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12 Things to Remember When You’re Battling the Temptation of Lust

temptation

Written by Mike Genung

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Overcoming lust can be hard. Some battles are fiercely intense and last for hours, while others are easy. For those moments when you’re caught in a tough battle, here are 12 things to remember:

  1. No temptation lasts forever. They may feel like they will, but eventually they will fade.
  2.  Perseverance will often be your more important asset. When the waves of lust would start to roll over me, I would offer up one or two weak prayers, the battle would get harder, and I would give in.  I’ve waged battles with lust that lasted all night, sleeping for an hour, getting hit, praying and resisting, falling asleep for another hour or two, and then repeating the cycle. You’ve got to be prepared to go the distance, no matter how long it takes.
  3. You have every weapon you need to stand firm in the battle. I now know that prayer and God’s word are enough to overcome every battle. I didn’t always believe this. When lust had a foothold in my life, God’s word and prayer didn’t seem to have any power to me. I used a combination of white knuckling my way through temptation (which didn’t work), or calling a friend and asking them to pray for me (which worked for an hour or two, but when the lust attack hit again I still needed a way to stand on my own). This does not mean that we shouldn’t try to fight lust in isolation or on our own strength, but that there will always be times in our life when we can’t get a friend on the phone, or get to a group, and we must stand our ground. In those moments we need to be able to wield the weapons God has given every believer. My problem in the past was that I had lost so many battles after reading the Bible or praying that I didn’t believe either of these had the power to see me through. Prayer is powerful; it connects me with the Lord and His power and brings in the emotional and spiritual firepower I need to press through to victory. God’s word is a sword that cuts to the core of my flesh, which would love to indulge in lust, if I let it. The battle may be fierce, and it could go on for a while, but eventually the power of prayer and His word are enough to take me through.
  4. In war, one side will eventually get worn down and give up. You never have to be the side that surrenders.
  5. What you believe will play a critical factor in determining the outcome. If you believe that you’ve fallen too many times to overcome lust, or that your flesh and the enemy are too powerful, you’re already halfway to defeat. I’ve had plenty of men tell me over the years that they had little to no hope that they could ever be set free from lust. If you believe that victory is possible, not by fighting with your willpower or flesh, which won’t work, but with the tools God has given you, then there is more than enough hope that you will come through.
  6. Like Joseph with Potiphar’s wife, there will be some battles where the sexual energy is too strong and delaying is dangerous; the only way to win is to run, immediately. For example, if a woman who was not your wife was touching you or asking you to sleep with her, excuse yourself and get out of there. Stay away; don’t play with fire.
  7. Use wisdom and discernment regarding your weak points. If there is a situation you’ve placed yourself in many times and have fallen, avoid it. Don’t play games with lust.
  8. Examine what you really believe about yourself, God, and lust. Is He really strong enough to see you through? Does He even care? Do you believe He hears your cries for help?
  9. Remember who you are. You are God’s son (or daughter, as women struggle with lust too). You are not alone and you are not forsaken. He is near (Philippians 4). If you’re married and have kids, remember that you are your wife’s husband and your children’s father. Think about how it will feel if you have to look your wife in the eye and tell her you masturbated to porn. Remember your children and the shame you will feel knowing you’re not the man they think you are, should you fall. Be who are you are, a blood-bought, son or daughter of the living God, with loved ones who need you to be the leader of their home.
  10. Remember that just because you’ve failed in the past does not mean you have to fall again. You don’t have to give in! The battle may be intense, but if you learn to lean on God and use the tools He’s given you, you’ll start chalking up some wins.
  11. You are not a loser, or a failure. You are broken, weak and struggle with a flesh that screams for lust, but you’re not the scum the enemy has been trying to tell you that you are.  Beating yourself up is playing into the enemy’s hands because it keeps you in “I don’t deserve freedom and victory” mode. Accept God’s forgiveness for your past sins once and for all. It’s done. Move forward and keep going.
  12. You have more spiritual firepower than you realize. The enemy wants to keep you in the dark about this. Every prayer, every time you read Scripture aloud, is an assault against him and your flesh. He doesn’t like getting hit, and if you continue to persevere eventually you’ll be the one wearing him down.
  13. In every battle, in order to win, you must choose to allow your flesh to die. You don’t fight against your flesh with willpower, but you ignore its cries to indulge in sin. You let it die. There will be a little pain inside; I notice that when I let my flesh die that there’s a momentary intensifying of the craving for lust, then a strong feeling like I’ve lost or missed out on something. Not long after, it’s over. My flesh has died, and along with it the lust-craving. If you pray and read God’s word but you’re not willing to die, you will eventually lose the battle because your flesh will take over.  There are times when my only prayer during temptation is “God, please help me to die.” I know what’s really going on is that my flesh is craving sin and I have to die; it’s not about the enemy, it’s just that there’s this sin-thing inside of me that wants to go the wrong way. I can’t fight sin, or will my way to victory; I have to choose to let my flesh die.

