For decades I have applied this battle plan to sexual temptation but hardly at all to the sins of selfishness, anger, self-pity, blaming, and sullenness. I have engaged my will head-on with sexual lust. I have heard Jesus say, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matt. 5:29). Nobody spontaneously tears out his eye. That is an act of will overcoming all kinds of natural disinclination. That’s what I do when any illicit sexual thought tries to gain the ascendancy in my mind.
I go on the attack with A.N.T.H.E.M.:
- Say NO! within five seconds.
- TURN to something magnificent, like Christ crucified.
- HOLD the pure thing in the mind until the temptation is gone.
- ENJOY the greater pleasure of the blood-bought promises of God.
- MOVE on to meaningful Christ-exalting activity.
There is nothing passive in my will when the lion of lust comes out of the bushes. I don’t lie down and wait for a miracle. I act the miracle.
Excerpt from John Piper’s Pastor”s Know Thyself: Uproot your besetting sin with introspection and action. Featured in Leadership Journal. Which was Taken from the revised edition of Brothers, We Are Not Professionals (B&H Publishing Group, 2013).