Keeping Yourself Pure (Part 1. Making A Covenant With Your Eyes)
Although this article is in a series, it is a Complete study on its own. (1 of 4 in series)
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *
Job was a man that lived in a time just after the time of Noah and his famous ark. Most people have heard his name and connect him to qualities such as patience and integrity. For those who don't know his story, it goes like this:
Job was a man who loved God and sacrificed regularly like his forebear, Noah. He was a careful man of integrity, so much so, that he caught the eye of Satan who wished to test him and make an example of him. God, knowing Satan had this desire on his heart to defeat Job's integrity, asked him: "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in all the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" (Job 1:8) Now don't misunderstand, God was not offering Job to Satan as some suppose. He was telling Satan what he was already thinking and was displaying confidence in His servant. So Satan proposed a test of Job's integrity. The first part was the taking away of all that he possessed (except his wife, Satan had other plans for her). God gave him permission to do it and gave him the extent. "Behold all he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person." (Job 1:12) As you may have surmised, this did not cause Job to sin, so Satan proposed part two of this plan to destroy Job's testimony, a very painful condition of boils that covered his entire body. Again with conditions, God gave Satan permission. God was correct when He claimed Job as a man of integrity and God was able to display that integrity to the friends who had come to "comfort" him, to Satan, to the demons, and the history books for all time. Job did allow a little doubt in and the LORD gave him a verbal rebuke but even that became a blessing for Job because it validated Job's faith. It gave an opportunity for Job to confess his sin before his God that he loved so much. It gave an opportunity for theology to begin in earnest, revealing God to man, because in the pages of Job is the scarlet thread of belief that spans the entire Bible. This also gave God the opportunity to bless Job and his wife, who stuck by him and loved him. They were given more wealth than they lost. They had ten more children and we are told that none were as beautiful as Job's daughters.
When I began my studies of the Bible, O so many years ago, I discovered, to my amazement, that the oldest book in the Bible is Job, not Genesis. It was written before any of the rest of the Book... and before there was a Moses and the Law... and before God revealed Himself to Israel... and before there was an Israel. It was even written before any mention of God's friend, Abraham, whose blessings were passed to us all as his grafted-in children. Noah put two of every animal in the ark. How many times have I read the descriptions of dinosaurs that was given in the detailed writings of Job claiming the dinosaurs walked with them? Verse 4 of Chapter 41 talks about the behemoth (supposed brontosaurus) and says that God created the "behemoth with thee." Those two words validate my belief that these creatures God speaks of in Job were alive and walked among the men of the day. I believe they did walk with them because of the age of this book and that creation was accomplished in six days! I often wondered how long after Noah, Job lived, and I've wondered how many years the writings of Job were studied and passed from person-to-person before Moses came along to pen the book of Genesis. The writings of Job must have stood as their whole Bible for a time. I believe Moses personally read it and studied it or was told of it in great detail when he wrote the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.
In the book of Job the thread of salvation is as clear as in any of the Old Testament. In it, one sees the God of the coming Abraham, Isaac and Israel. In those writings a tone is set that continues all the way through to Revelation. You get the idea of covenants and how they worked and such is the very theme of this series of articles.
For all these years I have been fascinated with Job, not only with its deep theological import, but with the man himself. Job loved God and was thankful to Him for his family and all that he had. God loved Job with all his flaws (that are really only hinted at in these writings). It must have been a hard life with all the heathen around and people "doing what was right in their own eyes." Job had only one wife, all his life. Through this ordeal, and into the end of the account, Job never multiplied any wives to himself, as many good men did throughout history. He remained loyal to "Mrs. Job" all those years (which were many in those days, hundreds of years). I've always admired that about him. Also, there had to be places of worship built to other Gods, groves and makeshift temples. There were women in those places that would offer themselves in religious worship to gods other than the Creator God that Job worshiped, temple prostitutes if you will, that men would "visit" on a regular basis. And in their everyday life, people all around him were fulfilling every lust as they saw fit. Lustful young women, some of which may have come seeking some of Job's vast wealth, could have approached him. Job made his mind up that, as much as possible, he would remain pure before the eyes of his God.
