Over the next several days I want to share ten pieces of counsel from Ephesians 5:3-6 for those struggling with sexual temptation and greed.
1. Sexual sins are often the fruit of a self-centered lifestyle. Paul begins this passage which calls us to put off sexual sins with the word but which tells us he is making a contrast. The contrast is with the self-sacrificial lifestyle he has called us to in verses 1 and 2. When you are struggling with sexual temptation it can act like a warning bell in your mind that perhaps you are at the same time struggling with being self-absorbed. Therefore one step you can take is to think carefully about how you can serve the people around you. If you are married, start with your wife. Instead of using a woman who is not your wife for your personal pleasure, look to your wife and think carefully about how you can lay your life on the line for her good.
2. As believers we must commit ourselves to taking radical measures to overcome sexual temptation. Paul tells us that sexual immorality, all impurity and covetousness must not even be named among us. Obviously he does not mean that we are not allowed to say these words, instead he is telling us that we must be very serious about dealing with these temptations. How serious? I think Jesus says it best when he tells us that if our right eye leads us into temptation we should pluck it out. When you are willing to pluck out your right eye not to do something, you know you really don’t want to do it. Jesus wasn’t speaking literally or there would have been a whole bunch of one eyed disciples walking around, instead he was describing the attitude we must have when fighting sexual sin. When a lion is attacking you, you don’t play with it, either it dies or you die and the same is true with sexual sin. One step you can take therefore when dealing with sexual temptation is to think carefully about the ways you are giving yourselves opportunity to give in to sexual temptation and then, ask yourself what would I do if I really believed that this opportunity was dangerous? What if you left the door to your house open one night and an armed robber came in and held you at gunpoint? What would you do the next night? Do you think you would leave the door open again? What if it happened a second time, a third time? Would you argue with someone who came and said maybe you should lock the door this time? Would you say they were being legalistic? Of course not and the fact is if you don’t lock the door the next night, we would all wonder if you weren’t somehow working with the armed robber yourself.