While driving home from work the other day I noticed the driver of the car in the lane next to me appeared to be a female. I think the long blonde hair gave it away. As I was pulling along side of her car, I was tempted to look over to see what she looked like. But instead I kept my eyes focused on the road and went on my way. You may be thinking, “that’s wonderful, Dave; what’s the big deal about that?”
You have to understand something about males and cars. I can’t speak for females, but guys, almost to a T, get their learner’s permit, learn to watch the road and be aware of their surroundings, and then get their license. Then when we are out on our own, we learn to look around and see who is in the car next to us. We look for girls. Men look. It is what we do. I’m not saying it is what we SHOULD do or that it is right, but it is what we do. And after awhile it becomes a habit. It may seem harmless enough for young single men, but at some point it should come to and end. Like by the time we get engaged would be a good time, and certainly by the time we are married. But old habits sometimes die hard. Sometimes they go away only to sneak back into our lives.
Over the past year or so God impressed on my heart that this was a part of my life that I needed to give up. I didn’t have a problem with that; I was embarrassed at myself that it was even an issue. But it was a bad habit that needed to be dealt with. Why? What’s so bad about looking? Well nothing in and of itself, and even if there is no lust involved, it sure does not honor my wife, whether or not she is beside me in the car. But it would send the wrong signal to other men who may be watching me, and at the very least, the enemy does not need much to gain a foothold in our lives. For those of us who were in bondage to sexual immorality, does it make sense to open the door to him?
So I took this incident as a victory, and felt really good about honoring the Lord and honoring my wife. And then it dawned on me: I was free to look at that girl, but I was also free NOT to. I had the freedom to make that choice, and only because He set me free. Before Jesus freed me from slavery to sin, I was just that: a slave to sin. I had no choice. I was a sinner; I was born a sinner and all I could do was sin. I could choose to not commit an act of sin, but I was never free from sin. I could never choose to be righteous or God-honoring.
Now that He has freed me, I am righteous. I am cleansed and forgiven. I am able to NOT sin; I can live life as a forgiven sinner, accepted and holy in His sight. Does that mean that before Christ saved me, I would not have been able to avert my eyes? No. We can still make decisions and do what is right, and we can do what is wrong. But I would never have been able to be anything but a sinner in the eyes of the Lord.
Am I saying that looking at women is sin? No, not necessarily. It really comes down to the condition of your heart. But it is a good illustration of the power we have to choose between sin or denying our selves and submitting to Him. We are free in Him, and we have the freedom to sin if we want to, but we are also free from sin!
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24