Monday, January 18, 2010

Guys looking for fulfillment in the wrong places

Have you ever thought about the moment in history where one half of mankind had fallen in sin, but the other half had not?  Think back to the story in Genesis 3 with me.

"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."

Now there is a whole host of truths in this passage that I would love to have time to explain. But I just want you to notice two details of the story.  First of all, while Eve was being tempted by the Devil, Adam was standing right there with her.  I never really saw the story that way when I was growing up.  I figured that Eve was by herself when the serpent spoke to her and that she gave something to Adam to eat when he came along later.  But verse 6 says, "gave also unto her husband WITH her."

So while Lucifer was telling his lies to Eve, Adam was right there hearing the whole thing.  So why did he not stop it?  Apparently, he was a bit captivated by the devil's promise of something that he did not yet have.  I can imagine him watching Eve taking a bite of the forbidden fruit.  God had told Adam that in the day Adam ate of the fruit from that tree, that he would die.  But suddenly, here is another human being that Adam figures can be a guinea pig to test what God had said.  Eve ate the forbidden fruit, but kept breathing.

[Now the truth is that God really did kill Adam and Eve after the ate the fruit.  They did not die in their bodies that day.  However, they died in their spirits -- that part of their beings they communicated with God.  Since that day, everyone born on the Earth was born with a dead spirit.  You never have to teach a child how to lie, or steal, or be selfish -- these are the fruits of a dead spirit.  The only hope for any of us is to receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior so that His Holy Spirit can come and live within us -- thereby making us live.]

So Eve eats the fruit which will separate her from God.  Adam watches for moment and Eve is still breathing.  Perhaps he does not yet understand what has just happened to her spirit.  The husband is supposed to protect his wife, but many men allow otherwise to take risks and suffer potential hurts before they will step to the plate and become a spiritual leader in their families.

Adam is now confronted with a choice.  He can either obey God or he can do what his wife has just done -- joining her in whatever future she has.  So his choice is between God and the woman.  And we all know what choice he made.  He chose the woman.

God designed man with a need to have fellowship with Him.  And yet, Adam chose the woman over his relationship with God.  Men have been making the same mistake ever since.  They look for fulfillment from the female gender.

I have known of many men who damaged or even lost their families through an addiction to pornography and sexual sin.  If you can never talk to one of these men about their sin, you will discover that they feel helpless to do anything about it.  They simply say, "I can't help myself."  The three most addictive sins -- and the three most damaging -- are pornography, gambling, and bitterness (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- 1 John 2:15-16).

Jesus had to die on a cross naked -- so that our sins which were placed on Him would have no place to hide.  Sexual addictions can only be overcome by public confession and by frank admission to our families and those who have been hurt by those sins.  I am thankful for the ministry of Paul and Jenny Speed (www.paulspeed.com and http://www.witministries.com) who are helping many men overcome these addictions.

As a pastor, I have had opportunities to listen to beautiful, godly women who have portrayed a meek and quiet spirit in their marriage weep as they tell me how their husbands sexual addictions are destroying their marriage and family.  I wonder how a man could leave such a beautiful woman and his own children just for the sake of pursuing sexual sins which can never satisfy him.  What is it that would make a man do such a brain-damaged thing?  My initial gut response is to want to string these men up by their toenails and beat them about the head and shoulders with a baseball bat until I knock some sense into them.  (My reactions to problems as a pastor are not always immediately spiritual.)

But I do understand the basis of their problem.  It is an inherited tendency in men to look for fulfillment from women.  However, when a woman does not meet every need in a man's life, he thinks the answer is another woman -- be it an illicit affair with the woman in his department at work, or a video chat with a woman over the Internet.  These things can bring some temporary excitement, but they too will leave him empty and looking again.

Years ago, there was an ad for a particular brand of cigarette in a magazine and its motto was, "the one that really satisfies."  If that were true, a person would smoke one of those cigarettes and never want another one -- because they would have been satisfied.  But cigarettes do not satisfy.  They make you want more.  In the same way, sexual temptation leads a man into the illusion that he will find something which will satisfy him.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Instead, he is led further down the path to addiction and bondage.

Now Paul Speed can give a lot better counsel than I can about how to overcome sexual addictions.  But let me give one tip to help other men prevent falling into those sinful habits which will destroy their families and futures.  Guys, find your satisfaction in a relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ.  Spend time with Him daily.  Meditate on His Word.  Worship Him.  Praise Him.  Talk about Him to others.  Make Him the source of joy for your life.  Adam failed because he chose a woman over God.  Most men go through their entire lives never quite satisfied with the wife they have.  They may put on a good game face, and then secretly look at every attractive woman that comes their way and evaluate them as a potential conquest.  Why?  Because these men have not learned that the only true satisfaction in life comes from intimate fellowship with our Heavenly Father.

So guys, let us be real here.  Looking at porn on the Internet will never satisfy.  Watching a racy movie is not going to bring this fulfillment.  Having a one-on-one lunch with a female coworker that nobody else knows about will not fill a need so that the need goes away.  In fact, any of these activities not only will fail to satisfy you, they will leave you with a greater dissatisfaction.  And they will also lower your self esteem.  Why?  Because a real man does not need to do these things.

Someone once asked Charlton Heston what he thought his definition of a great lover was.  This tall, handsome, and commanding actor -- someone who surely could have had any beautiful actress in Hollywood at his side -- gave a fascinating response.  He said, "A man is a good lover if he can satisfy one woman for her entire life and if he can be satisfied by that one woman for his entire life."  A real man commits himself to his wife for a lifetime and remains faithful in that commitment.  He realizes that lusting after a woman is the same thing as committing adultery with her -- that IS what Jesus said.  A real man develops disciplines in his life that put his relationship with God first and look to God for meaning, for purpose, for direction, and for fulfillment.  Are you a real man?  May God help us to be real men!

I am reminded of two Dave Ramsey quotes.  He applied them to finances, but they also apply to the subject at hand:
  • "Children do what feels good.  Adults devise a plan and follow it." -- If you were just living for what feels good, you are not an adult; you are not a real man. God's plan for you is to be faithful to your marriage covenant; follow that!
  • "When you do stupid, you are reap desperate!" Looking at pornography or having an affair is just plain stupid.  And while you may get away with it for a short time, "be sure your sin will find you out." you will reap desperation, when you have lost the esteem of your family, when you are in divorce court, when you cannot make your child support payments, and when your children grow up hating you because you destroy their family.  Think about it.
Decide to be a real man.  Decide to be faithful to your wife or your fiancée.  Decide to put God first -- and quit looking for another woman to fulfill you.  Quit being a child that pursues the next good feeling; be a man, and live out the commitments you made.  Be faithful to God and be faithful to the one woman he gave to you.
May God help me to do the same.

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