Christian Help on How To Overcome Sexual Temptation Part 1

The scriptures have a great deal to say about temptations. You and I are under similar temptations in one form or another on a daily basis. But why are some Christians doing better than the others when it comes to overcoming temptation? What are their secrets?

It might be embarrassing to ask them for tips. And they probably do not have a clear 2 lines answers for you.

How to overcome temptation is a world of knowledge. There’s no simple, one dimensional answer.

In the Bible, numerous bible verses contains some shred of tips on how to live a holy life. But there’s no condensed formula.

The best way to make one thing right is to make everything right.

Our five senses, daily routines, belief, thinking, friends, focus, and lifestyle, almost everything contributes to the outcome in our battles with sexual temptations.

Good news! There are principles that determines the outcome of our battles with temptations. Once we have a firm grasp with these principles, and change our lifestyle according to them, it will be much easier to live a holier life.

Let’s get into everything the Bible says about temptations and see what the principles are:

Escape, not fight

God promised that a Christian will always find a way to escape from temptations. But He never promised that we can confront a temptation and beat it with willpower.

Even if we pray for strength, we will never change this escape-not-fight reality. It’s not a head-on fight, but it’s how well you practice the art of escape.

Ya, the fact isn’t exciting. I know. It took me many years to accept that too.

Let’s look at the following passages from 1 Corinthians 10:13

13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Therefore, the first thing is to admit that we are all weak. We will commit any sin if the situation is right. But God will not allow us to be in a situation where things are too much for us to bear.

That also means we have no excuse when we sin. It’s a fair game, because God never allowed challenges that were too much for us. If we felt like we had tried our best, but still got defeated, it was because we missed the escape routes that God had prepared for us.

Let’s identify some escape routes that are hidden in the bible verses we are so familiar with! Talk about hidden under your noise!

Visual Sensation

The Bible gives us stern warning about desires of the eyes:

9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth;
Walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes;
But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. Ecclesiastes 11:9

The Bible admits that we have desires, and that our eyes love attractive things, and we can fulfill them moderately or excessively. How we choose to fulfill the desires of our heart and our eyes will determine whether God is happy with us or not.

I believe desires work in quota, so if we fulfill the desires in wholesome ways, we will minimize the risk of falling into indulgences for fulfillment.

Take a walk in the nature. Watch the beautiful sunset or sunrise. Develop a visual hobby such as photography or drawing.

The root of pornography is a combination of human’s aesthetic need, and of course many other needs such as need for intimacy, thrills, and pleasures. These are legitimate needs, but if you are not living according to the Holy Spirit, it’s easy to twist these needs into lust.

But if you fulfill all the needs with God-allowed, or God driven activities, you will have a much easier time dealing with sexual temptations.

Replacement is better than deprivation.

If you deprive yourself of a sinful indulgence but not replace it with the godly or healthy alternatives, chances are you will fall into even worst indulgences. (Luke 11:24-26)

Food For Lust

Pornography, dirty jokes or conversation, rock music, clubbing, casual dating, and sensual reading material are food for lust. The scripture tells us not to “make provisions for the flesh”(Romans 13:14). Provision means “supplies such as food, drink, or equipments.” Don’t feed lust to make it strong!

Anyone who feeds his or her lust will never have freedom!

In my university years, I used to take regular walks in the park, and pray as I walk. The nature was my source of comforts. It gives me quietness and relaxation.

There were times when I would make music for the Lord during my “prayer walk”. My Christian friends liked my music.

However, instead of being contend about where I was spiritually, I felt guilty because some Christians criticized me for not working hard enough in school, but spent the time making music and taking random walks. The criticisms sunk in.

I started to force myself to sit more, because I thought that would make me focus more on my study and not being so lazy.

I deprived myself of a spiritual discipline that I enjoy, but forced myself to sit and work, and that created a major void that invited the horror…

I never really used computers before I was 24 years old, except for gaming, schoolwork, and checking emails. I never had vivid, graphical, and lustful fantasy before 24 years old.

At 24 I fell into an lustful habit that began on a strange night, and after that I started to browse pornographic sites. Later I bought my first laptop. When I started to use the Internet more the problem of lust escalated.

The more I sat, the more I fell into Internet porn.

I had never seen so much graphical details prior to 24 years old. How I wished I had kept it that way before getting married! What a shame!

Those are memories I wish I could unlearn. Unlearn it I will, but it takes time.

