The following was excerpted from Bill Rudge’s book, “Overcoming Sexual Immorality.”
Every day we face temptations. The choices we make will either inflame or suppress lust and either enslave or liberate us.
Wisdom admonishes us to follow the advice of Second Timothy 2:22 ―
“Flee youthful lusts.”
Before the situation gets out of control ― STOP! Think about the consequences and learn to say NO!
Titus 2:11-13 states ―
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Today, fleeing youthful lusts means avoiding movies, music, magazines, and web sites, as well as people, who sexually entice.
I used to do self-defense clinics in schools and for other groups where I demonstrated how to avoid potential confrontations and how to deal with attack situations. “But the most important principle,” I would tell the students, “is to use wisdom in avoiding places, people, and situations in which you know a confrontation or an attack is likely to occur.”
Avoid setting yourself up for temptation. Randomly surfing the Internet, flicking through television channels, or browsing at a book store will more than likely flash some enticing visuals before your eyes that will lead to defeat if you are not wise in escaping them and strong in overcoming them.
Being in your bedroom or the back seat of a car in a remote area with someone to whom you are physically attracted is like playing Russian Roulette. Sooner or later the gun will fire. No matter how pure your intentions, you are setting yourself up for defeat by violating the clear Biblical principle ― “Flee youthful lusts!”
We Are All Exposed
Whether you are at the beach, at work, watching television, listening to the news, using your computer, driving down the road, walking at the mall, or even sitting in the pew, there are constant sources of temptation. We are all exposed. Just checking e-mails can result in a host of unwanted sexual words and images.
Billboards, advertisements, magazines, books, movies, music, the Internet, and scantily clad people constantly stimulate the mind toward sexual thoughts and temptations. It is only by the grace of God anyone survives unscathed in this sex-oriented society.
Everyone has sexual thoughts and temptations. What you do with those thoughts and temptations determines whether it is merely a “temptation to sin” or actual “adultery in your heart.” Extended eye contact, flirtatious conversation, as well as watching or reading sexually stimulating materials, are sparks which ignite lust and passion, leading to a wildfire of sexual involvement.
A Christian man in his thirties said to me, “It is impossible to escape the corruption of this world.” I responded, “You can be distressed by it like Lot who lived in degenerate Sodom.” We read he was ―
“…a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard.” (2 Peter 2:7, 8)
The Lord can change our hearts and perspective so instead of finding pleasure in scenes of immorality shown on television and movies or displayed in pornographic literature and web sites, we will be distressed in spirit.
When we see immorality through the eyes of the Lord and comprehend the evil and destruction it unleashes against our families, ourselves, and society, the perversions being spewed out of immoral cesspools should disgust us ― not entertain us.
That’s as Far as I Go
If you see an attractive person and your mind begins to take you in a direction you should not go, or if certain sights, sounds, smells, and circumstances transport you back to past memories and habits, stop and say to yourself, “No! That’s not what I want. It will destroy me. I choose You, Lord.”
It is amazing how our thoughts and emotions respond to an assertive affirmation and will help you to not fall into old ruts and patterns.
Someone wisely said, “Lord, when I have the desire, take away the opportunity. And when I have the opportunity, take away the desire.”
Control Your Thoughts
It is obvious that sexual involvements first begin as thoughts in our minds and lust in our hearts. If we are going to overcome the sexual temptations we face in a sexually explicit and uninhibited society, we must control our thoughts and effectively derail these temptations before they control and enslave us.
What you allow your mind to be programmed with will eventually manifest itself in your thoughts, attitudes, words, and behavior. Thoughts produce attitudes which in turn lead to words and actions. Behavior patterns formulate our lifestyle, and lifestyles determine our destiny.
If you fill your mind with garbage, you will develop a filthy thought life and corrupt lifestyle. It is inevitable and only a matter of time. What we watch, read, and listen to does affect us.
Is it any wonder why so many people manifest out-of-control language and behavior? Look at their mental diet.
Thoughts of lust, worry, fear, jealousy, bitterness, and greed that come into our minds are intruders that will sap our strength, joy, and peace. God says, “Resist them!” Fight against them as though you were fighting against an intruder in your house who was attempting to rape and kill your family.
