When you set before your eyes a vile thing you are also automatically exposing your mind to those things. Your mind becomes accustomed to what you are seeing, and your thinking process becomes distorted, which ultimately alters your behavior and King Me has once again stepped into the enemy’s trap. How do I "Stay a Mile from the Vile"?
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We live in a sex-saturated society. Is it any wonder that many of us struggle with lust? We desire to be free, but we don’t know how to stop. Building a life of sexual purity doesn’t happen overnight, and like any building project – it is always best to use the right tools for the task.
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I’m your host, Steve Etner author, National speaker, and Purity Coach for the Pure Man Ministry ... WELCOME to episode #118 entitled “Staying a Mile from the Vile!”
Psalm 119:37 says we are to “Turn (our) eyes from looking at worthless (vile) things.” And in Psalm 101:2-3 the Psalmist declares, “I will walk with integrity of heart within my house: I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless (vile).”
Here’s why I open with those two verses. When you set before your eyes a vile thing (in other words, that which is good for nothing, unprofitable, and can lead to destruction) you are also automatically exposing your mind to those things. When exposed long enough, your mind becomes accustomed to what you are seeing, and your thinking process becomes distorted. This in turn ultimately alters your behavior and King Me has once again stepped into the enemy’s trap.
This is why David writes “My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.” (Psalm 25:15) What you see impacts what you think, and what you think strongly influences what you say and do. So, let me ask you – what are you choosing to look at? What are you daily choosing to expose your mind and heart to? What programs do you allow to be viewed on the television set in your home, or on your devices? What movies do you permit to be seen?
David said, “no one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.” (Psalm 101:7) Are you letting those who practice deceit and speak falsely to stand in your presence? Are you letting your eyes see things that are exposing your mind to things that are harmful to it; things that subtly and almost imperceptibly influence your thinking, slowly but ever so surely pulling you away from a closer walk with God and a life that honors and glorifies your Creator, Savior, and Heavenly Father? Paul urges us “to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.” (Romans 16:17)
Now I guarantee that some of you will disagree with me about this, claiming that watching TV or going to the movies is just harmless Hollywood entertainment, and that you can tell the difference between what’s happening on that screen and what’s real; but let me challenge you to carefully, very carefully, reconsider that stance.
I’m not saying you should never watch television or see a movie or play computer games or the like. I am saying, as Paul did, that you should “test everything; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Hold on only to those things that will glorify and magnify Christ. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16). “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
Can you do that? Can you truly love God with ALL of your heart, ALL of your soul, ALL of your mind, and ALL of your strength while you are filling your head and heart with the world’s philosophy, the world’s version of entertainment, the world’s way of coping with life, the world’s definition of pleasure? In the final analysis, anything you see that takes your love and focus away from God, from His word, and from doing His will does not belong in your life.
If you do not guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23), by being careful what you allow yourself to see and hear, then the deception of Satan will slowly, gradually creep in and warp your thinking, pulling you away from God. You need to “drive out the inhabitants of the land,” (get rid of all forms of porn and all access points to it). Why? If you don’t, “Those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble” (Numbers 33:55).
Don’t forget that Jesus Himself said “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23a). What we see impacts what we think, which in turn strongly influences what we say and do.
“Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Think about the typical shows you watch on TV or movies you attend. Consider the typical websites you tend to frequent. What kind of “company” are you allowing into your mind through the television and movies or via the computer?
If you allow your eyes to see that which does not glorify God, you are allowing your mind to think on things that do not glorify God, which will result in a life that does not glorify God. So, as the children’s song says, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see”! Always watch what you watch!
Let me take a moment to appear to “rabbit-trail.” You see, I am increasingly concerned over the things we are allowing into our homes through the television set. Now, before you brand me a religious nut case and think I’m too “legalistic” or “restrictive” please hear me out.
