There’s a difference between resolving to walk in purity and making a covenant with God to do so. Here’s how that difference can bring victory over sexual temptation and change your life.
One day, during my prayer time, I came to Job 31:1: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” Praying over the verse for several minutes, I kept saying, “Yes, Lord. I’m fiercely committed to purity. Give me this verse.” As I was saying yes repeatedly to the Lord, He gently interrupted.
“You know you’ve never actually done it,” He said to me.
I was nailed. I was saying yes to a verse without ever actually saying yes to it. I was resolved to walk in purity, but I had not taken it to the level of covenant, as Job had. With covenant, Job used a sledgehammer word. Covenant often involved cutting animals in half (Gen. 15:7-21), showing that a violator hazarded a similar fate. A covenant, therefore, is a vow that is solemnized by a verbal or written pledge and that must never be violated—on pain of consequences.
Make a vow regarding sexuality? Just the idea was terrifying, especially in an area so susceptible to weakness and failure. But as I continued to pray over it the next week, I perceived Jesus was extending grace to me to make a covenant with my eyes.
Trembling, I accepted His invitation. I actually wrote the vow, dated it, gave an offering and covenanted my eyes to Jesus only. I promised to never again allow my eyes to linger upon an image or person lustfully.
What a scary moment! But something powerful happened. Immediately I stepped into a dimension of victory over temptation that was real, measurable and enduring. The covenant took the cross and plunged it through my curiosity.
After several years of sustained victory, I’ve been nudged by the Lord to share this invitation with others.
Would you say yes to the “eye covenant” of Job 31:1? The Bible does not command this eye covenant. What is commanded is absolute purity (Col. 3:5). An eye covenant is simply a tool to empower purity—but since it has the Bible’s official endorsement, the wise will take heed.
The Eye Gate
The eye is the primary gate to our sexuality. Just as the gate in ancient cities regulated all incoming and outgoing traffic, our eyes determine the nature of the traffic that goes into and out of our hearts. Only when our eye gate is sealed from tempting sights can we find and hold the high ground of purity.
Imagine an ancient city under siege. The battering ram targets the gate because if it can be breached, the city will fall. That illustrates our fight with temptation. If temptation can gain access through our eyes, the alluring data will set up camp in our minds, and fantasy will give birth to sin. If the eye gate remains closed, the enemy is relegated to the outside of our castle and we can fight him from a place of advantage.
How, then, do we close the gate to temptation? With an eye covenant.
The eye feeds the mind, which is the engine of our sexuality (Matt. 15:19). If the eye is the gate, the mind is the city center—the realm of fantasy and desire. Once the eye gate is shut and illicit traffic stopped, we can actually overcome in the fight for a consecrated thought life.
An eye covenant, therefore, is our most powerful tool in “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
We’re in a war. Like never before, compromise is accessible, affordable and anonymous—just one click away. Satan wants us alienated, sidelined, bound in darkness and useless in war.
But violent times require violent measures. The rules have changed. Yesterday’s tactics won’t suffice on today’s battlefield. An eye covenant is not overkill. The intensity of the fight demands it.
Gas Pedal, Brake Pedal
Victory over sexual temptation requires two vital components: the compelling love of Christ and the sheer terror of the Lord.
Picture your life as a car. To be operational, a car needs both a gas pedal and brake pedal. The gas pedal is the love of Christ, which propels you forward into purity. The brake pedal is the fear of the Lord, which stops you from crashing into compromise.
The strongest antidote to sin is the pure, all-consuming love of Christ. When you love Jesus with all your heart and soul, all you want to do is obey Him. You hate sin because it hinders love. Love knows that the only way to see God is through purity of heart (Matt. 5:8), so love pursues consecration with fiery zeal.
If you want to see God, learn from Job’s journey. The man who made a covenant with his eyes was the man who one day beheld God face to face (Job 42:5). The Bible intends for us to make that connection: The pure heart, empowered by an eye covenant, will one day see God. Love catapults the heart into purity because it knows that purity gains the greatest of all possessions: God Himself.
If all you have is a strong gas pedal of love, however, and no brake pedal, you’re eventually going to crash. Keeping clear of compromise also demands a strong braking system in the fear of the Lord. Sometimes you need good, hard-grabbing brakes. Sometimes you need to stop. The fear of sin’s consequences is not enough to stop you in the heat of temptation. There is only one fear that is strong enough to deter you in moments of weakness and temptation, and that is the fear of the Lord.
How do we get those brakes functional? By making a covenant before God with our eyes: “I vow to never let my eyes rest upon it.” With this vow, we purposely clothe ourselves in the fear of the Lord. It’s terrifying because if we violate it, we’ve broken covenant with the God of the universe. Toying with temptation is now unthinkable.
We make the covenant because we want the fear of the Lord. We know we can’t fulfill it in the strength of our natural will-power. It will require divine grace at every step. When you realize you’re vowing something you cannot possibly perform in your flesh, it makes you tremble all the way through.
Some resist the idea of an eye covenant because they think vows are no longer fitting for New Covenant believers. Vows were recorded twice, however, in the early church (Acts 18:18; 21:23). Besides, if the cross had rendered vows unbiblical, marriage vows would be wrong.
Some folks think Jesus forbade vows in Matthew 5:33-37, in which he addresses the issue of making an oath. What He actually forbade was the swearing of oaths to people, not the making of covenant vows with God.