"I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman? For what is the allotment of God from above, and the inheritance of the Almighty from on high? Is it not destruction for the wicked, and disaster for the workers of iniquity? Does He not see my ways, and count all my steps? If I have walked with falsehood, or if my foot has hastened to deceit, let me be weighed on honest scales, that God may know my integrity. If my step has turned from the way or my heart walked after my eyes, or if any spot adheres to my hands, then let me sow and another eat; yes let my harvest be rooted out. If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I've lurked at my neighbor's door, then let my wife grind for another, and let others bow down over her." (Job 31:1-10)
Here I must insert something about the love of Job's life, his dear wife,I tire so much of hearing how she was an evil woman or how she was ungodly. I do not see the account of Job and his wife like that. Mrs. Job was a good woman. She took care of him faithfully and loved him. She didn't want him to suffer but she herself was becoming weak. Remember, she was hurt in all this too. She obviously spoke out of emotional pain, desperation and sadness. She knew what it would mean should Job die. Women needed their men in this very early society for security. She had born him children and all were now dead. In her eyes, her whole life was over. She was in mourning and didn't understand why any of this was happening either. She was just at her wit's end and to make matters worse Job's three friends were there to comfort him. That session of "comfort" turned into an argument over which sin Job had committed that caused this evil to come upon him. Finally she said, "Do you still cling to your integrity? Curse God and die." I believe she didn't say this lightly or out of vindictiveness. She was becoming bitter at this event which took her children and was threatening to take her husband away. Wanting him to be free from the unbearable pain, she began to think that it was his integrity that was keeping him alive and suffering. If he was going to have to die anyway, she must have thought, why linger any longer? Break your covenant of integrity to God and die, please, I cannot bear this slow, agonizing removal of my life!
There is another thing to consider before we move on from Mrs. Job. Satan did not ask for her life. I believe there was a reason for this. I believe that he knew her make up and had a pretty good idea how this tragedy in her life would affect her. He knew chances were good that she would become weak enough to speak from the spiritually weakened condition that he (Satan) was going to create with God's permission. We Christians all know how we are sometimes used and our loved ones are used when we run our mouths under pressure. Personally, that is why I avoid arguments at all costs. I know I will say something stupid and not just any stupid words but I will allow words to be planted by the evil one, like fiery darts are planted. How many times have we all experienced arguments with a person and during the course of things verbally exchanged things are said that have been said before, perhaps by others who hurt you? I don't believe that is a coincidence. It's as if they knew exactly what words to say and how to say them to "push my buttons." How many people have sounded like my mother or sounded like my father with exactly the same words, tones and emphasis that hurt me before? This is not an accident. Satan is good at what he does! Mrs. Job was using the words that Satan placed in her, because he was able to use her in her emotionally-weakened condition. As you can tell, I really like Mrs. Job and I can't wait to meet her in heaven! I want to tell her how she inspired me and to tell her how much I learned from her.
"I have made a covenant with my eyes"
The covenant was a tradition passed down generation to generation. Almost everybody had at one time or another seen a covenant reached between men for one purpose or another. Usually it was an agreement to behave or act in a certain way under certain conditions. The terms of the covenant were always specified clearly and the method and reasoning were based on covenants that God Himself set up before men and with men. The first covenant that was accomplished was God bringing the woman Eve to the first man Adam, there was set up a marriage covenant between the two. Such marriage covenants are still performed today and the terms specified clearly. The second covenant made by God was the covenant where blood sacrifice would atone for the sin of a man. "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin." When blood is shed, the life of something innocent is forfeit. Moses' account of Abel sacrificing to God to atone for his sin and to give love offering to God, was an example of this covenant men performed before God. Another covenant that was before men in permanence is the rainbow that God put in the heaven to show there would be no more flood to destroy the earth. (Genesis 9:12-14)
But what is a covenant and why is it so binding?
