by Neil Richey
I’ve been absolutely amazed by the number of Christians, who have destroyed their lives and the lives of those they love because of sexual sins. Things like pornography, sexual immorality, adultery, and all forms of sexual sin are plaguing our society and even the church.
We need to learn to guard our hearts, and despite what some folks may say, yes the “sexy stuff” does impact our hearts and can cause us to sin.
Guarding our heart . . .
. . . IS A TOUGH JOB (Proverbs 4:23).
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life"
The "heart" is the mind. Every action that we engage in, good or bad, begins with the mind. It stands to reason then, that we train our mind carefully--a task that takes great effort. It's a tough job.
The world doesn't share the same moral/sexual values that we do. Tragically, some of our fellow Christians are equally negligent it keeping their hearts pure from sexual sin. It’s no wonder, given the sex driven society in which we live. Want to sell something today? Place it next to a “sexy woman” and it will enhance your profit margin.
You and I are living in a Dancing with the Stars, American "Idolatry," and American "Porn" Star, and The Next Top Model kind of world. Sadly, our Christian friends are becoming consumed with this very ideology.
Christians dress like folks in the world. Christians vacation like folks in the world. Christians participate in recreational behaviors like folks in the world. Christians watch movies and television programs like folks in the world. Christians go to inappropriate websites like folks in the world. Christians are challenged by the “sexy stuff” just as much as anyone in the world is. The mind is affected by what we see. Want an interesting read? Take a moment to read the article found at http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2010/feb/10020205.
Now, having discussed the challenge of guarding our hearts, let's turn our attention to some specific ways in which we can guard our hearts.
. . . MEANS BEING MINDFUL OF OUR SPEECH AND OUR EARS (Proverbs 4:24).
"Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee."
Your words are used to paint a picture. In English, we learn that an adjective is a descriptive word. Our speech relative to sexual behavior paints a picture that can affect our hearts. So, we should "be careful little mouth what we say," and "be careful little ears what we hear."
Sexual activity never begins in a parked car, on a living room sofa, or in a bedroom. It always begins in the mind. Sometimes, our speech is one of the senses that helps get the process of sexual activity rolling.
"We are influenced by what we hear, because our thoughts are created, at least partially, by what our ears give our hearts."
. . . MEANS BEING CAREFUL WITH OUR EYES (Proverbs 4:25).
"Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee."
It was a time of kings, queens, princes, and peasants. It was a time of epic battles. During this time period, the king would often ride on horseback into battle with his army. However, on this occasion, the second Monarch of Israel chose to stay behind. It was one of the biggest mistakes of his career. 2 Samuel 11 tells us the story of his monumental sin with Bathsheba. Take a moment to turn there and refresh your memory of that event.
Sometimes there is such great pleasure taken in with our eyes that the emotions that our vision stirs makes it incredibly difficult to say one of the hardest words that there is to say--NO! (cf. Gen. 39).
Our Bibles warn us of the danger of improperly using our eyes. Consider the following passages:
"I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?" (Job. 31:1).
"Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids" (Pro. 6:25).
"Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:" (2 Pt. 2:14). In other words--wayward eyes cause wayward thoughts.
. . . MEANS BEING WATCHFUL OF THE PATH OF OUR FEET, AND OUR HANDS (Proverbs 4:26-27).
"Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil."
Let me start with the hands first. Consider what a touch does:
. . . it can incite intense feelings. A slap in the face arouses anger, while a warm handshake communicates friendliness. A hug can convey compassion or desire, depending on its context and manner. Two teenagers in a passionate embrace an engaged in sensual kissing will think certain things . . . .
I don't care what you say, kissing and hugging always creates thoughts. Add to that, passionate kissing and hugging never, ever, never stops there. It leads to touching, which leads to a sofa, parked car, or bedroom. [Parenthetical note: if God spoke of the carefulness of our dress as it incites desires through the sense of sight. Doesn't it stand to reason that we recognize the borders of the garment and not touch within those lines for the sense of touch also incites those same desires?]
Now, to the path of our feet. Remember when Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife? How did he respond to her temptation in Genesis 39? He pondered the path of his feet. Now, Potiphar's wife wanted him badly. If there was ever an opportunity for sex, this was it. The husband was away. The woman was the instigator. Joseph could have made a number of excuses:
"I'm far from home, and no one will know . . . ."
"I think I really lover her . . . ."
"God wants me to be happy, and this would make me really happy . . . ."
"After all, she's my master's wife, so I must obey her wishes . . . ."
Reasonable excuses? Perhaps. Righteous? NO! When Joseph said NO, consider what he recognized:
He had a strong sense of his individual responsibility (Gen. 39:8-9).
He had a strong sense of right and wrong (Gen. 39:9).
He had a love for God and a sense of God's ever abiding presence (Gen. 39:9).
It’s tough to guard our hearts. To do so, it means we’ll be mindful with our speech and ears; be careful with our eyes; and we’ll be watchful of the path of our feet and our hands. We do so, because the “sexy stuff” does have an affect on our mind.
* Gleaned from several sources.
Neil’s bio: Neil Richey is a native of Tennessee. He has preached full-time in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, where he now preaches for the Piedmont Road church of Christ in Marietta, GA.
In 1995 Neil met Emily (Martin) and in 1997 they were married while attending Freed-Hardeman University. They have two children: a son named Peyton, and a little girl named Rebekah.
Neil's formal education includes a B.S. in Communication with an Emphasis in Broadcasting. He holds a M.A. in Church Growth and a D.Min. in New Testament Theology.
He has been blessed to preach in several states and in a number of other countries including Brazil, New Zealand, and Tanzania, where he has taught multiple short courses for the Andrew Connally School of Preaching. He holds numerous Gospel Meetings and speaks on lectureships and youth rallies each year and makes annual mission trips outside of the United States.
In addition to his full-time work with the Piedmont Road church of Christ, Neil is one of the instructors for the Georgia School of Preaching and Biblical Studies. Also, Neil is the President of the Board of Directors at West Cobb Christian Academy. He is a regular writer for journals, periodicals, blogs, and he hosts multiple video devotionals on-line. He writes a short devotional sent out via email every Monday - Friday called, Neil's Daily Devotional Nugget which can be subscribed to at www.NeilRichey.com.
Neil has authored and edited books including Growing the Church God Loves, Thinking Out Loud, and What Wilt Thou Have Me To Do. All of these are available at www.NeilRichey.com.
When asked, Neil wants people to know that, "I'm a husband, father of two, and most of all, a Christian that's been saved by grace through faith. I'm trying everyday to live life with purpose for Him."