We weren’t in a private place; we were in an open office with others nearby. But as months of intermittent but frequent contact took place, I began to be ensnared by the simple fact that she evidenced more than simple respect: there was a show of mild admiration toward me — enough for either my human pride or insecurity to feed on. From the earliest sense of possible impropriety in this relationship, that was all that took place until the day our conversation came to the moment I call the breakthrough of evil.

This was not a moment of physical contact; it was not an exchange of cheap suggestiveness nor plans made for a rendezvous. Rather, evil broke through before any of the obvious manifestations that anyone would immediately recognize. The Adversary of our souls is too cunning to post a signboard summoning rebellious acts of corruption, but quietly, almost inconspicuously to our perception, he drops calling cards incorporating seduction’s suggestions. They seem innocent or trivial at first, but as I discovered afterward, evil lurks in these progressive steps of an advancing seduction.

Step 1: Mental Preoccupation About the Other Person

Mental preoccupation in itself should be sufficient warning, yet we human beings have a tremendous capacity to deceive ourselves and to tolerate the supposition that “he/she is just a friendly person and is so nice to me.” It’s not necessarily a preoccupation with the physical attributes of a person’s body. If I had been thinking lewd thoughts about this woman all that time — which I wasn’t — I would have long before been forewarned. She was just increasingly “on my mind.” Beware of mental preoccupations.

Step 2: An Unusual Desire to Be Near or Around the Person

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Warning: Mental preoccupation breeds the quest to “just be around” the other person — enlarging the base for opportunity. (This may manifest itself in other ways; for example, looking for the opportunity to go just slightly out of your way to be near the person; positioning yourself in a roomful of people to gravitate toward an inevitable contact. Such actions are essentially born of the flesh, but once given place — and I’ve warned people of this many times — Satan will get involved, and you’ll find him manipulating contact opportunities that the flesh can easily delude itself to see as God’s providence, rather than the Adversary’s plots.)

Step 3: A Growing Desire to Give Frequent Compliments
One of the rules that I have learned is to not give personal compliments to women other than my wife and daughters. There is a difference in commending a person’s good work or their diligence to duty, affirming their worth or value as a person, and in noting, “You look especially pretty today,” or “That dress is particularly attractive,” or “I can’t imagine getting along without you.” Today, society has a whole set of approved verbal come-ons that essentially announce the intention of an improper relationship — come-ons such as, “I find myself very attracted to you.” Even the simplest word set can become a personal vent for desire — desire yet unrecognized for where it can lead you. (Let me say, there is a fitting time for expressing gratitude to persons with whom you work, just as Anna and I take occasion together to express special appreciation to the ladies — and, of course, the men as well — who are part of my office staff.)

Step 4: The Supposition That an “Innocent” Fling or Flirtation Can Be Indulged
It is a self-deception — a ruse of the flesh — to suppose that any one of us can make a temporary decision to throw off restraint, or inhibition, and get away with it. The marketing lie “Whatever happens in Las Vegas stays there” illustrates the vain idea that any one of us can say, “Just for a minute [or a seemingly allowable brief moment] I’m gonna let myself go.” Not only is there no escape from moral responsibility for the believer in Christ, but also the possibility that the Adversary will capture that moment of exposure in order to secure a beachhead of evil in a soul or a relationship is too great to risk. In Luke 21:19, Jesus admonishes, “By your patience possess your souls.” It’s His directive never to “just let go”; it’s His call to “get a grip” and keep it!

From The Anatomy of Seduction, © 2004 by Jack Hayford. Published by Regal Books, www.regalbooks.com. Used by permission. All rights reserved.