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“Ten Steps to Sexual Sin for Christian Leaders and How Not to Take Them”
by John Piper

 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Hebrews 12:14

“Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12

Strategies for Fighting Sexual Sin (Below)

 

Pitfall #1: Falling in love with the present world.
“For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.” (2 Timothy 4:10)

What is it about the world that leaders in particular are tempted to love? The answer of Jesus is clear:

Acclaim and Prestige
“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts.” (Luke 20:46)

Riches and Pleasures
“. . . but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.” (Luke 8:14)

Successful leadership generally exposes a person more and more to the alluring forces of prestige and makes an array of worldly pleasures more and more accessible (because of travel, higher salary, wider circulation, etc.).

Protection: Think long and hard about the deadly poison of world-love . . .
“If any one loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. . . The world is passing away, along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15, 17)

“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

. . .and ponder the never-ending delights of the mountain spring of God’s approval and fellowship and beauty.

“You put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” (Psalm 4:7)

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26)

The spell of sin’s fascination is broken by the superior pleasures of the presence of God.
 

Pitfall #2: Loss of horror at offending the majesty of God’s holiness through sin.

When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and put her husband to death, God did not confront David with the sanctity of marriage and the value of human life. He confronted him with the horror of despising God.

“Nathan said to David, ‘Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? . . . Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah?’” (2 Samuel 12:9-10).

Are leaders under so much pressure to make people happy (lest they lose their crowds) that they forsake the message of God’s holiness and sin’s horror? And is the result that they gradually turn sovereign grace into powerless leniency, and then license, and then actually believe it themselves, and act on it, saying, “Where sin abounds grace will much more abound!” (Romans 6:1)? Is not a leader drifting to destruction when he no longer commends the gouging out of eyes as preferable to sin?

“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:29)

In other words, perfectly innocent and good things may need to be sacrificed for the sake of vigilance against sin. But this will not happen where a leader has lost his horror at offending the holiness of God.

Protection: Meditate on the biblical truth that all our acts are acts toward God and not just toward man . . .
“Against you and you only have I sinned!” (Psalm 51:4)

. . .and that God is so holy and pure that he will not countenance the slightest sin, but hates it with omnipotent hatred.

“You are of purer eyes than to see evil, and cannot not look at wrong.” (Habakkuk 1:13)

“The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but he loves him who pursues righteousness.” (Proverbs 15:9)

. . .and that the holiness of God is the most valuable treasure in the universe and the very deepest of delights to those whose way is pure.

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2) “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 29:19)
 

Pitfall #3: A sense of immunity from accountability and authority.
“I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.” (3 John 9)

When you fall in love with the prestige and power of leadership you gradually begin to secure your “gains” by developing a kind of immunity from accountability. And this immunity drifts into a sense of being above the ordinary demands of morality and integrity.

Protection: Submit yourself to a council of biblically-minded, spiritually wise advisers.
“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)

In the churches of Paul the highest office was the elder, but, to the best of our knowledge there were no churches with just one elder, and provision was made for rebuking an elder who persisted in sin (1 Timothy 5:20). No one was above reproof. All were accountable.
 

Pitfall #4: Succumbing to itching ears as love of truth evaporates.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Once the love of truth is weakened by the love for ears, integrity has no leg to stand on. Every manner of rationalization and compromise to meet the demands of the expanding audience take over. Difficult doctrines are omitted, moral and theological problems are oversimplified, man-pleasing teachings of health, wealth, and prosperity become more attractive, and dishonest measures are condoned for the sake of the kingdom. What does this have to do with sexual temptation? A mentality of relativism and expediency begins to govern the mind. This weakens all firm moral resolve. The audience is to be massaged – the itching ears are to be scratched. Why? To gratify the leader’s pursuit of power and pleasure. And soon the same procedure governs sexual relations: anything is okay if you are satisfying an itch. Scratching itching ears is a very warm and personal thing. So it is easy for such leaders to contrast their approach with the “cold” concern for truth. And so immunity from doctrinal criticism is created with a heavy dose of relational antibodies. The language of love and forgiveness and acceptance abounds – but for those who have eyes to see, it is a camouflage to cover the abandonment of a love for truth.

