“…He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
I won’t pretend even for a second that I understand Satan’s strategy or that I’m familiar with his full arsenal of spiritual weaponry, but I do know from the Scriptures that he’s a liar. I know that he’ll stop at nothing to impede the coming Kingdom of God. And through my experience with my husband’s battle with sexual sin (read the first part of this series here), I believe that the Lord has helped me to identify three distinct attacks that the Evil One uses that Christ-followers should beware of- to inflict maximum damage in the battle for sexual purity.
To the man, he says, “You are not worthy.” To the woman, he says, “You are not enough.” And to the rest of the world, he says, “God is not good.”
The Father of Lies has the power to leverage each of these untruths with catastrophic results if we let him. We must take a stand – and the first step toward rendering these attacks ineffective is learning how they work and finding truth to stand against them.
Attack #1: The Man
Most of us, at some point in our lives, have experimented with dieting. Regardless of the reasons – health, appearance, weight; we endeavor to eat only the most nutritious options, restrict our calories, and avoid junk food like the plague. And we are completely resolved to that end… until someone walks into the room with a box of donuts, or we catch the tantalizing scent of some freshly baked cookies, or we drive by the all-alluring Chick-Fil-A red and white (on a Monday through Saturday, of course). With these enticements, our mouths begin to water, our stomachs begin to rumble, and consequently – our resolve quickly fades like an old memory.
I share this example because most of us can relate to the temptations brought about by caloric restriction, especially when paired with the sight or smell of delectable foods. But I believe it’s impossible for women to fully relate to the temptation men experience in the perversion of sexual desire, or lust.
God created us with a physiological stimulus that would drive us to eat – hunger. Hunger is a good thing, created by God for our good and His glory, but sin has corrupted it. In our perversion of God’s good design, hunger has become gluttony, and eating has become overindulgence. In the same way, when God created us, He accompanied our calling to “be fruitful and multiply” with a physiological stimulus that would drive us to procreate – sexual desire. But again, this desire has been corrupted by sin and perverted by our flesh, and now often manifests itself as sexual impurity.
I believe this corruption is experienced by men differently than it is by women. It is often said that “men are visual creatures.” All that it takes to trigger lustful desire in a man is a passing glimpse of a woman’s form. It could be something as trivial as a women’s body wash commercial on TV, or a woman in yoga pants walking by at the gym. This temptation can be an all-consuming one for men in every walk of life, and it can manifest itself in many ways – from impure thoughts, to pornography addictions, to extra-marital affairs.
The Lie: You Are Not Worthy
The common thread for all Christian men who struggle with sexual impurity, however, is the specific damage that Satan is attempting to inflict through it – the primary lie that he is telling: “You are not worthy.”
I saw this in my own husband’s confession. I learned that it is far too easy for men to get lost in the wretchedness of their lust and sin and feel like they don’t deserve God’s love. This feeling of unworthiness overwhelms them and ultimately leads them to further compromise – and therein lies the compounding effect of Satan’s attack. Sin yields unworthiness, and unworthiness yields more sin… and the cycle continues. And before they know it, our men are trapped in a pit of despair, feeling absolutely miserable and defeated, with no victory in sight.
And this is a particularly damaging deception because it contains a partial truth: They aren’t worthy in and of themselves! None of us are. But praise God that’s not the end of the story, it’s only the beginning. It is very easy for the men in our lives to lose sight of the conclusion to the salvation story.
The Truth: He is Worthy
Jesus makes us worthy. In His death on the cross, He clothed us in His righteousness, so that as we stand before a holy God, we do so fully justified in Christ. We have all sinned and by nature of our sin, don’t deserve to be reconciled to God – to experience His peace, His comfort, His redemptive love. The band, Shane and Shane describe it well in their song “Embracing Accusation”:
Oh the devil’s singing over me that age old song
That I am cursed and gone astray
Singing the first verse so conveniently over me
But he’s forgotten the refrain –
My husband would say that sexual impurity is Satan’s most leveraged attack in his life. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s been actively fighting the battle for more than 15 years, and often losing – making it exceedingly difficult to see the enduring victory in Christ. Or maybe it’s because of the collateral toll it takes on every other aspect of his life and walk with God. Regardless, it is a full-on assault on the worth that Jesus has proclaimed over Him. And if I see it as anything other than that, I am in danger of being a party to the attacker.
Attack #2: The Woman
One of the most unfortunate parts of this attack is that Satan often uses the wife as increased leverage in it. When we make our husband’s transgression about us, our natural response is disgust, anger, and resentment. This response does exactly what the enemy wants it to do – furthers the perceived unworthiness our husbands are experiencing and perpetuates the sin cycle.
