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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How To Overcome Sexual Temptation

How To Fight from Microsoft Publisher ClipartGood News of Grace

No matter how much you have sinned sexually, how impossible change feels, or how powerfully you are being tempted — there’s good news.

Jesus Christ died and rose again.  And so, if you will turn to Him as you are, and trust Him to forgive you, help you, change you, satisfy you — you can know you are completely forgiven, clothed in Christ’s perfect righteousness, and passionately loved by God.

That’s precious beyond words.

But There’s More

God also promises to give you all the grace you need to overcome sexual temptation –

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2Cor 9:8)

And He promises that He will only allow you to face temptations that you, empowered by His grace, will be able to overcome –

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  (1Cor 10:13)

So through Christ, by faith alone, God will give you everything you need to fight sexual temptation.

Yes, Fight!

We don’t just let go and let God.  Jesus calls us to fight sexual temptation.

Here’s how He put it in Mark 9:47 –

And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out.  It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown in to hell.

Not that your eye causes you to sin.  A few chapters earlier Jesus said sin comes from the heart (Mark 7:21).  So Jesus’ point is not that we fight sin by gouging out eyes.  His point is that IF gouging out eyes would overcome sin, it would be well worth it.  Which means we must spare no effort to fight sin.

So how do we fight sexual sin?

A Helpful Distinction

Sexual temptation has two parts.

There’s the physical craving for sexual feeling, activity, and fulfillment.  And there’s also the emotional longing for sexual excitement, closeness, and pleasure.

God’s grace helps us deal with each of these differently.

The Physical Craving

Take the physical craving for sexual activity.  This craving is not in itself sin, and is something God built into our bodies.  But unless we are married and in a setting where this can be pursued in a way that serves our spouse, it must be resisted.

How?  By relying on God’s promise that He is worth the discomfort, and by understanding that God has made our bodies so that in time the craving will diminish.

It’s like when you are fasting and crave food.  This craving is not sinful.  But if God has called you to fast, you must resist it by relying on God’s promise that He is worth the discomfort, and by knowing that in time the hunger will be gone.

The Emotional Longing

The emotional longing is different.  This is not a longing we have to live with.  This is a longing God promises to satisfy completely — in Himself.

I say that because of Psalm 73:25 –

Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

God can so satisfy our hearts in Himself that we desire nothing else.  All our emotional longings can be satisfied in knowing Him, beholding Him, and worshiping Him.

So What Can You Do When Tempted?

Joy in God comes from faith (Rom 15:13).  Obedience comes from faith (Heb 11:8).  The Spirit is provided by faith (Gal 3:5).

So what’s most important is not will-power, computer filters, or accountability.

These have their place.  But what’s most important is strengthening our faith in Christ.

Here’s what I recommend:

Come to God as you are.  Don’t try to change your heart first.  Turn and trust Jesus Christ to forgive you, help you, free you, and satisfy you.  By faith alone you can immediately be assured that you are forgiven and that God will fulfill all His promises to you (Luke 18:13-14).

Confess any sin that needs confessing.  If you desire sex more than you desire Christ, have had lustful thoughts, or don’t believe He can overcome this temptation — confess your unbelief.  Ask Him forgive and cleanse you.  He will.  He promises (1John 1:9).

Pray for the heart-changing work of the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit can revive dead hearts (Isa 57:15), soften hard hearts (Eze 36:26), and free enslaved hearts (Rom 6:17).  So pray earnestly for God to increase the work of His Spirit in you.

Set your heart on the truth of God’s Word.  The word of God is the sword the Spirit uses to slay unbelief and lust (Eph 6:17).  So pray over passages describing God’s incomparable glory, Christ’s all-satisfying love, and the Spirit’s heart-changing help, like Exo 33:18-19; Psa 138:5-6; Gal 2:20; 2Cor 8:9; Luke 18:27; 1John 5:4.

