I’ve talked a lot about how to overcome sexual sin. In short, I believe the only way to truly overcome temptation is through being transformed by Jesus and by maturing as his disciple. The more we embrace our true identity in Christ, the more power we will have to resist all sins including sexual temptation.
In this article, however, I want to talk about three more tips that might really help you overcome repetitive sexual sin if you are a Christian. The gospel and your relationship with Jesus must come first. But these practical tips can also be very useful in stopping addictive sexual practices like masturbation, looking at porn, or lusting in your mind.
To Overcome Addictive Sexual Sins, Sometimes You Also Need to Address Your Emotional and Mental Issues
As I talk about in the article 4 Reasons Besides Lust that People Look at Porn, our sexual activity is often a window into our internal conditions. God made sex to express the love in a husband and wife’s heart for one another. However, when sin enters the human heart your inner condition keeps expressing itself sexually.
Sex is expressive. Sex is also a release. It releases all kinds of chemicals in our bodies that make us feel good for a brief moment. Sometimes we start using sexual experiences as a way of coping with and expressing issues inside of us, including emotional and mental health issues. “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man” (Proverbs 27:19).
If you struggle with anger, depression, anxiety, or paranoia, for example, sometimes these issues can be triggering your sinful sexual behavior. Oftentimes you can’t stop sinning sexually because the main trigger for that sin has not actually being removed.
If you look at porn when you are depressed but you never deal with your depression, you are going to keep struggling. If you run to masturbation when you feel anxious, you will keep struggling with this repetitive sexual sin until you deal with the anxiety.
So one outside the box way to overcome addictive sexual sin is by dealing with any mental health or emotional issues. Perhaps when you get healthy in these areas the pressure to give into sexual temptation will lessen and you will find greater success in your pursuit of purity as a Christian.
Sometimes Changing Your Environment Can Help You Change Your Sinful Sexual Behavior
If you’ve ever attended an AA or NA meeting, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “People, places, and things.” People say this as a way to describe the common triggers for people who struggle with alcohol and drugs. In a similar way, our environments can be a huge trigger for sexual sin as well. Philippians 4:8 states:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
If a certain environment does not lend to holy thinking because of your past sins associated with that place, it can be wise to avoid that place. For example, if you enter into a room or a house where you have struggled with porn addiction for years, just being in that house can be a trigger for you. If you start hanging around your old friends from a season where you were more sexually promiscuous, just seeing these people can trigger your old habits. Sometimes people can get triggered by being alone with a computer in the room.
In short, sometimes an environment change is needed if you really want to break free from sexual addiction and unhealthy habits. It can also be psychologically helpful to pair your new commitment to purity to a new place of living or sleeping. A new environment will not be the sole cause of you overcoming sexual sin, but it can add to the positive movement out of darkness and into light.
Focus More on God and His Presence. Focus Less on Your Sins and Problems
Sometimes people want to be free from sexual sin so bad that’s all they think about. While the motive is good, thinking about your sin too much is not helpful.
A Christian’s purpose is not to avoid sin. Our purpose to is to love and glorify God. We seek to avoid sin so that we can better serve the Lord. While we cannot serve God to the best of our ability if we are stuck in sexual sin, we must not elevate getting out of sexual sin above our true purpose. Sometimes people start seeking to please God so he will set them free from sexual sin rather than trying to live free from sexual sin as a way of pleasing God. God is the goal and our sexual purity is one means of serving him.
This overemphasis on our sin causes us to focus too much on the problem and not enough on the solution. You will not get into God’s presence by stopping your sin. However, being in the presence of God through Jesus’s grace is the true key to living free from any sin, including lust.
Therefore sometimes Christians are at the end of the rope because no matter what they try they keep sinning sexually. At these points its sometimes helpful to take a step back and just stop focusing on the sin and start focusing on your walk with Jesus again. Even if you are in the midst of falling to temptation on a daily basis, you have to start making movements towards God again. Rather than focusing so much on stopping your sin, you must put the majority of your energy into pursuing God.
If you really want to overcome a sexual addiction, you have to focus more on your relationship with God through Jesus Christ.