I decided to make this blog due to receiving the same messages on a consistent basis. The type of sin you fight against may be different from others, but sin nonetheless is not something to take lightly. There is no “formula to holiness” outside of a relationship with Jesus, so I don’t want you to depend on me or another person for all of the answers. However, these are a few steps that have helped me and I’m sure that I can help a few of you if you read this prayerfully and allow God to speak to your situation directly. Here are 5 practical ways to overcome your battle with lust:
1. Spend more time with God.
Seek God desperately. You need Him when you feel strong, and you are definitely in need when you are feeling weak. The closer we are to Jesus is the easier it is for us to see when a relationship, tv show, song, etc. is lustful. The closer I am to Jesus is the easier it is for me to know when what I am doing is going against His word and His call to purity. Until we start spending more time with Jesus, we will always find ourselves seeking pleasure from things that will never satisfy (Jeremiah 2:13). We are complete in Jesus (Colossians 2:9-10).
If you read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, you will see that even Paul had his own personal battles. We don’t know what his “thorn” was, but we see that he didn’t want it. He prayed to have that issue removed from His life and God literally told him “no”. You see, we always think our struggles/sicknesses/trials come to destroy us, but God sometimes sends them to humble us and to keep us depending on Him. If you struggle, you will see that God can deliver and you will be able to help others. Let your struggle drive you into prayer, not out of God’s will.
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (Psalms 119:9)
2. Be accountable
No wo/man is an island. Many believers fail to forget that there is strength in numbers and God loves us living in unity (Psalms 133:1). Someone must know that you are struggling. You cannot pretend to be strong. Pretending to have it all together is only going to stress you out and prevent you from living in God’s strength like you were designed to. It’s best to have a group of godly brothers and sisters that you aim to be like and are seeking Jesus like you are; let them correct you in love and you all can seek Jesus together (2 Timothy 2:22).
The person you’re dating isn’t the best option to have “guide you to purity”. I say that because, discipline is a key element when trying to live and think pure. If you find your self struggling with fornication, porn, masturbation, etc., you should start getting those things under control before dating anyone. If you are already dating, you have to understand boundaries are necessary to prevent yourself from falling into that same sin.
To clarify, if you are married, your spouse should know about your struggles because they are supposed to be the ones praying for you. I’m just saying that a friend or leader that’s of the same gender may be easier to relate to and should be in all of our lives, because no one should have their spouse feeling like they married someone simply driven by hormones. Men can admit to spiritually strong males and have them guide them to purity. Women also can open up about some things they feel their husband may not understand as well as some female friends/leaders can. However, never find yourself confiding in people that will support your sin rather than encourage you out of it. Neither should you open up about your struggles to everyone. Some will judge you and some will use it as a way to make you feel inferior. So you have to be sure you’re confiding in people that are growing and care to see you grow.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)
3. Be more realistic
If you know that you’re having issues overcoming a struggle with pornography, why continue following social media sites that are provocative and sexual? Going back to that website for “a quick glance” will keep your mind in bondage, don’t fall for the lie that “everyone is doing it”.
It makes no sense to ask God for freedom, and then your text messages are driven by lust. Why pray for a godly spouse and continue entertaining those people coming with sexual conversations and ungodly actions? I know firsthand that flirty conversations and certain pictures can lead your mind right outside of God’s presence. Don’t flirt with lust, it will burn you every single time.
The devil clearly wants to destroy us, but we must understand that we are also our own biggest enemies. We have to put our flesh under subjection and train our bodies and minds to love God. It is not a natural inclination to seek Jesus, we have to be intentional when we want to grow. Galatians 5:16 tells us that when we are walking in God’s will, we won’t be able to indulge in those sins we would otherwise enjoy.
Stop saying you’re going over his/her house alone to pray together. Nothing may happen, but you are asking for trouble by flirting with temptation. Stop saying it’s okay to indulge in just a “little” amount of sin and just repent after. Never abuse grace and think that’s still okay to God. Sin isn’t worth pursuing, true joy and peace is in the presence of God (Psalms 16:11). Stop telling yourself that sex will satisfy this time. Sex outside of marriage will give you a moment of pleasure and nothing but regret and guilt after. It can wait for marriage.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything” —but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. (1 Corinthians 10:23 NLT)
4. Find good replacements
People often “cut off” lustful relationships and ungodly habits, but turn right back to them. Do you know why? Because they never really had a plan to seek more of God. They just assumed that if I “stop this/that” it’ll draw me closer to God. While that is true, we still have to be intentional. Unless we replace our struggles with godly things such as time in the presence of God, worship music, or something like being active in church, we are going to eventually fall back into our old habits.
Some things we have to cut off and replace. If you say, “I really need to let go of that sexual music, it keeps putting my emotions in a certain mood”, you have to change to something else. Maybe a worship song, a YouTube encouragement video or Christian podcast can help you. I know at times you may get bored when you think all you’re free to do is pray and read some scriptures, but there’s more to Christianity than following a dull script. And there are other believers that went through your struggle that you can learn from if you actually try to get that replacement in your life. I try to listen to more worship music, podcasts like Steven Furtick at Elevation Church or Joel Urshan from First Apostolic Church. There are many other options, just message me if you want to know more.
Let’s be honest for a quick second here though, temptation is at an all time high when our minds aren’t focused on Jesus. Many of us make the drastic, and wise, decisions like cut off our lustful friendships, tv shows, social media accounts, etc., but what now? Do you really think that removing something from your life without replacing it will help you? I want you to read Luke 11:24-26 and understand that you must occupy your heart and mind with the things of God. If you are free from sin, but you don’t use your freedom to seek God, you are going to end up going back to those sins that you once found comfort in.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)
5. Understand that you are a work in progress. This point may be the most serious, because many people are dying emotionally by trying to gain a “certain level of spirituality”. You will never be good enough to deserve God’s love and you’ll never be bad enough to not deserve God’s love. The Bible does say that God wants us to be holy (1 Peter 1:16), and Jesus also mentioned being perfect (Matthew 5:48). However, many don’t understand that the translation for perfect is “mature”. God doesn’t expect perfection from you, but progression from you. Jesus loves us enough to meet us where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us there. You cannot be holy without the sacrifice Jesus made. All of your years of obedience and sacrifice is nothing if God didn’t decide to show mercy on us. Isaiah 64:6 describes our own efforts to righteousness as filthy rags (filthy rags: the rags used from a woman’s menstrual cycle). Gross.
I know you want to do better, and I respect your efforts. God sees those efforts. By no means am I condoning anyone’s sin, because the Bible is clear on where a lifestyle of sin leads to. I’m simply saying that if you are wrestling with sin, at least that shows you’re trying to overcome. People that don’t wrestle with sin are either submitting to it, or delusional to the fact that we all are tempted by evil. Jesus was tempted, but He was the one without sin.
Please read Jeremiah 18:1-6. Like I literally want you to stop reading this blog for 1 minute to see that verse and understand how good God is. God shows us that even though we are in His hands, we can get messed up. We get dirty. We fall short. We turn back to sin. However, we are in His hands and He is able to make something beautiful out of us and repair every broken piece within our hearts and minds. When God is finished with us, we will be better than ever expected, but God isn’t finished with us. While you’re here on earth, you still have a purpose to finish and God is still working on you. So instead of seeing how far you have to go, look at how far God has brought you. You will overcome, stop condemning yourself (1 John 3:20-21).
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
Grace and peace,