Pray over God’s Word until your emotional longing is satisfied in Christ.  God promises that who He is in Christ will completely satisfy every emotional longing (see Psa 16:11; John 6:35; John 7:37-38; 1Pet 1:8).  So press in with prayer and meditation until the Spirit strengthens your faith and you see and feel Christ as your all-satisfying Treasure.

Let that satisfaction stir you to resist the physical craving.  Sometimes God supernaturally takes the physical craving away.  But more often He calls us to endure that craving until it lessens.  And what motivates us to endure is the taste of Christ’s all-satisfying glory and the promise of gaining more through our endurance (Matt 5:8; John 14:21).  So plead with Him for help.  See Him as your treasure.  Then go for a walk.  Run some sprints.  Whatever.  He is worth it all.

Do all you can to avoid temptation.  We can go places, watch TV shows, and read books that increase the physical and emotional desire for sex.  So — for the sake of gaining more joy in Christ forever — don’t.  Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife (Gen 39:12).  Join him.

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(Picture is from Microsoft Publisher Clipart.)

Category: Sexual Temptation

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39 Responses

  1. cher79 says:

    I can definitely relate to this post. After I broke up with my boyfriend, I was feeling lonely and wanted to feel desirable (I’d also felt lonely when I was with my boyfriend)…so I hooked up with a guy from my past and a new guy I’d met. Before I gave in to my desires, God told me “You need to heal first,” but I didn’t listen. Afterwards, I felt awful and empty. Once I started getting closer to God, I felt more fulfilled and less lonely. I’ve also been praying for Him to remove my desire for sex or at least allow me to focus on something else. I also have to remind myself that sex is just temporary satisfaction; I’m not going to really be ‘fulfilled.’ So far, I’ve been feeling great!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, cher79. And I’m so glad to hear how God is working in your life.

      It’s beautiful that we can be completely forgiven and cleansed through trusting Jesus Christ — and that He will so satisfy us in Himself that we can overcome the far-less satisfying temptations around us.

      Keep fighting the fight of faith!

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  2. Alec says:

    AWESOME. Going to mangle this sin tonight with the Promises of God.

  3. Alvin says:

    I believe confessing your sins is thanking Jesus that your sins have already been forgiven and He is your righteousness. Building the identity of how love and forgiven you are as a Child of God. :)

  4. Kerry-Anne says:

    I have been divorced for 20 years. My ex-husband was in another relationship before the divorce was finalised. When my daughter was 7, I dated the same person for 10 years, but I was not living a truly Christian life then, and it never developed into a lasting commitment.

    Last year, I met a younger man who asked me out. I didn’t take it seriously, but agreed to go because I was flattered. After three or four dates over a few weeks, it had become clear that we were mutually attracted. He was a Christian and did not share my views on sexual abstinence, but had been considerate of my wishes not to indulge. He made it clear he didn’t want any emotional entanglements.

    Finally I gave in and had a couple of encounters, but I refused to continue due to my feelings that it was all wrong with no possibility of commitment on his part. In addition, I was beginning to fall in love for the first time in over 10 years. I ran into him at a class about 6 weeks after we separated on friendly terms. I had been praying to the Holy Spirit for strength, as I knew I was bound to see him again socially. It was the biggest surprise of my life when he greeted me with a giant bear hug and told me he’d missed me.

    Now we are best friends and talk about almost everything. I can discuss Christian principles with him in a more frank and open way than with my friends at church. I am learning from him and he is learning from me. He has been celibate for some time now. He even phones me while away on holidays. When I was stood up recently for a date with someone else on Valentines Day, he turned up at my door with chocolates to make me feel better, even though I was not particularly upset. It was only the 2nd date, so no hurt feelings.

    My point is that while I still have feelings for this man, we were both grown up enough in our faith to turn a bad situation into a lasting friendship. I still feel cherished, even though there will never be more than that involved. This has God’s hand all over it and I am so privileged to have survived the test and to realise, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that a good, caring friend is worth more at this point in my life.

