The scriptures have a marvelous capability to apply truth to each of us in unique ways, wholly suited to our personalities. This does not mean that there are different truths for each person, as he reads the scriptures, but the Holy Spirit, “blowing where it will” (John 3:8), and speaking to us in “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26), impresses upon the soul the truth in such a way that it can be assimilated and put to use.
The verse above, from today’s epistle reading, has always communicated to me an essential “tool” to resist temptation. The theological content of this verse is profound, but I have found immense practical value by using the phrase “And the world passeth away” as a sort of play on words and mnemonic device.
The lust of the eyes is a pernicious and tireless foe, but I have found it immensely easier to combat this often SHORT ACTING temptation by clinging to this verse. Oftentimes, we are presented with a person, or image in a billboard, or advertisement, or magazine cover, which will be within our field of vision for only a small moment, if we recall that just as the beauty in that image will pass away, so will we pass away from the proximity of that image. If we are in a car, and see a billboard, in only a moment, we are carried at 65 miles and hour away so that literally it has “passed away”; we could not look at the image after we have passed it even if we tried to. In the same way, a person what we may be tempted to stare at will turn a corner, or better yet, we will move away, and no longer can their image tempt us, because it has passed away. In the grocery line, all we need do is take one step forward and the magazine cover has passed away. Even if we only avert our eyes for a very little while, or even push the “back” button on our browser, we are assured that the tempting image will literally “pass away”, as we continue about our business.
And what happens to us when these images pass way? We have suffered no loss, and our soul feels immense relief, and although the temptation has passed away, our will has been strengthened against this type of temptation, and that strength will not pass away, if we continue to be vigilant.