How can I avoid the dangers of moral impurity?
The trap of moral impurity often springs with sudden, unexpected force. The one caught in bondage is left to unravel a maze of choices that brought him or her into the net. As you learn to recognize the warning signs of danger and to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit, you can expose deception and avoid the traps of the enemy, Satan.
- The most dangerous enemies are unseen.
A spiritually mature Christian realizes that he is engaged in a spiritual warfare with unseen but very real powers of evil. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
- Deadly traps appeal to basic needs.
When Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness, he was certainly aware of Jesus’ basic need for food. His first temptation centered on this need as he taunted Christ to turn stones into bread. Jesus detected Satan’s deception, rejected it, and was alert to Satan’s further temptations, refusing each one. (See Matthew 4:1–11.) Satan knows that we need and desire food, clothing, shelter, acceptance, security, and companionship. He will offer these things as bait to lure us into his traps.
- “Instinctive cautions” warn of hidden danger.
God has equipped us with inner alarms to warn us of danger. He reinforces these alarms with promptings of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:13–15), warnings from the Bible (see II Timothy 3:16–17), and instructions from our parents (see Proverbs 6:20–24) and pastors (see Hebrews 13:17). Satan knows that if his bait is attractive enough, we may be willing to set aside cautions. If you are being tempted to disregard warnings, beware.
- Free provisions have hidden costs.
Impulses of greed and laziness prompt us to try to get something for nothing. No matter what anyone says, there is a price for everything. Even the gift of salvation is offered only through the payment provided by Jesus Christ’s death. (See I Peter 1:18–19.)
Satan skillfully displays the pleasures of sin without revealing the final price tag. He deceives us into thinking that either there is no cost or that the cost is insignificant. He wants us to minimize the consequences of sin and magnify its pleasures. In reality, the wages of sin is more sin. The final price tag is staggering: death. (See Romans 6:23.)
- Life is built on cause-and-effect sequences.
Understand that the issues and circumstances of your life are not mere coincidences or accidents, but are often linked to a cause-and-effect sequence. You can’t flirt with temptation without reaping consequences. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7–8).
- Deadly traps look harmless until they are sprung.
Satan knows that we do not comprehend the deadly destruction of his harmless looking traps. When you become familiar with the sight of a trap, your sense of danger decreases. You might even begin to expect the temptation and rely on it for simple pleasures. If you become accustomed to overlooking signs of danger, your spirit will grow dull and sluggish. You eventually will forsake alertness, and then you can be lured into believing that the trap is not even harmful.
Once Satan’s traps are sprung, however, there are temporal and eternal consequences, not just for the one caught in the trap but for generations to come. “ . . . For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:5).
- Once sprung, traps close too swiftly for escape.
Our pride and false confidence tell us that we can enjoy the pleasures of sin without getting caught in its consequences. However, “can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbor’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent” (Proverbs 6:27–29).
- Traps result in captivity or death unless the victim is freed.
God warns us that when we yield our members to the lusts of the flesh, we will become the slaves of sin. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).
Once the trap is sprung, you’ve lost your freedom. Efforts to free yourself result in greater destruction and bondage. Only God can liberate you from the bondage of sin. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Be wary of danger. Be alert to the warnings of Scripture and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:12–13).
This material is adapted from pages 41–43 of The Eagle Story.