The Discipline of not Looking

The Discipline of not Looking

Don't Look

It does not take long to notice that we are surrounded and bombarded with things pertaining to sexual sin. This reality places us in the midst of a battle that is not easy at all. We not only have to face daily temptations from within our own minds, but we have to deal with the billboards, the advertisements and the clothes (or lack of) people are wearing.


Sex of course is not the problem. The problem is how we distort God’s plan and purpose of the gift of sex. The Bible is clear concerning the evil of sexual sin. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul wrote,


But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” (Eph. 5:3-12).


What is a Christian to do when faced with so many temptations when it doesn’t appear possible to retreat? There are certain sexually tempting situations in which we are readily able to remove ourselves from. Joseph provides us with an excellent example of getting out of there when temptation or seduction arises (Gen. 39:12).


But as I look around me I am noticing that there are more situations now than ever before where it is almost not possible to retreat. Walking through a shopping centre, going to a park or the beach, or even sitting next to or opposite someone on a train dressed in a rather revealing way. The solution is not to hide in our house and never come out. This is just not practical. Nor is there is any point in pretending not to look either. Whenever we do this we need to remember that this does not honour our Lord. He knows and sees what we are doing (Prov. 15:3), so let’s not think that we are clever but merely glancing.


What should we do in the midst of such difficult situations? In a recent Asking Anything Weekend edition, Albert Mohler spoke about “the discipline of not looking”. I really appreciated that particular terminology, and I believe it is something that we as God’s people need to cultivate.


How do we cultivate the discipline of not looking? Instead of thinking of this as walking around with a blindfold on, we need to grow in our awareness of God’s holiness and presence. Furthermore, we need to actually tell ourselves that looking at things that can lead to sexual sin is not in line with His holiness and therefore is something we ought not to look at. Granted, it will not be easy and we will fail. This is why it is called the discipline of not looking. We need to put in an effort, but let us never forget our ongoing need of our Lord’s help. Kevin DeYoung wrote these helpful words,


“If you have died with Christ, will you not also be raised with Christ (Rom. 6:4-8)? If you have been crucified with Christ, is it not the person of Christ – with all his purifying power – who lives in you (Gal. 2:20)? And if God did spare his own Son but gave him up for you, how will he not also with him graciously give you all things (Rom. 8:32)? God can forgive (again). God can empower (more). And God can change you, even it’s slowly, haltingly, and painfully from one itty-bitty degree of glory to the next”.[1]


Let us together as God’s people look to our Lord in-order to grow in the discipline of not looking at sexual temptation.


[1] Kevin DeYoung. The Hole in our Holiness, Crossway, 2012, p. 122


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