Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11)
You’re at war. Sound dramatic? It’s true. Every day, you’re in a battle for your soul. The opponent? Your sinful desires. Their weapons are many and their strategies are powerful. In this fight, there’s no truce, compromise, or surrender. You must kill sin, or sin will kill you. What’s your battle plan?
Like we talked about Tuesday at The Porch, you’re not home yet! Heaven is where you can let down your guard, since there will be no sin there. But until then, while you’re living on earth, you need to be alert and sober-minded. Your enemy, Satan, is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for lunch (1 Peter 5:8). He’s throwing lies at you left and right. Your job is to resist him, standing firm in your faith (1 Peter 5:9).
How do you resist the devil? How do you abstain from the sinful desires that are waging war against your soul? It sure isn’t by wishful thinking or by pretending that there’s no problem. It isn’t by hoping that sin won’t grab you. You can’t just not plan to sin; you must plan to not sin!
Let that sink in. The fact that you aren’t necessarily planning to sin isn’t going to help you in the heat of the battle – for example, you might think, “well I’m not planning on looking at porn” but that won’t help you fight the temptation when it hits you like a sledgehammer. That’s letting your desires determine the plan. You need to plan to not sin, more like “I know that the temptation to look at porn is going to hit me hard. I may not know when, but it’s coming. I have defenses in place to resist that temptation whenever it shows up.” That’s letting the plan determine how you will respond to the desires. That’s making choices that make it harder to sin. That’s waging war against your sinful desires.
You’ve probably heard it before, and it applies here too: failing to plan is planning to fail.
This matters in so many areas! It affects your personal purity – how will you fight your desire to lust, look at porn, or masturbate? It affects your dating relationships – how will you fight your desire to have sex, or idolize your partner, or lament your singleness? It affects your money and spending habits – how will you fight your desire to chase wealth, buy the latest everything, or be defined by your stuff? It affects your friendships – how will you fight your desire to fit in, to compromise, or to keep quiet about your faith? Just to name a few.
Your plan to fight sin won’t just come together by itself. You need to be purposeful and intentional in how you put it together. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Prioritize time with Jesus. If you’re not doing this and growing in your relationship with Jesus, drawing strength from Him, no plan will ultimately help you. He can satisfy your soul in a way that no other desire comes even close to.
Get wise counsel. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can handle this alone. Involve your community group in this entire process! Dig into the Bible together to get God’s counsel.
Be brutally honest about where you’re weak. This is not the time for sugar-coating or false optimism. Identify and call out where you’re most likely to give in to sinful desires. This might be a long list, and that’s OK.
Put up the strongest barriers and defenses against sin that you can. Protect yourself! Do whatever it takes to make it harder to sin. Read Matthew 5:29-30. Is that iPhone a gateway to sin? Hello, Nokia.
Decide in advance what you’re going to do when temptation hits. “When I’m tempted to
Communicate your priorities and decisions. Let your community group know what your plan is. If you’re hanging with friends who might lead you into temptation, stand up for yourself and don’t be afraid to tell them what your boundaries are.
Reach out for accountability in real-time, not after the fact. The best time for accountability is when you actually need it – in the middle of the fight! Just giving your group a recap on your struggles from the past week won’t cut it. Reach out for their help as soon as temptation strikes. Pray together. Share Scripture. Be there for each other.
Reflect on and readjust your response to temptation. How did you do at fighting sin? What can you do differently? If you blew it, confess and repent. If your plan didn’t work, make it better. If you don’t know how, reach out. Then, get back at it – another temptation is around the corner.
Praise God that we aren’t defined by our sin! His grace forgives us when our plan explodes and we give into those sinful desires. God’s grace also “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). Be a good student of God’s grace, and let it teach you to fight sin with everything you’ve got!
We’d love to hear from you! You can email us with any comments or questions.