If one looks at the word covenant in this verse it is the Hebrew word berith (ber-eeth') that means "to cut" and is formed from the word barah (baw-raw') which means "to select or choose." The idea is that there is a decision in the offing that is very important and is intended to be binding. So before the highest authority, God, the parties make a pledge (barah) and then agree to let the matter be in the hands of God should one party or the other break that agreement. The sense of cutting is in the seriousness of the covenant matter. Once a thing is cut, it cannot be the same again. It is permanently altered by this permanent agreement. [think circumcision] The oral tradition then usually added curses to add weight to the agreement and this also was laid before God, to be administered at God's discretion should either party err.
In this account, who were the parties? It is Job and his marriage (as an entity in itself). Who stood in for the other party? Job's fleshly eyes. When two people are married they have become "one flesh" and the eyes would do well to be the "other party" to the covenant. The eyes (flesh) do have a "mind" of their own from time to time. Job would have to keep the seriousness of this vow before him at all times because the flesh raises up in a man's weakness and not in his strength. It will blindside him at times and a man will fall. The man, not intending to do anything wrong, will be drawn into breaking the covenant by the sin that dwells in his flesh.
Job, to covenant with God, would have to take this very seriously. Most likely he took an innocent lamb or goat and cut it in two pieces before the sacrificial alter. Then separating the two halves, prayerfully promise to not look upon another woman, and then walk through the midst of the animal. It was as if the man became part of the animal's life that was taken and the blood's value was a guarantor in this arrangement. That was how serious Job was about keeping his marriage vow holy and his integrity to God and to his wife. I'd say I'd never do such a thing if I was Job but then, in that society, it was the most powerful way to say you were dead serious when making a promise. I think I would have to be that serious when it came to my marriage and to pleasing my God. What love Job had!
What was the promise? "...Why should I look upon a young woman."
His precious wife was enough! She was "God's allotment from above and the inheritance from on high." Did Job add a curse to this already solemn and valid covenant, to increase its strength in his own mind? Yes!
"If I have walked with falsehood [in this matter of cheating on my wife]..." "or my foot has hastened to deceit [in this matter]..." "if my step has turned from the way" or "my heart walked after my eyes" or "if any spot adheres to my hands"... "If my heart has been enticed by a woman" or "if I've lurked at my neighbor's door" [to take his neighbor's wife]
"...let me sow and another eat" [my crops taken from me after I do all the work to get a harvest] "yes let my harvest be rooted out..." [ruin the land so no crops can grow probably referring to sowing ground with salt that would take years for the land to overcome] then "let my wife grind for another" [signifying a wife doing chores and wifely duties such as cooking and keeping the home] and let others bow down over her." [Signifying a man other than he himself doing the duties of a husband to her, sexual and otherwise]
Can anyone doubt Job's seriousness or the love Job had for his Lord and for his wife? "There is no one on earth like him!" God said.
Are we serious with God or not? When we say we love God do we play games of semantics with Him? Do you realize what marriage is? Job did! Marriage is a holy, serious covenant made between a man and a woman before God Almighty!
INTEGRITY: Do I have it? Now you can see why God did not hesitate to say yes to Satan, in essence saying:
You have the nerve Satan to think you can rock MY servant's integrity? I know his heart and that there is none like him in all the earth. Okay, it's on! But know this: when all is said and done, the blessings I bless him with will far outweigh anything you can do. I will even give him reassurance about about all he lost, for he in fact has lost nothing. His children are with Me and I will restore them to him when he gets home. I will give him more money, more camels and more servants after this than he ever had before. I will increase the love between he and his wife and I will give them such children that the world will know I have blessed them both for his faithfulness. None shall be as his daughters for beauty. Work your best plan, evil one, and I will undo it. I AM God.