The Lie: Our Identity is in *Fill in the Blank*
This thrusts us into an identity crisis, wherein we equate our value with anything other than the value Christ has declared over us. The reason we respond this way is because of the lies we are having thrown at us:
“You’re not good enough, pretty enough, sexy enough. You are not meeting his needs enough. You are not enough!”
This list could go on and on, and sure it may vary depending on the woman, but the lies are crippling for all of us.
Identity can be characterized by how we define ourselves and where we find our worth. Our identity should never be found in who we are to someone else. It should not be found in our job, our ministry, our success, talents, or achievements. If we choose to believe that our identity is found in being an attractive wife or girlfriend, then imagine what happens to our self-worth the first time that belief encounters rejection.
The Truth: Our Identity is in Christ
My nine-month old baby boy gave me a great metaphor for understanding healthy identity. As he crawls around the house he will grab just about anything to pull himself up, but he’s always very cautious in trusting these random objects. He pushes against the objects with one hand before committing the other, then slowly, shakily, raises himself up – bracing all the while, as if he almost expects these objects to give way underneath him. There is one thing, however, that he trusts unreservedly. One thing that he will throw himself at without a moment’s hesitation; expressing, with his actions, unwavering knowledge that this thing will not fail him no matter what – his mama. If I am in his line of sight, he will make a bee line straight toward me, grab my arm, my leg, my shoulder, my hair and pull himself up without a second thought. He knows that I am sturdy, that I’m trustworthy, that I will never let him fall. He knows that he can count on me.
Why are we so afraid to know the truth about our husbands’ struggles? Because we have our identity completely wrapped up in that relationship… and we know what my son knew when he leaned on anything that wasn’t me – “this thing could give way at any moment.” There are many places we store our identity, but only one place that we should. There’s only one “object” worthy of being called sturdy, and if we don’t put Jesus within our line of sight, run straight toward Him, and collapse in His arms, then we’re setting ourselves up for a big fall with a lot of pain.
It is of utmost importance that in all things, through every season of life, through every trial, every rejection, every tear – that we continue to find our identity in Christ alone:
In His love we are loved forever, not because of who we are but because of who He is.
In His love we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
In His love we are forever united to Him as His Bride.
In His love we see our worthlessness in sin fade away as our new worth takes form in the life He gave for us.
In His love we are secure.
Embracing that truth brings about unparallelled freedom.
The world around us will inevitably fail, and our own identity will be put under the fire, but when we have placed our sure footing on Christ then we will never fall.
The most important belief we possess is true knowledge of who God is….
the second most important belief is who we are as children of God.
Attack #3: The Marriage
Consider what is being communicated to the world when we allow sexual sin to drive a wedge between husband and wife. We are telling the world that the unity between Bride (the Church) and Bridegroom (Jesus Christ) can be broken by sin. We’re effectively allowing Satan to disparage the permanence of God’s union with us! Put another way, we’re giving the enemy a platform to tell the greatest lie ever told – that God’s love for us is breakable. This is bigger than simply diminishing the efficacy of our witness.
The Lie: The Gospel is Breakable
You see, one thing my husband and I have learned about marriage over the years is that it is not a vehicle for our happiness. It is not a platform for our fulfillment, and it’s not a safe haven for our selfish desires and dreams. In reality, it is so much better. Marriage is a picture of God’s Gospel to the world. If our marriage is not being used by God to tell the salvation story, then we’re missing the point altogether! It’s a small reflection of a much larger union – Christ (the Bridegroom) and the Church (His Bride).
In God’s perfect design, the husband is to represent the sacrificial love and servant leadership embodied by Christ. Correspondingly, the wife is to represent the willful submission that is commanded of the Church. An excerpt from Ephesians 5 reads:
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
So when we allow sexual sin to drive a wedge in our marriage, and cloud this image, then we are allowing the enemy to cast a cloud of doubt into the world concerning the goodness of God.
The Truth: The Gospel is Victorious
The good news is that God’s truth prevails over all of Satan’s lies. There is victory for the men in our lives, they are WORTHY in Christ. Our identity is firmly established in Jesus, He is ENOUGH. And God is more than just sovereign, He is GOOD. His love for us is never-ending, and we can not be separated from it. God has given us many tools to communicate His Gospel to the world around us, but one of the greatest platforms He has provided is our marriage. Don’t let Satan use sexual sin to remove a picture of God’s Gospel from the world.
Even as I write this, so many marriages are being bombarded by all of these lies, but I believe that the truth of Jesus Christ is sufficient to bring hope into even the most desperate of situations. I love you all and I’m praying with you. Next month we will look at the last part of this series on Sexual Sin by examining some of the specific defenses we can put up against these attacks the enemy sends our way, so stay tuned!
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