Troublesome Topic: The Three Things that Finally Brought Me Victory Over Lust

I fought unsuccessfully against temptations to lust for over 40 years. I prayed about it every day, and asked forgiveness for it all the time. Then I would do the same thing all over again; I would not look, not look, then look. I would repeat that process many times per day. By God’s grace I never got hooked on pornography, but I did dip my toe in that cesspool enough times to understand its captivating power. My problem was not pornography but stimulating eye candy that is all around us in America.

However, I can now say that my wife is the only source of sexual stimulation in my life. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be typing those words, I would have said, “That’s impossible! Haven’t you been to Walmart lately? Haven’t you seen the billboards beside the road? Don’t you at least go online to check your email? (Even that has advertisements that may be a bit risky). Don’t you notice how females dress to go to church?” But God has done some amazing work in my life and the change has been real.

That does not mean that there is never a struggle and that it is easy for me to keep my mind pure. Indeed it is a constant battle, but at least I seldom have to ask God to forgive me, whereas that used to be necessary several times a day. After 40 years of losing the battles, I am finally living in victory, but it is a tenuous victory, maintained minute by minute using intense self-discipline.

Here are what I think were the two keys that changed things for me. I had tried everything – or so I thought. These are the two principles that proved crucial for me (I have a number of other helpful comments about lust in another lesson which may connect with you, but at least consider these because they are powerful.)

1. Confession Is a Must

In order for me to attain victory, I need to confess my sin to God and also to whomever is directly affected by it. In the case of lust it is my wife. In years past I did not confess each of my indiscretions to my wife every time because it would have sent her into depression. But we did talk about things enough for her to know that lust was an area in which I struggled. When the Covid shut-down kept us home, I told Audry all about my weakness and purposed to make a real change this time. I realized at that time, that if I ever slipped off that path, I would need to tell her about it, or it would be easier to slip off again and again. The principle is that repentance must be accompanied by confession to any person directly affected by the act. If we sin and confess it to God but not to the person or people directly affected by the act, it becomes easier to do it again. And yes, lust does directly affect our marriage relationship.

2. Get Away from the Dangerous Stimuli for a Healthy Period of Time

The final stage of me journey from weakness to strength, from failure to victory, started during the shut-down due to Covid 19. From mid-March of 2020 till early December of 2020 I was at home with my wife. I took advantage of this time to earnestly try to eliminate sexual stimuli from my life (apart from my wife, of course). Being home did not do the trick by itself, I had to make good on the opportunity and discipline myself about what I saw on Facebook (I actually stopped going to Facebook), or other things like that. I could have found stimuli had I looked for it, but I was very purposeful about eliminated all such stimuli. This was my opportunity to have a long stretch of time without putting garbage in my mind; I did not want to blow it.

During this time my wife and I also enjoyed large chunks of time in God’s word and we started praying together every day – something that we had done sporadically before, but never consistently.

I cannot say what a “healthy period of time” means for you. It may be a long weekend, or a weeklong vacation or maybe longer. I cannot tell you what that will look like for you, but do seek time alone with God and your wife.

3. Give up Whatever God Wants You to Give up; Do Whatever He Wants You to Do

During the Covid shut-down we also did something else. Something crazy. It was something I had been arguing with God about for around 7 years.

I had felt God wanted me to write full time, give away for free what I was writing, and still pay my bills. For several years I struggled to figure out how this would work or how to go about doing it. Actually, I tried this once before, but I didn’t last very long. So during the Covid shut-down Audry and I talked about whether or not this was the time to quit our jobs and just live by faith. Then we prayed about it, and prayed, and prayed some more. There were times Audry was up most of the night praying. We were also in the Word much more than usual, and we were both journaling about what we were reading. These journals proved very helpful since we could go back to what we had found in God’s word at the very times when we needed it.

So we decided to take the plunge. After finishing the school year remotely, we both quit our jobs as teachers at a Christian school, and stayed at home because we wanted to, not because we had to. We had very little income for a few months (Audry was still giving a few piano lessons here at home.) Of course God supplied our needs in ways we would not have expected. Then almost suddenly, God stopped supplying for our needs and I had to go back to work. It was as if God said, “OK, that chapter of your life is over because it accomplished what I wanted it to accomplish.”

I looked back and realized that had accomplished what I had never been able to do any other way – it freed me of my weakness in the area of lust. It enabled me to live in victory.

From that experience I learned this principle: Give up whatever God wants you do give up; do whatever he wants you to do. I’m confident it will be different for you than it was for us – so don’t expect to have to go without income for several months. But if God is asking you to do something and you have never done it, this may be holding you back from victory in other areas of your life. It is amazing, but discipline and obedience in one area of your life can bring about discipline and obedience in other areas of your life. I never would have dreamed that deciding to take this crazy step involving income and finances would help me in my struggles against lust, but it has, in a big way.

So if God is asking you to do something, do it; don’t hold back. If He is drawing you, calling you, nudging you to do something, you need to do it or you will be hurting yourself in other areas of your life. You may need to forgive someone, change jobs, spend more time at home, get back into prayer and Bible reading, etc. etc. Whatever it is, do it.

I cannot find words to adequately express the importance of being in prayer and in the Word every day. Be sure to make this a part of your daily plan.

Thankfully, I have a very understanding wife who knows my needs and we can talk freely about these things. Before, I did not tell her every one of my struggles because it would depress her, but she did know in a general way that I struggled. Now I can tell her everything because most of it is positive, not negative.

So there you have it. After many years of struggle, it was getting away from the dangerous stimuli for a length of time, and doing what I felt God wanted me to do (even though it was crazy) that brought me into victory. Of course, I need to continue to live in victory, and there are many things I have been learning about how to do that. I share some of those in other parts of this topic. It is not easy, but I would not want it any other way.

The next lesson is: Three More Truths that Relate to Lust