Friday, March 11, 2016

The Daily Temptations Men Face

Taken from

By Joe Dallas

...let's look at a typical man's routine.

He drives to work, applies himself on the job, has lunch, leaves the office, and stops at the gym for a workout. Then maybe he goes to a restaurant for dinner, drives home again, and plops down in front of the television.

And in the midst of all this routine activity, he's bombarded with "visuals."

There's the sexy billboard he passes on the way to work, then the voluptuous girl he sees in the parking lot. He enters the office and bumps into the aggressive co-worker who dresses to kill and loves to flirt. He breaks for lunch, only to find someone brought the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue into the lunch-room, thanks a lot. Worse still is the porn magazine someone left in the men's room.

After work, he finds the women at the gym are in skin-tight workout attire. At dinner, the waitress wears a low-cut uniform, and on the way home he passes the same billboard he wishes he'd avoided this morning. Finally, when he gets home and clicks the remote, the ads on television parade one beautiful body after another. And through all this, he's supposed to keep his mind pure.

The good news? Tomorrow it will start again.

... All day long you're bombarded with visuals, stimulating you and inviting you to "entertain" them by looking, lusting, or worse. The distraction technique can help you resist. It's a simple three-part exercise: shift, breathe, recite.

First, you shift. Men are visual creatures, and there's nothing wrong with that. We are constantly assessing (or "checking out") our surroundings. So when we walk into a room, we assess the size of the room, the number of people inside, and so forth.

When you assess the environment, you'll sometimes spot what I call a "candidate." That's someone who's your type. She attracts you, and you're drawn by the desire to go on looking at her, enjoying both her beauty and the high that comes from lusting after her. (Or her image, if it's a magazine cover or picture of some sort that's triggering you.)

You may have noticed that when you spot a candidate, it's as though an electric current goes from you to her. It happens quickly, much as it did to King David that notorious night on the rooftop. If you don't disconnect quickly, you'll get pulled in deeper, either into an erotic fantasy or, worse still, a sexual encounter. At that moment you need something that will help you disconnect ASAP.

So you shift visual gears, by refocusing your eyes immediately to anything safe (an object or a person you're not at all attracted to). When you do that, you're changing channels mentally (or shifting gears, if you prefer).

Jesus alluded to this, by the way, when He taught about the power of the eye: "The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness" (Luke 11:34).

What you focus on has more impact than you've probably realized. So when you refocus, you shift to something safe.

Then you breathe, deeply and quietly. The value of deep breathing is that, in tough situations, it helps you regain control. If you're very angry and ready to pop someone, for example, a few deep breaths can calm you down. Or when you're panicking, it's amazing what deep breathing does to stabilize you. Or, in this case, to cool you down and prevent stimulation from going any further.

Then, as you breathe, you recite.

Try it now as you read this. Put down the book, then look at an object, breathe deeply, then recite any of the following five scriptures:

I have made a covenant with my eyes;
why then should I look upon a young woman? (Job 31:1)

I have made a covenant in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You. (Isaiah 26:3)

Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.
(Romans 12:1)

When desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. (James 1:15)

I must be about My Father's business. (Luke 2:49)

That last verse works awfully well for me!

Simple enough? It's meant to be. The distraction technique works for visual triggers, because it gives you a window in which you can cool down, mentally and physically, when someone (or something) stimulates you. And during that cool-down period, you give yourself enough control to decide not to entertain the stimulation. It looks pretty much like this:

  1. You assess your surroundings. 
  2. You spot someone or something that triggers a stimulation.
  3. You risk losing control as you're stimulated.
  4. You shift your eyes to any "safe" (nonarousing) object or person.
  5. You breathe deeply, then recite one or more of the scriptures listed above.
  6. You regain control.

Start practicing this technique the next time anything in the environment stimulates you. ... I use it often, with good results.

When I'm driving, for example, and I pass something or someone who triggers me, I can shift my visual gears to the road or to the car in front of me, take a few deep breaths, recite, and regain control. Or in a crowded room, if someone looks like a "candidate," I'm pretty much able to do this exercise even when I'm conversing with someone. The more you practice, the more easily and automatically it comes.

At first it can be clumsy. I've taught this technique at seminars and then gone out for dinner with the men who attended. It's been hilarious, I'll admit, watching the guys do their "homework" as the waitress leans forward to take their orders and they say, "I'll have the steak... ('I have made a covenant...') medium well... ('Present your bodies a living sacrifice...')" all the while staring hard at their menus and avoiding eye contact.

Still, the more you use it, the more naturally and gracefully it comes to you. And insignificant as this little exercise seems, keep this in mind: it's often the second look that dismantles a man's life.

One quick glance away from Bathsheba might have spared David a catastrophe. A brief distraction might have given Samson a chance to use his head. And who knows what agony might have been avoided if a former president had shifted his gaze from a White House intern?

So keep this technique handy. It can change your legacy.

The distraction technique is great for visuals, which tend to be brief and fleeting. But there are other times temptation seems relentless, and it's not even clear why it's coming on so strong.

There can be so many reasons for this. Physical reasons, maybe, such as seminal fluid that has built up if you haven't had an orgasm for some time. Or emotional reasons--loneliness, frustration, resentment--or spiritual elements, maybe? Who knows. An ongoing desire for a sexual release gets brought on by any number of things, but what matters is, it's ongoing!

