Eye Promise: Guarding Your Heart
By Guarding Your Eyes
Be careful little eyes what you see;
Be careful little eyes what you see.
There's a Father up above
Looking down in tender love,
So be careful little eyes what you see.
So went the Sunday School song I learned when I was about four years old. It had
additional verses about other parts of the body and the need for care in using them
("ears what you hear ... mouth what you say ... hands what you do ... feet where you
The lesson it taught me early on was that I am responsible for what I do with my body.
I have choices to make as to how I use the parts of my body. It was years before I knew
the verse in Romans 6 which refers to using the members of my body as instruments of sin
or righteousness (v. 13); but the principle was engraved on me in my Beginner's class.
Of course, the other lesson of the song is that there is a God who sees me all the
time; and because he is a God of "tender love," I would not want to displease
him. Not bad theology for a little kids' ditty.
I just wish I had remembered the message of the song about ten years later. You know,
when the testosterone starts pumping, and the "little eyes" begin to notice
things that they hadn't before.
The teen years are a time for setting the patterns of manhood. Unfortunately, for many
of us the patterns that were established included the misuse of our then full-grown eyes.
Our eyes were not careful what they saw.
In the days when you could still get away with calling a female a "girl",
girl-watching was just a part of life. It certainly was in the public schools I attended.
But it didn't stop with admiring the pedestrianna who liked to strut her stuff. There were
the magazines, and the movies, and for too many of my peers back thenwell, the eyes
weren't the only body parts that got misused.
If the sixties were a sensual era, the nineties are even more so. Female flesh is
ubiquitous; you can't escape it. The female body is the currency of advertising. It greets
you in the check-out line at the stores where they put all the junk magazines; it beckons
you from the highway shoulder on the billboards hawking women's underwear (!); it sells
you tacos, and vacation trips, and hammers, and ball-point pens.
And then there is the way women dress today. Their clothing commonly serves the aim of
soliciting the looks of men. Tight fits, low necks, sheer material, intentional "eye
traps" set purposely to make a voyeur out of all men who pass within visual range.
Without even entering the all-too-accessible world of pornography, a man today must
walk a daily gauntlet of sights that God never meant his eyes to see. The invitations to
sin are delivered relentlessly.
First Step to Adultery
So back to our little song .... What we need is to be very careful; and most of us are
not careful enough what we see. Let's first quickly dispose of the old nonsense about
"enjoying God's creation" when we scan a woman's body Yes, God made the female
body to be enjoyed by the man but there is only one such body that should ever be thus
enjoyed by any man, and that is the one belonging to that man's wife!
Ours is an adulterous culture. If it is acceptable to couple with someone other than
one's covenanted spouse, then, of course, it is also acceptable to look at other women.
But looking is the first step to adultery.
Think of the great Christian men you have known who have fallen into immorality. Do you
think they one day, out of the blue, decided to go out and commit adultery? No. It
developed slowly, and it started with a look. It always starts with a look. Where else
could it start? Looking at the body of a woman who is not his wife is the first step to
adultery for any man who falls into that sin.
That is why Jesus drew such a direct connection between the look and the act of
immorality: "...anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery
with her in his heart" (Matt. 5:28). I don't think Jesus is saying that imagining an
adulterous liaison is as bad as doing it (though that is true enough). He is saying that
even the first lustful look is the same sin as full-blown adultery.
What is a lustful look? Any look that attempts to possess through the visual channel
what does not belong to a man. You not only do not have the right to sleep with another
man's wife; you do not even have the right to look at her in a way that is sexually
What is a sexually pleasurable look? It is not just explicit sexual thoughts, nor even
the casual admiration of private areas of a woman's physique. It is that first faint
flicker of lust, that almost unconscious nervous-type feeling that springs to life when
looking at another woman physically. Even that must be avoided becauseand here is
the point againit is the first step on a very slippery slope which leads to adultery
James 1: 14,15 warns that "each one is tempted when, by his own evil desires, he
is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and
sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." Before there is even recognizable
sin in our hearts and actions, there is "evil desire" which entices. That is why
we must be so ruthless with ourselves to quench the very first flicker of desire for that
which is not ours to have.
Immediately after he cautions against the lustful look, Jesus goes on to say, "If
your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to
lose one part of our body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell" (Matt.
5:29). Self-mutilation is better than sinning. The Lord expects us to take whatever
measures are necessary to keep ourselves from being led into sin. What measures can we
take to avoid sinning with our eyes? Let me suggest five specific steps.