I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. – 1 Corinthians 15:31

 

Copyright 2017 BlazingGrace.org

Fighting Temptation

Fighting Temptation – Defining Temptation

Fighting temptation describes a battle that is as much spiritual as it is emotional or physical. To be tempted is not a sin. Everyone is tempted and at different levels. Even Jesus was tempted!

Temptation happens when the opportunity is presented to do what we know is wrong, whether against God, ourselves, or others. Being tempted is not wrong – it’s the decision to do wrong and the corresponding action that follows.

CONTINUE READING

“Fighting Temptation” All About GOD Ministries, n.d. Web. [© 2002 – 2017 AllAboutFollowingJesus.org].

following Jesus

The Great Impostor

I’ve been thinking about a great impostor — one so clever that he deceived even the devil himself.

This master of illusion has turned angels into demons, kings into animals, pastors into predators, and sheep into wolves.

While the elusive deceiver is not a person, it overcomes that problem by borrowing personality from its victims. With no shame, it clothes itself in the thoughts, emotions, and wills of those whose trust it betrays.

What I find troubling is that without realizing it I’ve walked, laughed, and cried with this impostor. I’m learning that he is no fool. He flatters us. He defers to us. He encourages us to develop an exaggerated opinion of our own importance, while at the same time letting us think negative and self-destructive thoughts about ourselves.

This deceiver of deceivers is pride. He has hats for every occasion and masks for every emotion. He has a different voice for every decision. Sometimes he struts—sometimes he limps.

See if you recognize this great impostor in his own gallery of disguises. See if you agree that what makes “The Prince of Pride” so difficult to track is that he can swagger with self-importance one minute while hiding behind the illusion of humility the next.

Self-defeating Pride The pride that keeps us from doing better when we are doing well can also keep us from changing when we are in trouble. On a good day, we don’t feel a need to change. When trouble comes, we don’t want people to think we’re changing our ways just because we’re in trouble.

Wounded Pride The pride that prompts us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think can also fill us with self-contempt when we don’t live up to our own expectations.

Fearful Pride The ego that causes us to be overly competitive on some occasions can also keep us from trying at all in other situations. Sometimes pride makes us willing to win at the expense of others. Sometimes it causes us to avoid the embarrassment of possible failure.

Uninhibited Pride The pride that causes us to be meticulous with our appearance can also cause us not to care what others think of us.

Self-deceiving Pride The pride that causes us to call attention to other people’s mistakes can lead us to believe we don’t have any reason to be critical of ourselves.

Procrastinating Pride The arrogance that causes us to think we can change anytime we want can keep us from ever changing at all.

Uncaring Pride The conceit that allows us to be preoccupied with our own problems can also help us to be oblivious to the pain of others.

Sulking Pride The pride that keeps us from asking others for help can also cause us to sulk when others are not “there for us.”

Self-introducing Pride Sometimes to admit pride seems fatal. At other times, saying that we know we are proud is a way of saying we think we have something to be proud about.

Self-berating Pride The pride that keeps us from admitting we’re wrong can also lead to self-berating behavior that helps us avoid being corrected by others.

Pious Pride The pride that causes us to be prayerless in our personal life can also prompt us to pray with crowd-pleasing eloquence in public settings.

Overly-talkative Pride The survival instinct that prompts us to be silent about what is really happening in us can also cause us to dominate conversations and relationships when we don’t want others asking questions.

Slacker Pride The self-sufficiency that drives workaholics to try to make themselves indispensable can also cause a lazy person to assume that he can be a slacker without consequences.

Tearful Pride The conceit that causes us to disregard the feelings of others can also cause us to use tears to play on the emotions of others when we want something.

Quiet Pride The self-interest that causes us to parade our success can also prompt us not to admit our failures.

Contrite Pride The self-absorption that allows us to protect ourselves at others’ expense can also prompt us to demand forgiveness when we’ve been forced to confess.