Others resist taking vows because of a vow’s potential to lead Christians into greater condemnation. They point to some who have made premature vows in their spiritual immaturity and then have ended up in an abyss of accusation because they violated their vow. Here’s their question: If some believers live under a mountain of accusation because of failure to walk in purity at the level of resolve, wouldn’t a failure at the level of a covenant completely bury them?
Here’s my answer to that objection: Some believers remain in cyclical patterns of failure because they have stayed in the comfort and security of the resolve level. Perhaps it’s time to burn the bridges, sell all and buy the great pearl of an eye covenant.
If an eye covenant seals shut the gateway to sin, it’s not a source of bondage but of freedom. Rather than being contrary to grace, it actually releases grace. The vow gets God’s help involved. He responds to the sheer brashness of invoking His terror. When you make an eye covenant in response to the Holy Spirit and in fear of the Lord, you will be surprised at how eagerly the Lord has been waiting to empower this kind of consecration. You will feel His smile as His grace rushes in and strengthens your ability to fulfill the vow.
Your vow will terrify you—and the empowering help of the Holy Spirit will thrill you.
It’s for Men—and Women
Men are activated sexually through the eye gate. God made them that way, but then sin ruined it. Now they’re susceptible to lust and temptation. This is why men should make a covenant with their eyes.
The covenant shuts the eye gate, which means temptation can’t even get on first base. With tempting visuals relegated to the outside of their castle, men can then engage in the glorious pursuit of bringing every thought into obedience to Christ.
It might surprise you to hear that women are also activated primarily through the eye gate. I’ve been told by many this is the case. Women have told me their eye gate largely has to do with comparisons. They often compare themselves to the attractiveness of other women.
The eyes see what another woman or man has, the data transfers from the eyes to the mind, and once in the mind, the data can turn into jealousy, daydreaming and fantasy. This is why women should also consider making a covenant with their eyes.
Many of today’s beauty industries are fueled by the fear of aging. A woman can be so distracted by her aging physique that she loses perspective on the true beauty that Christ has been developing in her over the years. The glory of the indwelling Christ gets dwarfed by the talking mirror.
Incoming data can trigger all kinds of inner traffic in both men and women. When the gate is shut and the eyes are set straight on the Lord Jesus, the things that feed fantasy, envy, lust and temptation don’t get to square one. Now the enemy is on the outside of the castle and the fight for a consecrated thought life can be fought from a place of advantage.
If you choose to make an eye covenant, consider making it for a specific time period. (Some vows in the Bible were for a limited duration. See, for example, those recorded in Numbers 6.) Start perhaps with a day, and evaluate how you experience God’s grace for that day. Then you could make a covenant for three days. Then a week. Then a month. By the time you have enjoyed a covenant for a year, you may be ready for a lifelong vow.
Write your covenant in a way that addresses your own specific struggles. The following sample might give you some ideas:
Heavenly Father, for the next 24 hours I make a covenant before You with my eyes. I vow to never let my eyes settle upon a woman or man to lust or compare. When I encounter a seductive person or image unexpectedly, I will turn away, turn it off or walk away.
Please remind me continually of this covenant vow, and grant me the grace to keep it. Knowing the weakness of my frame and the greatness of Your power, I throw myself upon Your mercy and strength. Amen.
A New Generation Rising
Let me finish by telling you a story and offering a word of hope.
I was traveling to a church on a certain weekend, accompanied by a young man in his 20s. We were a ministry team—I was the speaker, and he was the worship leader.
As we were traveling, he said to me, “I’d like to tell you about the prayer I pray every morning.”
I need to explain that his prayer is based on the words of Christ: “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 2:16). Jesus commended the church in Pergamos for several things, but He rebuked them for teaching doctrine that led people into sexual immorality. Jesus called them to repent, warning that if they did not, He would “fight against them with the sword of [His] mouth.”
I can hardly imagine anything more terrifying than having Jesus fight against you with the sword of His mouth! One day that same sword will kill, single-handedly, the entire international army the Antichrist assembles against Jesus (Rev. 19:21).
It’s this sword my young friend had in view as he told me about his daily prayer. He said he starts each day with this prayer:
“Lord Jesus, if I do anything with my eyes today to violate the covenant I have made with You, I invite You to fight against me with the sword of Your mouth. But if I honor my covenant with You and please You with the things I look upon today, I ask You to be gracious to me and bless me and open doors of favor for me that no man can shut.”
As he told me this, I just stared at him. Invoking the sword of Jesus’ mouth—it was unbelievable. I thought, “Who are you, anyway?” What kind of young man prays this kind of prayer?
I’ll tell you what kind: There’s a generation arising in these last days that is fiercely devoted to consecration. While the world is throwing itself headlong into darkness, those in this generation are rising with an unwavering loyalty to the Lamb. They are making covenants with their eyes. They are a Revelation 14:4 generation, ones “who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” Their consecration places them in stunning proximity to the Lamb.
The world has yet to see them. Will you be part of this generation?
Bob Sorge bases his traveling and writing ministry in Kansas City, Mo., where he and his wife, Marci, are with the International House of Prayer. He’s the author of 21 books, including Secrets of the Secret Place and A Covenant With My Eyes, from which this article was adapted. For more information on Bob or to be one of the first 1,000 to get a free copy of his latest book, visit oasishouse.com.
Bob Sorge explains why it’s important for believers to find that secret place in Christ at sorge.charismamag.com