"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."1
A Daily Encounter subscriber shares his struggle saying, "I have a challenge in overcoming the problem of lust. I have tried several times to overcome this problem, and have had momentary success only to fall after a short time. However, I am determined to conquer this weakness but need help to overcome.
Dear Joel (name changed), thank you for your honesty in sharing your problem with lust, which, by the way is a problem that many of us struggle with or have struggled with at some time in our life.
First, understand that sexual feelings are normal and are a God-given gift to humanity. The important issue, however, is that we remain in control of this drive and don't allow it to control us. We also need to control it in our mind because, as Jesus said, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."2 Doing this, of course, is not merely a weakness, it is sin. The fact is, what we consistently think about eventually comes about.
Second, besides struggling with our sinful nature, lust can be a symptom of, and further aggravated by, a deeper fault or problem. For example, lust can be caused by repressed love; and when it is, it is a false and empty substitute for love. If this is the case, wise counseling may be needed to resolve this problem.
Third, when we don't get our needs met in healthy ways, it can be very tempting to get them met in unhealthy ways such as through illicit sex. Thus, especially when single, it is very important to have several healthy non-sexual friendships with both sexes in mixed company to get legitimate social needs met in healthy ways.
Fourth, until married it is advisable to find healthy ways to sublimate your sexual drive by being involved in creative projects that provide a means for you to use your gifts and talents and, in so doing, help burn up some of your sexual drive/energy. Intense physical exercise can also help burn up some of this energy.
Fifth, the goal is to become an emotionally and spiritually mature person so that you will, when the time is right, be attracted to a mature marriage partner so your sexual needs can be met in healthy ways in a good marriage. As the Apostle Paul said, "It is better to marry than to burn with passion."3
Sixth, if you feel totally defeated by your sexual lust and/or actions, it is wise to seek capable Christian counseling to help you work through and resolve the issues behind your out-of-control lust. If you live in North America you could call the Narramore Christian Foundation at 1-800-477-5893 and press "1" for Dianne and she may be able to give you the name of a good Christian counselor in your area.
Finally, pray. At the beginning of every day I suggest that you commit and trust your life and way to God, asking him to lead you in the way you should go. Furthermore, every time you are tempted to lust after a woman (or a man if you are a woman) keep praying, "Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner. Lord Jesus, help," until the temptation subsides. This is a very effective way to guard your thinking and help keep your mind pure.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, I acknowledge the fact that I have a sinful nature and without your help, am prone to go astray. I surrender my heart and life to you; please help me to become whole in every area of my life so that my lifestyle, my actions, and my relationships will all be wholesome. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Philippians 4:8 (NIV).
2. Matthew 5:28 (NIV).
3. 1 Corinthians 7:9 (NIV).