Read our other “Tactic” articles below!
Tactics: Waging Wise Warfare for Your Sexual Purity – A New Series
Tactic #1: Fight From Your Justification, Not For It
Tactic #2: Recognize that Your Soul is at Stake
Tactic #3: Don’t Despise God’s Good Gift
Tactic #4: Anticipate the Battle
Tactic #5: Anticipate Progress
Tactic #6: Prioritize Bible Reading, Meditation, and Prayer
Tactic #7: Go to Jesus When You Fall
Tactic #8: Find a Wife
Tactic #9: Love Your Wife
Imagine a military, during the heat of battle, purposefully supplying an opposing army with more ammunition, weapons, and military vehicles. If we ever heard of such a scenario, we would rightly scratch our heads and wonder about the competency of this military’s leaders. No army wittingly gives their enemy more munitions and battle-ready equipment. The aim of warfare is to defeat the enemy, and by continually supplying the opposing combatants with more weaponry, you only increase your chances of defeat or, at best, a stalemate. Any general who facilitated such a strategy would be rightly removed from their post and charged with treason.
Don’t Strengthen Lust’s Firepower
Similarly, it is foolish and dangerous to supply the enemy of our souls with the resources that will strengthen its offensive. Yet, some of us are guilty of committing this kind of treason on a daily basis. We put ourselves in situations that are rife with temptation, we meander onto websites that, perhaps not overtly sexual in their general content, still feed the flesh with sensual side-bar advertisements and images that stir up illicit desires. We watch television shows and movies that contain sexual content or consistently portray women immodestly. We scroll through our social media apps knowing that we will likely come across scintillating images if we just scroll long enough. We read news stories of celebrity drama that are filled with defiling and unedifying content. We engage in unwholesome conversation. We allow ourselves to remain in unwise and compromising situations with our girlfriends and fiancees.
These are just a few examples of how we might supply the flesh with fresh firepower in its war against our soul. We cannot expect to gain ground against our enemy when we keep sending over shipments of new equipment. We must stop the supply-chain at its source by obeying Paul’s words in Romans 13:14: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
The first step, as Paul notes, is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is a command to believe in Christ, to draw near to him, to trust his sufficiency for our forgiveness and sanctification (1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21; Col 2:13). We can’t truly battle sin if we are not connected to the Source of power and life (see John 15:5). Elsewhere, Paul uses the word translated “put on” (ESV) to instruct believers to clothe themselves with “the new man” (Eph 4:24; see also Col 3:10), the “whole armor of God” (Eph 6:11), and the “breastplate of righteousness” (Eph 6:14). To put on or clothe oneself with the Lord Jesus Christ is a way of saying that we are to endow ourselves with all the resources we have in Christ in order to do battle against sin and temptation.
We Can’t Coddle Our Enemy
Having put on the Lord Jesus Christ, we do not then assume a passive stance toward the enemy and, as some have suggested, “Let go and let God.” Hopefully, this series has taught us that we must be active in our fight against lust. The second step, as Paul says, is to “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” The word translated “provision” in the ESV has connotations of forethought and care. We are not to give any thought to coddling and tending to our enemy.
There are touching wartime stories of soldiers showing compassion for their enemies, tending their injuries, and refusing to kill them after they have been wounded and captured. We can be grateful for these stories of mercy and love for one’s earthly enemy. When it comes to lust, however, we cannot show compassion. We must mercilessly kill our opponent. Earlier in Romans, Paul exhorts us, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13, emphasis added). As John Owen has famously said, “Let not man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts.” The imagery here is a solider making his way through the battlefield after a successful skirmish and stepping over fallen enemy combatants.
To achieve such victory, we cannot, as they say, give quarter to our enemy. To “give quarter” to an enemy is to house and provide for them after they’ve been captured. We “give quarter” to lust when we expose our minds and hearts to images, conversations, and entertainment that stir up illicit desire and plant images in our minds that incite sexual desire for someone other than our wife. Practically, we need to take a hard look at how we browse the internet, choose television and movies, and what apps we allow on our phones and tablets.
Personally, I will not have Instagram on my phone. This is a personal preference and not a biblical command, of course. But I offer it as a practical example of what measures I need to take to guard my soul from unnecessary temptation. You might consider similar measures as well. I also make sure to review any movies or television shows we might watch through IMDB’s Parent’s Guide, PluggedIn.com, or Common-Sense Media. Again, these are not biblical mandates. But I offer them as practical suggestions to help you steer clear of entertainment that may fuel lust’s onslaught. I also try to stay away from websites that I know have salacious advertising content, even if their primary content is generally good. Once again, these are not commands from God. You need to know yourself and the ways that the flesh will seek to gain a stronghold in your own life. My aim in mentioning these measures is to show you how practical we must get in our aim to make no provision for the flesh.
Taking these practical actions to make no provision for the flesh may be met ridicule from colleagues, friends, family, and even other professing Christians. Removing apps from one’s phone, carefully curating movie choices, and being selective in what news sources we imbibe may appear to some as far too drastic, even foolish. But our concern cannot be the approval and acceptance of others (Prov 29:25). The glory of Christ, our souls, and our enjoyment of God are infinitely more valuable than what others may think of us. When it comes to our fight against sin, we do not seek to please men. We seek to please God alone (see Gal 1:10; 1 Thess 4:1).