At the beginning of this series we’ve talked about how we must undergo a paradigm shift in the way we understand man’s struggle with sexual sin. And we’ve learned about the three primary attacks that Satan leverages in this battle and how we must make ourselves aware of them. We recommend you take some time to catch up on these previous posts, if you haven’t already!
But, it’s not enough to be made aware of Satan’s attacks, we must also fight back using the tools with which the Lord has provided us. Here are three primary defenses that God has given us to proactively combat the attacks of the devil.
I have to take a moment to emphasize – this is not something that happens on its own. These defenses require deliberation and intentionality, and they are far from easy to apply.
Defense 1 – Forgiveness
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” -Colossians 3:12-13
I can’t stress enough just how important forgiveness is in helping our husbands find victory in this battle. It is a concept that most people will agree is good and necessary, but few are willing to apply it at its crux. In fact, I believe Biblical forgiveness is often misunderstood, thereby hindering our ability to carry it out.
Forgiveness is not saying that what happened is okay, or even that we are okay with it happening again. Rather, it is choosing to release the one who has sinned over to the Lord. His judgment. His forgiveness. We are giving it all for the Lord to handle. The alternative would be to take matters into our own hands and thereby declare ourselves the judge of this person’s sin, which is exactly what we are doing when we refuse to forgive them.
Consider this subject on its grandest scale – The core of the Gospel is God forgiving the sins of those who trust in Christ for salvation. In forgiving man’s sin, God has not declared sin righteous. He has not said that it is okay or acceptable for man to sin in the future. In His benevolence as Judge, He has simply chosen to apply the punishment for man’s sin to Christ, and apply the reward of Christ’s righteousness to man.
Forgiveness equals freedom for them. There is a power in forgiving our husbands that gives them new freedom. Of course, they have freedom in Christ, but how can they truly experience that freedom if we are holding them in bondage to their sin? Our men experience the forgiveness of Christ in a new way through us, but only when we submit to God’s calling and choose to forgive them. On the other hand, unforgiveness on our part yields increased guilt on their part. Increased guilt leads to more sin. The calling is clear – we must forgive, and participate with God in their liberation.
Forgiveness equals freedom for us. Just as we are offering new freedom, we will also experience it ourselves! Withholding forgiveness is sin. It communicates to God one of two things – either we do not trust Him to deal with the account and so we withhold it from Him, or we believe the slight of one man against us is greater than the sin of the world against Him. Either way, it’s easy to see how this failure to submit to God’s command to forgive separates us from Him. And separation from God is bondage. We must forgive, and participate with God in our own liberation.
Defense 2 – Prayer
“When God’s warriors go down on their knees, the battle is not over… It has only begun.”- Unknown
There are countless examples in Scripture that speak to the power of prayer: God relents from his wrath on the people of Israel as a result of Moses’ intercession on their behalf 1, Jesus on multiple occasions emphasizes the power of prayer to His disciples, commanding them to petition to the Father 2, James in his epistle to the early Church speaks of the power found in prayer 3.
There is great power in prayer yet we often treat prayer as a last resort. – “Well, all we can do now is pray.” The insinuation is that there is some other action that would be more effective, but for whatever reason, we must resort to futile prayer. Or we neglect prayer altogether. Either way, it’s clear that we have failed to believe in the power that prayer contains, and as such have failed to apply it where it is needed most.
So whether you are a wife- where it is truly your duty and joy to stand with your husband, or a single woman praying for your future husband, or a mother praying for her son, or a Christian sister praying for her Christian brother- let us remember we are standing in the gap for them all. The temptations are real and increase daily. We are all One in the family in Christ, and it is our responsibility to build one another up in love.
If you don’t know how to pray for them, God has given us a “cheat sheet” of sorts in His Word. If you want a prayer card to pray through for the one you love, we’ve included one here.
Defense 3 – Be Available/Unavailable
Be Available (for wives only)
“But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband… do not deprive one another…”
-1 Corinthians 7:2-5 (excerpts for brevity)
“One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry – everything bitter is sweet.” -Proverbs 27:7
We must help our husbands to be sexually “full”. When we withhold from them because we are tired, or not in the mood, they become hungry. And when they are hungry, the bitter temptations of this world begin to appear sweeter. Ladies, this should be the easiest defense to put into action – it is fun, it is good, and it is happily commanded by the Lord. Be available to your husbands!
Be Unavailable (for dating women)
This means exactly what it sounds like. You might be making allowances for yourself because you’re in a serious dating relationship, but the reality is that you haven’t made any substantive commitment before God to remain with this person forever yet. It is not for me to define specific boundaries here, but I would encourage all women who are in dating relationships to consider the long-term effects of physical intimacy with a man who is not your husband. You will have to discuss these actions with your husband someday, and your boyfriend will have to discuss them with his wife.
Physical intimacy is the reward of covenant commitment. It is right and good when we save that intimacy, in every capacity, for marriage and for the one man whom we have covenanted to stand beside until we die. There is a plethora of Scripture that speaks to this. That physical intimacy that we so long for will be truly rewarding when we are patient and share it with one man, within the boundaries designed by God for our good and His glory.
If you’re not convinced that being “unavailable” and setting up strict physical boundaries with your boyfriend is Biblically sound, then at least consider what it leads to – a romantic kiss may just be a kiss for a woman, but it sparks a fire of temptation in the flesh of man, and that fire is exceedingly difficult to put out. You and your boyfriend need to establish boundaries, and if he is following Christ – he will be proactive in setting these boundaries, too.
Look Unavaliable (for all women)
“Do not let your adorning be external… but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…”
-1 Peter 3:3-4 (excerpts for brevity)
If we are to help men win the battle for sexual purity, we must become forerunners in the area of modesty. For men, lust begins with the eyes – and the temptations our Christian brothers are experiencing are, in many ways, within our control. We can avoid clothes that expose too much skin or show off every curve the Lord has given us. We should be a visually safe place for them.
I fully understand the innocence of just wanting to be comfortable in your clothing, especially in the hot summer months or when I’m working out. And I resonate strongly with the desire to look nice, and to feel attractive when we go out in public. But as I consider the battle for sexual purity that our men are facing, and I am honest with myself about what is important to me versus what is important to God, I’m left staring in the face of this principle that I can’t ignore and I must proclaim – Christ-following women have to champion modesty in a world that values it very little.
Let us redefine beauty according to the Lord’s standards and not the culture around us. It is beautiful to the Lord when I protect my Christian brothers with the way that I dress. It is beautiful when I find my worth and my value in Jesus, not in others’ visual perception of me. It is beautiful when I sacrifice my comfort and convenience for a cause that is far more important and enduring. If I can help prevent even one man from lusting on one occasion by wearing a modest dress to Church, or longer shorts to the gym, or loose-fitting jeans to the grocery store, it is absolutely worth the small sacrifice to my comfort.
This last article may feel uncomfortable because we’re asking ourselves the question, “What can I do better?” rather than how can he do better. We’re taking ownership of our responsibility in this fight, and it’s not easy. But if we’re committed to helping our husbands, our brothers, and our sons combat their sexual sin, then these defenses are exactly how we, as women, are called to be involved. My final encouragement and petition to you is simple (again, not easy) – count the cost and fight alongside your men. Forgiveness, Prayer and Boundaries are all things that, quite frankly, can’t be accomplished in our own strength. They will require us to kneel at the feet of Jesus and depend entirely upon His help. In short, we will be right where we are supposed to be!