Other men, other Christian men, have shared with me that they have been tempted by pornography or sexual fantasies.
About three years ago, I shared one of my more personal diaries, reflecting on my willingness to fall into this temptation myself… and God’s amazing ability to pull me out.
And yet, even after that miraculous God event, I continued to disobey. Vows to repent, feelings of guilt and heartfelt prayers would be followed by moments of weakness… and at some point… when I was no longer afraid to ask for forgiveness… an abundance of God’s grace. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.
That changed about a month ago.
My Saturday bible study group was looking at Psalm 139. And with snow delays and other schedule conflicts, we ended up going three weeks without a meeting. Three weeks with Psalm 139.
I have since come to learn that this Psalm holds a special place in the hearts of many people I know… men and women who have taken the time to memorize the words. If you take the time to read this lyrical prayer, you will quickly understand why.
You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.
It opens with a poetic statement of intimacy… describing an active, personal relationship between a single person and the creator of the universe… a God who has taken the time to listen to you… to know you by name.
Where can I flee from your presence?
Through the highs and the lows, the darkness and the light, our God is with us in every way possible… always at our side.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
God not only loves all people… he loves me… me… for the precise person I am... the soul, the personality, the being that is uniquely me.
And then… in the midst of this psalm of intimacy and closeness, David takes an abrupt turn in verse 19.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
Where did this come from? God and I were having this nice chat, and then all of a sudden we are talking about slaying, hatred and enemies. What’s up with that?
Now I have no enemies… and certainly not any enemies that I was looking to whack. Did not Jesus tell us to love our enemies? And who are ‘those who hate God’… atheists? Muslims? Were they not God’s children as well? These words did not resonate in any way. And what happened to that God of love and intimacy from verses 1 through 18?
To be honest, I kind of glazed over these verses the first week. Then when I hit week two of re-reading Psalm 139, I think I may have intentionally skipped these lines. By the third week, however, God was speaking to me through these verses in a new way. In a way that has changed my life.
You see… I had previously spoken about the inclination to let my mind wander toward sexual fantasy as a weakness. I was being tempted. Being lured into a place I had no desire to go. Yes, I was the victim. Helpless.
But that’s not really the case.
Because I had the power to hate. To hate the sin that drove me from God. To hate and despise the mere thought of this act. And on that day, this temptation no longer stood as a weakness, a flaw. It stood as an enemy. One that needed to be hated… one to be slayed.
That was a month ago. Any this hatred still burns today. And my enemy has not dared to show his face for all this time. And I am glad. And strong. And free.
For my Lord has searched me. And knows me. He leads me in the way everlasting. And I would hate for it to be any other way.