“Don’t have sex outside of marriage.”
“Stop looking at porn.”
“Keep those eyes from wandering!”
Men, these are the things we hear, aren’t they?
Living out this wisdom will keep us from harm, but when temptation comes and giving in makes sense in our lust-filled minds, actually living it out becomes the hard part.
Let’s be real. Sexual urges are strong. They’re powerful. One denominational leadership team in Canada warned their leaders of the ‘three P’s’ that’ll bring a man down:
And Panties. (May as well throw Porn into the “Panties” category, too.)
So What Do We Do?
There’s always a give and take in scripture. Our Heavenly Father is instructing us to stop doing one thing but start doing another. Don’t do this but go do that. We have to be totally determined to fill the void that’s left when we don’t act on these powerful sexual urges.
God never leaves us helpless. He is the helper. In other words, we always have help and just have to learn how to seek it out. Too often, when we don’t experience the promise of his strength or comfort, we stop seeking him, thinking it doesn’t work for us. We have to keep seeking!
So how can we view temptation? As incredible learning opportunities to draw close to God and live in his wisdom.
Scripture says that God will never let us be tempted more than we can bear and that he’ll always provide a way out. This means that we can always conquer temptation by seeking his presence and wisdom. If you don’t know how to do that well, praise God that he’ll be right there to train you next time temptation comes!
Here’s a sneak peek into two basics in God’s training manual:
- Presence – Let his presence satisfy the longing of your heart that temptation is revealing. (You may be craving excitement, love, belonging, security, etc.). Do this by praising him and thanking him for how he satisfies whatever it is you’re craving.
- Wisdom – God wants us to take action. Stop doing this. Start doing that.
Remember this key: God wants to be in everything. If we resist temptation and just try not to think about it, we aren’t letting God into that experience. We’re denying what we’re feeling even though we really are feeling it!
Remember this key: God wants to be in everything.
God being welcomed into our moments of temptation changes everything in how we react.
Let’s Get Practical
It’s 11 pm, and the urge for porn is strong. You’re the only one awake, and, man, even your willpower has passed out for the night. You have no more strength left and are thinking about nothing except your fantasy.
What does welcoming God into this look like?
A lot of guys I’ve helped get out of their porn addictions have reported to me a common experience that maybe you can relate to. They get tempted to watch porn or masturbate and just try not to think about it until they go to sleep. An hour later, they give in just to get it over with, so they can finally hit the hay.
What has worked well for me – and for so many others – is a very different approach.
Recognize the opportunity for intimacy with Jesus that temptation is presenting to you – and then take action.
“Oh yeah!” I say to myself. “I should be praying without ceasing, and I wasn’t doing that. Let’s do it!”
Next, I go to my favorite warring prayer: “God, I am here on earth primarily to know you intimately and glorify your name. I am going to bring you glory right now, even in this moment. Thank you for drawing near, for being with me, and satisfying my every desire.”
I put my device out of reach, put my hands in the air and start worshipping my Lord with a singing voice that would even make a mother cringe. Whether or not we’re hitting the right keys doesn’t matter to our Father, though. He just wants to be with us.
Often, the next thing I know is I’m waking up in the morning thinking, “Man, I don’t even remember fighting that temptation! God, you won it for me again. I love you so much.”
I love starting my days excited by the victories God wins for me.
But Aren’t We Supposed To ‘Resist’?
James 4:7 says to submit to God and resist the devil. Spending an hour resisting the devil is not the point, though.
Submitting to God is the point.
When we submit to God, we’re submitting our feelings and our actions to him. We’re submitting our ways to his (stop fantasizing – start praising). Welcoming him into the moment is easily the best form of resistance.
This response to temptation will change everything for you. He’ll win your battles, he’ll get the glory, and you’ll no longer have to be scared of temptation. The best part is, your intimacy with Christ will grow, your understanding of how to walk in step with the spirit will increase, and you’ll inevitably begin shining an even brighter light for Christ in the world.
So how can you change how you respond to temptation today? It’s a skill-set to develop and take with you for the rest of your life. Jesus was tempted to obey his flesh in every possible way right up until his death, but he got constant victory over temptation by listening to the Father and doing what he heard.
Stop this. Start that.
Stop resisting. Start submitting.
Stop fretting. Start glorifying his name.
Stop fantasizing. Start praising.
When temptation doesn’t cease, pray without ceasing because the battle is the Lord’s, and he’ll win it every time.