    • Umang says:

      Kerry-Anne,
      You are one of the rarest blessed people on earth.
      My experience is similar, but she was too uptight to stay as a good friend.
      I am happy to read your experience and I realized GOD exist and help people.
      umang.201078@gmail.com

  5. Gbolahan says:

    To have stumbled on this spiritual piece is nothing short of God’s Grace. It speaks to my heart, and challenges me to hold fast unto the Word of God more.

    I have been in a struggle with sexually-related temptation (masturbation, pornography, unholy thoughts) for about 12 years now, and hardly anything ever works. Sometimes I go sober for weeks, maybe months, but come right back.

    I have read books, and consulted other help materials. I am born-again and understand well the difference between salvation and liberation.

    However, this write-up has reiterated a point I had always known, and it is that God is interested and in fact excited about the prospect of seeing me liberated.

    Despite having somehow managed by the help of the Holy Spirit to keep from going over the edge, maintain my chastity, I still understand the need for more control over myself. I want to live for God totally.

    Please keep me in prayers, as I take hold of self-control, and tap into the liberty that Christ purchased for me on the cross.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Gbolahan,

      Thanks for letting me know that you found this post encouraging. I will pray for you right now — that the Father will continue to strengthen your faith to see and feel the incomparable Treasure you have in Christ, so you are empowered to turn from all lesser pleasures.

      He is worth it all,

      Steve Fuller

  6. Kenny says:

    This is a good write up because i am battling with sexual sin i am tired of going on like this and i know its sin but cant stop it. This write up i believ will help me. Please pray for me. God bless you.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Kenny,

      Thanks for letting me know that this encouraged you. I will pray for you right now. And do you have any trusted brothers in Christ who could pray for you? I think you would find that deeply strengthening.

      Keep me posted on what God does in your life and heart.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

    • Sebolelo says:

      I also feel like I am battling with self control since having indulged in it in the past. I have had gaps of about a month not being in it and it comes back to that very first square. I am tired of saying Sorry to God confessing the same thing over and over, its silly. I do believe one day these temptations will amount to nothing. I do need prayers too.

      • Steve Fuller says:

        Hi Sebolelo,

        Thanks for taking the time to contribute to these comments.

        I would just encourage you to keep fighting the fight of faith, thanking God for the victories, and confessing to him your failures.

        Every temptation you face can be conquered by his grace, and every sin you commit can be forgiven by his blood.

        In Christ,

        Steve Fuller

  7. Candy says:

    Thank you so much for this post. With a bit of Humour but a powerful message. God bless.

  8. Regretful girl says:

    This is going to help me so much! I keep going back to this temptation but now I see a ray of sunshine thanks to you!! Thank you so much!

  9. Regretful girl says:

    Please pray that I will over come this sin!!! I need all the help I can get!

  10. David says:

    Its been about 8 months since I got saved and there has been a lot of progression. I was able to overcome a lot of things but I’m still weak to sexual temptations,I really hope this write-up will help me.Please pray for me guys.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This seriously saved my life

  12. ladyfresh2def says:

    This message was right on time. I was molested as a child so I have always had sexuality as a major struggle in my life. I’m at the point now that I want more of God and less of myself. God has anointed me to do His works and I refuse to be an unclean vessel. I pray for the writer of this post and for each person who was brave enough to comment. May God bless us all. Amen

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your story with us. May God so satisfy you in Christ that you can overcome all temptations and walk in purity, for your good and for the glory of His name.

  13. jons says:

    I have struggled with masturbation most of my life and I am in my 50′s. Even after being saved I still struggled. I still do. I can’t seem to stop and I know that part of me loves this sin more than God. And my sin is not a mistake, I mean it. I feel like I have gone too long and too far to ever be restored and forgiven. But having read this I know that I need to “know” the grace that I already have and the complete and unconditional love that God has for me right now. In fact I know that He loved me while I was yet a sinner at least that what His word says. Until reading this here I would become very distraught at just having sexual feelings without any acting out. This is the first place that actually gives me hope that there is victory no matter how long the battle. I am forgiven and have been set free from the law of sin and death by the law of Life in Christ. My head knows this but my heart doesn’t please pray with me that this victory in Christ would set me free. Thank you and God bless you.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Jons,

      I am overjoyed that this post has given you hope in Christ. Thank you for letting me know.

