Chuck Swindoll, in Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back, tells a story about a father concerned about the danger of a nearby canal, ordered his son, “Don’t swim in the canal.”
“OK, Dad,” he answered.
However, later that day he saw his son coming home carrying a wet swimsuit.
“Where have you been?” demanded the father.
“Swimming in the canal,” answered the boy.
“Didn’t I tell you not to swim there?” asked the father.
“Yes, Sir,” answered the boy.
“Why did you?” he asked.
“Well, Dad,” he explained, “I had my swimsuit with me and I couldn’t resist the temptation.”
“Why did you take your swimsuit with you?” he questioned.
“So I’d be prepared to swim, in case I was tempted,” he replied.
This story illustrates that too often we fail to take precautions against temptation to sin. In fact, sometimes we do things that make giving in to temptation easy. Regarding this problem, the apostle Paul issued this warning in Romans 13:14.
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
The word “provision” means “forethought” or literally “provident care.” This involves thinking, planning and providing something needed for the future.
I’ve read that this word was used in connection with the Roman army moving forward as they conquered new lands. They would often burn bridges they had crossed, signaling to the soldiers that they were not going back. Only forward. There was no provision for escape or return.
When it comes to our new life in Christ, there should be no thought of turning back. Of returning to a life of sin. Or even making provisions “just in case” we’re tempted.
The other evening, we were watching an old episode of “Home Improvement” where Jill catches their oldest son, Brad, in his bedroom making out with his girlfriend. Alarmed, she futilely tries to talk to him about sex. Later Tim, in an awkward way, tries to broach the subject. However, all the advice centered around being responsible. Using protection. And waiting until you’re a man.
I remarked to Norma Jean, how the show said nothing about waiting until you’re married. And certainly not even suggesting that pre-marital sex is a sin. In fact, the majority of Americans today see nothing wrong about unmarried people engaging in sexual relations. Thus, birth control education, pills, and prophylactics are provided without any moral guidance for our young people. That’s “making provision for the flesh.”
If you have a strong temptation to drink, don’t hang out with your buddies at a bar, claiming you’re just going to drink a coke and eat a hamburger.
If you’re tempted to watch pornographic movies, don’t get cable TV with all the movie channels.
If you’re tempted to engage in revelry and riotous behavior, don’t attend parties and places of entertainment where such is the norm.
If you’re a married man, follow the Mike Pence rule. Don’t have secret meetings with a woman who’s not your wife.
Making provisions for the flesh might extend into our choice of clothing. What message are we sending? The “me too” movement says a woman can dress or undress any way she chooses, regardless of how scantily, sensual or sexual the clothing, and no one should say or do anything inappropriate. Yet, the reality is that’s simply making provision for the flesh. Like it or not.
“Make no provision for the flesh” can be applied to the magazines we subscribe to, the books we read, and the internet sites we visit. It’s application is found in where we vacation and what we do while there. And even the very professions we choose.
The answer to this problem is found in the metaphorical expression “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Be clothed in His righteousness. Attired in His holiness. Dressed in goodness. And it is well to remember, this is not a coat to put on when it’s cool and take off when it’s warm. This garment of godliness is to be worn 24/7.
“Make no provision for the flesh.”, Or as one sage said it, “When you flee temptation, be sure you don’t leave a forwarding address.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman