Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Are You Looking At?

This is part 2 of a purity talk I gave to local teenagers. I posted part 1 here. It is something I am sharing here because I believe purity is not just an issue for teens and that this is something that affects every area of our lives. 

There will be times when temptation knocks on our door. It used to be that people would have to go looking for things like porn. (I don’t say that in the same way your grandparents talk about the ‘good ol’ days’.) The world has changed, something made evident to me when my 10-year old daughter asked my wife, a fellow child of the 80's, what her favorite website was when she was a child. Sorry, little girl, we played outside.

In today’s culture, temptation often comes in your email and is just a mouse click away on a sidebar advertisement. What do we do then?

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.~2 Timothy 2:22

Do you recall the movie A Knight’s Tale? It’s about a peasant boy who attempts to become a knight. He lies about who he is and learns to joust in one afternoon at a championship level. (Could happen. It’s like the one afternoon I taught myself to be a pro-level basketball player.) Near the end of the movie he’s about to be caught as a fraud. Only nobles can joust. Since he’s not, he’ll be arrested. His friends all attempt to convince him that he needs to run. They’ll even run away with him. He refuses. One of his friends tells him that it is only his pride that keeps him from running. 

In a way that only Hollywood can show, everything works out in the end for him. He gets knighted, wins a big jousting tournament and wins the girl. The message is that we can overcome. If we just hope enough, we can triumph over anything with our own willpower.

That’s a stupid message. He was a stupid man, full of pride. 

If we act like that towards sexual temptation, we are asking to fall. It is our pride which tells us not to run. We convince ourselves that we can handle the temptation. God’s word tells us to flee, to run away. This is not an act of cowardice. It is knowing what you’re running toward. Are you pursuing righteousness? Then you will need to run away from temptation.  

Let me remind you of the basics of a story from Genesis 39. A guy named Joseph had been sold as a slave to Egypt by his brothers. Joe is bought by a man named Potiphar. God blesses everything that Joe does, and so he is put in charge over the entire household. There’s only one problem. Potiphar’s wife has the hots for Joe. Here's what happens;

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he refused. "With me in charge, he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked things and sin against God?" And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. ~Genesis 39:6b-10

Notice what Joe says to Potiphar’s wife. He doesn’t tell her she’s ugly and that he could never touch an ugly woman. No, he tells her of the incredible trust that his master, Potiphar, has in him. He is talking about purity here. ‘My master trusts me with everything, without a care in the world.’ He concludes his defense with the realization that to sleep with her would be to sin against God. His reasons given, he refuses temptation.

But this isn’t a job he can quit. While he may be in charge of household duties, he is still a slave. Temptation has come to him, despite his desire to live right. And temptation does not quit. We’re told that she kept tempting him day after day. ‘He refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.’ Notice that he is running as much as he can.

Then, when she literally throws herself at him, he just runs out of the house. Can you imagine this scene? 

Could you imagine the first person who sees him running?

-Joseph, why are you running?
                -There’s a woman in there. She wants me!
- And?

Listen closely, because this is where the world will not be helpful to us. For those who are not pursuing God and right living, they will wonder what is wrong with us. They will call us cowards for running. They will mock and tease. 

They don’t get it!

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.~2 Timothy 2:22

The message of 2 Timothy is counter-culture. 

The idea is that we need to be fanatical about pursuing intimacy with God. We are fanatical about our water and our food being pure. Why not our relationships?

Indeed, why not our relationships?

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