“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)

Protection: Cultivate a love for truth, even in its smallest details, and turn a deaf ear to the desires of men to have their ears scratched with vague moralisms that massage them in their sin.
“Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God.” (Mark 12:14)

“One who is faithful in very little is also faithful in much; and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” (Luke 16:10)

Most compromise with the truth begins in small things. I heard of one evangelist who lost all credibility with a third-world helper because he criticized his counselors for not watching the audience after he had said that every eye would be closed. “One who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”
 

Pitfall #5: A vanishing attention to Scripture.
This is not quite the same as #4. Here I have in mind the role Scripture begins to play (or not play) in the ministry of the word.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competant, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

It is the Scripture that reproves us when we are headed in the wrong direction; corrects and turns us in the right way; and then trains us how to stay there. It makes the leader complete and ready for every good work. But in the ministry of many leaders it begins to take a back seat to storytelling, and social analysis, and family discussions, and psychological diagnoses, and all kinds of things which in themselves are innocent, but which begin to usurp the priority of the inspired word of God. The Bible begins to get token reference, exposition recedes, noble slogans (like peace, justice, kingdom, mutuality, grace, acceptance, wholeness) begin to replace specific sentences, contextual considerations diminish, moral generalities begin to replace attention to grammatical detail, and soon the Bible, in its pointed specificity, is not the authority. The ideas of man are. Now what does this have to do with sexual temptation? The lusts of the flesh can much more easily exploit a fuzzy moral generality than it can a firm, precise, specific, Biblical prohibition. There is a hermeneutic that leads to adultery. Loose and sloppy handling of Scripture eventually leads to loose and sloppy living.

Protection: Give yourself untiringly to the study, meditation, and memorization of Holy Scripture.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“On his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)

“I have stored up my word in your heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

Here I speak not of sermon preparation but of what I call “going out to pasture” – resting and ruminating on the word of God. It is savoring for the sake of life, not seeking for tomorrow’s text.
 

Pitfall #6: A growing disregard for the spiritual good of his followers.
An Old Testament refrain is that when the king sinned, the people were ruined.

“The Lord will strike Israel. . . and give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and made Israel to sin.” (1 Kings 14:15-16)

This incentive for a leader not to sin diminishes as a disregard for the people takes over. When leaders sin, the people suffer. And when the leaders don’t care for the people anymore, that ceases to be a brake on their own lusts. Right after saying that the scribes love salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues, Jesus says, without even starting a new sentence, that these leaders “. . .devour widows houses. . .” (Mark 12:40 = Luke 20:47). The point is that the more we love the prestige of our leadership the less we will love the people we lead. And the less we love them, the less we will care what becomes of them. And so the vigilance to guard ourselves from sin for their sake will vanish, and the consequences of sexual immorality will not seem as dreadful as it once did.

Protection: Labor in praying and caring to stir up your heart to love all your people.
“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24)

Do not assume too quickly that you do not love your people. An amazing affection can be born in the disciplined and prayerful exercise of pastoral duty.
 

Pitfall #7: Disregard for the biblical mystery of marriage.
“A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32) The mystery of marriage is that God created it to be a drama of Christ’s relation to the church. How we treat our wives is a dramatic statement of how we think Christ should treat the church. How wives treat their husbands is a dramatic statement of how they think the church should treat Christ.

The deepest Biblical meaning of marriage has to do with Christ and how he is portrayed to the world in the public drama of marriage. Therefore adultery is like casting Jesus Christ in the lead role of an X-rated movie. Therefore one long step toward adultery is to disregard the Biblical mystery of marriage.

Protection: Remind yourself repeatedly that your marriage is a living drama of Christ’s relationship to the church. Let your thoughts about your spouse rise from the ordinary to the extraordinary by faith in the truth of Ephesians 5:31-32.
“This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” We simply must recover the wonder of this truth. Marriage has to do with God, not just two people trying to be fulfilled. It is a mission of revelation to the world. It is an extraordinary calling. And adultery is an appalling desecration of the image of Christ and his church.
 

Pitfall #8: Compartmentalizing of the leader’s life.
In the New Testament the leader’s home life is an essential part of his qualification for church leadership (1 Timothy 3:4, 12). In other words, the New Testament will not allow us to compartmentalize our life so that some parts of it are irrelevant to the issue of leadership. One stepping stone toward adultery is the compartmentalizing of life that says, “Well, this area is really not at the heart of my ministry and so one sin in this area need not jeopardize my success in another.

Protection: View everything – absolutely everything – as woven together by its relationship to the value of the glory of God.
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Colossians 3:17)

Would that every leader could explain to his people how to drink orange juice to the glory of God (http://desiringgod.org/Online_Library/OnlineArticles/Subjects/Sin/OrangeJuice.htm), and then be able to with all earnestness why this is not nitpicking. One area of life not done for the glory of God is a pocket of rebellion threatening to become a coup.
 

