Men love war movies! If you don’t believe me, just mention Braveheart around a group of men and watch them start drooling. For some, it’s the raw carnage which makes these movies so great; for some, it’s the hero who confidently leads his army into battle; and for others, it’s simply the glory of victory. Unfortunately, most Christian men do not have the same enthusiasm when it comes to the real war in which they find themselves, i.e., the war against sin and Satan (Romans 6:12–14; Ephesians 6:10–13). In fact, many of these men have lost their vision of the glory of victory and have handed in their armor, much to the pleasure of the enemy.
In this great battle, one of the key battlegrounds for men is the beach/pool. In fact, I cannot think of a more apt description of what takes place within a godly man at the beach/pool than war. Just like any war, much is at stake in this battle. We cannot surrender ground to the enemy, but must make gains against his deceitful schemes. Before we can gain victory, we must view it as war (in the ultimate sense of the word) and walk in the power and authority of our Commander, who has already broken the power of lust in our lives (Romans 6:6).
Now, wouldn’t it be nice if the ladies at the beach/pool would simply take into consideration the fact that Christian men are seeking to lead godly lives for the sake of their Savior? But let’s face it, most of those bikini clad women roaming the sand are dressed like that for one simple reason: to grab the attention of as many men as possible. They want us to look, to lust, and to lock in on their bodies! And our enemy loves it because every lustful thought, every second glance, gives him a little more ground in the battle.
If we were to really get honest with ourselves, most of us do not take lust very seriously (i.e. as warfare). We will call it sin, but like many sins in our lives, we are willing to live with it because it is such a common sin among men. May God heal us of such defeat-laden attitudes! Jesus refused to pull any punches when it came to this issue. In Matthew 5:27–28, he states:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Christ did not treat lust as some “minor” sin that is acceptable because “all men struggle with it.” He puts it on the same level as adultery! However, he did not stop in v. 28. In the next two verses (Matthew 5:29–30), Christ underscores the seriousness of lust by describing the actions necessary to fight against it:
“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
How many of us have such a radical view of sin and its dangers? Often times, when we read these two verses, we immediately want to explain it away by saying, “Well Jesus does not really want us to pluck out our eye or cut off our hand.” This is correct, but it misses the very reason why Jesus uses this hyperbole. He uses it to emphasis the radical steps that are necessary to curb sin within our lives. We must be men who are not soft on sin, but who are radical in the steps we take to purge our lives of sin. Such radical steps include our trips to the beach, to the mall (watch out for Victoria Secret), down the interstate (billboards), the park, etc.
Next week I am going to offer some practical suggestions about how to fight against lust at the beach/pool, but those practical suggestions will be useless if we do not deal with the heart issues first. If you do not have a proper understanding of the danger of your sin and a desperate desire to value Christ above everything else, then you will have no motivation for enacting the practical suggestions that we will discuss next week. So, do you take lust serious or do you just dismiss it as a “fight not worth fighting”? Like all sins, lust indicates a deficiency in our love for God and our neighbors (the woman after whom we lust and our wives). Thus, the answer for our battle with lust is to love and value Christ more. If you are not actively cultivating your heart for Christ and his glory, then you will lack the motivation to fight against lust in the way Christ calls us to fight, as good soldiers of the cross. So men, will you wage war in the power of Christ against sin and Satan at the beach/pool or will you raise your white flag and dishonor the one who died to free you from the power of sin?