If you’re at all like me, there’s probably an area in your life that you have an extremely difficult time giving up and over to God. You know, that “sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1b)? For me, it’s lust. I don’t know why God wired us guys to be so easily stimulated visually, but there it is. And in this day and age, if you’re a guy, you might be thinking you need to pluck out both eyes, just to be safe. But even then that might not be enough. Sometimes it seems nothing short of a frontal lobotomy will work. But that’s not practical or realistic. Regardless the temptation, the big question is; "What can we do?!?"
As followers of Christ, we confess our sins to God and one another. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves right back in the deep end of the sin pool. We feel guilt and shame each time we fall short of our goal to be Christ-like. Shame is a tool of Satan, our accuser. God, on the other hand, uses guilt feelings to get our attention and to help us deal with the sin issues in our life. The Bible puts it this way: “He who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13, emphasis added.)
Confession is not the same as repentance. Confession is admitting our guilt to God and may even include asking forgiveness for our sins. Repentance goes beyond that by turning away from the wrong we’ve done. You’ve confessed your sin to the Lord, now you need to forsake it by changing course and heading in a new, godly, direction. How can you do that when you’ve already tried and tried – to no avail?
Some things require more effort than others. Here are some practical steps you can take if you are serious about gaining victory over “the sin that so easily entangles.”
Flee! Physically remove yourself from the temptation. Go some place else and/or go do something else that will get your mind off the temptation. Pray and/or read God’s word if you can. Even a short, quick, non-verbal prayer like, “God, I give this up to you to deal with as only you can. Fill me with your presence and your peace. Thank you for being here with me and for calling me apart from the things of this world. You are an awesome God and your grace still amazes even me. I praise your holy name. Amen.”
Seek out a mentor and/or an accountability partner; someone of the same gender who will help you with your struggle. Meet with this person on a regular basis. Being accountable to someone can provide extra strength you need to overcome. It is easy to say you’re relying on God. It is even easier to forget that He is with you always, and that you grieve His Holy Spirit each time you sin. Knowing you must answer to another human being can help strengthen your desire to succeed and give you an extra incentive to keep focused and true.
Concentrate on your relationship with God. Spending time memorizing verses can help you change your thought patterns. Then when you find yourself once again being tempted, you can bring to mind a verse or two that you’ve “written in your heart” to help strengthen you in your time of weakness. Life change begins with a new way of thinking. If you’re thinking about God and His desire for you, temptation cannot grasp a hold on you.
Call your mentor for prayer. Praise God for His strength to overcome. Spend quiet time with the Lord each day. God speaks to us through His Word, the Bible. If you are not devoting time each day with God and His Word, start now! Be strong in the Lord. (See Ephesians 6:10-18) Get enthusiastic about reading and studying His Word. All these things together are strong medicine, but the disease you’re fighting is strong also! Only the stoutest measures will bring the victory you want and seek.
Remember, you’re not alone in this struggle. God provides a way to have victory over it. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Don’t just pray for strength to quit; begin to take the steps necessary to be faithful. Do your part, and our God, who is faithful, will do His.
Here are some suggested ‘memory verses’ to help you in your daily walk...
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…
1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.
2 Timothy 2:22
Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.