My goal has been to send my mentoring newsletter a couple of times a month, so I apologize for the delay. I was really swamped around Christmas and got behind schedule.
I am going to start doing this newsletter in a simple question-and-answer format to keep it short and simple. That way I can tackle more topics in each issue. Please feel free to send me any questions you have. No topic is off limits! All of the questions I am answering are from guys who get this newsletter.
I really hope that many of you will reply to this email just to let me know that you are getting it—and please let me know if it is helpful. Please also send your prayer requests. I pray for all of you regularly and I want to stay connected. I also hope that some of you can travel with me this year.
How to Respond to Temptation
Answer: First you must learn to recognize the difference between sin and temptation. If a random sexual thought just passes through your mind, that is a temptation, not a sin. If you happen to see a woman dressed provocatively, that is a temptation. But a temptation becomes a sin when you play with the thought and allow your heart to lust. James 1:15 says: “When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” Sin involves a process. Our challenge is to resist temptation so that it never goes to the next level. You must learn to nip thoughts in the bud.
One unfounded rumor often quoted by “experts” is that men think about sex every seven seconds. Actually that is false. One study conducted by Ohio State University suggested that men actually think about sex 19 times a day. That is probably more accurate. Whatever the case, we know that random sexual images are thrown at us daily, and that this is increased because of the way people dress and by the proliferation of sexual images in the media.
You are not always going to be able to protect yourself from seeing sexual images or thinking sexual thoughts. The devil throws things at us. But you can control yourself by choosing not to lust or act on your lusts after you are tempted. Even Jesus was “tempted in all things” (see Hebrews 4:15) yet the verse goes on to say “yet without sin.” Jesus never acted on those temptations.
Do not condemn yourself for having fleeting sexual thoughts. But don’t play with them, don’t feed them (with fantasy or porn) and don’t ever act on them by crossing a sexual boundary. You must learn to yield your urges and desires to the power of the indwelling Christ. The Holy Spirit can give you the power to resist temptation and to run from any immorality.
If you are tempted to think of another woman during sex with your wife, you are robbing yourself and your wife of deep intimacy. You need to focus all your energies on your wife in order to please her and enjoy her. Repent for allowing these adulterous thoughts to gain a foothold in your mind, and begin to lavish all of your love on your wife again. Proverbs 5:19 says you should be “exhilarated always” with your wife. That word “exhilarated” means “intoxicated.” Your wife should make you dizzy! If you have been tempted to look elsewhere for a sexual thrill, ask for God’s help and make sure you have cut off all old ties to the sexual failures of your past through repentance and confession to a mature brother.
One of the most powerful ways to overcome temptation is to quote Scripture. This is what Jesus did when He was tempted by Satan. One verse I often recommend to guys who struggle with lust is Romans 6:12-13. It says:
“Therefore do not let sin reign In your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
I know you will find new strength to overcome temptation if you meditate on that verse and get that principle in your heart. Because of what Jesus did for you on the cross, sin has lost its power. You are not a slave to lust. Believe in the power of Christ’s righteousness in you, and you can rise above lust’s power.
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