      And I love that you are encouraged that there is victory no matter how long the battle. Beautiful.

      I will pray for you right now — that you can “know” the grace you already have. And I would encourage you to find a trusted, humble brother in your church who can pray with and for you.

      And please keep me posted on what God does in and for you.

      In Christ,

      Steve

  14. mackie says:

    when i was about eight years old we had several house maid that help out with the domestic work and i was my dad favorite, so for any of the female maids to get a some special treatment they go through me. some by buying gifts why some approach me with sex. i thought i was having fun but now am sex addict to cut story short i need God in my life seriously.
    i need serious help ASAP

  15. Umang says:

    Hi all,
    I am Umang dave. (35, married)I am not a christian but I can relate to this post and admit this is true.
    Things like lust and hunger are common to people of
    all religions.
    I got many great insights and solutions from such
    blogs.
    Keep the ghost busy.
    umang.201078@gmail.com

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Umang,

      Thank you for letting me know that this was helpful for you.

      I would also encourage you to consider this: they key to overcoming temptation is to have our hearts be fully satisfied in the glory and majesty and love of God.

      But since we have all sinned against him, and he is perfectly just, we can’t know his love. We face only his justice. We face being punished in hell forever.

      Even if you lived perfectly the rest of your life, you would still be guilty for your past sins. So based on our own goodness, there’s no hope.

      That’s why it’s such good news that God sent his Son Jesus to earth. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. In Jesus we can see God at work in history. We have evidence that God is loving, holy, good, merciful, all-powerful, and just.

      Jesus’ miracles show that he is God. And he said that if we will trust him, and receive him into our lives as our Savior, and Lord, and Treasure — his death on the Cross will forgive all our sins — past, present, and future.

      And then — as forgiven people — we can have our hearts be fully satisfied in God’s glory and majesty and love. And that will enable us to overcome temptation.

      So you need Jesus Christ, Umang. Please study more about him, read the Gospels, ask me any more questions you have — and trust Christ.

      Sincerely,

      Steve Fuller

  16. Zach says:

    Thank you Steve Fuller. you helped guide me back to God’s battle lines. Good t know I’m not fighting alone. I’ll probably get to thank you in heaven. We do have forever. I sure hope I’m saved. Otherwise I’d be following God without belonging to Him. Can you describe what being saved actually means? I’ll check back on this later, There’s fightin that needs to be done tonight.
    Stay Frosty.

  17. anonymous says:

    I am married and work with adults. One of my adult men was very flattering. More gentlemen than most. I knew I needed to put a stop to his flattery because I liked it. I still have to work with him. So I scolded him to get him to stop.

  18. martoe says:

    I feel that am now relieved from this mentality of sexual sin that led me to masturbation and this has helped me to come back to myself; I die with Christ to live a peaceful, joyous life.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      That’s encouraging, brother. Keep fighting the fight of faith, and turning back to the cross as often as you need to.

      He is faithful, faithful, faithful, always faithful.

  19. james says:

    please help me overcome mursturbation and ponograpy before it is too late.

    • Anonymous says:

      Check this video out man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xG723F0PWrQ&feature=kp. I think you’ll be able to appreciate the lyrics even if you don’t like rap. This fight against pornography is not easy by any means. But I’ve been a Christian now for over 6 months and it doesn’t get easier, Christ just strengthens his spirit within you to tackle your demons. What we must remember is that our works and our willpower mean nothing, if anything is to be achieved, it must be through the power of Christ, otherwise our victory doesn’t glorify him, it glorifies us.

  20. david says:

    my name is david and am from africa in uganda i have had many problem with sexual urge at first i didnt recognise the impact it had on my relationship with god but now am fighting it and am avoiding clbs and friends with bad influence and focusing more on the holy spirit thanks for your word its really helping me in my fight

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