all in different ways, and often many times a day.
But God’s promise – is that with every temptation, there is a way of escape.
There is a way out.
You don’t have to do the thing just because you have been tempted.
That way of escape is going to look different for each of us, and for each temptation.
For my battle with porn and lust, I had to discipline myself to think differently. The way of escape looked like me changing what kind of media I consumed. There were TV shows and movies and commercials I had to stop watching. They may not have been porn, or even that immodest, but if I found myself thinking about the women in the shows a certain way, or constant hearing about or seeing sex or women in bikinis, it was feeding a monster in my brain. That way of escape involved, just like the prisoners on Alcatraz, a lot of preparation. I couldn’t just expect to beat the temptation in the moment, I had to prepare for it in advance, by starving my mind of stimuli. There were many other changes and escape routes that I had to put into place in my life, but those certainly helped.
I have a friend who struggled with losing his temper. His way of escape is often just excusing himself from conversations and going outside for fresh air. It’s almost comical sometimes to see him walk away from a situation. It can be frustrating if you are trying to talk to him, and he has to leave to cool off. But it keeps him from saying things he shouldn’t. That battle may be easier for him in the future. As he builds the discipline of disassociating from his own anger, he’ll have the strength to build his own self-control.
We all make wrong decisions, choose less than best, and get caught in bad habits. I’m not judging anyone for that.
Many of us settle into it. We accept it, and try to justify it.
But what if we tried to rise above it? What if we tried to escape it?
What would our life look like if we put in the effort and the energy and the initiative to actually take that way of ESCAPE that God promises us?
Manlihood.com provides personal development for men. Our goal is to help enrich men’s lives and to help them become better men. We believe spirituality is an essential part of that component. We understand that not everyone subscribes to a judeo-christian belief system, but we know that a large part of our audience is encouraged to be better men through the paradigm that we share. Our hope is that all men can see and learn to experience fulfillment through faith in Christ, but we also know that not everyone will. Our secondary hope is that by sharing these Spiritual Sunday posts, that even those who may not agree, would be able to at the very least, understand our mindset, and possibly even find something helpful and applicable to their lives. We’re not banging on our Bible or cramming Jesus down anyone’s throat. We are simply processing these experiences through the lens of faith, and inviting all to look with us.