In boxing, a one-two punch is a combination of two punches delivered quickly one after the other, especially a left jab followed by a right cross.[i]
The enemy has a one-two punch he uses regularly against men and women seeking freedom from unwanted sexual behaviors. Like in boxing, when the enemy lands his one-two punch, it’s difficult to stand up against.
Unless you’re ready for it.
If a boxer knows what’s coming, he can block or evade either of the two blows, or even turn the attempt against his opponent. The same thing is true for you.
So for those seeking freedom from habitual unwanted sexual sin, I want to show you one really common way the enemy goes after you:
He starts with temptation—that’s the first jab. Then he follows quickly with accusation—that’s the right cross.
My guess is you’re all too familiar with each of these, but maybe less familiar with how the combination is a specific strategy to try to knock you off your feet. Here are a couple ways this works:
First, the enemy tempts with soothing and crooning words, ideas, and images. He whispers, “C’mon, you know you want this. Just indulge a little bit. A little won’t hurt. Just click…Just watch for five minutes…Now just five more minutes…” The enemy knows how to sound like a friend, but then once you give in, he turns on you viciously: “You disgusting pervert! What’s wrong with you? You call yourself a Christian? God is angry with you now!”
Second, the enemy will also accuse you for even feeling enticed by temptation. He will attempt to beat you up and get you to beat yourself up simply for feeling tempted! Again, he whispers sweet enticements and empty promises, and then when your brain conceives of a sexual thought or your body feels a physical response to the thought, the accuser pounces: “You obviously haven’t changed at all. You call yourself a Christ-follower? His real followers don’t have thoughts like that!”
What’s so important to know about each of these strategies can be summed up in this way:
- The enemy is playing both sides against you by trying to entice you to sin while also accusing you for feeling tempted. So when he feigns that he’s your friend or just wants you to feel good, you have a history to look at that reveals that’s not true. The one who accuses and shames you is the same one who told you he just wanted to help.
- Temptation is a common human experience, but the enemy will try to get you to view it as a sign that there is something uniquely wrong with you—that temptation you feel means something about who you are and who you are not. He does this because he knows that what you believe about yourself will either increase or decrease the power temptation has over you. If you believe yourself to be a dirty, awful sinner who is all alone and can’t say no to sexual temptation, not a real Christian/man/woman, etc., then you will be more likely to give in to sexual temptation. On the other hand, if you believe yourself to be one with Christ, reborn and made new in Him, filled to overflowing with His righteousness and love, God’s beloved whom He will never leave nor forsake, then you will find temptation has less power to entice you.
Believe it or not, this is just scratching the surface on how the enemy uses the one-two of temptation and accusation. (I unpack this even more in this week’s podcast.)
Friends, as a believer in Christ, the enemy is going to try to tempt you and then lie to you about who you are, but you no longer have to buy what he’s selling.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. So resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brothers and sisters who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8, 9)
Question: Does the temptation-accusation strategy of the enemy sound like something you’ve experienced in your life? How so? Most importantly, how can you respond to it differently so it doesn’t knock you off your feet?