February 24, 2021
About a month ago, I was on a call with a student who was asking for help in his struggle with sin. I couldn’t recall his exact words, but our conversation went something like this:
“Coach, please pray for me. After months of not giving in to lust, I fell last week and I have been falling ever since. I don’t know what to do.”
Here is a person who has genuine faith in Jesus, yet was also facing real battles in his spiritual life; a person who acknowledges Jesus as Lord and Savior and desires to obey Him, but also experiences the reality of his sinful nature. His experience confirms the apostle Paul’s personal account in his battle against sinful nature:
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
Romans 7:21–23 (NLT)
This is true for all of us. Regardless if you are a young man or a young woman (and regardless of your struggle), lustful desires have a subtle way of getting into our minds and our hearts. While the Bible gives us assurance that God will be with us and will provide for us a way out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), we are not to be passive in fighting our lustful desires.
When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for our sin and destroyed its power over our lives (1 John 3:8). When He resurrected from the grave, He gave us power to fight and overcome sin (Titus 2:12). This also gives us hope as we wait for Him to make us imperishable–perfect—when He returns (1 Corinthians 15:52–54).
Our decision to follow Jesus has launched us to a lifelong battle against sinful desires, even lust. Because we are still in our fallen bodies and the world we live in is still broken, we falter and fall every now and then. But because of our faith in Christ, we can stand back up again.
If God promises victory over my sin, why does it seem like I’m losing the battle against lust?
Warning: Hard truths ahead.
No one falls into sin and gives in to temptation by surprise. According to James 1:14, “We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us.”
When we fall into temptation, it’s probably because we have allowed ourselves to be lured by our desires. By letting our guard down—one sneak peek, one brief moment of indulgence—we gave the devil a foothold and allowed him to build a stronghold in our heart.
If we want to keep winning against lust, the first step is to own up to our personal responsibility and take control in terms of guarding our heart.
Here are three questions that can help us diagnose why we are losing the battle against lust:
1. What have you been looking at (or watching) lately?
While our greatest battles happen inside us, most of them are triggered by what we see around us. Those seemingly harmless images, clips, writeups, thumbnails, headlines, series, or movies can actually be harmful to our souls.
What we think is conditioned by what we see. That is why if we are so used to seeing images, consuming articles, or watching videos with sexually-charged content, you’ve probably conditioned yourself to think and act according to what you’ve mindlessly consumed.
So the next time you notice that your sinful nature is making you do something lustful, think about what you have been seeing or watching lately. Maybe it’s time to check and purge what you consume or who you follow online so as to guard yourself from being lured.
2. What sustains you?
If our physical bodies are sustained by food and water, our spiritual bodies are also sustained by spiritual food and water. And like our physical bodies, our spirit gets tired and needs energy and strength to keep going.
The question is: Where do we get our energy and strength when our spirit becomes tired and weary? What do we feed our soul with when it becomes hungry?
If you try to evaluate the times you fell to sin, they’re probably during the times when you feel so tired, alone, or weary. Our lustful desires offer a false sense of satisfaction. It promises release from stress or anxiety, but it doesn’t really address it.
While sexual sin promises satisfaction or release, it actually does the opposite: It takes away our vitality in life and enslaves us to an addictive and destructive habit that could eventually hurt us and our relationships.
3. What satisfies you?
Just as our physical bodies have thirst and hunger that can be satisfied by food and water, our souls also have thirst and hunger that must be satisfied by spiritual food and water. By experience, when we do not get to eat the kind of food that comforts or satisfies us, we resort to eating junk food or unhealthy fast food to satisfy our craving. This, however, could be harmful to our health in the long run.
In the same way, when we satisfy the hunger and thirst of our soul with something of lesser value, our souls will start to develop a palate for lustful desires until it gets used to things that are pleasurable but have no value to the soul.
The battle against lust is long and hard, which is why we cannot be passive about it and just wait for things to get better. We have to engage in the battle and fight hard!
Here’s something to help us remember how to FIGHT the battle against lust:
F – Flee from your triggers.
Knowing what triggers our lustful desires is one thing, but fleeing from them is another. Not all battles are won by fighting head on. Our battle against lust is one of the battles that are won when we flee. It is not an act of cowardice but of courage, humility, and wisdom.
And by experience, those who walk along the path of courage, humility, and wisdom are the ones who win the battle against lust.
I – Include the right people.
We are living in a season wherein we are being pulled away from each other. Isolating ourselves became much easier now than before. Regardless of your personality, we are all prone to leaving out people in our lives who might help us win the battle against lust.
The right people in our lives are those we can trust and can really help us win against lust. It could be a mature friend of the same gender who can pray for you or a mentor who can help you go and grow through your struggles. We need to remember that they must be trustworthy and able to give sound and practical advice.
G – Grow life-giving habits.
All of us are creatures of habit. We just differ in terms of the habits we have and the values we uphold. All habits can be categorized into two: life-taking or life-giving. We will all reap the fruits of the habits that we have sown.
Life-taking habits are bad habits that would make you feel worse the more you indulge yourself in them. They seemingly excite you or give you a thrill but will eventually take away your motivation and passion in life.
Life-giving habits are the ones that not only make you feel good about yourself; they develop you into someone who is productive, passionate, and purposeful.
H – Hide and hold on to God’s word in your heart and mind.
Our battle against lust is a battle that happens inside us. Much of our response to our lustful desires have a lot to do with what we keep in our hearts and minds. And because we are spiritual beings, we need solid and satisfying spiritual feeding that will fill us in order to keep lustful desires from building a stronghold in our lives.
You don’t need to memorize the entire Bible in order to fight. Pick the ones that resonate with you and give you comfort and peace. Memorize and wrap your mind around it until it saturates your thought life. One day, you will see how much it brought lasting change to your thought pattern and lifestyle.
T – Train your mind.
If we want to see positive effects in our fight against lust, we need to discipline ourselves and put in a lot of effort in training our minds. While it is never easy to win this battle, it is also never without worth and rewards.
You can begin to train your mind by having a personal inventory of what you allow it to consume. Our brain is a muscle that is shaped by different thoughts and ideas. This is why we have to be extremely careful on the kind of food that we feed our minds with.
Studying the Bible is the best way to train your mind. Not only are you exposing your mind to life-giving truths, but you are also strengthening your mind to fight against lust and other sinful desires.
Our battle against lust is a battle of passions. The stronger our passion for God is, the stronger we are in fighting against lust. Those who trust in God may experience defeat as they fight against lust, but that will never have the final say in their lives.
We win against lust every time we say “enough” and every time we say “I am not giving up.”