It’s that time again: New Year’s resolutions. For many men, this is the time when they decide (yet again) to stop their sexual acting out. Quit porn. End the affairs. Stop going to strip clubs. Finally, no more personal ads. These are all good and noble causes that we should aim for. Much like eating right, hitting the gym or abiding by a budget the streak usually ends within a few weeks. Then the same guilt, shame and (sometimes) excuses set in. When this happens with regards to sexual integrity issues, it can feel so defeating. That’s why I’d like to suggest a better way.
The Bible tells us it’s not about the streak. It’s not about how many consecutive days we can string together without committing a particular sin. In fact, that can easily slip into idolatry. Instead of grace-based faith, it becomes performance-oriented self-salvation. That takes the Savior out of the equation. Instead, our focus should be on His continual provision.
When the Israelites were wandering the desert they had God’s provision. He was committed to their sustenance every day. To that end, His commission to the people was to only take enough for that particular day. To stockpile manna was to hijack God’s glory. Think about the morning prayer of the average Israelite wanderer when he woke up in the middle of nowhere: “God… I’d like to eat today. I don’t know where that food is going to come from. There isn’t much to hunt out here, and I’m short on ammo anyway. Would you mind showing up today?” The stage is set for God to come through, to provide and prove Himself faithful.
It robs God of the opportunity to prove His faithfulness when we begin counting the days of sobriety. We run the risk of shortchanging God of the glory He deserves.
What if a better way is to focus on daily sanctification and a deeper relationship with God rather than not breaking the rules?
That would mean we begin asking ourselves different questions and measuring movement by a different ruler.
Instead of asking ourselves if we did or didn’t commit some sin today, let’s ask if we were faithful to God’s call on our lives today. Instead of asking if we lusted, perhaps we should ask if we dwelt on things lovely, pure, excellent, praiseworthy and noble. Rather than aim to end the day without having a “slip”, let’s aim to end the day having triple-jumped towards what we know God is calling us to. Wouldn’t you rather hit the sack tonight knowing you were faithful to what God is trying to teach you as opposed to just being glad you didn’t act out? How sweet to be in a deeper relationship with God, to be more in awe of Him, after experiencing Him consistently sustaining you.
And suppose you did act out. Suppose you did look at porn again. Could there peace in knowing you are a step closer to who God is developing you to be, rather than on the chaotic hamster wheel of simply resetting the clock? Could there be hope to rest in God’s faithfulness tomorrow rather than gritting your teeth and psyching yourself up to white-knuckle your way through another day?
I’m not saying we should toss our resolutions out the window. Nor should we engage the struggle for sexual integrity in a casual, passive or lackadaisical way. I’m simply suggesting that perhaps God desires to teach us more about ourselves and Himself, rather than just helping us stop some bad behavior. Maybe God wants to show us His faithfulness, providence and sovereignty and our sexual struggles are the stage on which He’ll be glorified.