CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Masturbation and Temptation
By Steve Webb
The problem with masturbation is a very common one among men. We men seem to be cursed with an oversupply of hormones that combine with our sinful natures and get exacerbated by being in a culture where we are constantly subject to sexual stimuli. It is a difficult problem. Having said that, the battle against temptation is something all of us believers face in one form or another; if it is not sexual temptation it is some other form of temptation. In fact we should never be surprised when temptations come our way, as the Bible specifically says that we will face them. Satan is a roaring lion seeking who he will devour (1 Peter 5:8), and he will specifically attack where he sees we are the weakest. Not only that, but these attacks will occur throughout our lives. There is no getting off the hook. I am 63-year old Christian, faithful to God, involved for a long time in church leadership, and have a Master of Divinity degree, yet Satan has never ceased to put temptations in my path. And a temptation does not truly count as a temptation unless we find we are attracted to it. What makes temptations so difficult is that they are truly tempting. Satan has a way of taking evil, destructive things and making them appear as if they are beautiful. Please realize that it is not a sin to be tempted. It is only a sin if we succumb to the temptation. Yet with the power of the Holy Spirit and the truth of God's Word to help us, we can find ourselves effectively resisting temptations.
The apostle Paul encourages us with these words: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man" (1 Cor. 10:13). Indeed, every one of us faces temptations of some kind; even Jesus was "tempted in every way, just as we are" (Heb. 4:15). Although Satan is the dark force ultimately behind the tempting, it is our fallen and corrupted nature that allows these temptations to take root and cause us to act on them, thereby "giving birth to sin" (James 1:15). But it is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to free ourselves from the sin and temptations that we battle in our daily lives. Thus, if we have the Spirit of Christ residing in our hearts, we already have what it takes to resist the flaming arrows the devil sends our way. As Paul told the Galatians, "live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Gal. 5:16).
The Word of God has always been our best defense against Satan's temptations, and the better we know His Word, the easier it will be to claim victory over our daily struggles. The Psalmist tells us "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:11). When Christ was tempted by Satan in the desert, the first thing He did was to quote Scripture (Matt. 4:4-10), which eventually caused the devil to depart. Christians need to be diligent in studying God's Word. "Oh how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long" (Psalm 119:97-98).
In addition to God's Word, prayer will help us to resist temptation. The night Jesus was betrayed, He prayed, and told Peter to pray "so that you will not fall into temptation" (Mark 14:38). In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray that we would not be led into temptation (Matt. 6:13; Luke 11:4). Yet, when we do fall into temptation, we know that "God is faithful; He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear," and that He will provide us with a way out (1 Cor. 10:13). This is a promise from God, and like Abraham, Christians should be "fully persuaded" that God has the power to do what He has promised (Rom. 4:21).
Now, even though Christians already have the tools necessary for victory, we need to use our common sense and not place ourselves in situations that prey upon or stimulate our weaknesses. We are already bombarded every day with images and messages that tantalize our sinful lusts. We don't need to make it more difficult than it already is. When we know something is or can be sinful, Paul warns us to "flee from it." Remember, the "tempter" is the master of rationalization, and there is no limit to arguments the devil can offer us to justify our sinful behavior.
In parting, it is also fair to point out that not all Christians take the same view on the subject of masturbation. For example, the highly respected Dr. Dobson takes a "soft" view of it, saying that we need to be careful about making judgments on practices that the Bible does not specifically condemn (the Bible says nothing about masturbation). He does not specifically condone masturbation, by any means, but thinks we are too harsh in our assessment of it. Another well respected Christian, C.S. Lewis, thinks that sexual sins, albeit being truly sins, are considerably less sinful than, for example, the sin of pride — a sin that is rampant and one that we seldom have questions about in our ministry. In addition, we can all agree that masturbation is a better release of sexual frustration than resorting to sexual crimes. I Corinthians 7:9 reads, "It is better to marry than to burn," meaning it is better to marry than to live in a state of lust. As a corollary, is it better to masturbate than to burn? I have no answer for this. Sometimes we humans are in such a sad state of affairs that we are doing well just to choose the lesser of sins.
Having said all these things, none of us are free of sin. Unfortunately, all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). That means you, and it means me. It means that both of us are going to have sin in our lives. There is nothing to do about this except earnestly seek forgiveness, learn from it, do better next time, and continue our walk of faith. God is eager and happy to forgive us when we ask Him, so do not despair and lose heart when you fall. Like children learning to walk, we simply must pick ourselves up and continue towards our destination. Jesus came because He knew we couldn't do this on our own. Blessings and keep the faith!
Image source: Beshef; Some rights reserved
Tags: Christian-Life | Controversial-Issues | Sin-Evil
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Published on 1-9-14