Now I know better! Making music for the Lord, and spending large chunk of time for personal devotions may not feel like productive, but are critically important in my walk with God.

Had I been confident about the spiritual disciplines and not get swayed by others…

Holy Spirit had forewarned me!

But I can’t really blame others. It was me. Holy Spirit had already warned me of lust 6 months before I first fell into lust: That fateful night at 24!

Be careful how you live, and be diligent in keeping your lifestyle pure! For me, sticking with the computer for too long is oftentime unproductive, and create boredom and fatigue that invite temptations.

Trying too hard and working too long can create unintended consequences! A healthy adult need to walk 10,000 steps per day in order to stay healthy.

Don’t use the Internet unless you use it for work. If you have to use it for wholesome sites, use RSS reader to consolidate all the contents of your favorite sites so you can read all the necessary materials without leaving a safe place (i.e. your RSS reader).

Now I no longer visit porn sites. I haven’t done that for more than 6 months now. Even while I still had that problem, I did it sporadically.

Interestingly, it was when I resumed my walks in the nature when the problem with porn started to diminished.

It was by God’s grace that this problem shrunk. It could have been worst. Much worst.

My problem with porn had lasted for two years.

So how did God cleanse me? What exactly did God do to set me free and keep me free? The answer is, everything I have mentioned in this article thus far and what I am going to share for the rest of this series! So let us keep going!

Our Tongues

Our tongues control our whole persons. It can make a person unclean:

17“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what make a man ‘unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’ ” Matthew 15:16-20

Christians are to avoid all “hints of sexual immorality”, which include: “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking” (Ephesians 5:3-4)

Workplace and high school are perhaps the most vicious place when it comes to immoral talks.

I don’t know how, but I adopted an escape mechanism, when someone or a group of people do obscene jesting, my mind would automatically zone out, and by the time I “wake up”, all I see are the evil smiles on people’s face.

When you really want to avoid temptations, and God see your sincerity, He will use divine mean to keep you from harm’s way. And when that happen you might not realize how many temptations have passed you by.

The key is humility. Admit that you’re not sinning at the moment because of God’s divine intervention. If the situation is right, anyone can commit any sin.

Give thanks when you’re not sinning!

Curses, Music, and the Media…

The world is full of messages. Messages that come from TV, newspapers, commercials, novel, the Internet, music, and many other media contain messages have huge influences on us.

If someone tells you to do something, or put subtle suggestions in your mind, but you don’t have other messages (such as God’s word) within you that nullify it, you will be manipulated, like what happens in hypnotism.

You may not feel the power of evil influences the world can have on you because it happens all the time that you probably feel numb to it already. You maybe used to evil and violence you encounter daily from cable TV or computer games, and think they have no influence on your behaviors.

But whatever goes into our mind changes us. The more we spend time with someone or something, the more we are influenced by it.

We can’t expect ourselves to live a clean life if we go to church only one day per week but expose ourselves to evil for the rest of the days.

Remember I told you in a paragraph above that the Holy Spirit had warned me of lust 6 months before I fell into it?

Long before I had a problem with lust I already had read some good books on how to overcome temptations, such as Praying God’s Word Day by Day (Beth Moore), The Eagle Story (Institute In Basic Life Principles), The Bondage Breaker(Neil. T Anderson), and The Normal Christian Life (Watchman Nee).

Foresights and good books were not enough to keep me from harms. During that 6 months(2005 Fall) I watched some cable TV shows, which had violence and sexual contents. I guess that was one factor that brought me down.

But that was not all that brought me down. One time I went to a Christian bookstore and read a book that talked about Christian purity, and it contained detailed description of a sinful addiction that I was ignorant of before. I wished I hadn’t learned those details from the book.

Months later, in a strange night when I was away from home to attend a conference, alone in a motel room, I did what that book “taught” me and adopted that lustful habit since. Prior to that I had never experienced self-arousal ever.

How ironic, I learned a sinful habit not from secular movies or books, but from a Christian book!

The lesson is: The is no end all be all solutions in any book. Purity is a constant path. As long as we live in this world, we have to pursue holiness continuously. Keep praying. Keep asking God’s guidance. Be vigilant!

We live in a world full of curses…

This is not the Lord Of The Rings or Dungeon & Dragon. I am talking about the real world we are living in. Even our family can pass on curses to us:

7Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.  Exodus 34:7

Harsh words that our family members have said to us, deceptions or compromises that our parents, great parents, or great grand parents made or chose to accept, and consequences of their decisions, have long term impacts on us.

