Down To Earth Discipleship    .    Getting real with issues facing young Christians today
Appendix 1
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Appendix 1: A young person's fourfold defences against sin

- a personal statement (guy in early 20s)

1. Biblical basis - sexual sin

The biblical approach identifies sexual sin for what it is - abhorrent before a pure and holy God. For me this approach involves digesting passages such as Job 31:1 "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl", 2 Timothy 2:22 "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart," and a whole host of other verses which determine a proper attitude to people and to porn. I find that this helps prevent me from approaching this issue by setting limits which are merely acceptable to myself (eg. "As long as I don't do xyz...", "But everyone else does that..."), and reminds me that the only criterion which God sets is Christ himself. Since we will always fall short of this I think it's important to have other approaches along with the biblical approach:

2. Incentives

The incentive-based approach focuses on consequences. It presumes upon a more full and deeply enjoyable sexual satisfaction in the future context of a committed long-term relationship - 'how God intended it'. Things such as unhealthy sexual fantasies, remembrance of past sexual images or past sexual experience, and worldly-driven unrealistic sexual expectations all have a strong potential for stealing part of the joy which is to be found in due course in the 'one flesh' committed sexual relationship which is his intention for most of us - certainly I believe for me. Hence, I find considerable motivation for staying 'on track' by considering the positive rewards which I expect to be mine in the future.

3. Disincentives

The disincentive-based approach also focuses on consequences, but instead of the positives from maintaining sexual purity, it considers the incredible bondage experienced when under siege in relation to sexual sin. Paul noted in Romans 1:24,26 that where people opted in to sexual sin, and where we meddle with it, that's what he allows us to do and experience, including the consequences. God's punishment is exactly what we may seek, with its sense of degradation and closed-off options. Yielding to sin does not satisfy a craving, it intensifies it. In some ways we often forget that it's not just about sexual sin being abhorrent to God (true as this is) - rather that God will allow (on our choosing) these sexual sins to plague our lives, so that our experience is far short of the abundant life which is promised in Christ.

4. Psychological support

This grapples with what it is which causes me to continually stumble back to sinful habits - our sinful nature. Even the strong motivation of the previous three approaches somehow gets clouded in the heat of the moment. Hence, I feel we must implement strategies which remind us of those motivations in our weakest moments. These methods include knowing that we must own and discuss these things with accountability partners, and also a personal and pointed reminder. Every person will have their own methods which form this approach. For me, the reminder comes in the form of a sheet of paper I make myself sign and date whenever I muck up. Then at any particular moment when I am tempted I always think back to the piece of paper I signed, headed "It's not that good!" - whether that be a month, a week, a day ago. I remember that at the time I last signed it, how I did so with the intent of reminding myself at such a moment, that the allure of that sexual desire is false in its claims and inevitably unsatisfying. It also provides a method by which to 'grieve the sin' - when you have to add a signature and date to the paper, you do so very consciously before the Lord and it then comprises a part of the necessary repentance.

But battling sexual temptation should not become the preoccupation of one's daily living - that will likely exacerbate the problem. Sure, spiritually "putting on the armour" on a regular basis is in order, but we shouldn't try to do it all on our own. Better to have close prayer/accountability partners do the job, while you carry the burden of prayer in relation to their particular weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Taken together, these are a big help in my personal discipleship and I expect to enjoy the benefits in my future marriage.