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?
Great topic Josh! I believe I’ve experienced a lot of what you mentioned. How Satan, the accuser will shame you to death if I don’t take my sinful thoughts captive. For me personally at a much deeper heart level, when my Belief system about myself and how I see God as my Father changed my choices changed in how I respond especially to sexual temptation. I’m certainly not perfect but I do see a change in how I’m responding.Thanks, Josh again.
I just wanted to say how much your one-two punch comment struck me. That pattern is also how predators/pedophiles coax children when grooming them. Get them to look at something then guilt them over having looked and been aroused or interested in some way. They start the cycle of desire and shame but it is all manipulation to use them for their own benefit. In the same way, I think you touch on the nature of the enemy and his true purposes to use us but he does so by creating this cycle in us, God’s children. We are responsible for our sin and there are real consequences, and the Lord has higher expectations for those who are more mature. That said, when we look at children who have been groomed and then abused, we don’t blame the children but acknowledge the evil of the one who manipulated and lured them in.
I don’t think it is a perfect analogy, bc again we do have some level of responsibility as we mature, but I still think it opened my eyes to seeing the enemy in a new way as an abuser intent on methodically luring us in to eventually be able to use us for his own disgusting pleasure and purposes, to harm ourselves, hurt God, and harm others. And with that idea in mind, what kinds of protections do we enact for our kids and what do we teach them? How can those lessons help us in seeing the Lord’s boundaries with new eyes and what do we put in place to remain faithful and not open doors to this abuser?
I just wanted to add that, in that abuse relationship, the child is kept silent for many reasons but a big one is just that shame and what their parents or friends would think. Often it is with threats of what would happen to their family.
I think satan keeps us in that same way – for us as adults, we are often influenced by pride, shame on wounding, or fear over the consequences of what coming out with our sin might mean. But satan wants us to stay in that place so he can continue to abuse in to even greater lengths that leads to the destruction of others as well bc like any abuser, he is never after just one. But what could the child do in most cases to be free? Tell their parents or a trusted adult. They don’t realize that just by telling their parents, the faulty tower the abuser has created could all come down. I suppose this is a rosy view of a difficult situation b/c sometimes the child will speak and the adult will not listen – their own fear or idolatry of the individuals at issue will overshadow the reports. It makes me think of how we need a reeducation of handling temptation and sin in our communities of faith. We can be tempted to be more permissive or forgiving without accountability and that’s not the answer. But, how do we learn to be able to confess temptation or sin we’ve acted on and how do we work with the Lord to create communities who can receive that kind of confession and cry for help with love and truth and compassion and practicality?
Thanks for this post. It was eye opening to see satan as the very type of manipulative abuser that preys on children. He is that evil and more. It gives me more compassion for myself or others when we fall. It doesn’t negate consequences sometimes perhaps, but it should influence our gentleness and kindness in the process.
Likewise, the Lord tells us to confess our sins one to another, pray for one another, and be healed. As adults, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without consequences but sometimes that is how the Lord works. But, and especially when a church is steeped in being able to receive the confessions of one another in love, mercy, grace, and truth, it brings a supernatural freedom and we are able to get whatever help we need to remove the tentacles of the abuser from our lives.