Questions & Answers
Struggling with lust
I appreciate that you have shared this struggle with me. What you may not realize is how wide-spread this struggle is, and why it is that so many messages and sermons are preached on it and why so many books are written on it. For those who are getting tough on this area of sin are mostly likely heavily caught up in it themselves!
Here is the dilemma. As you have already mentioned, if you concentrate on the sin you continue to live in it. But the other trap is that trying to ignore it STILL causes you to concentrate on it ... just in a reverse way!! Are you following? If I tell you to stop thinking about MONKEYS ... what are you thinking about? If I tell you to stop trying to stop thinking about MONKEYS ... what are you still thinking about? Yeah, it's MONKEYS either way.
As long as you and I see ourselves tied to this ball and chain we will live in view of it. I write to you as one who understands what it is to think that he is still chained to lust. While I'm under the sway of this lie I simply cannot see the thing for what it is and it will loom over me as a controlling factor of my life (and this is true of any sin) and I will find myself struggling with something that I thought I was freed from. So how am I supposed to live as a victorious child of God when I'm afraid to examine the temptation for what it is without fear of getting caught up in it? That is the dilemma caused by living according to the elemental principles of the world. That phrase is from Galatians and it simply refers to the basic functioning of man under law - the way the world works.
The way you and I attempt to keep ourselves pure is the same as the world's way. Our problem is that since we have been made alive through the Spirit of Christ we struggle because try as we may we cannot get around the fact that something is still wrong with the results of the world's solutions. We're forced into even further turmoil by law preachers who heap condemnation upon us.
I know the feeling you speak of when you write: "not like much of a good person". But do you realize that this is merely the result of comparison? The question is: What are you comparing yourself to? A better version of yourself? Those obviously better Christians than yourself? Were you thinking of yourself as being a good person otherwise? Hey, believe me, I've had to ask myself those questions MANY times!!! I have come to realize what a spider web of legalistic games I play when I'm thinking according to the wisdom of man.
Now, please realize that I'm not trying to make light of the effects of this sin in any way, but when we think like this we have had to make light of many other sins we were viewing as not so bad compared to the one we saw as defiling us. Once again, that 's the elemental principles of the world.
In Christ we have been set free from sin. This is NOT a hypothetical or theological freedom ... it is a REAL freedom. The more you and I come to realize what sin really is then we are not left in such confusion over SPECIFIC sins.
Sin comes from desires of an empty shell that CANNOT be satisfied. Man without God is constantly looking for that special something that will fill the emptiness in order to satisfy it. Realize that nothing of itself is evil, but that it is the DESIRES of the EMPTY THING in it's seeking to fill it's longing by any means possible. The flesh will use, manipulate, destroy, kill or steal in order to get what it THINKS will satisfy ... and will justify itself in the process. But as nothing will satisfy but the life of God man has left behind a trail of destruction in his path.
But we have had the emptiness removed from us by being indwelt by the very life of God. When you and I lust (in the way of the world, that is, since remember that God's Spirit also lusts) we are operating as insane since WE NO LONGER HAVE THE NEED. What is it that you are looking for? What emptiness do you think you can fill? It is only insanity that makes you THINK that it will be filled in this way because the life inside you KNOWS that it cannot be.
What is it that makes pornography evil? It's NOT naked women, that's for sure! It's not sex, either. It is the desire of empty man that will steal from or destroy another to satisfy a desire that CANNOT be satisfied.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can adjust your desires so that they become pure because that is merely a game. Instead, be glad that God is revealing to you how desperate the empty flesh really is ... and what it is that His freedom has really brought about. The more you understand what things are NOT the less you find yourself deceived by those things. The Father wants you to know how powerful HIS desires are, and that these desires are the truth of your new life. He is revealing to you the emptiness and futility of the old.
When Paul wrote, "Put off the old man with his desires" he was not suggesting a STRUGGLE he wanted us to enter into, but he had been making it clear that the thing to be put off was to be seen as something that is no longer us or who were are. The language is used as in putting off clothing. The old man with his desires is like decayed graveclothes still hanging on one who has been made alive from the dead - like Lazarus who had come out of the grave and was still wrapped up in the embalming clothes. Jesus had to tell the people standing around to help him get the graveclothes off of him. When we are caught up in law and therefore, sin, we have, in picture form, put those graveclothes back on. While we are perceiving sin to be part of who we are then, of course, we will only be able to hear this as an impossible struggle to be undertaken. But it is NOT part of us because Christ has removed it from us. It hangs on us in our PERCEPTIONS, and because of that it will produce destruction.
Take off those graveclothes ... you're no longer dead.
Okay, then ... this should give us a pretty good place to start! :)
Hello Jim, Thanks a ton for your message. Dude, I can't tell you how much you've changed the way I see myself and others. Your penguin analogy made a ton of sense. And...how it's like...before I lust or view porn "i was a good person"...yeah that's right too. I do that. I'll keep you updated...on what's happening...it's hard to think of myself as free from it...cause I've been trying so long...but I guess that's part of the problem...I've been trying. It's like I search constantly for that one strategy....that will end it all... you know? like as if someone has a sure fire strategy to end temptation. but in reality, it's all over already...it's old clothes... the problem is how new and attached those clothes appear sometimes. What do you think the devils role is in this? Just curious. anonymous
I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to hear such a powerful and living response from you because your eyes are obviously focused on the reality of Christ's work in this. :)
What do you think the devils role is in this? Just curious.
Excellent question. Something tells me that you already have a pretty good idea what his role is because his specialty is LIES. He wants you to see yourself as being defeated and as living in sin and he wants you to think that the human body is made for evil. He loves to see fleshly determination trying to work its way out of such a losing proposition!! If you haven't checked out the section on my site called The Deceiver it would be worth it for you to take a look. It deals with the basic manipulation of the devil's attacks.