What Keeps Sinful Me in Check?
And I Pray Always Will!
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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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Additional resources about related subjects on this site:
Podcast: Why did God invent marriage?
Podcast: Should Christians gamble?
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