Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Category: For Men (page 1 of 24)

Encouragement for the Tempted

A Way of Escape

A Way of Escape

I’ll be preaching on 1st Corinthians 10:1-13 in a couple of weeks (Sunday, November 3rd at North Valley Church).  Paul refers the Christians in Corinth to the Book of Exodus, encouraging them to learn from the mistakes made by the Israelites.

I find the final verse in the passage to be extremely helpful.  1st Corinthians 10:13 has three encouraging truths for those facing temptation:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
-1st Corinthians 10:13

Truth #1: Your temptations are not unique.

I’ve read dozens of emails from people who are struggling with some kind of “secret” sin.  They often feel completely alone, which only adds to their sense of shame.  It’s agonizing to think you are the only person in your church who doesn’t have his/her act together.  The enemy would use this belief to shame you into silent suffering.

You may be struggling with lust, pornography, addiction, a sinful relationship or some other stubborn sin.  You are not alone!  Paul reminds us that all temptations are “common to mankind.” Take heart–we all struggle with sinful desires of one form or another.  Get some accountability in your life and break out of your self-imposed solitary confinement.

 Truth #2: God is in control.

The God who controls the universe is also sovereign over your particular situation.  You may feel like the allure of sin is just too strong, but God will never allow you to be tempted beyond your ability to make the right decision.

Parents do everything in their power to make sure their children are protected.  A loving father would never knowingly allow his child to walk across a busy highway–there’s no way the little boy/girl would safely make it across.  How much more will our heavenly Father watch over us and make sure we are not tempted beyond our ability to endure!

Truth #3:  There’s always a way out

A skilled architect will design building with several fire exits so residents can get out if there is some kind of emergency.  God has done the same thing as far as temptation goes–He always makes sure there is one or more ways to escape.  Sinning is never our only option!

But the fire exit only works if you are willing to take it at the first sign of danger.  This is especially true of sexual temptation–treat like a hand grenade and run!

 Remember these three truths the next time you are facing temptation. 

Interdenominational Dating

Church-christian-world-denominations“Is it OK to date/court someone who is from a different denomination?”

I’ve been asked this question quite a few times over the years and we even discussed it back when we were doing a podcast/radio show.  I’ll share a few things from personal experience and give you some practical questions to consider.

Mare Cris was a member of Victory Christian Fellowship when we first met. I was raised and ordained in a Southern Baptist church.  I actually had “Evangelical Christian” listed as my religion on Facebook when we first started communicating.  She wasn’t 100% sure what I meant by that label, so she asked me some basic questions about my beliefs (smart girl).  She wanted to be certain I believed in the basic, fundamental truths of the Christian faith (the Trinity, salvation by faith, etc.).

I’m mentioning the beginning of our relationship to highlight an important point: there’s a big difference between dating someone of a different denomination and dating someone of a completely different religion (that’s another topic altogether).   You can read one of my posts on discerning the truth for some general guidance on genuine vs. counterfeit Christianity.

Let me define things just to be clear: interdenominational dating means being in a relationship with someone who is part of a genuine Christian church/denomination other than yours.  Stated another way, you both worship the same God and believe in the same gospel.

Now let’s get to some practical guidance.  I believe there are two crucial questions to ask yourself if you are dating someone who is part of a different denomination:

Question #1: are you compatible in terms of doctrine?

Denominations exist in part due to different interpretations on issues such as spiritual gifts, eschatology (the last days), church governance, order/style of worship, and the list goes on.  You and your boyfriend/girlfriend should discuss your beliefs and see where you stand.  Here’s a general rule: you’ll be more likely to have a successful relationship with someone who has similar doctrine/beliefs.

Questions #2: are you compatible in terms of dedication?

Are both of you equally committed to Christ?  This is an important question in any Christian relationship, but I think it also factors in this discussion.  You may meet someone who happens to attend a different church but seems much more passionate about his faith than the single guys in your own congregation.  Equal levels of dedication can play a huge role in whether or not you have a successful relationship.

Here are a few final words of advice:

1.  Talk over these issues and don’t assume they’ll just work themselves out “as long as we love each other.”

2.  A husband and wife should be members of the same church (in other words, the two of you will need to agree on one church to attend once you are married).  Keep this in mind since the whole point of dating/courtship is to find a spouse.

