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Purpose: This is part 2 of 3 which presents specific advice which one can take when confronted with sights that stir up one's lusts so that you can enjoy your walk!
At this point we want to provide more specific ways to enjoy God-honoring walks whether it be at the beach, in a park or near a pool.
Remember our goal is to enjoy a God-pleasing walk at the beach not merely steer away from temptation. It is so easy for us to accept a lesser goal of avoiding temptation. Although we do want to overcome temptation, if we focus on it, then other troubles can develop. For example, if we focus on how we overcame temptation, then it is easy to become prideful and set ourselves up for another kind of temptation. Although Galatians 6:1 refers to helping others, there is that same sin of pride that can occur in a person who has overcome sin. In our context that person is ourself. The admonition is for us. "Each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted."
Our goal to enjoy God and the world He has placed us in must be kept in focus. The goal to positively delight in who God is and what He has made become our final thoughts and delight.
Keep a general look out for areas in which one might be tempted. This usually means noticing where women are immodestly dressed. This could be different for men acquainted with different situations. But if you see those women dressed in bikinis, whether they are digging in the sand, surfing or just walking on ahead of you, take note of the testing. Notice the possible temptations from afar so that your are not suddenly trying to figure out a game plan on how to handle that temptation on the fly. But frankly, we need to be ready for this too.
Sometimes our plan to avoid falling into temptation will be as simple as to walk on the part of the shore that would avoid viewing that woman. For instance, if she is sunning in the soft sand, then I will walk in the water. If she is playing catch in the water then I will walk on the soft sand. My viewing angle changes as I alter which direction I am facing. This might not work if one faces temptation on both fronts.
If I cannot easily change my course, I still can change my viewing area. Fortunately, I can change my viewing area again by twisting my neck, closing an eye, or in desperate situations looking upward. I can walk by these beauties but because my view is gazing at the sea watching a ship or surfer, then I can safely pass the temptation. I find it helpful to get through red zones by looking intently for shells (even if I don't really want to). I look down. I like greeting others but tenaciously avoid greetings with these women or even the men with them. Why? Because it gives me a close look. That would bring the temptation a step closer and make the battle so intense that I no longer enjoy my walk.
Even then, we might meet someone we know who is not appropriately clothed or accompanied by one who is seductively dressed. This can happen in the office or the beach. At these times, it might not be possible to look away from them. We need to greet them. Keep your eyes fixed on their face. If your eyes begin to drop down, consciously bring them back up to the other's face.
You want other people to be able to help you keep to proper thinking. Just as we should not look at the web in a private place, so we should take steps when out on our walk.
Do not wear sun glasses which enable you to look without being publicly accountable. Sun glasses allow you to look at women in ways that you should not without being easily discovered. Arrange ahead of time to go with your buddy or give your wife freedom to ask you invasive questions.
Indirect question: "How did your walk go?" You are expected to tell of any temptations and how you handled them.
Direct question: "Any temptations on your walk?"
These are not to be critical questions but honest and intimate ones through which one can grow. These questions should be discussed well ahead of the walk and initiated by the man. Do not take your eyes off the goal otherwise these questions can actually cause problems in the relationship. For this reason, when the man returns, he should initiate the conversation. His subtle words should cue the wife that he is open to the questions. "Hi honey, I am back again."
We must intently guard our thoughts. Our mind is where the battle is won or lost. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2). There are several aspects to this.
There is the simple observation of our thoughts. We must become conscious of what we are thinking. Then there is the controlling or steering of our thoughts. Lastly, though connected with the former, is the refocusing of our thoughts. Let me briefly go over these.
I must keep conscious of what I am thinking. It does me no good to find that my mind has been full of lustful thoughts in the last five minutes. If this is the case, I probably have gone beyond the point of no return. In these kind of situations, we generally excuse, minimize or even justify our thoughts. Adultery has been committed! That would not be an ideal situation in which to go back and see my wife.
It would have been better if I never wen. Though to be realistic, the same thing can happen when I watch the television and its sensual commercials. I need to keep aware of my thoughts pretty much all the time. This is the reason it is good to spot the upcoming places of temptations. These are the times we need to carefully monitor our thoughts.
I need to know my thoughts, but I also need to steer my thoughts. My thoughts can lead to proper actions, but before they do, I need to subject my mind to a cleansing of God's Word, "That He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word" (Ephesians 5:26). A friend recently wrote to me.
"Most men when they are 'sober in spirit' are able to tell me what they should do (or should have done). They seem to know about the fleeing and avoidance strategy. They know the value of accountability. Yet, sexual sin continues to be a pitfall because when they are in the heat of the battle, those practical moves are forgotten. This is the real problem that we need to help men overcome. I think the continuing loss to the battle of sexual temptations may very well be related to the deception that one has accepted about God, and oneself."
What I know about marriage, temptation, God, my wife must all come together in a way which shapes what I will think about when I see these sights. In many cases this is because we are distracted and our thoughts are driven away to think about other things. For example, I find that I must consciously rehearse the truths such as my wife is the one I delight in.
My thoughts might go like this.
That woman belongs to another. God has not given her to me. I am very pleased in my wife and happy God has given her to me. She might be older and a bit out of shape, but she has so pleased me over the years. I am so happy to be her husband. I will be faithful to her. Thank you Lord for giving her to me.
If I am not convinced about my delight in my wife, then I will lose the fight. The truth is not something that we only know but that we deeply are convinced in. The battlefield is not the place to reflect on these crucial decisions. If you are not able to delight in the wife of your youth because you at times delight in other women more, then plead to God that He get you to that necessary point. Only then will you be able to fight the enemy.
The last step is to refocus. By refocus I do not mean to think rightly about our wives. That is spoken of in the previous sub-point. I need to properly think through the woman and situation that might be tempting me. I do not want my thoughts to end thinking about the woman and her improper dress or even my confusing desires. If I simply suppress these thoughts, they will eventually drive me from living in the glorious path of the Lord. These past unresolved tensions would subtly combine with present temptations forming an obvious sad ending.
Instead I turn back my thoughts back to what is good and lovely. ￼This should include how lovely one's wife is. She is delightful despite her shortcomings.
This is not a minor point. If a husband finds no delight in his wife, then he has little chance to fight lusts. How a man learns to love and appreciate his wife goes beyond this study. Read "Building a Great Marriage." A person cannot go far by suppressing lusts. He needs to love what is good and lovely which needs to include our wives even in their worse times.
But it certainly includes a recognition on how glorious God is and the world around me. I thank Him for the special beautiful things that He has made including beautiful women and the ability to perceive such beauty. I thank the Lord for all the special journeys He takes me on and experiences I have such as a time to walk on the beach. My mind is released into the freedom of reveling in the truths of God.