Here are 4 proven ways that can help us avoid lusting in our hearts.
Job had a very good idea when he was tempted to look at a young virgin. He just looked away. He went even further and made a covenant with his eyes, so when he saw a young virgin, he’d look away. When he saw a young virgin, he’d be reminded of his covenant and remember to look away. That verse is Job 31:1. It’s a great memory verse to help jog your memory when you’re tempted by something you see, no matter what it is. If we nip things in the bud, then we won’t let temptation hang around long enough to fall into sin. Lusting in our hearts for someone who’s not our spouse is sin. Jesus sees this as the same thing as adultery of the heart (Matt 5:27-28). C.S. Lewis put it this way: “He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart.” It’s funny, but he brings up a good point. By looking at and dwelling on something we shouldn’t desire, we might finally give in and sin.
Jesus resisted Satan in the wilderness by quoting Scripture (Luke 4), but Satan always took the text out of context. Jesus always used Scripture within the context, but Satan always distorts the truth. He is the imitator of what is good. He’s even got his own ministers (2 Cor 11:13-15), and Satan can quote (or miss-quote) Scripture better than anyone, so what’s the best way to resist temptation when it hits you in the face? Recall Scripture. One such memory verse for me is the Apostle Peter’s admonition that “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:16). God is so interested in our becoming holy or growing in holiness, that the Scriptures are full of such commands as, “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev 19:2). And that is not part of the Mosaic Law. It is commanded of all mankind to repent (Acts 17:30). In fact, the very gospel Jesus Christ brought is about repentance and faith (Mark 1:14-15). If you recall the verse that God wants us to be holy because He is holy, it might deter us from falling into sin. We know God sees it.
If you are in a place or position where you will be tempted to sin, replace it with another location or activity. No activity, no matter how fun it is, can be good if it leads us into areas where we’ll be tempted to sin. Many who have overcome their pornography addiction have taken drastic action. They’ve stopped running with their old friends, and some have even cut off the Internet, cut their cable cut, and even had their smart phone password protected. Some have put password protected filters on their computer and only a trusted friend has the password. They can still use the Internet, but it’s set at a “G-rating.” I had to replace a lot of my old friends from years ago because they were still going to places I no longer went. They were doing things I no longer did, and they were going places that I now avoid. I had replaced my friends by necessity. I didn’t like it and neither did they. In fact, I got some persecution for it. They Apostle Peter says it’s because “they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1 Pet 4:4). What we must remember is “they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Pet 4:5).
If you are in a spot so tight that you cannot even recall Scripture, then pray and then pray some more, and keep on praying until you get out of the mess you’re in. Sometimes we are innocent victims of things we can fall into or victims of circumstances. A former friend and office worker who was retiring had a surprise office party, but it wasn’t long before it became a drunken party. People were getting carried away with themselves, and I felt completely out of place, so I just prayed about it and prayed…and God did hear and answer my prayer. Not surprisingly, He told me to “Replace It,” or get out of there. It was like the Spirit told me, “Run, Forest, Run!” And I did. If I had not prayed about that, I’m not sure how I would have handled it. And the jokes they were telling were so crude that I could hardly bear to hear them. I knew in my spirit that I had to get out. I didn’t feel good at all, so that’s what I told the host and I was leaving. Sometimes you’re not sure what to do. I was like a deer frozen in the headlights…it was fright or flight, but I chose neither. I prayed about it and then left. I did tell the man who was retiring that I was leaving and apologized for not feeling well, but I think he understood why and he gave me a big hug. Maybe that was a way of witnessing to him. I don’t know. I only know I couldn’t stay there…so I prayed and asked God what I must do and He made it crystal clear. I thank God for His answered prayer.
I use Job 31:1 even when I’m watching TV, because even on TV, there are things that are inappropriate, and I’ve made a covenant with my eyes not to look at sexually explicit images or grotesque images of violence. I know it’s not of God, so I look away, but I also get away when I need to. You know when you feel out of place? Are there times you feel like you don’t belong there? I do, and sometimes it’s in places where I have no business being. I also know the need to recall or memorize Scripture. Knowing God wants us to be holy helps me bring this verse to mind (1 Pet 4:4-5) when I’m tempted, but I also learned of the need to pray at all times (1 Thess 5:16-18). These 4 ways can help us conquer the Goliath of lust. With these weapons like these, we come armed for the battle.