Posts Tagged ‘David Platt’

Resisting the temptation of internet porn

April 4, 2014

From what I’ve read, pastor David Platt is an intense and uncompromising fellow. When it comes to addressing the crisis of addiction to internet pornography among Christian men (and some Christian women), as he does in the following video, I find his intensity exactly fitting for the occasion.

In the scripture I’ll be preaching on this Sunday, James gives us a sure promise: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

Do we believe this? Do we believe that we have the spiritual resources necessary to resist the devil? Remember what N.T. Wright said (from yesterday’s post): “The devil is a coward; when he is resisted, with the prayer that claims the victory of Jesus on the cross, he knows he is beaten.”

What if, when tempted to view internet porn, we prayed something like this: “Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross you defeated Satan and destroyed the power of sin that had held me captive. At this moment, however, Satan is once again trying to lure me into the deadly sin of lust by viewing internet pornography. He wants me to believe that I’m powerless to resist him, but he’s lying—he is, after all, the father of lies. So I claim the victory you won over him, which you’ve shared with me through your Holy Spirit. Enable me to withstand his attack until he runs away in fear. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”

In his book Conformed to His Image, Kenneth Boa shares a set of affirmations we can use to help us resist temptation in different areas of our lives, including sexual temptation. He writes:

[This set of affirmations] can be particularly helpful in that split second between temptation and response that mysteriously illuminates the whole dynamic of choosing to walk in the power of the Spirit or in the power of the flesh. It can be helpful to use spiritual exercises and tools that draw us to a biblical pattern of thought in times when the warfare becomes more intense. Just as judo leverages the force of an opponent to one’s advantage, so these affirmations can confer the force of temptation into a positive spiritual reminder.[1]

The following are affirmations related to sexual temptation, which I recommend to you. I’ve hyperlinked the scripture references:

1. There is no future in this. It would damage my relationship with God and could destroy my relationship with my spouse and children, as well as damage my reputation and discredit my ministry (1 Corinthians 6:18).

2. I will not degrade this person but will treat her or him with dignity and honor. I will treat her or him as a subject, not an object; she or he has been created in the image of God.

3. I will let the attractiveness direct me to praise for the greatness of her or his Creator. (This is a kind of “spiritual judo” in which you use quick movement and leverage to throw your opponent; in this case, you redirect the incoming force from temptation to praise.)

Please note: #3 is tricky: by the time you’re viewing porn, it’s obviously too late for this affirmation. But even an innocuous website like Facebook inundates us men with non-pornographic, though sexually suggestive, images of attractive women—whether in advertisements or other posts. These non-pornographic images can lure us into porn. We can recite this affirmation before we fall victim.

4. I am no longer under the power of sin, but I am alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). I am not a skin-wrapped package of glands but a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

5. I will walk by the Spirit and not carry out the desire of the flesh (Galatians 5:16; 2 Timothy 2:22).

6. I will fix my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2).[2]

1. Kenneth Boa, Conformed to His Image (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 332-3.

2. Ibid., 334-5.

Debating the Sinner’s Prayer

June 27, 2012

If the Sinner’s Prayer is good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.

I would expect the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church—who has not an evangelical bone in her body—to be opposed to the Sinner’s Prayer, but Southern Baptists, too? Didn’t every Billy Graham Crusade end with people inviting Jesus into their hearts by praying the Sinner’s Prayer? Isn’t it at the heart of the altar call? Didn’t Baptists practically invent it?

No worries. Baptists still believe in the Sinner’s Prayer, even though, according to this Christianity Today article, they did debate it at their recent convention. I appreciated the magazine’s wink to the audience at the beginning of the article:

The vote wasn’t taken with every head bowed and every eye closed, but delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting today supported the “Sinner’s Prayer” after considerable debate.

One prominent critic of the prayer, megachurch Baptist pastor David Platt, said:

“I’m convinced that many people in our churches are simply missing the life of Christ, and a lot of it has to do with what we’ve sold them as the gospel, i.e. pray this prayer, accept Jesus into your heart, invite Christ into your life,” Platt said. “Should it not concern us that there is no such superstitious prayer in the New Testament? Should it not concern us that the Bible never uses the phrase, ‘accept Jesus into your heart’ or ‘invite Christ into your life’? It’s not the gospel we see being preached, it’s modern evangelism built on sinking sand. And it runs the risk of disillusioning millions of souls.”

You might expect me—a Methodist—to shake my fist and say, “Yeah! You tell ’em, David Platt!” But Platt has a couple of strikes against him in my book: he is both a Calvinist and, worse, a University of Georgia graduate.

I’m kidding, of course. Neither of those unfortunate facts disqualify his argument. But I’m not kidding when I say that I like the Sinner’s Prayer. No, it’s not explicitly in the Bible, but it accords well with the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 10:9-13:

Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation. The scripture says, All who have faith in him won’t be put to shame. There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord is Lord of all, who gives richly to all who call on him. All who call on the Lord’s name will be saved.

Besides, how else are we supposed to get started on our journey of Christian faith? Sure, if we grow up in church, the church might offer a period of formal instruction leading to a public profession of faith, as we do in the United Methodist Church during confirmation. But what about everyone else?

If the Holy Spirit moves a person to repentance and Christian faith, what are we—the church—supposed to do? Tell them, “O.K. Sign up for this class, and next year, assuming you take all the required courses, we’ll let you become a Christian and be baptized”? Or do we let them get started right away by praying with them—and assuring them that, if they sincerely prayed that prayer, they will be saved? I’m way too Protestant to believe the former.

Among its virtues, the Sinner’s Prayer rightly emphasizes that being a Christian is, among many other things, a conscious decision that we make. It’s not a decision that we make apart from the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and it’s not a one-time event. But it starts with a decision.

So, for people who are ready to become Christians, I say pray the prayer first, be baptized if necessary, and then start the classes next week.

Contrary to Platt’s words above, the Sinner’s Prayer isn’t superstitious, because we don’t believe that praying a prayer saves us. God’s grace saves us through faith.

We shouldn’t be surprised that people pray the Sinner’s Prayer and fall away from the faith. Abandoning the faith happens in churches high and low, denominational and non-denominational, Protestant and Catholic, Western and Eastern. If the church is “selling the gospel short,” as one critic in the article claimed, it’s not because they either are or aren’t praying the Sinner’s Prayer; it’s because they’re failing to emphasize that making a decision to follow Christ is only the beginning of Christian faith. It isn’t the goal.

Persisting in the faith until the end is hard, as Jesus warns throughout the gospels.