1. Make a Covenant With Your Eyes
God's Word provides us with one godly man's solution to our problem. In Job 31:1 the
righteous man Job tells us: "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at
Job must have learned the same song as I (but I wish I had known from the start to do
what he did!). He was so determined to be careful with his eyes that he made a covenant
with them. He made a binding agreement, a promise with himself that he would never try to
possess a girl with his eyes.
So we can picture Job: when confronted with a flash of flesh carelessly revealed, he
turned away. If he saw a woman dressed to entice, he would force himself to look at her
face if he had to look at her at all. He developed the gritty discipline of controlling
what his eyes were allowed to see. This is what we must do.
If King David had made an "eye promise," he would have saved himself a load
of trouble. What would he have done that evening on his rooftop when on his stroll he
looked down and noticed a bathing beauty? (2 Samuel 11:2) He would have immediately turned
away, closing off the visual channel to his heart. Instead, he looked, and he was enticed,
and he conceived a plan, and he committed adultery, and he had a man killed, and he had
adulterous sons, and he lost his favorite sonall because he had not made a covenant
with his eyes!
A second strategy for keeping our eyes pure is to turn our temptations into an ambush
on the enemy. If Satan knows you are weak in controlling your eyes, he will attack you at
that point of weakness (he is an excellent military strategist!). So what you need to do
is turn the guns on him. Make a decision that whenever you are tempted with your eyes you
will fire a prayer or Scripture missile.
You are innocently looking through a news magazine at the barber shop awaiting your
turn whenbang!there is a scantily-clad woman in the "Arts" section.
Turn the page quickly; then fire your missile: pray for some specific thing that will hurt
the enemy's kingdom, or repeat a passage of Scripture that you have memorized. You could
pray for your wife and God's work in her life, for your children, for a church leader,
whatever. You could quote Bible verses that will strengthen your resolve to live a life of
purity. Just use the temptation as a reminder to do something specific that will hurt the
Tempter. The payoff? He may leave you alone after a while because he doesn't want to risk
getting shot at!
3. Avoid Tempting Situations
The third way to maintain cleanness through your eyes is the most obvious: avoid the
tempting situations. Don't look at the magazines that are likely to cause you trouble.
Don't go to that fellow employee's cubicle; call her on the intercom. Don't watch
television programs (or commercials) or video movies that have sensual appeals.
And what about swimming pools? These days mixed bathing situations, especially public
pools, are guaranteed to provide temptations by the bucketful. A man with an eye promise
will almost have to don dark glasses and a white cane at such a place. He'll be so
constantly diverting his gaze, he'll be visually impaired!
To help avoid temptation, one thing we men need to do is to talk openly in our churches
about proper attire for our wives and daughters. Whatever direction the world around us
may take, we must assure that our families and churches do not partake of the sensual
spirit of the day.
4. Be Accountable
A fourth means of protecting purity is suggested by the previous point. We men need to
be accountable to one another for the purity of our lives.
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one
falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help
him up!" (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10)
God never meant for Christians to succeed in isolation. We need one another. We need to
be honest about our failures, specific in our prayers, and deliberate in our
5. Confess and Press On
A final measure we can take is to confess our failures to keep our eye promise. Rather
than merely feeling defeated when we sin, we should immediately return to the cross of
Jesus Christ and there again humbly plead for his mercy. The victory of Jesus over sin is
as potent today as the first day we believed. (1 John 1:9)
Satan, whose name means "Accuser", wants us to wallow around in fruitless
despair over our sins. Jesus, whose name means "Savior", wants to set us free
from both the guilt and the power of sin. Freedom begins with confession. And confession
involves repentance which is turning around, getting back on the right track, and renewing
our covenant with our eyes.
If we take these steps, beginning with the covenant with our own eyes, then we will be
men who have gone a long way toward keeping our hearts pure and our lives useful to the
There is so much at stake here. It is not only a matter of our own lives and our own
holiness. Our choices affect our children as well. If a man is still bound by the sin of
lust and cannot control his eyes, then his children may well be growing up with a similar
weakness. Scripture makes clear that sin has an effect through the generational connection
(Exodus 34:7). I not only need to be a holy vessel for Christ for my own sake, I need to
be a pure channel through whom he can work in my children. My eye promise may save my son
from adultery. Again, consider David and his family.
Above all, remember that the Lord did not save us to have us struggle with sin all our
lives. He saved us to defeat sin in us, to give us victory over sin. Yes, we will battle
sin until we die; but we need not struggle with the same sin day after day. "Sin
shall not be your master" (Romans 6:14). The Christian man is freefree not to
You can makeand keepa covenant with your eyes. "There's a Father up
above looking down in tender love, so be careful little eyes what you see." It's
still good advice.
Posted here with permission from Patriarch Magazine
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