Have you ever considered how a person falls into an adulterous relationship? Is there anything you can do to safeguard your relationship against this evil trap that has consumed so many marriages? How can you formulate a plan of action so that when this temptation comes your way you will have a hedge of protection?
Beware of thinking, ‘adultery would never happen in my marriage.’ Over the years many have made this statement to me in counseling. However, I am sad to say that some of those same individuals, who thought themselves invincible, have fallen into immorality. They sit before me with heads hanging to their chests, the weight of condemnation on their backs, and my heart goes out to them. It is so heart-wrenching to watch the tears stream down the face of a betrayed partner and to hear those awful words, “How could you?” This searching question is usually met with a blank stare by the offending spouse.
When this situation arises in counseling, I usually ask the person who has fallen to summarize for me how it all happened. I explain that I don’t want all the sordid details, but only the general steps that were taken, in order that he or she might understand the mechanics of the failure. My reasoning is this: if people don’t understand how and why they have stumbled, how will they ever protect themselves against future temptation?
Beloved, if you will heed these words, this heartache will never occur in your life and you will spare yourself immeasurable grief. Let me discuss the danger signs that can warn you of impending disaster as well as instructions given in Scripture to keep you from immorality.
What leads a person into an adulterous relationship?
1. A series of choices.
Each of the following principles entails a choice. Every decision you make is either a step down the path that leads to adultery or to a wholesome relationship. Solomon has given many instructions regarding immorality and acknowledges this truth when he describes the choice of an adulterous man: “He took the path to her house” (Proverbs. 7:8). Solomon doesn’t try to shift the blame to the woman or to his circumstances. He merely emphasizes the choice made.
I believe that there are many influences that draw a person into immorality, but in the final analysis, it is always one’s choices that determine ultimate victory or wickedness. If you are a Christian, God’s fundamental command for every decision you make is to “choose what pleases Me” (Isaiah. 56:4).
2. Feeding an unholy attraction.
Each of you know when you sense an attraction to someone of the opposite sex. You have a built-in antenna for detecting and interpreting someone’s second look in your direction or any flirtatious behavior. However, God initially made men and women attractive to each other to bring about loving and wholesome marital relationships. Nevertheless, Solomon acknowledges the power of attraction gone awry when he declares that “the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil” (Proverbs. 5:3).
Therefore, what do you do to quench an unholy attraction when you detect it? You must first choose to recognize this passion and do nothing to feed it. This means that when you are flirted with, you don’t flirt back. When undue attention is given to you, politely remove yourself from the person’s presence. Make sure that you are never alone with him or her. If you never spend time alone together you will greatly affect the feeding of this unholy relationship.
3. Playing with the thoughts.
Another determining factor in your path is what you allow in your mind. You may be able to stay away from a person you sense an attraction to, but what about your thought life? You can still feed this illicit attraction in your mind. If unchecked, your thought life will ultimately stumble you.
Paul warns us that the mind is the real battleground when it comes to the struggles in life. He encourages us to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”
(2 Corinthians. 10:5). “Whatever things are just, whatever things are pure…if there is any virtue…meditate on these things” (Phillipians. 4:8). Again, this is a choice. If you are ever to be victorious against the desires of your fleshly nature, you can’t play with the thoughts of an adulterous relationship in your mind. If you do, it’s only a matter of time before a tempting opportunity comes along and you will act upon these thoughts.
4. Not dealing with your lust.
Solomon also warns his son concerning the power of unchecked desires. He instructs: “Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids…Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs. 6:25,27).
Lustful thoughts and desires are powerful. In fact, your lust is stronger than your will to resist. Paul recognizes his own weakness as he struggles with these impulses. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Romans. 7:18). Paul had the will to resist his fleshly desires, but he lacked the power to actually perform what he knew was right.
The good news is that he later came to understand that the power of the Holy Spirit ruling in his life was his only path to victory. He reveals this truth as he encourages the Galatian church to “walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians. 5:16). The only way to effectively resist the desires of your flesh is by acknowledging your own weakness and by being filled daily with the Holy Spirit. You must live and walk in total dependence upon His mighty power if you are to overcome. Be confident, the Holy Spirit is stronger than your nature to sin. Have you experienced this overcoming power?