During those times of long, drawn-out temptations, when the desire to relapse seems unbearable, I find the reality check a very helpful resistance tool.

When you use the reality check, you verbalize your name, the name of the people closest to you, and your primary responsibilities. You say each of these out loud, concentrating on what you're saying. And in doing so, you throw some pretty cold water on your sexual temptation.

When you "act out"--use porn, commit adultery, fornicate--you have to mentally block out the most important aspects of your life. If you don't, you'll have a difficult time trying to enjoy the sin! It's tough, you know, to masturbate to Internet pornography while thinking about God or your wife and children.

I'll bet you were a little repulsed by my even saying that. See? The two worlds of sexual sin and your life's priorities (God, family, calling) can't coexist, so one has to be blocked out when you're engaging the other.

No wonder so many men use an alias when they "act out." If they go to a bar or hire a prostitute or get into a sex-oriented chat room, they seldom use their real name. And while there may be practical reasons for this (like fear of exposure), I believe there are emotional reasons too. It's easier for a man to adopt another name when he sins, because that makes it easier for him not to face the fact that it's really he who's sinning.

And that's the power of the reality check. By keeping in your mind's forefront the people who matter most, you'll find it harder to indulge in something that could destroy them.

I use this one frequently when I travel, since hotels can be lonely places, and I'm easily depressed when I've been away from my family for more than a day. So when the temptation to masturbate or mentally compromise hits, I find it very helpful to say out loud: "My name is Joe Dallas. My wife's name is Renee; my sons are Jody and Jeremy. I'm a pastoral counselor, and I run a ministry called Genesis Counseling."

Just saying this out loud diffuses temptation, because the people I love and the things that matter to me can't coexist, even in my mind, with sexual sin.

When you use the reality check, then, you say three things out loud:

  1. Your name
  2. The names of the people most important to you
  3. Your life responsibilities (job, ministry, calling)

... Keep [this technique] handy when you need to resist long-term ongoing temptation. As a simple mental exercise, it's surprisingly effective.


Paul had some interesting advice about the proper use of our bodies: "And do not present your members [body parts] as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God" (Romans 6:13).

The resistance of sin is an act of worship. When you resist, you refuse to yield your body parts to an activity that you might, in fact, take some real pleasure in. But rather than conform your body to unrighteousness, you conform it to Him. And so it becomes a worship instrument.

I play the piano, and there are few things I've loved as much as playing in church, using the keyboard as an instrument of praise. I used to do it full-time, when I was very young, and the experience was awesome.

But nowadays I'm pretty rusty on the ivories. No time for practice--I hardly ever play anymore. But that's OK, because I've got another praise instrument: my body. Every time I say no to lust, every time I tear my eyes away from the sexy magazine cover, every time I refuse to entertain the dirty thought that just passed through my unruly brain, it's an act of worship. It's my own unique, meaningful hymn:

In this moment of resistance, I love You.
Here's how I love You--by not indulging.
My body is Yours, so I say no to whatever You hate.
And by saying no to it, I'm saying a loving, wholehearted yes to You.
Receive my worship.

He does, and He will. So don't resist sexual sin just for the sake of purity, important as that is. Make training an act of worship, and see for yourself how deep and meaningful daily love through resistance can really be.



Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
-Hebrews 12:1


Training means adopting a lifestyle of resisting temptation and yielding your body to God. You have the specific goal of recognizing sexual temptation when it comes and keeping it from going beyond the stimulation phase. To do so, you adopt a "second language" of resistance, made up of different techniques and principles. ...


1. Practice the distraction technique (refocus, breathe, count) by doing the following:

a. Sit in a chair and pick out an object in the room (a piece of furniture, a book, a chair). Make that your "candidate" (potential object of lust).
b. Pick out another object similar to the first, and make it your "safety."
c. Look briefly at your "candidate" and immediately refocus to your "safety." Breathe in and out through your nose and recite one of the five verses listed [above]. Be sure you don't just rattle them off--think about the words.
d. Repeat steps a, b, and c four more times.

2. Practice the reality check technique by doing the following:

a. Sit in a chair, take three deep breaths, and relax, clearing your mind.
b. Say the following out loud; your name, the names of your wife and children or three of the people you're closest to, and the responsibilities you have that would be affected negatively if you sexually sinned.
c. Repeat steps a and b four more times.

3. Begin practicing these techniques when you're stimulated, and discuss with your accountability partner and group how they're impacting you.


Indulging in lust has been your primary language for years. In order to learn the secondary language of resistance, you need to practice it daily and immerse yourself both in it and in the company of others who speak it as well.


Father, I enter into training knowing there's much I cannot do and much I have to do! I can't make my own heart pure, nor can I make myself hate sin as I know You'd have me hate it. I can't keep temptations from coming my way, and I can't erase all the sexual images and memories I've created for myself. I am repentant but polluted by my own wrong decisions. So I ask You to do what I cannot do--purify me.

What I can do, I will, by Your grace. Give me the awareness to spot temptation when it comes and the strength to resist by not allowing myself to entertain it. Give me patience, too, with myself, and give my loved ones patience with me as I sometimes clumsily go about my training.

Please accept my resistance of sin as an offering--a personal act of worship unto You. I ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.


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