One of the reasons why I don’t go to be beach is because I cannot swim. Go ahead and make fun of me. The other reason is because of the scantily clad femmes that often mute the beauty of the glistening waters and inviting beach fronts. (I should also mention it is one reason that I almost exclusively use Twitter now instead of Facebook).
Apparently, I am not alone. In studying for a sermon on 1 Peter I ran across this very helpful statement from John Piper.
When choosing a place to vacation, my wife, Noël, will more often choose the ocean and I will more often choose the mountains. One of the reasons I incline away from the ocean comes from this text, believe it or not. Beaches are by the ocean and people wear bathing suits while at the beach and the designers of women's bathing suits, it seems, are constantly finding creative ways to arouse the sexual desires of men.
Now my concern with this is not that I might be tempted by one of these women to commit adultery. My concern is way before that. My concern is how to maximize hope in the grace of God in my heart. That's what this text says I am to be concerned with. "Hope fully in grace!" But I know from about 34 years of experience and from biblical warnings that titillating sexual input to this mind is spiritually inebriating. That's my biggest concern. If I allow myself to drink it in through my eyes for long or to return to it often, my passion for the truth and the intensity and fullness of my hope in the glory of God's grace diminishes. That's the issue for me.
If I am reading him correctly he is saying that the battle isn’t merely to avoid lust or adultery. Those are certainly crucial. But in order to maximize hope he avoids it all together. To have to do battle (even successful battle) against the lure of the Sirens expends energy and joy and hope that could be expended on that which really lasts; namely, God Himself.
Our battle against lust and other mind-numbing activities is far deeper than just “don’t engage in sin”. It’s a battle to not be robbed of hope.