Pride isn’t just an excessive opinion of ourselves that acts at the expense of others. Ironically, pride is the ultimate form of self-delusion. If it can’t hit us with a right, it will come at us from the left. If our northern front is strong, it will hit us from the south. If we’re reinforced on the ground, it will attack us from the air.

At least one lesson surfaces. When we understand the strategies of pride that feed on our own human nature, we have that many reasons to get on our knees. When we live unaware of pride’s delusions, we have knees that won’t bend.

Healthy humility might sound like a bitter pill. But taking the attitude of Christ is an antidote for self-destruction. While pride is a sure way to create problems for ourselves, the opposite of pride leaves no regrets. God Himself becomes our satisfaction. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Father, please forgive us for proudly thinking that our interests are more urgent than Your interests, and that our pain is more important than the pain of others. In our clearer moments we realize we have no higher calling than to be “living sacrifices” who think no more and no less of ourselves than You want us to think (Romans 12:1-3).

 

Mart De Haan, Been Thinking About, Copyright 2005 by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Reasons to Listen to the Voice of the Lord

I wrote this several months ago at a time when I was struggling and under heavy temptations. It is a list of reasons to listen to the voice of the Lord Jesus and not to listen to the devil. Hope it helps some of you.

  • You created me; he did not.

  • You redeemed me with Your blood; he did not.

  • You set me free; he seeks to keep me in chains.

  • You are good; he is evil.

  • You are the creator that gives life; he is a beast that devours.

  • You are the truth; he is the father of lies.

  • You give life; he is a murderer from the beginning.

  • You have my best interest at heart; he has my worst.

  • You train me with wisdom and discipline; he always tells me to take the easy way out.

  • Your joy is deep and long-lasting; his is cheap, empty, and fleeting.

  • You cleanse me from sin and guilt; he entices me to sin and then makes me feel dirty, guilty and ashamed.

  • You declare me righteous; he accuses me.

  • You poured out Your life for me and others; he seeks only his own pleasure.

  • You put love of others in my heart; he puts love of self in my heart.

  • All that You do is motivated by love; all he does is motivated by hate and malice.

  • You are the light of the world; he is the prince of darkness.

  • You open Your word to me by Your Spirit; he twists it all around and makes it crooked.

  • You worshiped Your Father in all You did; he tells me that I am a god.

  • All Your paths lead to life and peace; all his lead to death.

  • You heal and make whole; he kills and afflicts.

  • You went about doing good; he goes about like a lion seeking whom he may devour.

  • Your people are well cared for; his are a pathetic band of slaves.

  • Your people are full of joy; the devil has no happy dirty old men.

  • Your people are full of praise and worship; his are all tormented souls.

  • He bruised Your heel; You crushed his head.

  • You are a winner; he is a loser.

  • You shall reign to the age of the ages; he will spend them in the lake of fire.

  • All things shall be put under Your feet; he is one of those things.

  • You do all things well; he causes chaos and confusion.

  • You order my life and run it well; he makes it a total mess.

  • You are a reconciler; he is a divider and a cause of strife.

  • You tell me to lose myself; he tells me to “find myself”.

  • You pour out Your agape love into my heart by Your Spirit; the only thing he pours into my heart is fiery torment.

  • You raise me up and seat me in heavenly places; he keeps my mind on earthly and sensual things.

  • You put heaven in my heart; he makes it a fiery hell.

  • You lead me back home to Father; he pulls me away and seeks to block my path home.

Conquering Lust

by Gary Smalley; The Smalley Institute

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Lust makes us think that having some person we don’t presently have would make us happier. Often that person is simply a figment of our imagination. Even if the person is real, we often attach character traits to him or her that are not real. Usually our lust focuses on sexual involvement. We imagine someone who is terribly fond of us and who prefers our presence and intimacy over anyone else’s. We imagine that if we had such a person to hold in our arms, it would be exciting and wonderfully fulfilling. This is a terrible deception, for we forget or ignore the devastating consequences of living out our imaginations.

Sensual imaginations reveal our selfish desire for stimulation. Unchecked, sensual stimulation actually increases the desire. We see this exhibited in several ways. For example, one of the primary reasons people smoke or consume alcohol or drugs is to stimulate their physical senses. As a person continues in this selfish frame of mind, the desire grows until he or she needs regular and increasing doses of stimulation.