Second Corinthians 10:5 encourages us to
“Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Romans 12:2 says,
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind….”
Psalm 119:11 proclaims,
“I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.”
Philippians 4:8 tells us,
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
Seduction to immorality and sin is often a five step procedure: 1) Think it. 2) Dwell on it. 3) Desire it. 4) Do it. 5) Pay for it.
Temptation starts as a thought or a glance. An idea enters your mind. If you do not dismiss it, but dwell on it, you will quickly find yourself desiring it. As soon as the opportunity arises, you will fulfill it. What began as a mere thought, if left unchecked, can lead to sin and devastation.
Another set of steps I have discovered, which lead to sexual immorality are:
First, is looking. Not just looking and thinking, “That’s an attractive person,” but focusing on explicit parts of the body, lusting, fantasizing, and contemplating how to get it.
Second, is going out to find a potential partner or placing yourself in a situation where something is likely to happen.
Third, is actual involvement in sexual immorality. James 1:14,15 says it this way ―
“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
Therefore, to be victorious in overcoming sexual immorality, do the following:
First, commit to the Lord that with His help you will not become involved in illicit sexual relationships and promiscuity. Now that you are a Christian, fornication and adultery are no longer an option.
Second, commit to the Lord that with His help, you will not purposely place yourself in a situation where you know something immoral is likely to happen. Nor will you look for someone to become a potential partner in immorality ― or even flirt with that intent.
Third, commit to the Lord that with His help you will not look with lust in your heart. You will not focus on explicit details or fantasize. This includes pornography, sexually explicit movies and music, and other erotic materials. Why waste your time looking when you have already determined in your heart that nothing is going to happen?
The High Price of Unfaithfulness
Andrew was only married a short time when he began having an affair. When his wife discovered it, she left him, emotionally traumatized and forced to endure the struggles of being a single mother. Shortly thereafter, on his way to visit his lover, Andrew was in a car accident. Confined to a wheelchair, he is attempting to get back with his ex-wife and their young child, but at this time that possibility is uncertain.
The above scenario has been played out countless times. Maybe a tragic accident brings an unfaithful mate to his or her senses concerning the importance of a faithful marriage. Other times the unfaithful partner wakes up one day and realizes they really do love their former spouse ― who is no longer interested in restoration or is remarried. Too many figure out too late they lost the best thing they ever had.
A sad irony is the price the unfaithful partner often pays in later years ― and sometimes, as in Andrew’s case, much sooner.
There are countless unfaithful partners who, because of an accident, disease, or advancing age, are in desperate need of a caregiver. But the one who would have lovingly taken care of them is gone ― prematurely dead or diseased ― often by the very hand of the unfaithful partner who unleashed tremendous and destructive emotional stress on them earlier in their marriage.
Some unfaithful spouses who were able to salvage their marriages and stay together, later in life felt intense grief and remorse when they realized the health and youthfulness stolen from their partner was because of their unfaithfulness.
The high price of sexual immorality and unfaithfulness is sobering. Time and choices have a way of catching up as we eventually reap what we sow. So make wise choices to minimize later regrets.
How fleeting are the things of this world. Knowing the Lord and walking in His presence and victory are more satisfying than pursuing any lust of the flesh.
My relationship with Jesus Christ is more important to me and fulfills and satisfies me more than anyone or anything else. I understand what the psalmist meant when he said,
“Besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth.” (Psalm 73:25)
We serve an amazing God and Creator and can only imagine what He has in store for His faithful servants. One thing is certain, we will be satisfied for all eternity in a universal paradise of His design which contains His manifest presence and blessings beyond the comprehension of mortal minds.
With All Your Strength
When you “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30), you will limit or remove any influence ― television, movies, the Internet, and so on ― which takes you away from Him. Instead, you will desire to seek Him through prayer, fasting, and Scripture.
As you do, you will notice a gradual fading of the lusts of the flesh. The temporary pleasures of this world will dim in comparison to knowing Christ. Seeking His will and living a life that honors Him will become your ultimate purpose and desire.
His path is never an easy one, but it is always the most rewarding.