The weakness of parents will likely pass on to the children.

Some people swore they will never be like their parents, but they ended up being exactly the same or the opposite.

My great grand father had two wives at the same time (It was legal and common at the time). The first one was my great grand mother. The second wife left with another man at some point. But my great grand mother was still very bitter because of this polygamous situation, and this caused her to berate my great grand father every single day for the rest of his life. This ended until my great grand father died of cancer.

But the hateful words have a lasting impact on my mother, who had heard the bitter words everyday while growing up. That bitterness and its long term effects still persist in my family today.

The bitter words of my great grant mother were verbal curses! Every words that come out of our mouths will have eternal consequences. (Proverbs 18:21)

Fortunately, the Lord has given us powerful solutions that can override all curses: the Bible, His numerous promises, prayers, blessings, salvation, fellowship of the church, and many more.

We have to actively use what God has given us, or we will be overpowered by curses that are so overwhelming in this world.

Spiritual weapons are rarely automatic. We have to put them on everyday and wield them to fight.

If you are struggling with certain areas such as lust, but can never conquer it despite years of spiritual disciplines, the root cause of your failures could be hidden curses that you are not aware of.

To cure the problem of lust, you need to get into the roots of the problem. Has you father kept a hidden stash of porn somewhere in the house? Has anyone hurt you deeply with verbal curses? Are you in a dating relationship that involved ungodly activities?

Confess every sin in your life, and reflect on where that sin came from. Was it from your dad? mom? peers? TV?

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

Trace every sin to its root, and replace it with spiritual discipline. For example, if someone curses you, you should return him or her with blessings (1 Peter 3:9) and overcome evil with good. If you harbor bitterness and grudge, the curses will have influences on you.

Enough said

I have said enough about the our senses and how they related to lust. Next I am going to talk about how to avoid lust easily by serving God!

If you fight with lust, it will always be more relentless and more powerful than you are. But if you replace your focus with God given responsibilities, wonderful things will happen. You don’t need to consciously resist lust if your focus isn’t there.

In the upcoming installments, I am also going to share about hopes and how they give us power to persist in staying pure.

Go to Part 2 of How to Overcome Sexual Temptation: Christian Servanthood

Return from How to Overcome Sexual Temptation to Christian Purity

24 Comments

  1. Unspoken

    I have been struggling with lust for a while now, only difference that my struggle was with masturbation instead. I’ve been trying to fight this thing, with all my willpower, and I keep failing.

    But your article has shown me that we’re not supposed to fight it. God wants us to escape. You said we spend more time thinking about it when we’re fighting it, and it’s true. The more time you spend thinking about not falling, the louder the voice of lust becomes.

    Thank you so much for this article. I’m going to try all of the things you suggested, especially “walking with god.” I need to get rid of this desire, and I can only do that through God’s name.

    Thanks again for writing! You’ve been a huge help. :D

  2. saikit

    Hi Unspoken, thanks for the comment. Addictions can be hard, because people addict to it for more than one reason. For example, do you have any constant hurt, stress, or sadness that you can’t let go of? The hormone that get released after masturbation relaxes the person and helps to reduce the pains that the person is going through such as loneliness or other pains of the heart. Therefore, to have freedom one must first be happy.

    Think about positive thing. Let the Holy Spirit guides you into good imagination that is creative, loving, positive… Remember how we imagine good things as children. We lost this ability as we grew up, and we imagine fearful and unpleasant things instead. You may not realize it because it has become a habit so ingrained. We must relearn how to imagine biblical things, even making up good stories in the head. Think of it as a form of prayer and worship.

    As women walk by, try to imagine how they will turn to God, surrender to his perfect will, and become godly women. Make up as many details as possible as the Holy Spirit guide you. It’s a form of intercessory prayer. The goal is to make you feel happy. If the picture isn’t making you happy but giving you more stress and lust, then you have to continue to do it until the mental movies are wholesome, fun, pleasant, and blissful.

    Please understand that our imagination and words will find their way into reality, so like it or not, our thinking is either curse or blessing, to ourselves and others. If we relearn how to master our thoughts, our life would be an unending prayer and joy.

    God bless.

