• Mark Alan Williams

What Keeps Sinful Me in Check?

And I Pray Always Will!


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Sadly, stories of ruined lives, ruined marriages and devastated testimonies litter the Christian landscape. Infidelities, financial improprieties, heavy-handed leadership,

addictions, abuse and other indiscretions have marred the testimonies of multitudes of

Christians, pastors, and other Christian leaders. This week I even heard about a prominent

Christian pastor accused of trying to find a contract killer to “take out” his ex-son-in-law.

Insanity!


Yet as the saying states, “But for the grace of God there go I!” I know I’m no more

righteous than any of the “failures” that litter the evangelical Christian landscape.


Yet I’ve escaped scandal. Why?


Let me share what I think keeps my sinful soul in check, and I hope always will!


Here are 3 things that keep the sinful me in check:


1. Jesus!


Sorry if you wanted something more novel or innovative. But He is the best I’ve got!


In fact, I owe it all to Him—whatever I may accomplish or avoid.


However, there is something that I believe many miss about Jesus and that is while He is

always there, we’re not always there with Him. To be specific, many Christians avoid

spending time with Jesus and therefore don’t allow Him to impact their lives on a daily

basis. Thus, they fall into temptations.


To be even more specific, the practice of spending time with God in prayer, thanksgiving,

Scripture, devotional reading, submission, and confession is the first priority of my day. OK, yes, I do shower first and put in my contact lenses so I can see. Then I get a cup

of tea or coffee.


But when I’m ready to start after my “routines,” my first order of business is time with

God. It’s not Facebook, Twitter, email, working out, reviewing my to do list or any of the

other common day-starters. Those are all fine and come later for me. The first thing,

however, is to rededicate myself to the Lord.


It’s not a legalistic thing, it’s just a priority and a practicality. If I don’t do some time

with God first, my day starts off on the wrong foot: I’m cynical, negative, lacking

Ultimate Direction, frustrated with myself and have other symptoms of a merely

perspective.


But in putting God first, I’m grateful, hopeful, faith-filled, refreshed, cleansed and ready

to face the challenges, excitements and temptations of a new day.


I understand some people are not morning people as I am. To you I would just say that if

it is not first thing in the morning, your priority of time with the Lord must be of highest

importance sometime in the day. Otherwise, you greatly increase your chances of going

off the rails.


2. Marriage!


Sexual allurements abound today, perhaps more than any other time, ever. With the

availability of the internet in most parts of the world and the easy access to pornography

in the privacy of your hiding spot, the statistics of how many men and women are hooked

on porn are staggering. This includes Christians.


The antidote, along with Jesus, is a happy and fulfilled marriage. That’s not my own

prescription, it’s the clear teaching of Scripture.


It’s better to marry than to burn with lust.” (1 Corinthians 7:9b NLT)


This summer Carolyn and I will celebrate our 40 th anniversary. We were married August

4, 1979. It’s been an awesome marriage run, thank God. And I’m looking forward to

much more. And one of the great blessings of our happy marriage is that we never have

to say, “I can’t get no satisfaction.” Satisfaction certainly helps ward off temptation.


I’m very grateful for this gift that helps keep me in check.


3. Guardrails!


There are other factors that have helped keep me in check, and one of the biggies is the

guardrails I’ve put around myself.


For example, marriage is a great help to stay godly, but only if I protect it with guardrails.


US Vice President Mike Pence has been severely criticized for adhering to the “Billy

Graham rule” of not spending time alone with a woman. Women have complained that

this puts them in an inferior position with someone of power like Pence. But the truth is

that it is a huge protection for women as well as the Vice President, Billy Graham, and all

who practice guardrails.


It’s ironic that in the midst of the “Me Too movement,” someone who completely avoids

the temptation to abuse women is criticized for doing so, instead of being appreciated.


Pence is an evangelical Christian, and is simply practicing biblical instructions to:


Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV)


Flee from youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with

those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22 Berean Study Bible)


This is what I have tried to do, and it has been a safeguard to help keep the sinful me in

check. Carefully using guardrails shows the greatest respect to my marriage, to women I

come into contact with and to myself.


Other guardrails:

  • I don’t meet in a room with a woman if it doesn’t have a window.

  • I am careful about counseling a woman sharing her marriage frustrations.

  • On social media I post lots of photos of Carolyn and myself and make our marriage a prominent feature.

  • I talk a lot about Carolyn and our marriage.

If you don’t like my safety rails, that’s fine, just develop your own. Whatever works for

you. Just make sure they work!


Of course, I have guardrails in other areas of life and ministry:

  • I am accountable to a Board of Directors for our ministry.

  • Our Board meets in Executive Session without me present after every Board meeting, in case there are items they need to address without me present.

  • I don’t handle the funds donated to our ministry.

  • I avoid alcohol.

  • I don’t “check out” sinful practices or places so I become “street wise” or “informed” Christian leader.

  • I have an accountability partner who I can share about my temptations with and receive prayer.

  • I try to welcome and learn from criticism and concerns expressed about my behaviors if they come up.

CONCLUSION:

So those are the three biggies that help keep the sinful me in check.


Of course, my race isn’t over. The Evil One will continue to battle against my soul to try

to destroy my life, marriage, and reputation for Christ.


Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring

lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT)


You and I must always be on guard in this battle!


One more thing: If you are not sure that you have received God’s gift of salvation

through Jesus, learn about how to be positive HERE.


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