I had the opportunity to preach at my home church yesterday. The text is Titus 2.
“The gospel calls us to an active pursuit of holiness.”
My dear brother,
I know. I know. You’ve thought it through. Your situation is unique and the only relief you have in your loneliness comes from the plans you are making. Plans… with someone else. Someone… who is not your wife. Maybe she has a name at this point, maybe still a faceless, anonymous fantasy. After all, you reason, intimacy at home is non-existent. The woman you share a roof with has become, perhaps not the enemy, but like a piece of furniture you pass by without care, or a stranger on television who could care less about you… about “us”.
PASTOR! HOLD YOUR GROUND!
Sin is strangling you, choking out your sight until you tunnel vision in on what will ultimately burn down your entire life. Pause before your blind burning desire strikes the match and immolates your entire life and every treasured, hard-fought relationship you have: your wife, your children, your loved ones, your friends, your church, your Lord and Savior.
Brother, can you not see that your heart is becoming hard as diamonds? Humble yourself before God, and repent before the insanity of sin drags you under the surface. Seek His face, which shines brighter than the sun, to dispel the darkness you’ve lost yourself in.
You retort, “Oh, but when her hand touched mine, such depth of feeling shook me, our connection was immediate and without words! The fog of my loneliness lifted and I feel hopeful that someone, anyone, would care again for me.” Brother, it was simply a touch. The old nature, agitated by that spark, has clambered out of the grave and filled your mind with visions, visions of unreality, visions of fantasy, visions which the light of day will prove to be worthless, less than worthless, truly tragic in their destructive power; deadly and bringing death with them, riding on the night, where darkness conceals the danger and lying to yourself seems like hope.
The surge of excitement you feel in anticipation is actually your soul imploding upon itself before unleashing explosive fury in every direction. Nothing will remain, including your ‘happiness’. Your flock which you have shepherded faithfully will be scattered, beaten down, some devoured in the aftermath of your sin. Your precious wife, who has loved and supported you for so many years will be left scarred of soul, burned to the bone, trying to reassamble her life with the children, no comfort or guidance from your ‘loved-for-so-long’ hand. Instead, the shadow of betrayal lurking in every corner.
Again, you push back. “When I look into her eyes, the tenderness and desire I see takes my breath away.” A man drowning in the depths of the ocean has his breath taken away as well. It is a soul-drowning, conscience-killing undertow of rebellion that drags more and more the longer you toy with it.
Before you scatter spiritual napalm everywhere and on everyone around you, before you strike the match of ‘burning desire’, before your life landscape becomes ground zero of your ‘scorched earth’ lusts, stop. Stop the fantasizing, planning, lusting, and hardening of your affections.
Do not take that step. Pull your foot back from the brink. Seek the Lord in humility and repentance, that you may not be lost in the furious tempest.
For the glory of our God, the good of your soul, the joy of you and your wife and family, and all the rest; seek the Lord and wise counsel to help you regain your footing and strengthen your commitment of love for your wife.
Brother, I plead with you. It is my prayer that God will help you embrace again the hope-filled reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ and turn from the minefield of death-dealing sin.
For specific suggestions on how to deal with these temptations, this article by Jason Helopoulos will prove very helpful.
“It should be ever borne in mind that the necessity of holiness is absolute. With regard to other things, some, though desirable, are not essential, and others, though essential under ordinary circumstances, are not universally and absolutely necessary. But holiness is necessary in such a sense that salvation, without it, is impossible, because salvation principally consists in this very transformation of the heart.” –Charles Hodge, The Way of Life, p.352