Now, for a challenge - (which really is just a reality check and wake up call). Do you realize the marriage covenant we made with our spouses contains the same covenant that Job made implied in the vows? The covenant of marriage was made to be an unbreakable agreement before God. Jesus laid out the terms and the only way out of the covenant. Then Our Lord also said, "You have heard that it was said of old [in the Law and in oral tradition] 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you [this is the reality check regarding the covenant made] that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28)
Do you see that the covenant effecting one's eyes is there within the covenant we have already made? The wise Job was a genius. He knew before the counsel of Jesus way back in those early times. God tells us in the New Testament, that we better be aware how important our eyegate is. We better pay attention where we look, then gaze, then lust, because the information comes at us fast; whether we have prepared or not. I have been very open in my writings, how weak I will get if I do not constantly watch myself and keep myself pure. My wonderful wife is very aware and she is like a shelter that my Lord has provided me for safety. I can tell her and she will pray with me. She helps me watch out for things the devil sends my way. I am so oblivious sometimes! I'll be thinking of nothing sensual at all and then blam! something is sent my way. There have been times that I can not turn on television or look at any magazine because of the sensitivity of the moment. My lovely wife has been provided to be my helpmate and she is strong. I do the same for her because she also has eyes, drives lusts. I can see her begin to struggle, and begin praying for her when she is effected by the same weaknesses. We are strengths for one another, in the Lord.
So how do we go about doing what Job did without hacking an innocent animal in two? Remember, Job lived during a time before the perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ, bled and died on Calvary's cross. We do not have to sacrifice animals in order for our sins to be removed, or kill an animal to add to the validity of any of our covenants we make, because we have the atoning blood of Jesus as our guarantor. When we accept Christ as Savior, He takes care of our sin; past present and future. He also walks with us and dwells in us to validate and oversee all our dealings. We have within us the highest authority in the universe and He listens hears and remembers every word we say. (Thus the 2nd in this series, Making A Covenant With Our Mouths)
As married people we stood before God and man, making a covenant of purity to God and swearing faithfulness to our spouse. We made a covenant effecting our eyes! As single people we are commanded to have sex only with a marriage partner. We have no free reign to do just anything we want. When God said adulterers will not get into the kingdom of God, He was not kidding! The purity thing applies to unmarried people as well.
1. Married people: Husbands begin to appreciate your wives and wives begin to appreciate your husbands. Their physical bodies were put in front of you to look at, admire, ogle, play with, to take up your attention - for safety against sin and for pleasure. God knew what He was doing when He created us as sexual beings. He made our sexuality strong, the sensations powerful, starting with sight. Make your mind up that what truly is beautiful comes from within. We take into our eye-gate so much, so we are to fill our minds with visions of what we know is beautiful, with our spouses image. She is to be our all-in-all in the physical sense.
This is the excuses I have heard:
"But he has grown a potbelly and his chest and biceps are gone. He used to be so dreamy. I am bored with my life. It's only a little look and then I dream."
"But she is beginning to sag and I see her without make up and I see her sleepy or tired or cranky and I am bored. The girls are so hot to sneak a peek at."
Boredom is thanklessness. It is saying that God's provision for you is not enough and you think that your sin is a better answer. It is sort of reminiscent of Israel as God's people complained in the wilderness.
"All we have is this loathsome bread to eat!"
"All I have is this husband to look at!" "All I have is my wife that is not thin anymore and not bouncy like the woman running on the beach in the commercials!"
Wife! he is what you have been given, appreciate him!
Husband! she is what you have been given, appreciate her!
"For the lips of an immoral woman [any woman that you lust over becomes that immoral woman] drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil [she looks good, better than good, like a dream]. But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword... Remove your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house [even close enough to gaze]... Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well [you have been given your own proper means to fill this desire]. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? [should you act this evil out in public?] Let them only be your own, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountains be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. [yes, she is getting older but so are you] As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times, and always be enraptured with her love. [Deer mate for life, a lesson for us apparently] (Proverbs 5:3-4, 8, 15-19)
2. Increase your self awareness of the things you look at and the amount of time you look at them. We are used to the world saying that everything is acceptable and that there is no sin in anything we do. We hear sayings like,
"No harm in looking."
"Look but don't touch."
"As long as you don't act on a thing it is only in your mind and can't hurt you."