Pitfall #9: A sense of being above the necessity of suffering and self-denial.
Right after telling Timothy that as a leader he should “entrust [the truth] to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2), Paul says,

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:3)

Generally, with successful leadership comes the possibility of avoiding certain kinds of suffering. There is more money, more people ready to do you favors, more expectation to go first class, more freedom to delegate work, etc. Very easily the mindset emerges that it is indeed fitting for me not to suffer. Perhaps there is a high lifestyle appropriate for my position of prestige. Perhaps the perks of power are a good testimony to the goodness of God. Gradually the leader begins to justify exorbitance of all kinds because he is doing his part for the war effort by being the public rallying point for God’s cause. And so there is not need to live like a common soldier. He is so important in the church or the organization that he is above the ordinary demands of suffering and discipline.

Protection: Never forget the promise: “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). And never forget that the Son of Man had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58). And develop a Biblical theology of futility and suffering, especially from Romans 8:17-30.
“Not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23)

There is a crying need for leaders who say with Thomas, “Let us go up and die with him” (John 11:16). We would do well to read the story of Raymond Lull, the Medieval missionary to the Muslims of Tunis. He shared the Franciscan “mania for martyrdom” and gave himself to die when he was over 80. Let us listen to Elisabeth Elliot’s voice of discipline, and ponder the title of her biography of Amy Carmichael, A Chance to Die.
 

Pitfall #10: Giving in to self-pity under the pressures and loneliness of leadership.
The stronger the impulse of self-pity, the more inclined we are to reward ourselves with unusual treats. The more we pity ourselves for how hard life is, the more easily we justify a little extra pleasure – even illicit sexual pleasure. What goes on inside the head of a Christian leader when he is about to fall for the affection of another woman and commit adultery? I don’t know. But perhaps something like this:

“Nobody else understands my pressures. Nobody else seems to feel for me in my loneliness the way she does. If any of them knew what I was going through in this leadership role, they would understand why I need this kind of embrace, I need this kind of “unconditional acceptance”. I have borne enough of the burden of being everybody’s spiritual example; I can’t take it any more. And I don’t care if they don’t approve.”

Self-pity is a subtle and deceptive power. It looks so meek and weak. But underneath is the partner of pride and a blind leader into the ditch.

Protection:
Embrace the essence of “Christian Hedonism” – the doctrine that no one who suffers the loss of any earthly blessing in the service of Christ will fail to be repaid a hundred-fold now (with persecutions!) and in the age to come, eternal life (Mark 10:29-30). In other words, acknowledge that self-pity is unbelief in the promises of Jesus Christ. Paul had a reason to be self-pitying if anyone did. At the end of his life almost all had deserted him in one of his greatest hours of need. How did he handle it?

    “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.” (2 Timothy 4:16-17)

The Lord – and he alone – must be our portion, or we will cave in to self-pity and all the sin it brings. This is the last defense against sexual temptation – or should we say, offense – the overwhelming power of the beauty of Christ, and the irresistible lure of everlasting fellowship with him.

Pitfall

Protection

Falling in love with the present world.

Think long and hard about the deadly poison of world-love, and ponder the never-ending delights of the mountain spring of God’s approval and fellowship and beauty.

Loss of horror at offending the majesty of God’s holiness through sin.

Meditate on the Biblical truth that all our acts are acts toward God and not just toward man . . . and that God is so holy and pure that he will not countenance the slightest sin, but hates it with omnipotent hatred . . .and that the holiness of God is the most valuable treasure in the universe and the very deepest of delights to those whose way is pure.

A sense of immunity from accountability and authority.

Submit yourself to a council of biblically-minded, spiritually wise advisers

Succumbing to itching ears as love of truth evaporates.

Cultivate a love for truth, even in its smallest details, and turn a deaf ear to the desires of men to have their ears scratched with vague moralisms that massage them in their sin.

A vanishing attention to Scripture.

Give yourself untiringly to the study, meditation, and memorization of Holy Scripture.

A growing disregard for the spiritual good of his followers.

Labor in praying and caring to stir up your heart to love all your people

Disregard for the Biblical mystery of marriage

Remind yourself repeatedly that your marriage is a living drama of Christ’s relationship to the church. Let your thoughts about your spouse rise from the ordinary to the extraordinary by faith in the truth of Ephesians 5:32.

Compartmentalizing of the leader’s life.

View everything – absolutely everything – as woven together by its relationship to the value of the glory of God.

A sense of being above the necessity of suffering and self-denial

Never forget the promise: “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). And never forget that the Son of Man had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58). And develop a Biblical theology of futility and suffering, especially from Romans 8:17-30.

Giving in to self-pity under the pressures and loneliness of leadership.

Embrace the essence of “Christian Hedonism” – the doctrine that no one who suffers the loss of any earthly blessing in the service of Christ will fail to be repaid a hundred-fold now (with persecutions!) and in the age to come, eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).

Psalm-139-Bar

Strategies for Fighting Sexual Sin

Northwestern College
April 17, 1995

1. Recognize that sexuality is a good gift from God.

    Genesis 2:24-25 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

    Proverbs 5:18-20 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress, And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?

    1 Corinthians 7:3-5 Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (Cf. 1 Tim. 4:3)

2. Recognize that Biblical prohibitions are intended to protect something precious not deny something pleasant.

    Exodus 20:14 You shall not commit adultery.

    1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

    1 Corinthians 7:2 But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

    Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;

    Deuteronomy 10:12-13 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord's commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?

3. Believe God is for you.

    Psalm 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

    Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

    Mark 10:29-30 Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

4. Ponder the eternal danger of lust.

    Matthew 5:27-29 I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

    Remember the story of the man who cut off his leg to save his life.

5. Think often that God has given you even now many good things.

    Genesis 39:7-9 And it came about after these events that his master's wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, "Lie with me." But he refused and said to his master's wife, "Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?"

6. Preach to yourself that there is more joy in God's presence than in sin. Transpose desire.

    Psalm 4:7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound.

    Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fulness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.

    Psalm 73:25-26 Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

    Peter 2:2 Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

7. Realize that lust disables and weakens our capacity for higher spiritual joys with God.

    Peter 2:11 (war on soul) Abstain from fleshly lusts that wage war against your soul.

    Mark 4:19 The desire for other things enters in and chokes the word and it becomes unfruitful.

8. Don't ask, What's wrong with it? Ask: Does it maximize my experience of the power of Christ, my enjoyment of his fellowship, my perception of his beauty, my reflection of his glory?

    Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

9. Cultivate a passionate devotion to the honor of God's name.

    2 Samuel 12:10, 14 "Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. . . . However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."

10. Develop a worldview that views absolutely everything in relation to God.

    1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

    Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

11. (For singles) Recognize that sexual relations are not essential to full personhood and happiness.

    Jesus was single and chaste and fully human.

    Isaiah 56:3-5 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, "The Lord will surely separate me from His people." Neither let the eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree." 4 For thus says the Lord, "To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, 5 To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off. See Section on Premarital Sex

12. (For the married) Recognize that God designed marriage to be a living parable of his commitment to the church.

    Ephesians 5:21-32 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.

13. Be vigilant over your eyes. Avoid unnecessary stimulation.

    Job 31:1 I Have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?

    Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

    2 Timothy 2:22 Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

14. Look on the opposite sex as eternal persons. Realize that lust inevitably depersonalizes and despiritualizes people.

    John 5:28-29 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

    Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

    2 Corinthians 5:16 From now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.

15. Think often that Christ suffered agony for your purity. Fight image with image. Christ crying in agony.

    Titus 2:14 Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

    1 Peter 1:18; 2:24 You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, [but with the precious blood of Christ]. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

    1 Corinthians 5:15 He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

    Hebrews 10:29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? See The Crucifixion Described

16. Beware of assuming past successes guarantee future purity.

    1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

    Galatians 2:13 (Contrasted with Acts 11:24 (Barnabas) Barnabas was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and faith. (Acts 11:24)

    And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. (Gal. 2:13)

17. Beware of feeling above accountability.

    3 John 9 (Diotrephes not submissive) I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.

18. Do not be excessively alone.

19. Get in a group where you exhort one another every day against the deceitfulness of sin.

    Hebrews 3:12-13 Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

20. Memorize many scriptures.

    1 John 2:14 I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

    Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.

    Psalm 119:11 Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.

21. Stockpile your thoughts with good things.

    Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

22. Read the great literature of devotion, biography, etc.

    When I read the stories of how much others have suffered and fought and struggled and achieved measures of joy and holiness and fruitfulness in fellowship with God it makes me want to give my all to this quest and settle for nothing less than all that a saved sinner can be for the glory of Christ.

23. Never assume that you are above suffering or that you deserve relief through sin. The pitfall of powerful self-pity.

    Acts 14:22 [Paul went to his churches] strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."

    Luke 9:58 And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

    2 Timothy 2:3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

    1 Timothy 4:16-17 At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the lion's mouth.

24. Get busy with some task.

25. Pray at all times in the Spirit for God's deliverance.

    Matthew 6:13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

    Luke 22:40 And when He arrived at the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation."

    Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Thy law.

26. Be encouraged; God is patient

    Exodus 34:6-7 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations. "

    Nehemiah 9:17 And they refused to listen, And did not remember Thy wondrous deeds which Thou hadst performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But Thou art a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness; And Thou didst not forsake them.

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