3.  Never settle for someone who has serious problems with his/her character or doctrine.

How Important is Physical Attraction?

HoldingHands

We live in a world that is obsessed with physical beauty. The evidence is everywhere: commercials offer products that claim to help you look young, thin, and gorgeous (or handsome). Everyone wants to look beautiful. Just go to a public restroom and you’ll see what I’m talking about—a line of people carefully studying themselves in the mirror.

Physical appearance is the first thing we notice, but we know that a relationship requires more than this to go the distance. We also know that a beautiful soul is ultimately more important than a beautiful face. So where’s the balance? Is it shallow to desire an attracive spouse? My desire is to help you put physical beauty in its proper perspective.

Attraction is a Gift

The Most Basic Link between Man and Woman is Physical

God knew what He was doing when he designed our physical bodies. Adam instantly fell in love with Eve because of the way she looked. She was like him (human), yet not like him (female). God designed men and women to be physically attracted to each other. Without this basic physical link, we’d never be interested in each other.

Physical Attraction is Affirmed in the Bible

Read the Song of Solomon and you’ll find plenty of references to physical beauty. Here’s one of many examples.

You are beautiful, my darling,
beautiful beyond words.
Your eyes are like doves
behind your veil . . .
You are altogether beautiful, my darling,
beautiful in every way.

-Song of Solomon 4:1-7

The Song of Solomon couple frequently complimented each other’s physical attributes. If physical attraction was irrelevant (or evil), God never would have allowed it to be celebrated this way in His Word.

With these things in mind, we have to recognize that attraction is an important, God-given aspect of relationships. I would never advise a man or woman to pursue a relationship if there is no physical attraction. My mentor’s wife often gives this advice to young women: “Never marry a man that you have no desire for.”  This same principle applies to men looking for a wife.

Attraction has Limitations

But the biblical authors also advise us to look beyond one’s physical appearance. Here’s a verse that every young man and woman should memorize:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.

-Proverbs 31:30

There are three important truths we can learn from this proverb.

First, beauty can be deceptive. All of us have met someone who is gorgeous until he/she starts talking. Maybe the campus crush is a little too aware of his killer looks and is quite arrogant. Maybe that beautiful girl has spent so much energy on her appearance that she forgot to grow a matching brain and personality. Sometimes beauty is only skin deep.

Second, beauty is temporary. Bill (one of my former campus ministers) was a thirty-year-old newlywed when I first met him. He married a stunning brunette, but he also advised us (students) to think long-term: “When you marry a girl, keep in mind that one day she’ll look like someone’s mom,” he said. The proverb and my campus minister are correct—our appearance will inevitably show signs of aging. Remember this as you search for a mate.

Third, internal qualities are ultimately the most important. The proverb reminds us that a woman’s character and relationship with God are what give her true, lasting beauty. This is the kind of beauty that radiates from the heart and does not fade.  One of the most beautiful women I know is Jo Randall. She’s now over 80 years old (she was in her 60’s when I first met her—she was then one of my campus ministers). As you can imagine, Jo would never be chosen to be on the cover of a swimsuit magazine. Her beauty is in her heart for Jesus. From the time I first met her until now, she is a joy to be around. She has found the secret to true beauty.

Practical Application

Let me give you some advice based on these Biblical truths:

1. Do your best to be attractive for the opposite sex. We should not be obsessed with our appearance, but we should do the best with what God has given us physically. Take good care of your body (through regular exercise, a healthy diet, good hygiene, etc) and learn to present yourself with confidence.

2. Keep physical attraction in perspective when looking for a spouse.  There should be some kind of physical chemistry in a romantic relationship–don’t pretend that it is completely unimportant (such a notion is neither biblical nor realistic). At the same time, you should understand that inner qualities are the source lasting beauty and promote long-term relationships. Lifelong relationships are built on friendship, not physical attraction. Keep this in mind so that you will not put too much emphasis on good looks.

Note: This article is one of many you’ll find in my book: Basta LoveLife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions.

Old Scars and New Hope

Broken_Heart

Look closely at my forehead and you’ll see a diagonal scar. It is about an inch and a half long, and I will never forget the night I acquired it. I still remember falling and bashing my head on the edge of the swimming pool. I remember my dad forcing me to lie down, knowing that blood running down my face would terrify me. I remember the slight stinging sensation as the nurse prepared my wound for stitches. I remember the large bandage that they secured to my forehead. I remember playing in my grandmother’s back yard before returning home. I remember it all vividly, as if it were yesterday.