Imagine for a moment that you are in church for Sunday worship. The pastor stands behind the pulpit and announces a three-week mini-series on the importance of good communication in marriage. To help illustrate, he begins a role-play. He’s playing the part of the husband and because the pastor’s wife is either sick or too shy to be on the platform, the church secretary is playing the part of the wife.
As the first scene unfolds, an “argument” has just taken place between the “married” couple. The “husband” then initiates a conversation that de-escalates the situation and calms things down. Once the differences are settled, the “husband” (your pastor) wraps his arms around the “wife” (his secretary), and they engage in a long, drawn-out kiss. Right there on the platform, in front of everyone.
Are you picturing this scene as I’m describing it? Are you reacting negatively to it? You should be. Why? Because the pastor and the secretary are not literally married (assuming the church secretary is not actually the pastor’s wife). They have no business hugging and kissing each other, even if it is just “acting.” Right? You should be incensed at what’s happening on the platform behind the pulpit!
Pastor now steps back behind the pulpit to preach some more as the stage crew changes scenes. As Act 2 opens, the scene is quite obviously a bedroom. The “husband” (your pastor) and the “wife” (his secretary) are now in bed, under the covers, propped up against the headboard, deep in conversation. Her head is on his chest as he is running his fingers through her hair and kissing her forehead.
“Hold your horses!” you scream. “Wait just a minute here! That’s wrong! That’s sinful! The pastor should be fired on the spot!” you exclaim. “They’re not married! I don’t care if it is just ‘acting’ they have no business doing that. Especially in church, on a Sunday, in front of the congregation!” And you would be right.
Here’s my point. Again, please hear me out. Why do we deem it to be wrong on a Sunday morning in church, but ok the rest of the week on the television while in the privacy of our home? Why is it wrong and sinful to watch a scene like I just described between two actors (your pastor and his secretary) at church, but it’s okay to watch the same scene unfold on our television set or movie screen between two individuals (actors) who are not married?
My purpose here is not to focus our attention upon the duplicity and double standards, as much as it is to point out the subtlety and deviousness of our enemy. What are we allowing to enter our heart as we sit mindlessly enjoying a TV show?
In Psalm 25:15 David declares, “My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.” And in Proverbs 4:25 Solomon writes, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.”
Through these verses God is saying we must always pay close attention to what we see, considering very carefully the things that our eyes are observing. Remember, that which enters through the eye-gate strongly influences what you think, and what you think impacts what you do.
So again, I repeat the tough but important questions that demand an answer. What are you daily allowing your eyes to see? What kind of images are you looking at – both digitally, and in real life? Where do your eyes tend to linger and why? Never forget that everything you see has a powerful bearing upon everything you think, which dictates everything you do.
This is why God says you are to “look directly forward, and your gaze (is to always) be straight before you,” never to the left or the right. Now, we understand this isn’t being literal. God isn’t saying it’s wrong for your eyes to literally look left or right. If that were so, I doubt He would have created us with that ability. So, what exactly is he saying?
“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7)
In other words, stay faithful and true to God’s word. Don’t allow yourself to deviate from it one little bit. God says, “do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.” (Deuteronomy 28:14) Again, God’s instructions are very clear.
“Be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand or to the left.” (Joshua 23:6).
Now let’s consider again Proverbs 4:25 in light of these verses and our understanding of the meaning of “look(ing) straight ahead.” The command from God is clear. “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.” Our focus, our attention, the things we think about, are to be centered upon the word of God and the will of God. How are you doing with that?
When you daily choose to make your relationship with the Father the center of your attention, God and God alone will influence and direct your thinking, and thus affect your behavior to be that which glorifies Him. He will “pluck your feet out of the net” (Psalm 25:15)
Now consider this: What happens when you stay focused on that which is directly in front of you? Like the blinders on a horse, you will not be distracted by other things that have the potential of drawing you off the straight path. You won’t see that lure dangling enticingly off to the side, trying to pull you away from your single-hearted devotion to Christ.
