How can you win the war on lust?
In points 1 and 2 of this article I will talk about “what” you must do to win the war on lust. In point 3, I will talk about “how” to actually accomplish these two steps you must do.
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1. Feed on God First Before Fighting Your Sin
You won’t get close to God when you finally stop sinning sexually. Rather, you will finally stop sinning sexually when you come close to God by his grace.
So many of us have projected our human thinking and reasoning onto God’s word. In our human minds we imagine that the way to be right with God is to stop sinning. If you have been addicted to porn, struggling with masturbation, or sleeping around, worldly religious ideas will lead you to believe that you must stop all of this and then God will be close to you.
But the gospel of Jesus Christ starts at the other end of the line. Rather than calling us up to himself, Jesus came down to us. This is the miracle of grace. Grace interrupts the endless cycle of losing the battle and gives us the victory. In other words, we think we need to fight for our freedom over sexual temptation. But the gospel says you must fight from your freedom because God has already made you free by grace. As Galatians 5:1 states, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
So if you want to stop sinning sexually, you have to start focusing less on your sin and more on God himself. Sexual sin is a symptom of your disconnection with God. The closer you are to Jesus through grace, the more this will manifest in your obedience. The further you drift from the presence of Christ, the more this will manifest in your disobedience.
Start with God. Read your Bible every morning. Pray every day. Seek his presence. When the Spirit is in your life, freedom naturally flows out of your life. As 2 Corinthians 3:17 states, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” It doesn’t say you will be close to the Spirit when you set yourself free from sin. It says you will be free when you are close to the Spirit.
In John 15:5 Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus didn’t say produce fruit and then you will abide in him. He said you need to first abide in him, be in his presence, love him, and then you will bear good fruit for God’s glory.
2. Starve Yourself of Sin
If you want to win the war on lust, you must start with God – but it doesn’t end there. While resisting sexual temptation and sin is impossible without the presence of God empowering you, when you are empowered resistance is the action you must take.
When you are married, one way you can fight sexual sin by the power of God is to have sex with your spouse (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). However, when you are single, there is only one path that God wants you to walk to resist sexual sin – avoidance.
You can’t snack on sexual sin as a way of avoiding feasting on sexual sin. You can’t dabble in soft porn to help yourself avoid using hardcore porn. You can’t masturbate alone as a way of avoiding premarital sex with someone else. No, these methods are still sinful and they also fuel the fire of lust. If you want a fire to go out, you have to stop putting fuel on it. If you keep feeding the fire, even if you are only putting little pieces of wood on it rather than big logs, the flame will always live. Notice the consistent pattern in the Bible where we are told to flee all sexual sin:
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality . . . .”
- 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality.”
- Romans 13:13-14, “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
So we must start with God. We must feed on his presence. But then we must avoid everything that feeds the flame of our lusts. We must starve ourselves of sexual sin if we want to win the war on lust.
3. Do It All By Grace and Through Faith
There’s always a bit of irony involved in advice telling you to do something in order to stop something. What I mean is that in a way, it’s silly to tell you to do A to stop B because if you have the will power to do A you should also just have the will power to not do B.
I say that because I do believe points 1 and 2 of this article are biblical. If you want to win the war on lust, you have to feed on God and starve yourself of sexual sin. But if you have the will power to do these two things, why not just also say, “Don’t commit sexual sin.” Why give someone a strategy they must follow if they have the ability to make free choices. Why not just say, “Love God and hate sin, obey God and don’t lust, do what is right and don’t do what is wrong?”
I bring this up because to really do what the Bible says you need to first accept that you can’t do what the Bible says. Fundamental to receiving the gospel is the belief that you cannot save yourself. If we could will ourselves into obeying God and not sinning sexually, we should be able to save ourselves. But the Bible consistently states we are all sinful (Romans 3:23) and unable to obey God in our own strength (Romans 7:15-25, John 15:5, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Only when we fully give up and realize we truly cannot obey God without his power causing us to obey can we then obey him. Humility is the path to holiness because through humility we stop pridefully depending on ourselves and start fully depending on Jesus, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” (James 4:6-7). Humility, submission, and grace are the only ways in which we can actually obey God and do what we should.
All that to say, to be able to do what we talked about in points 1 and 2, we need to accept that we truly cannot do these things in our own strength. Romans 8:1 states there is now no condemnation for those of us in Christ; however, we must also see ourselves as totally under equipped and unable to do what we should do without the miraculous, intervening power of Jesus Christ working through us. As Paul said, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).
So yes, you must feed on God (point 1) and starve yourself of sexual sin (point 2). But to do these things, you must walk by faith. You must believe that you can’t do these thing unless the miracle working power of Jesus takes over you and causes you to do what you cannot do on your own. When you know deep down that you will always fail unless Jesus totally comes through for you, that’s when you will realize he already has come through for you and already has given you the victory. You have to lose yourself to find yourself. You have to die to be alive. You have to let go of works and fully depend on grace:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)
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