Another post in this series about the biggest challenges men face is about the third of the categories I believe cover all the issues of men face today: Resisting Temptations.
In the first category, Managing Work-Life Balance, I stated that many men struggle with their work responsibilities more than women due to their sense of pride in their accomplishments.
In the second post, Reordering Priorities, I asked: Do your priorities align with how God would want you to have as priorities? Again, pride causes us to put our own priorities ahead of everything else.
This third category, Resisting Temptations, is going to become a set of additional posts just for itself. It is that critical!
In his book, Temptations Men Face, author Tom Eisenman provides straightforward advice about a man’s struggle with power, money, affairs, perfectionism, and insensitivity.
The chapters in his book include these topics:
- The Temptation to be Macho
- The Temptation of Sexual Lust
- The Temptation to Have an Affair
- The Temptation to Wield Power
- The Temptation to Love Money
- The Temptation to be Perfect
Eisenman finishes his book with a chapter named “Deliverance” and another titled “How Can I Help My Man? A Chapter for Women”.
Both chapters give us hope that we can resist those temptations.
We are Affected by “Original Sin”
Sin entered the world due to an act of disobedience by earth”s first people. Adam and Eve’s pride (there’s that root cause again!) caused them to believe they did not need to listen to God. Every one of that couple’s descendants inherited this “original sin” and have the tendency to allow our self-will (pride) to override God’s will.
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 7:18 about this tendency to sin, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells.”
But is Temptation a Sin?
James, the half-brother of Jesus, writes clearly about temptation and sin:
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”— James 1:13-15
From this Scripture writing, we see that temptation being tempted alone is not the same as committing sin. But the act of allowing the temptation to influence you becomes the sin.
Basically, sin is the result of allowing your mind to agree with the desire (lust) that dwells in our flesh due to our human nature. That is, committing sin is something we choose to do and cannot be carried out unless we agree with it.
Sin Isn’t Overcome by “Cheap Grace”
Now I must caution you about a concept called “cheap grace”, which preaches forgiveness without requiring repentance and spiritual discipline.
German pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes it this way:
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Essentially, cheap grace hides the cost of discipleship from people and claims that as long as we make a profession of faith, we are saved.
While God’s grace certainly covers all our sins, simply praying the “Sinner’s Prayer” or signing a card or walking down an aisle to confess does not save us from our sins. We are only saved by having an active faith that continually repents from our sin and strives to minimize our future sins.
It requires a 180-degree turn from our prideful selves.
While Scripture teaches us that temptations are a testing of our faith, James also writes that those who endure without committing the actual sin will receive the crown of life.
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.— James 1:12
Our God is a God Who Delivers
The Good News is that Jesus’ death on the Cross takes away all of our past, present, and future sins.
Eisenman’s chapter on Deliverance includes the twelve-steps of the Alcoholics Anonymous program and suggests that the program works because its foundational principles are consistent with biblical principles.
According to Eisenman, even if a recovering addict is not a Christian, any significant and lasting healing power only comes when God is honestly invited into the process.
Eisenman then uses the acronym HEALED to make it easier to remember these steps:
- Help! Admit you need help.
- Establish Your Life with God.
- Access Accountable Relationships.
- List harms, repents, and amends.
- Enter into Prayer.
- Dare to Share
AA’s steps three through seven ask that you turn your lives over to God, to address your sinfulness and failures with great honesty, and admit your struggles and weaknesses to God and another person.
Sure sounds like many of the same steps in your God Buddy relationship!
Accountability Helps Beat Sin
Back to the book of James again, where we read, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
This confession also requires repentance with accountability to do our best to avoid further temptations.
The God Buddy Principle
Finding yourself a close and accountable friend with whom you can confess your struggle with sin is not easy. As I wrote in Traits of a GB relationship, there are several levels of relationship needed before you can share your struggles and confess that you need help.
These traits include establishing trust, transparency, and accountability so you can ask your GB to help you stay clear from sin. This transparency and accountability may not eliminate the temptations, but it can sure help you resist them!
I once had a friend who called me from a restaurant while he was out on a business trip because a lady (do we even call her a “lady”?!) was hitting on him. My friend actually excused himself to the bathroom to call me about what he should do. Of course, I was very proud of him to admit he felt tempted but then I proceeded to tell him to go back, pay his bill, and leave as quickly as possible.
I also had another friend who struggles with pornography tell me that when he travels, he asks the front desk to lock down his TV channel access.
Another friend needed to be called out about his relentless pursuit of money.
All came through transparency and accountability.
As you have read throughout this series, all the problems and challenges we men face today are a result of our pride.
C.S. Lewis writes in his fabulous book Mere Christianity that “it was through pride that the Devil became the Devil: Pride leads to every other vice. It is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
So cast aside your pride as soon as you awake every day and use your God Buddies to help overcome life’s biggest challenges.