  3. Nikolaus

    there are two books regarding the matter that completely changed my life:

    Breaking Free: Understanding Sexual Addiction and the Healing Power of Jesus

    Russell Willingham

    Pure Desire: Helping People Break Free from Sexual Struggles

    Ted Roberts

    you can download them off of Amazon (Kindle) for something like ten dollars each.

    and then there are (of course) the promises of God:

    http://www.scripturepromises.com/

    try checking out “Christ Has Set Us Free From Sinful Habits” and “Healing”

    … but i want you to understand that there’s no quick fix to this problem. even long after you stop using masturbation as a way to bury your feelings (agony), you will still have to deal with the roots of your problem (and believe me it is at the very core of how you live and relate to others!) in essence, you have to sort of “own” the pain (by embracing it) and in this way you will gradually come to a place of wholeness/brokenness (i know it’s ironic) before both God and man.

    i’m reminded of a TED talk i saw last year:

    really fantastic stuff. it has to do with how we use addictions to numb the pain in our lives. (you’ll see)

    i would also like to thank you Sai Kit for your blog — it has really helped me at some points of my life.

  4. Anon

    I have tonight finally realized how bad I’ve falllen. I was I think 15 when I stumbled upon my father’s porn mags which led me spend many a night on the computer looking up more things to fulfill my desires. I’m now in my late 20’s and wish to have a clean life that God wants for me. This post “How To Overcome Sexual Temptation Part 1″ has tremendously helped me. Yes I’m on the computer at night bored and something just clicked in my head and I started crying and praying for God to help me. Than I googled devotions for sexual temptations and this was what I first saw when it gave me suggestions. Thanks for all the help you have given me and I’m grateful for this page.

  5. saikit

    thank you for the comment. Stumbled upon father’s stash is perphaps one of the most typical ways to for men who were teens last decades. Now we have the internet. And I have learned quite a few things since this post, such as the importance of de-stressing yourself to starve your addiction, because addiction feeds on bad stress, and traumas.

  6. peter

    I want to thank you for this site cause you’re experience is very similar to mine, and how you deal with it is what i need. I want to ask you if you beleive in evil sprirts.
    God bless you

  7. ajit

    Thankyou friend for ur suggestions.I have been struggling with the habit of browsing porn sites everyday,dating women,masturbation everyday after work till late night.This has lead to loss of all peace of mind and very poor quality of work.I also live in a very limited social circle as i spent most of the time on the internet.After reading your suggestions i have new hope in my life.I will try to replace my bad habits with more productive pastimes.God bless you my friend!!

  8. Voj

    Hi my friend.

    I just want to thank you for writing this article. This is truly for me because like many others, I am struggling with my sexual addiction via masturbation and watching pornography. It has become my lifestyle for so many years without my knowing that it slowly consumed my entire being. It slowly destroys my future, my work, my mind, my body and my soul. However, I have already decided to break this right when I attended a retreat and learned deeply about the love of GOD for me. Now I am in the process of healing and it’s just a good thing that there are many people out there who are ready to help me. I consider you as one through your encouraging article. Let’s pray for each other to be free from the bondage of sexual sin. Thank you!

  9. TIA28

    Hello, I am a 28 year old married female and I thought that I had my addiction under control until this past week. My husband works out of town 4 days out of the week and I get lonely and I miss his company so I lean on masturbation and pornography to help relax my mind to sleep at night. This morning I woke up feeling guilty after havegiving my life to Christ a few months back and this being my first time back in my old habit. I googled to get Scriptures and found this, thanku for the wisdom cause I now feel strength to push past this storm!

  10. Please keep this in mind, If we are called to walk with Christ, then we are by Gods design to be going through a straight gate which leads to a narrow path, the path of the righteous, we are not designed to be “At home” here in this lust filled environment, we are called to something much deeper and eternal, and therefore we suffer when we get off this path as God intends us to feel out of place and uncomforted because He desires to comfort and how can He if we live as the world lives?
    Our sexual desire is real, but pornography is a lie and a sin and as such for a Christian it can never satisfy. Be careful my children when seeking advice from this world, here is where The Devil lives and He wants to devour you. I pray that God will comfort you.