Don't you believe it! Start by taking note, for example, of how long the bouncing boobs in an "innocent" commercial keep your gaze. Then realize what you are actually doing and call it what it is- sin. It is so hard for guys to tear those eyes away, especially when no one is around. Even if you seem to be thinking no thoughts, but only taking "mental measurements," it has become sin to you. Girls eyeing that commercial with the big chested dude that looks good (and you hear smells good too) will do the same thing to you. Looking so as to lust is sin for you. This exercise is not a pleasant one because it gives an honest report: we all break our covenants in this way from time to time. We need to be aware, refocus and then confess it as sin.
3. Confess your sins to God and your weaknesses to your spouse. She knows how men are easily swayed by sight. After all she's used it on you many a time, right? So make use of the provision the Lord lovingly gave you - love her and give her all of your heart. Assure her you are in constant mode to change direction should the need arise. It may be hard to be this honest, but be a man! do it anyway. Wives, you too may be a little red-faced as you admit to your husband that you have weaknesses as he does. Assure him you love him and always will. Pray together and hold each other up. God will renew a sexual spark when you do this. Things may be better than they have been in years or perhaps better than they have ever been.
4. Be mindful that you are what God has given your partner to look at, and take better care of yourself. Men brush your teeth so she doesn't see yellow nasty when you smile. Eat smarter so if the Lord blesses you with a little weight loss your partner can see it with his or her eyes that are devouring you in love. Believe me, the little things mean a lot.
You may be saying that this is really no big deal. What a person sees and chooses to look at in his own mind is his own business. I agree that each person is given the right to choose for themselves the things they do privately, but the divorce rate being almost 60% says that something is happening that needs to be addressed.
Some of you are saying,
"Even if I take this seriously and tried to stop watching and being excited at women, I couldn't."
Or, some of you women may be saying,
"How do I stop dreaming? Fantasy is part of my mind?"
Well, before this gets to be a pattern behavior that effects your marriage, or an addiction that ruins a marriage, or even your life, we need to think about it. On your own, you will not have the power to turn away from these powerful things, even when you know they will hurt you or the one you love. Only God can give a release from these things that privately ensnare us. These are secret sins that tend to torment, because they erode the value of your family and your home.
Are you tired of being addicted to porn or waiting until you are alone to be indulging the sin in your mind? Are you feeling the hole in your heart that happens because your mentally have given yourself to another and you rightly feel guilty? Your mind and eyes and appetites can enslave you and God wants to free you. You can turn to God right now and ask Him to renew your heart and mind. He can restore love to your marriage and rekindle a spark and excitement that is missing in your relationship. He wants to heal and be there for you and you can call on Him now and ask Him in.
"All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Dear Jesus, I know that my life is not what it could be, but I don't have the power to be different than I am. I need you to forgive me because I know I am a sinner and am powerless over these forces in my life. You promised that if I believe in you as the only way of salvation and are willing to turn from living life my way and turn to follow You - You would save me. Please Jesus, please save me because I do believe that you came to earth and bled and died for me. I believe that you were buried and rose from the dead on the third day. Come into my heart and save me. I pray this in Jesus' holy name Amen.
Be happy you are saved and thank God for your salvation.
Now a word for the saved Christian: Are you like Job and realize that your eyes are causing you to sin over and over again? Do you need to make a second covenant with your eyes? If you feel led because you know that your eyes cause you to sin and wish to make a covenant as the great patriarch Job did pray this prayer with me:
Dear Lord Jesus You have spoken to my heart and I know that my eyes have been my downfall so many times. I have used them to sin against You and my spouse. I have a propensity to look, so I am now making a covenant with my eyes before You, Lord. I promise to never gaze into the face of sin as Lot did into Sodom. I promise that when You speak to me in the small still voice, that I will look away. I will not play games of peeking at that which I know is forbidden. I give my eyes to You so that I can use them for Your Glory. Use me Lord and guard my eyes so that I may remain pure before You. Help keep my marriage healthy for both our sakes, her and mine. Thank You, Amen.
Others in this series of independent artilces: