Lust is not an easy topic to write about. I know I’ve been washed in Christ’s blood and covered in His righteousness like a robe; I know that God has thrown my sins into the sea and will remember them no more, but in spite of these things I most likely will not sleep tonight before an inappropriate thought dances through my mind. I’m like a thief talking about the evil of theft. So I won’t speak as a young man on his own two feet. I will speak as a man redeemed.
Guys, we can’t fight lust. Once it has got its hooks in us, it will not let go. It’s in our flesh, written in our DNA, in our Adamic blood. Our family, humanity, is diseased and this is one of the foul symptoms. But we cannot cure ourselves. We cannot fight this through the power of our wills.
I’ve tried. I’ve picked myself up from the dust again and again. I’ve told God, “Don’t worry, I got this. I’ll do better, just wait.” And then when the temptation came my way again, I fell without much of a fight. We can’t do this! We can disconnect our Internet, we can read books and listen to inspirational speakers, we can give up all forms of media, but we will never know that we weren’t strong men until we wake up one morning and find our minds and souls eaten alive from the inside. Lust isn’t out there. It’s in here.
You have no strength against your own flesh. You cannot wage your own little war against the lust inside you, charging recklessly after sin like a berserker, throwing Bible verses at it… But we have a Captain who will take the field. Like Joshua leading Israel into the Promised Land, our Christ stands on the hill with His spear outstretched, and He will not relent until His enemies in our flesh are destroyed. But we have to follow Him and not wage our own campaigns. Christ is the hero of this story, not us.
Sin is crouching at the door every morning when you open your eyes, and it will destroy you unless you:
- Abide in Christ in scripture and prayer. Live in the reality of His reign and sovereignty over your life. When you open the Word, open your heart and lead Christ through every room, every corner, every secret closet. Confront yourself with the Gospel and the Cross before you are confronted with opportunity to lust. Pray for grace to surrender fully to Him and give Him the throne of your heart so that it cannot be usurped by lust. Christ is the world we live in and the atmosphere we breathe.
- Hold the Cross before your eyes. Every answer is there. If you are a Christian, then the Cross has thoroughly conquered the very center of your heart and has rescued you from a life ruled by your own desires into a life ruled by His love. Nothing will warm a Christian’s affection and loyalty to Christ than a clear view of the Cross and the terrible exchange that happened there: the Prince of Heaven for our worthless, filthy, damnable souls. Let this love sink in deep and stir the sleeping coals of your love, and you will find the lust of the flesh has lost its attractiveness.
- Pluck out your eye and cut off your hand. We know this is figurative language, but the reality is no less painful. Is your good opinion of yourself causing you to wander away from Christ, confident that you can stand on your own? Cast yourself down, a traitor and usurper. Do you have a plan to better yourself and cure yourself of the tendency to lust, apart from the work of Christ? Repent of this treason and humble yourself before God humbles you. If we are His children, He will discipline us. It is a far better thing for us to do away with the offending “eye” or “hand” ourselves than to have God do it for us.
In the end, the only escape from lust and sin is an abolition of self and a full surrender to Christ as king. It goes against every aspect of our nature. It hurts worse than anything else. But you are meant to be the light of the world. How can they see by your light if you’re running away from the burning?
If you find yourself in the fetters of lust again, you can be sure that you’ve mistaken your role in your relationship with Christ and have fed in foreign pastures away from the Shepherd. Now the wolves have found you. You can do nothing against them except run back to Christ.