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Help for Fighting Lust: A Meditation Plan (5 of 5)

The following is a guest post by Joe Tyrpak, Assistant Pastor of Tri-County Bible Church in Madison, Ohio. In part 1 of his meditation plan he suggested that we “Call to mind the deceptions of sinful sensuality.” In part 2 he suggested that we “Call to mind the destructions of sinful sensuality.” In part 3 he considered the joys of God-ordained sensuality. In part 4 he reminded us of the ever-present eyes of God. Now he concludes the meditation series.

_____

Even though I started a deliberate meditation plan in my teenage battles against lust, pornography, and masturbation, I’ve often failed. I’ve often fallen to sexual temptation at the very moment I’m calling to mind this Scriptural meditation plan. If nothing else, I’ve learned that I myself am a wretch (Rom 7:24), that my natural heart is incurably sick (Jer 17:9), and that my sin nature is not, and will never be, subject to the law of God (Rom 8:7).

All in all, in the last few years I’ve come to learn that even though my meditation plan is somewhat helpful (in fact, I’ve found the biblical memorization and meditation to be of inestimable value), it doesn’t really work in the end. Further, as I’ve grown in my understanding of Biblical theology, I’ve begun to understand that Proverbs 1-9, just like the law of Moses, was never intended to fix my sin problem, but rather to highlight my need for Jesus. In other words, parts 1-4 don’t provide the ultimate solution to my lust problem because they were never intended to.

So in the last 2-3 years I’ve added another point to my meditation plan—one that is not merely tacked on, but one that grows out of a truly biblical interpretation of Proverbs 1-9.

Meditation Plan (Part #5): CALL TO MIND MY UNION WITH CHRIST.

This final stage has four aspects.

First, I think about Old Testament history. If I learn anything from OT history, it is that in spite of all their knowledge of God’s commands, God’s people didn’t obey. I learn that Solomon didn’t heed his own words and that his sons didn’t heed his words, either. Despite Solomon’s wisdom, his sons—the future kings of Israel—led the nation into captivity within three hundred years of this God-breathed advice. That testimony should serve as an exclamation point on the reality that our hope for overcoming sin is not found in being better educated regarding biblical standards. I don’t find power for obedience in rules, not even Biblical rules!

I can totally identify with Solomon, his sons, and the Israelites. In spite of all that I know about the Bible and all that I know about sensuality’s deceptions and destructions, sin continues to be attractive nonetheless. I can be tempted to sin even after I’ve studied for a message or after I’ve listened to preaching. My sin nature loves sin, even when there is no logical or physical reason for it. My sin is irrational. Even when I quote specific passages of Scripture, remind myself of its consequences, and dream about my wife, I still have part of me that desires to do wrong simply to experience sin.

The whole point of the Old Testament is that I need Jesus! I don’t simply need biblical rules; I need a Savior from myself. I need to remind myself of this constantly. I’m a totally hopeless, enslaved sinner apart from the regenerating, cleansing, transforming work of Jesus Christ.

Second, I think about Romans 6. If the advice of Proverbs is not the ultimate solution to my sin problem, what is? Union with Jesus Christ. In contrast to the impotence of OT law, the truths of Romans 6 regarding my union with Christ have been most powerful in effecting long-term change and victory in my battle with sexual sin. Most helpful have been the effect of union with Jesus’ death and resurrection on my sin nature (Rom 6:1-6) and the intensity, forethought, creativity and single-mindedness with which I should yield myself to God (6:19).

Third, I think about Solomon’s personification of wisdom. Solomon constantly offered his son two choices: the immoral woman or Lady Wisdom. It is clear from Proverbs that Lady Wisdom is a personification of God’s attribute of wisdom. She represents the choice to fear the Lord. To choose the path of obedience to God is to choose her.

So why didn’t Solomon just say, “Obey.” Why did he personify obedience for his son? A few reasons seem obvious. Personification shows that the right choice is attractive, exclusive, and, in some sense, relational. In other words, to choose God’s path is not simply following instruction, but embracing a satisfying relationship. On this last point, I’ve often reminded myself that to choose “Lady Wisdom” is to choose a satisfying relationship with the Lord, specifically the Lord Jesus who is the incarnate wisdom of God. To turn from sinful sensuality and choose Jesus Christ is to choose the path of God’s wisdom.

Fourth, I sing hymns about Jesus. Hymns remind me of Him, His grace, His saving power, my union with Him, and the possibility of total contentment in Him. At the same time, the stir and adjust my affections for Him. Here are my four favorites.

  • Calvary Covers It All. His crucifixion covers all of my “my past with its sin and shame.” Jesus frees me from every stain and cleanses me from every ounce of guilt and shame.
  • In Christ Alone. Jesus has united me with his resurrection power. In my estimation, nothing captures the reality of Romans 6:.4-6 better than the words, “And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me.”
  • Nearer, Still Nearer. “Sin with its follies I gladly resign, all of its pleasures, pomp and its pride; Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified.”
  • The Sands of Time are Sinking. “O I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved’s mine. He brings this poor vile sinners into His house of wine.” Remembering and delighting in His grace toward a sexual sinner like me is one of my deepest joys. Seeing him, as the final stanza anticipates, is my heart’s longing—a longing that has purifying power right now (1 John 3:3).

In the end, I’m experientially delivered from sin on a day to day basis not because I can meditate on God’s Law, but because I’m united to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the one to whom all the Law and Prophets were pointing. In my pursuit of holiness and the mortification of my sin, I want to keep Him at the center of my heart.

_____

Previous posts in this series:

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6 Responses

  1. Joe, I appreciate your transparency and your pointing sinners to Christ as the ultimate answer. Too many plans for fighting lust are devoid of Christ. I’m grateful for what you’ve done here!

  2. Joe,

    Thank you so much for this series. I am sure parts of it were difficult to discuss. Thank you for your transparency. The subject of the believer’s union with Christ is one that desperately needs to continue to be unpacked by us all. Thank you for drawing our attention to it with regard to the area of temptation.

  3. Chris and Joe,
    Thank you. Those were excellent.

  4. […] were (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). (Note: Once you’ve run to Christ as your only hope of salvation, these resources will be of help to you in your pursuit of sexual purity, I […]

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