This memory is now over 30 years old. It will be with me forever, just like the scar on my forehead. I’ll always have this scar, but it is healed now. It doesn’t hurt anymore.

Physical scars are easy to see, but many of us also have emotional scars. Maybe you still have emotional wounds—memories that still hurt and “bleed” just like any skin laceration. There’s something I’ve noticed about sexual sin—it seems to carry more shame and guilt than almost all other forms of sin.

I’m writing this post for those who have made major relationship mistakes. This especially applies sexual immorality, but can also apply to bad decisions in general. There is hope for those who are brave enough to start making better choices.

Consider this passage from the Old Testament:

Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

Nathan replied, “Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the LORD by doing this, your child will die.”

After Nathan returned to his home, the LORD sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused.

-2nd Samuel 12:13-17

This passage is part of one of the Old Testament’s most famous scandals—David and Bathsheba. King David first spotted Bathsheba as she bathed on a rooftop. He inquired about her and discovered that she was a married woman. He proceeded to invite her to his home and seduce her, which resulted in a pregnancy. He eventually arranged the murder of her husband to hide his own sin.

There was only one man brave enough to confront the King—the prophet Nathan. Nathan delivered a message of both forgiveness and consequences. I hope to do the same for you.

I wish I could tell you that there are no consequences for our behaviors. This is simply not true. If you’ve given away your virginity, there’s nothing you can do to get it back. Virginity is a one-time gift, and nothing in the world can change that reality. If you’ve watched pornography, some of those images will stay in your mind for years to come. If you’ve become an unwed mother, the course of your life has been permanently altered. None of these things can be undone, just like David’s sin could not be undone.

Fortunately, there’s more to the Bible than a list of consequences. David’s life was forever changed by his sin, but David was forgiven. The Bible tells us that he repented and admitted his sins to God (see Psalm 51). If you are willing to do this, God will forgive you—just as he forgave David (see also 1st John 1:9). God will not change the past, but He certainly can change your future!

Why change? Let me give you the following reasons:

First and foremost, you can live with a clear conscience before God. When you repent of your sins, you can enjoy true intimacy with God. You no longer have to be fake or “plastic” with God. You can freely invite Him to bless every aspect of your life, knowing that nothing is hidden from Him in the first place. You can sleep peacefully at night without having your conscience bother you.

Secondly, you can live without fear of further consequences. You have two choices: 1). keep making the same mistakes and follow a downward spiral, or 2). Live in the freedom that comes with obeying God. If you choose the second, you can stop worry about the physical, emotional, and physical consequences that come with sexual immorality. Leave those fears behind, along with your past life!

Thirdly, you can demonstrate a changed character for your future spouse. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe we have to be honest about our past. It may not be easy to tell a potential spouse that you’ve given away your virginity. The shame is only multiplied if you’ve continued to repeat this same mistake in many relationships. Imagine, for example, telling someone that you made a mistake ten years ago. Now, imagine having to confess multiple sexual partners (some of which are recent). Which is more difficult? Which would you rather say? Which would you rather hear? By making better choices, you can better prepare yourself for a lifetime commitment of marriage.

Sin (especially sexual sin) has a way of wounding our soul. God will heal these wounds if you let Him. Scars will be left behind, but these scars won’t hurt anymore.

David paid a high price for his sin—his life was never the same. David learned the value of God’s forgiveness through a painful process of restoration. The Bible ultimately assessed him as a man who was “completely faithful to the Lord” (1st Kings 11:4). His mistakes, severe as they were, did not define him.

By the way, David and Bathsheba did have another son. Maybe you’ve heard of him—his name was Solomon.

Note: This post is a excerpt from my first book: Basta LoveLife, Making Wise Relationship Decisions.

This article is one of many you’ll find in my book: Basta LoveLife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions. – See more at: http://kevinsanders.org/2007/01/the-male-sex-drive-blessing-or-curse/#sthash.XdynE42t.dpuf
This article is one of many you’ll find in my book: Basta LoveLife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions. – See more at: http://kevinsanders.org/2007/01/the-male-sex-drive-blessing-or-curse/#sthash.XdynE42t.dpuf

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