“Be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (Deuteronomy 5:32) “My eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge.” (Psalm 141:8)
That which should be always directly in front of us is Jesus! When you are looking at porn, when you are lusting after another person, your eyes are definitely NOT on Christ – they are on King Me. That is why you get drawn away and caught in the snare of the enemy – you’re not watching where you’re going! Keep your eyes on the Lord, keep the focus of your heart on God and you will not step into the enemies’ snare.
I find great significance in the fact that our eyes are to look “straight” ahead. The Psalmist prays “teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path” (Psalm 27:11). His prayer is that God would instruct him on the direction he should be going (“teach me your way”). Is that the prayer of your heart? It should be.
Notice also that he asks God to lead him, to guide him in a straight path. The only path God will ever lead you down is the straight one. His promise is “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths” (Proverbs 4:11).
This is why Proverbs 4:25 tells us that our eyes are to look straight ahead. That’s where God is! That is the direction where God is leading. When you choose to allow God to lead you and when you keep your eyes fixed on Him, when your gaze is always looking straight ahead, here is what will happen:
“The Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then (when your eyes are firmly fixed on God, not King Me) you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil, (for example, looking at porn and sexually acting out in a sinful way) from men of perverted speech, who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways” (Proverbs 2:6-15)
That is powerful stuff I just read! In fact, I challenge you to invest the time right here and now to open your Bible to Proverbs and invest the time to read verses 6-15 and truly meditate on what God is saying.
Now carefully consider what Proverbs 3:5-6 says. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” In other words, keep your focus upon God. He will make sure you are walking the straight path, the one that will always glorify him. Investing time in the word of God every day will provide you with wisdom. It will give you an understanding of what is right, just, and fair. It will show you every good and straight path. It will show you the snares of the enemy and how to avoid them.
OK, we’re going to hit the pause button here until next week’s episode as we look forward to continuing this study.
If you would like to learn more about today’s study, or if you’re interested in learning more about The Pure Man Ministry, and more specifically how we can help you live in freedom from sexual sin, be sure to visit our website to see the multitude of resources we’ve made available to you – you can find our website at ThePurityCoach.com
Now before I close out this episode, I HAVE SOME VERY, VERY EXCITING NEWS to share with you. Drum-roll please!
It’s been 11 years in the making, and now I am excited to announce the release of “The Point of Purity Workbook”! Available now on Amazon. This workbook is the accumulation and culmination of 11 years of coaching, mentoring, and counseling men in the area of sexual addiction and purity.
The “Point of Purity Workbook” is a 12-week study of God’s Word focused on equipping and training men and women how to overcome lust, porn addiction and masturbation. Throughout this workbook you and your accountability partner or small group walk through Scripture together, sharing from God’s Word how you can be free. Each week you are equipped with powerful tools from Scripture that will help you not only be free, but live free. You will learn how to effectively change your thought process when faced with temptation (not just sexual temptation, but actually any and all temptation). You will discover how to submit yourself to God, standing firmly against the temptation and successfully resist it every time.
“The Point of Purity Workbook” is a twelve-week journey through Scripture to help you discover the point of purity. Why should I be pure? What's wrong with a little "forbidden pleasure" from time to time? You will also learn how to get to the point of purity - living daily in freedom and victory over temptation.
The problem we struggle with is not sexual temptation. The real problem is a worship disorder. Who is sitting on the throne of your heart? Whom are you worshiping and why? “The Point of Purity Workbook” will walk you through Scripture to help answer this all-important question and discover how to dethrone King Me, allowing God to be Lord and leader of every part of your life.
And if you have not yet subscribed to this podcast, let me encourage you to do so today so you won’t miss any of our upcoming episodes!
So, until next time this is Author, National Speaker, and Purity Coach Steve Etner reminding you that if you are going to glorify God in your everyday living, He must first be glorified in your every moment thinking.