Every Man’s Battle and How to Win It
We all face temptations of pride and greed and rebellion, of unbelief and unkindness and
unfaithfulness in our lives. But most men I have met throughout my life would readily admit that the
number one temptation they face, day in and day out, centers on remaining sexually pure.
We’re bombarded with TV ads, magazine ads, movies that leave too little to the imagination,
Internet sites that find us, regardless of how strong our filters are, and what we’re left with is an
overly sexualized culture, just looking to take us down.
Certainly, this isn’t a new problem. We read of ancient men—prophets and kings, military leaders
and shepherds—all who had wandering eyes. But I like to think our challenge is still greater today,
with technology enabling instant access to smut. It’s in our face 24/7, and if we’re not careful,
we’ll dumb down our spiritual life, settling for far less than holiness requires.
Second Corinthians 6 holds the key, I think, to living as men of honor, men who seek hard
after God. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers,” it says. “For what partnership has
righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has
Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has
the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make
my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my
people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch
no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and
daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14–18).
The first verse of the next chapter then says: “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us
cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the
fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
We’re not to mingle lawlessness with righteousness, darkness with light, idols with the temple of
God, which according to the New Testament is our bodies, marrow and bone. Instead, we are to
perfect holiness in the fear of God. What a great life goal to have! Now, to how we accomplish that
Prepare for Spiritual Attack
I carry around a little acronym in my mind and heart for each time I face that overly sexualized
culture I mentioned earlier. The acronym is PURE, and the “P” represents “preparing for spiritual
No one—including me—is above sexual temptation. First Corinthians 10:12 reminds you and me
both that we who take a stand should “take heed, lest we fall.” We can think that we’re so steady
we’ll never lose our footing or trip, but King David probably thought the very same thing. And his
story is a reminder to every man that any of us can be attacked. We have a very real enemy of our
souls, who seeks to devour us as a hungry lion who has found his prey.
But the good news is this: when we arm ourselves consistently—day by day, hour by hour,
moment by moment—with the presence and power of God, we become victors, not victims, over
Undo Defiling Associations
The “U” in PURE represents “undoing defiling associations.” This one takes raw honesty, I’ll
admit, because for any man who has negotiated his sexual purity by giving into temptation from
time to time, admitting those failures feels like a fate worse than death. Confessing impurity is a
special kind of awful, but the resulting freedom is second to none.
So, even if your wife, your children or your colleagues at work think you are morally upright, if
you are falling prey to sexual temptation, you simply must find a confidant with whom you can
candidly confess. You must own up to your failure so that freedom can be yours. First John 1:9
gives assurance that this is exactly what will take place: “If we confess our sins,” it says, “he is
faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Cleansing from
all unrighteousness—isn’t this what we truly desire?
Then, going forward, rid yourself of any and all “defiling associations.” If there are people or
places that promote temptation in your mind and heart, get them out of your life. Sever the ties.
Bid fond farewells. Save yourself from agonizing harm. This may mean adding filters to your
Internet, discontinuing all private communication with certain work associates, making sure your
spouse is present whenever you visit certain neighbors, avoiding situations in coffee shops or
restaurants or hotels or business meetings that you know only lead you astray.
We must rid our lives of the associations that are keeping us in bondage, in sin, and in pain.
Remember the Consequences of Fatal Attractions
We do well to remember the consequences of fatal attractions—the “R” in our PURE acronym—
which often include a broken marriage, the loss of loved ones’ respect, the loss of employment,
exposure to disease, the destruction of our witness and testimony for Christ, the loss of
leadership in the church … the list can go on. Sexual sin seems enticing on the surface, but there
is a monster lurking underneath. The Bible refers to that monster by name: Sin Against Your Own
Soul. This particular sin—the sin of sexual immorality—wages war in your mind, in your body,
in your relationships, in your Christian witness, and yes, even in your soul. Which is why the
aftereffects can be so terribly tough to move through. But again, this is where Jesus paves the
way, beckoning us onward and upward toward that perfected holiness we seek.
Engage in Positive Spiritual Activities
There is a fourth letter in our PURE acronym—“E”—which stands for engage in positive spiritual
activities. You and I never will win the battle against sexual temptation simply by telling ourselves
“no”: no to this, no to that, no to this, no to that. In addition, we must say some appropriate
yeses: yes to holiness, yes to cleanliness, yes to righteousness, yes to faithfulness, yes to God’s
presence and power and peace.
We can say yes, for example, to fortifying our faith, by writing God’s Word on our hearts. For
starters, I recommend memorizing Psalm 119:11: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that
I might not sin against you.” Next, as that verse says, go ahead and start “storing up” in your
heart other gems from the living, active Word of God. Second Timothy 2:22 might encourage
you: “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with
those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
We can also say yes to purifying our thoughts. Philippians 4:8 reminds us that we have control
over what we think about, and that we can choose helpful, healthy thoughts. “Whatever is
true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is
commendable,” it reads, “if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think
about these things.” To purify our thoughts, we must meditate, the verse says, on things that
We can say yes to having an accountability partner. As I mentioned earlier, if you are struggling
with sexual sin, find someone more mature in the faith who can listen to your confessions and
encourage you along healing’s path.
And finally, we can say yes to magnifying the Lord Jesus in our lives. What countless millions
of Christ-followers have discovered—and what you certainly will discover, too—is that when
you fully devote yourself to living for Jesus every day, you’ll find He gladly mops up your life’s
messes, left and right. He’ll clean up your mind, your heart, your attitude, your actions, your
desires, your cravings, your habits, and your sin. In fact, over time, you’ll notice that your love
for that sin is being replaced by an insatiable love for Christ. Your prayers will deepen, as you
genuinely long to sit in His presence and learn more of who He is. You’ll tell Him earnestly, “I
really don’t want any part of something that will compromise my intimacy with You.” You’ll find
purity taking hold of you, where sin once had full reign.
Author Randy Alcorn once described sexual sin in terms that have stuck with me ever since:
“A battering ram may hit a fortress gate a thousand times and no one time seems to have
an effect; yet finally the gate caves in. Likewise, immorality is the cumulative product of small
mental indulgences and miniscule promises or compromises, the immediate consequences of
which are, at the time, indiscernible. One thought is the fabric of which we weave our character
and our destiny.”
Let’s be wise stewards of each thought we indulge, each decision we make, each action we
take, so that we don’t run the risk of our lives’ gates caving in.