Psychiatrist Gerald May observes that God created us to attach to him. All humans have a God-given, built-in need to attach to God in a meaningful way. When we ignore God, we instead try to attach to his creation—people, things, and career. This is where all types of addictions are formed.

Even if we feel we’ve conquered lust, the emotion can strike when we least expect it. One friend discovered this when he spoke at a Christian conference. Dick’s wife was in the final months of pregnancy, so they were not as sexually active as usual. While several hundred miles away from home, Dick suddenly found himself infatuated with a woman attending the conference. She was attractive and seemed to enjoy his company. But while admitting his normal sexual drive was heating up, he also knew that yielding to that desire would bring at best only a very temporary satisfaction. He came face-to-face with his own selfish desire to be stimulated and realized that the devastating long-term consequences to his ministry, to his wife and kids, and to his relationship with God would far outweigh any momentary pleasure. That knowledge helped him control his physical drive, which took about forty-eight hours to subside.

The motivation behind extramarital affairs seems to be very different for men and women. Men tend to lust for physical release or conquest, viewing women as challenges for satisfying their sexual drives. Women, on the other hand, tend to involve themselves in affairs because of their deep need for communication and a meaningful relationship—a deep need that is not being met.

Recently we’ve seen a huge increase in affairs on the Internet. These affairs don’t need to be consummated to cause a serious threat to a marriage. Many women find themselves more comfortable talking with a stranger in a chat room than to their own husbands. Many men enjoy the power they seem to have counseling a woman by means of an impersonal computer rather than face-to-face. In too many cases, men and women let their imaginations go wild in these relationships.

How can we use lust to strengthen our relationship with God?

First, by recognizing the basic motive behind this emotion. Lust is not serving a person in love; it is viewing a person as an object to be used. This happens even within the marriage relationship. With Norma, I had to realize that I was violating God’s law by trying to use her for my own happiness rather than loving her by serving her needs.

Second, lust can reconfirm our awareness that God — not another’s body, not even our mate’s — is the source of our fulfillment. As pleasurable as sex can be, it can never substitute for the lasting joy and satisfaction of knowing God.

Third, in the midst of lustful thoughts, as an act of our will, we can pray something like this: Lord, I know there are times when I wish my mate acted sexier. And there are even times I have entertained thoughts about being in the arms of another person. All the advertisements on TV have tried to convince me it would be exciting. But right here and now I continue to trust you to energize my life and provide all I need. I am willing to rest and wait in your faithfulness. I don’t even know all I’m trying to gain from these lustful thoughts, but you know, and I know you’ll meet my needs as you always have.

Because God knows our thoughts, we can share them with him and admit that we don’t understand. That’s what Paul instructs us to do in Romans: [God’s] Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but … he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will (Romans 8:26-27).

What practical help can we offer those stuck in the quicksand of lustful desire?

Some try to struggle out of the grip it has on their lives through visualization, masturbation, or regular participation in sexual activity. But the more we struggle, the deeper we sink. If no one is available to pull us out, the one way to escape from quicksand is to relax, lie back in the sand, take a deep breath, fill your lungs with air, and allow your limbs to float to the top. We can take similar action with lust by not fighting our thoughts and desires and instead ask Jesus to perform what he promises to do release us from bondage. He can supernaturally pull us out as we rest in him.

If no one is available to pull you out of quicksand, you can still escape by slowly moving your arms above your head, putting them slightly into the sand, and swimming slowly to the edge, as if doing a slow-motion backstroke. Experts say it may take several hours to swim just a few feet. But freedom is as close as the bank. When battling lust, we can do the same thing by persistently looking to Jesus for strength and patience.

I have known men stuck in the mire of lust who didn’t make it to freedom for several months. It may take a year or more for some to swim to freedom. Day after day we must reconfirm truths given to us by Jesus. God promises he is faithful to answer the requests of his children. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours (Mark 11:24). And, If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you (John 15:7). Real freedom comes from abiding in a close relationship with God and from allowing God’s Word to become alive in us. The Bible urges us to live a life of love …. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:2-3). And, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). It is God’s will that we experience freedom from lust, so we can stand in his line daily, knowing it is just a matter of time before he will bring us freedom from sexual slavery.

Once we’re free from the quicksand, we’re usually weak from the effort.

