The Best Defense
When it comes to sports, my favorite is football. I guess that comes with growing up in Oklahoma. Even if you’re not interested in sports, you’ve probably heard this saying that’s a favorite of a lot of coaches:
The best offense is a good defense.
That principle is true in football…and it’s true when you’re battling temptation.
Last week I asked you to identify the area you’re most often tempted in. I hope you followed through. Knowing your weak spots will help you know the areas you need to defend the most.
We also began looking at the story of Lot, in the Old Testament. His experience is a case study in the way sin grows in our lives. We learned that sin doesn’t happen in a day…it grows over time.
The seeds of failure are planted when we begin to flirt with things we should run away from. Flirting is the first phase Lot passed through.
The second phase is rationalization. If we don’t run from temptation, it’s just a matter of time before we begin to create reasons we should push the envelope a little more.
You’ll remember that initially, Lot settled outside Sodom. Several years later a war broke out. By that time Lot had moved into the city. The Bible tells us…
The victorious invaders then plundered Sodom and Gomorrah and headed for home, taking with them all the spoils of war and the food supplies. They also captured Lot—Abram’s nephew who lived in Sodom—and carried off everything he owned.
– Genesis 14:11-12 (NLT)
I’ve wondered why Lot would move into a place like Sodom. Maybe he thought “we’ll be close to all the things the kids want to do.” Maybe he wanted more entertainment options, or a more exciting lifestyle. I can imagine all sorts of scenarios…and am not saying any of them are true. But something caused him to move his family to “sin city.”
When you’re tempted to act on something you know isn’t true, remember this:
To rationalize means to tell yourself “rational lies.”
Have you ever been pulled over for speeding? If so, you most likely had a “good reason” for exceeding the limit!
Rationalization of sin is like that. But all our good reasons are really just a pile of excuses designed to make us feel better about what we’re doing. We say things like “it’s more convenient…” or “it just makes sense…” or the most classic of all: “but everybody’s doing it!”
Run from these phrases! Your defense becomes seriously compromised when you buy into them. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself in the third phase: transformation.
Transformation is where life becomes more difficult. You have to change to survive in the land of sin. At first everything will seem the same. However, over time you become a different person. Eventually you’ll begin doing things you never thought possible.
For Lot, this change took thirteen years. But he eventually found himself in a sad state of affairs:
The two angels came to the entrance of the city of Sodom. Lot was sitting there, and when he saw them, he stood up to meet them. Then he welcomed them and bowed with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “come to my home to wash your feet, and be my guests for the night. You may then get up early in the morning and be on your way again."
But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, "Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!" So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him.
"Please my brothers," be begged, "don't do such a wicked thing. Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection."
- Genesis 19:1-8 (NLT)
Do you see what I see in this passage? Lot had changed! Although he’d been mentored by his godly uncle Abram, Lot had become a father willing to sacrifice his daughters to a raucous crowd…just to keep the peace. The change took place gradually over decades, but he was definitely different.
Lot’s story reminds us why we must turn from temptation and not make excuses to do things we know aren’t right.
If you’re in one of these phases, don’t waste another moment! Even if you’ve moved beyond flirting and rationalization into transformation, through the power of Christ, you can win over sin. Admit to Jesus what you’re doing and ask him to forgive you…but don’t stop there.
Ask him to give you the power to overcome. Be sure to follow through with what he asks you to do. His directions are usually simple in concept. But if you’re deep into the transformation phase, they may be hard to do. Just remember…
You can’t be passive and expect to win. Sin doesn’t play by the rules. You must deal with it ruthlessly by defending what’s right. In the end, you’ll emerge victorious.