Everyday, we are confronted with images on advertisements as large as billboards, or as small as marginal ads on websites that cause stumbling blocks to many men. We are confronted with movies, television shows, even commercials which seek to stimulate our sexual desires in ways never before thought of in previous generations. This is a grave danger! What starts out as a simple innocuous seed in the heart and mind can bloom into full blown sin.
We would do well to heed what James says:
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:12-15, ESV).
God has called us to remain “steadfast under trial”—the trial being the trials of Satan, the world, and the flesh (1 John 2:15) luring us with temptation into sin. He is so subtle, that he can even use things provided by God Himself for God’s good and turn it into something wicked.
1. Christian husbands must embrace the role of spiritual leaders in the home without fail.
The Apostle Paul gives us some very timely words in his letter to the Ephesians: In Ephesians 5:25-30, we read:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
The temptation for Christian husbands and fathers is to simply go through the motions to get through the day. Get up, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV, go to bed. If you’re a great father by our culture’s standards, you may read stories or play games with your children, even have a meaningful conversation with your wife. These activities would put you in the minority of most homes, and thus give you a false sense of confidence as to your leadership in the home.
Yet, is there any spiritual, Christ-centered leadership taking place? While God wants us to provide for our families, pay our taxes, spend time with our kids, etc., God has entrusted our spouses and children to us to nourish and cherish as Christ nourishes and cherishes the church and gave Himself for her.
Men, our wives are silently begging and pleading for us to step up to the plate and be the spiritual leaders in the home. Sadly, too many of us have abdicated that role to our wives. Prayer and family worship are hard work and out of the norm. Our parents may not have modeled that for us. Let’s break that generational curse and lead our families! Otherwise, you risk having them starve for spiritual nourishment, only to risk being fed by someone else (maybe another man). Our bodies, emotions, and souls are all connected within us—they each affect the other. So do not give room to the devil. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:7-8).
2. Christian men must engage in the fight of spiritual integrity at all costs.
Rick Warren rightly notes:
Integrity is the foundation of leadership. You only lead people if they trust you. If you lose people’s trust, you’ve lost it all. That’s why the right to lead is earned, and it’s earned by being trustworthy. I think the most damaging sin a leader can commit is to betray the trust of his people.
This applies to every area of leadership we have: the home, the ministry, the workplace, or within the recesses of your own heart. We fight for integrity not simply because people may think ill of us or that people may start a rumor to ruin our reputation—we fight for integrity for the sake of our own souls before the living and all-seeing Savior and Lord. We maintain integrity to protect ourselves! Jesus says in Mark 7:21-23:
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).
These issues reside within us because we are all sons of Adam whose flesh has been seared by the Fall’s curse! So being aware of this makes us see our need for the Gospel to cleanse and transform our sullied hearts. And we preach the Gospel to ourselves every day because we see the need for cleansing every day. We understand ourselves, and we understand our dire need for the Spirit to lead us where we should be.
3. Christian men must enlist other men to not only disciple but also to whom to be accountable without exception.
Paul gives Timothy a great model for discipleship:
1You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:1-2).
Paul strengthened Timothy, Timothy entrusted to faithful men who would, in turn, teach others. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Galatians 6:1-2 says:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Jesus says in John 15:12-17:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
What does this say? This says that Christians (and specifically in our case, Christian men) must never try to walk their Christian walk alone. There must be some significant transparent accountability. Why? This will serve to stave off potential sins that would occur if they worked in their own strength to resist. Hebrews 10:23-25 says,
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Stir up one another. Encourage one another. Bear one another’s burdens. Love one another. Are we seeing a pattern here?
4. Christian leaders (pastors and deacons) must examine areas in which they would be alone with another woman and take appropriate measures.
Consider what this father tells his son in Proverbs 5:7-14:
And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”
Men, you must never be alone with another woman, unless she is your wife. “Too legalistic,” you may say. No matter the intentions, someone will always believe the worst. “But what if it’s a church member who needs counsel?” Insist on taking someone with you, or that they bring a friend. It’s not worth losing your reputation.
Remove yourself from situations that will cause you to stray. Have to work on the computer? Install an Internet filter like http://www.bsafeonline.com. Find yourself up late watching shows you shouldn’t after your spouse has gone to bed? Turn off the TV and go to bed with your spouse. Take every step you can to keep yourself away from all appearance of evil. It only takes a rumor.