  11. vicki

    rock music should not be included as food for lust. Any sort of music can be considered unhelpful for lust and in the same genre be very helpful for christians. there is even a thing called christian rock. i just think that point was a bit ignorant

  12. Keyaira

    Hey thank you so much when i was around 8 0r 9 i got in a bad habit of watching pornography and i started masturbating. im now 15 and and TRYING to stay pure until marriage. ive stopped watching pornography for about a few months now and ive stopped masturbating for a few weeks. i know its wrong and ive tried soo many times to stop it before it gets out of control… its better to stop now before it becomes an addicted into my adult hood Corinthians 10:13 has really helped me through and YOU to have as well

  13. itsbeentoolong

    I was about 8 years old when i was exposed to porn. For the past 19 years it has been my greatest battle. I grew up in a very troubled household, a lot of belittling and resentment, mainly from my mom towards us all(i am the youngest of 5 kids). Coming from a big family, you would expect that i would have some form of support…but i was all alone. My siblings were all sent to boarding school, and i was left behind to witness my moms constant cursing of my dad. Since then, it has had an effect on how I’ve treated woman(nothing more than meat that gave physical satisfaction). The pornography was a crutch for me. I have never spoken to anyone about this before.
    I’ve recently given my life to the Lord,but the temptations are even stronger than than before. I needed a form of encouragement and support. I googled bible verses, and this sight was the first that I saw. It has helped me a lot as to what i need to do to be free. I understand that it will not be an easy path, but i am more than willing to live a holy life. thank you for the article, i have taken much from it. God Bless.

  14. Ace

    Thank you brother, I’ve just fallen under lust, I needed to repent, yet I understand how important it is to ask God to help in my struggles. I need something that could resist the Devil’s temptations. I believe we can temptation but not on our own strength but God’s strength in us. Philippians 4:13- (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me). I thank you once again for your help, to replace my bad habits thatreminded me that need to turn back to be spiritual routine. With gratitude, grace and blessings be with you in Christ Jesus! :)

  15. Kim

    Thanks for this. It doesn’t work just for lust. It also works for anger, envy and jealousy if we divert our minds into something else that we enjoy instead of trying to fight it. I have used the escape principle since I was 15. It works everytime. I’ve strayed a bit from God over the past 2 months and have given myself to fornication, jealousy, envy and anger and my life has turned upside down. But tonight I asked for forgiveness and I repent and the Holy Spirit lead me to this site. Thankyou for writing this post.

  16. Jake

    I’ve fallen into pornography and masturbation and I’m 13 and I don’t feel guilt when I do these things anymore but I know it’s wrong I just recently asked God into my life again and have read my bible a little bit I’m hoping this ends for me soon I’ve also been judging other people on this site yet I’m deeper than them thank you for this article I’m going to pray and read whenever I can

  17. A

    I’m an 18 year old female that has really struggled with masturbation and pornography for 2 or 3 years. I’m technically a recovering addict I guess you could say, there was a point for about 6 months where I self stimulated at least 5 times every day/night. I’m now to a point of “relapsing” about once a month, but my longest clean streak since is 3 months. I just relapsed after thinking I was doing so well. It’s just so hard and I want it out of my life! And i know it’s wrong, but why exactly is masturbation wrong? I want a better understanding of that, I know premarital sex is wrong. I just have such powerful physical urges and temptations at times that it feels extremely difficult to not because at that point its a physical matter. I just wish i could truly be rid of it for good. I long for intimacy, but am trying to be righteous. Please help! What can I specifically do to stop and commit myself for good even when i have the physical urges? And could someone explain why self gratification is wrong? I don’t feel guilty how i feel like i should and it’s easy to give in thinking it doesn’t affect anyone else.

  18. saikit

    Hi A, I have since been digging deeper into this subject. I believe one of the main issues is overstimulation of the mind. If one gets used to too much stimulations from porns in the cyber world, it gets much harder to live at a more steady pace in the real world. The symptoms of overstimulation include social anxiety, foggy mind, lack of ambitions.

    What you can specifically do: find something to master, such as art or sport. Get out of the house more often and build a social network that provide positive nourishment. Don’t be shy to look into sex addicts anonymous. They anonymous emphasis social support. As you share your struggles with others, you may identify the roots reasons that trigger your actions.

    Also eat clean food, reduce clutter in the room, exercise, and sleep well, these activities will help you rebuild focus.

    Cardio exercise especially helps. Finally, try to limit self-gratification to maybe one per every two week.

    Is masturbation wrong? It really depends on the context. I believe God will lead you to the right man to find more natural fulfillment. Masturbation could postpone that. It might reduce your determination to commit to a relationship and reproduce as God planned for you.

    PM me if you need to explain your unique situation more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*