In my last post in this series, I talked about why men commit sexual sin. Today, I want to follow up those thoughts by exploring the question of whether it is possible for a man to overcome sexual sin. If there is one thing I have heard from men who regularly commit sexual sin, it is they most often feel like they will never completely overcome it.
Is it possible for a man to overcome sexual sin? Well, it depends on what you mean by overcome. If “overcoming” means being free of all consequences, then probably not. If “overcoming” means I will never be tempted again – well, this is also not likely to be true.
Where is the hope?
The Greek word most often translated as overcome in the Bible is nikao. It means to subdue, to conquer or get the victory. In order to subdue something, you have to fight against it. The big idea is that victory is possible, but it comes at a price.
Here are 5 ways you can overcome sexual sin:
1. Know Your True Identity
Romans 8:14-17 says you are an adopted child of God. Too many men believe their real identity is based in their sexuality. If you feel like you would be lost without sexual expression, then you are likely finding your identity there. Being God’s child changes where you find meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. It also changes how you define success – this will be important as we go through the other steps.
2. Walk in the Light
As God’s child, we have to remember sin has no more power over us unless we allow it to have power – Romans 6:12-14. 1 John 1:7 teaches us to walk in the light. James 5:16 teaches us to confess our sins to one another.
Part of the power of sexual sin is the secret. When we bring our sin out of the shadows and into the light, it begins to lose its power over us. This is one of the most difficult steps in fighting sexual sin because we are afraid of what we might lose. Jesus once taught us, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul?” Bring your sin into the light so you can begin the journey towards healing.
Because you are God’s child, you can trust His loving kindness towards you, even though you have sinned.
3. Change Your Thinking
Part of the battle for sexual purity comes from believing we are still our old selves. However, the Bible teaches us that as God’s child you are a new creation. In Ephesians 4:22-24 we are taught to focus our minds on who we really are – the new self created according to God’s likeness.
Too many men are focused on sin management. We strategize and design ways to fight pornography or whatever other sexual sin we are tempted with. Our minds are still focused on the sin. Change your focus from the sin to the Saviour. Renew your mind to think about who you really are in Christ. Be caught in the glory of who God is and His wonderful grace towards you. This is where practicing spiritual disciplines and training yourself for godliness becomes important. The more you see God for who He is and yourself for who you now are – the less appealing sexual sin will be.
4. Never Let Your Guard Down
1 Peter 5:8 teaches us to always stay alert for the work of our enemy to destroy us. It’s like being a soldier on duty in a war zone. Wars are not often 24 hours a day of shooting – but a battle can begin at any moment. I find most men are likely to be tempted when they are hungry, alone, tired, or stressed out.
You need to constantly be on guard. The good news is, the more you focus on training yourself for godliness the more likely you are to recognize the voice of the Spirit of God to help you identify and fight temptations when they come.
5. When You Are Attacked – Run
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 teaches us to flee from sexual immorality, but it says so much more. Fleeing literally means run – but where are we supposed to run to? We are supposed to run to Jesus and who we are in Him. What does this look like? Here are two quick suggestions to help you run:
- Find Bible verses that talk about your identity in Christ and speak them out loud. This is how Jesus fought temptation – He quoted the truth of the Bible and the truth of who He is to the devil.
- Run towards obedience to Jesus. Obedience does not mean just avoiding sin – it means doing the good you were created for. In this case, running towards obedience might mean focusing your energy on loving your wife. If you are single, it might mean running towards other activities you can do that will help bring life to other people.
I realize there are many layers we can discuss about battling sexual sin. This post is meant to give you some starting points. You can overcome sexual sin. There is hope.