Trust me. I tried. Before I was married, I did my best to be a good girl. But with every relationship, I caved in to the temptation to have sex. I thought my convictions were strong, but the temptation was more than my flesh could handle.
But so was the disappointment. Disappointment not only in myself, but in the guy who said he wanted to wait too. That he understood my convictions because his were the same.
Then the justification came to drown out the shame.
Temptation is a duel with our flesh. And without a revelation, it often wins.
So how can you fight this giant? Here’s the story about how I finally killed mine and how I got a giant blessing in return.
First let me start by telling you how I learned the difference between having resolve and having a revelation.
A few years back my husband John told me he was ditching his plans to write a New Year’s resolution. I couldn’t believe my ears. My man of no-compromise was bowing out of the game. “What’s up with that?” I asked.
“Resolutions only last a month or so,” he sighed. “What I really need is a New Year’s revelation!”
What a powerful thought.
The reality is that 100 percent of people who make resolutions intend to keep them, but the facts are that 80 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions eventually break them. Most won’t even make it until the end of January. One of my friends resolved to lose thirty pounds. Instead, she gave up after she put on ten more.
The same is true when it comes to our resolve to maintain our purity. Our good intentions often fail. One of my friends decided not to date. She declared a man-ban. No dating for an entire year. She lasted two months. She was serious, but she needed more than her own strength.
Like so many do, my friends made New Year’s resolutions, but they ultimately gave up. Why do so many of us break our resolutions? We have the desire, we have the goal and we’ve even written it down, which is supposedly the magical requirement for obtaining our goals. What are we missing?
Listen to what the book of Proverbs says: Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint (Proverbs 29:18 NIV).
The NLT puts it this way: When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild.
The NASB says this: Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.
Whether it’s the lack of revelation, divine guidance or vision, here’s the bottom line: In order to achieve a human goal, we need divine direction.
When temptation taunts our own ideas, temptation usually wins. When a vision is God’s idea, however, the revelation empowers us to maintain our focus.
When John and I started dating, we knew little about God’s plan for relationships. By the time he had proposed, we were buried in the standards of the world. I knew we weren’t supposed to be sleeping together, but my resolve wasn’t strong enough to overcome the temptation. After all, everyone else was having sex.
But then I had a revelation. One day the Lord spoke firmly to me. “Christy, I have a gift to give you and John, but the only way you can receive it is through abstinence.”
All of my life, I had heard the “no-sex-until-marriage” rule. But that’s all it was—a rule. A “should not”. A must not. But for the first time, God was adding revelation, divine guidance and vision to strengthen my resolve. And best of all, there was a prize for compliance. I had never heard that before. All of a sudden my human efforts had reinforcements! I had never felt so empowered to practice restraint.
Previously, my own willpower had always failed. But with the revelation of heaven, the last eight months of our courtship were spent building and strengthening our spiritual and emotional relationship, not our physical relationship. I wanted that prize!
On January 1, 1999, we said I do and God gave us the gift. Now 20 years later, that same revelation continues to empower our resolve. Even though we can have all the sex we want now, the strength we gained from exercising restraint during our courtship strengthened our resolve to follow God’s standards when other types of challenges came after we got married. Just because we’re married doesn’t mean we no longer need to abstain from temptation. It’s just that the temptations are different. After marriage, we need to abstain from the temptation to criticize, blame, argue and take offense.
So what about you? What do you need a revelation for? Let me encourage you to pray about it and, most importantly—ask the Lord for a revelation to strengthen your will power.
A resolution that sticks is one that adds divine vision to human strength. If you keep the vision of heaven, you will succeed!
For more on this topic, chapters 18-21 in Love Junkies deals with the habit of resolve, the practice of adding divine revelation to our human strength. Here are some of the topics covered:
- Chemistry…Fact or Fiction?
- The Affection Connection…What you need to know about the love hormone, oxytocin
- Avoiding Seduction
- Is it Lust or Love?
- And as with all of the 7 steps for breaking the toxic relationship cycle in Love Junkies, you’ll get a list of action points to help you overcome.