When Jake arrived in the South Carolina beach town, he knew he’d found the place where he wanted to spend his life. While you can’t see the beach from his home, it’s about a five minute walk. There’s a kind of boardwalk, set way back from the water, which offers a handful of rides and places to buy snack foods and almost a mile of uninterrupted beach which is halted at both ends by private condo resorts.
And as it turns out, there are lots of young girls in somewhat skimpy outfits, even in winter.
If your eye offends you…
Jake can’t remember when he first realized that the beach attire of females was becoming a problem. Admittedly, sometimes he was attracted to the beach by the prospect of seeing healthy bodies, and other days he would avoid the beach for the very same reason.
If your eye offends you, cut it out…
Years in, Jake realized that the buzz of living in a beach town could be experienced at places other than the beach. The town had a certain vibe that extended to storefronts and restaurants on the main street. It attracted writers and painters and musicians. Some of the same young women would frequent the downtown as well, but at least there they were dressed. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
It is better for you to lose one part of your body…
But a few more years in, Jake realized the incredible amount of temptation that was lurking in public places. Forget the internet, reality had a high-definition Imax-styled panorama. He decided to be a bit reclusive, for the sake of his soul.
It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
It was then he started thinking about the scripture in Matthew 5 about plucking out, or gouging out your eye. He noticed that the part about the arm talked about cutting off. He reasoned that if he could cut off his eyes from the things that caused him to lust he would be better served. He went back to the beach, but in the early morning when the traffic consisted of seniors and dog-walkers, or in the evening when offshore breezes caused people to cover up.
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.
And then, unexpectedly came the day at the grocery store. She wasn’t particularly attractive to the point of being a “10,” but there was something about the cut of her dress that begged attention. He thought, ‘Isn’t that just what fashion designers do? Garments are made to highlight certain parts of the body.’ He looked away. And then he looked back. And looked again. He couldn’t believe what he was thinking.
Sin is crouching at the door…
Avoiding the grocery store? Not as easy to do if you want to eat. He tried ordering groceries online, but it was expensive, the order was missing a few items, and the driver made it really clear he expected a tip each visit.
Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.
Jake realized we live in a reality that is filled with temptation. At the North Carolina beach. At his inland home in Indiana. When you are young. When you are old.
There is nothing outside someone that can corrupt him
Just as Adam and Eve faced the temptation of the tree in the garden, so also do we face similar temptations; in fact, each one of us has a tree; a particular area of spiritual vulnerability.* Jake decided that while the scriptures teach avoiding temptation, he was expected to prosper spiritually in his environment; he was expected to be salt and light in the middle of it.
There is nothing from outside of the man, that going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are those that defile the man.
He would gouge out his eyes, but he would do it figuratively, not literally.
He would not allow the things he sees to lead to sin.
Scriptures: Matt. 5:29, Gen. 4:7, I Cor. 10:12, Mark 7:15