Here are four ways to regain strength and remain strong so we don’t fall back into the mire:

First, rehearse the negative consequences of sexual involvement, even in the midst of lustful thoughts. Remember what it feels like to be trapped. The consequences are far more than we can mention here, but they include enslavement to passion (see Galatians 5:1); reinforcement of our self-centered tendency that diminishes genuine expression of love; callousness of our soul (see Ephesians 4:19); and, of course, the possibility of catching a sexual disease. In other words, the truth and life of God are darkened within us when we engage in unrighteousness (see Romans 1:18-32).

Second, memorize sections of Scripture that deal specifically with sexual freedom. After memorizing them, persistently ask God to make your life consistent with these verses. Start with Galatians 5:1-14, Ephesians 5:1-6, and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7.

Remember, when we read God’s Word, we don’t read it for what we can do by our own efforts. Don’t think, I need to start living more by this or that law. Rather, read God’s Word and see his commandments as what you’ll look like as you continue to abide in Christ. If you love me, you will obey what I command, the Lord says (John 14:15). Keep your focus on loving, knowing, and abiding in him and watch him enrich and strengthen your life.

Third, for men especially, beware of the anger/lust cycle that often develops. Many men experience their most severe times of lust after a struggle or problem at home or at work. If we fail to make things right after a disagreement or confrontation, we may be setting ourselves up for temptation, because such encounters leave us feeling depressed and inadequate. Because none of us likes to feel bad about ourselves, we look for something to perk us up, to make us feel powerful and important again.

Sexual stimulation can have a temporary euphoric effect. Like alcohol or drugs, it can bring about a heightened sense of self-worth until the shame and reality of our actions bring us crashing down. Some men who never take a drink or try drugs submit to a life of erotic escapades that is every bit as addictive and deadly. Sin always takes you further down the path of destruction than you want to go.

Writing in the book of Proverbs, Solomon has sobering words for those who use any form of lust actual sexual encounters, fantasy, or pornographic pictures to make up for feelings of anger or low self-worth: For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword (Proverbs 5:3-4).

Giving in to lust does not break the anger/lust cycle; it only intensifies it. Now we are not only angry and depressed about our problem at work or at home, but we are also angry about our lack of self-control. And on top of our shame, those of us who are Christians also have the Holy Spirit convicting us of sin.

Genuine repentance is a biblical solution, but getting furious with ourselves and vowing it will never happen again do little good. In fact, when we browbeat ourselves (a way of punishing ourselves so that God won’t, or so that he will let us off the hook), we actually dig a deeper rut for ourselves and set ourselves up for our next lust fix.

Unless we truthfully deal with the anger/lust cycle and admit it is signaling that a relationship needs repair or that we need the help of a Christian friend or counselor, we may continue in the downward spiral for years. This vicious circle of sin can cause even Christians to spin so fast that right seems wrong and wrong seems right. But returning to Christ’s healing is always the answer.

Finally, realize that for most people the gaining of freedom from lust is a long-term process, especially for those who have developed a habit of immoral thoughts and actions. You might consider starting or joining a support group for those who struggle in this area. This can be a men-only or women-only group who testify as to how God has produced freedom and who encourage and support one another in memorizing and meditating on Scripture. These folks also hold each other accountable, pray with each other, and talk honestly about their entrapment. Much healing can come just by confessing our weakness and praying for each other: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Al meets regularly with several other men in a discipleship group. Once he returned from a business trip and reported that his hotel room had a cable movie station. He watched a PG-rated movie, then started to watch a sexually explicit film but caught himself and turned it off. However, he expressed concern about handling temptation on an upcoming ten-day trip. One of the members asked Al to develop a plan for using any of the time that was not being spent in meetings, which he did.

On his return Al had to give a report. Near the end of the trip he had found himself seated next to a single woman at an athletic event. The thought entered his mind, You could take her out for dinner and no one would ever know. Rather than allow time to entertain the thought any further, he left the game early. Knowing he was accountable to men back home helped him resist temptation because he knew they would ask him how he did. Accountability is good, but remember that it doesn’t replace the most important solution God’s grace doing its work in us.

I have focused on the sexual aspects of lust because it is so out-of-control in our society. But other forms of lust such as craving sweets, overeating, and stimulating the senses through drugs and alcohol can be just as damaging. The thoughts I’ve shared can apply in any area of sensual temptation that robs us of life.

What error messages appear most frequently in your life? Jealousy, envy, or lust? Take the time necessary to deal with those emotions.

 

Excerpted from the book “Joy that Lasts”.

© Copyright 2003 Smalley Relationship Center

Smalley, Gary. Joy that Lasts. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002. Print.