# How can one overcome lustful desires? [closed]

Eighty Three percent of college students and fifty five percent of pastors are said to be addicted to pornography. (link) Even the most Godly men, like David (OT) has been trapped by these desires.

It seems that the more I try to fight these desires, the stronger that they become. It doesn't matter if I see a beautiful woman walking down the street or if I see an image on the internet, the passion inside of me begins to burn when I force myself to turn away.

1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

In my opinion it's very likely that masturbation is a sin that leads to death. In this next verse, I take it very literally, I see Jesus talking about our lusts and possibly even masturbation.

Matthew 18:8 NIV

If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.

I do believe that if God says we are secure in our salvation, that nobody can change that. However I also believe that if God says we are no longer worthy of salvation because we have fallen away from the faith, then our security and salvation is lost.

Just before this verse above, Jesus was talking about plucking out your eye if it causes you to sin. I believe that Jesus is literally telling us that if we continue to lust and to gratify ourselves that we need to purge that evil from amung us and literally cut off your hand. I don't see this as a metiphor at all.

For those of you that will say you do not agree that cutting a part of your body off will solve this problem, keep in mind then that you call Jesus a liar.

Hebrews 12:4 NIV

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

He's right, I have not resisted to this point yet. So I want to know from the community, how do you resist temptation? How do you literally detoxify yourself from this poison?

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## closed as off-topic by Caleb♦Dec 26 '13 at 19:30

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

• "Questions seeking pastoral advice are off-topic here; your spiritual problems are too important to be left in the hands of random Internet people. See: Pastoral Advice Questions" – Caleb
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This is a good question, but it's not a good for this type of Q&A. Stack Exchange is designed to create an authoritative collection of answers to canonical questions about Christianity. I can see this being asked of a congregation to share interesting discussion an through-provoking stories. But this type of story-sharing and communing isn't really what this site is about. "We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion." This is better suited to a discussion forum. –  Robert Cartaino Aug 29 '11 at 16:26
83% of college students - of US-college students, not, for instance, Iranian college students, and, 83% of the male college students or are female students included? –  user unknown Sep 6 '11 at 23:48
I think we need to find more joy and happiness in everyday life and interactions, then the need to feel good through sinful pleasure will be greatly reduced. –  Greg McNulty May 22 '12 at 21:53
Your link absolutely does not support the assertion that 55% of pastors are addicted to pornography. In fact it says that only 50% have admitted visiting a pornographic site in the last year. That's a very big difference. –  DJClayworth May 23 '12 at 13:37
Likewise your link says 86% of college students had viewed pornography in the last year. That is not the same as addiction. –  DJClayworth May 23 '12 at 13:40

I had reached a point after decades of struggling with this sin where I had just resigned myself to this being part of who I am. I honestly figured I would just struggle with this sin for the rest of my life - I would take it to my grave.

For me, freedom came through Christopher West's teaching on Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. The MP3 version is available for free download. It's not possible to do justice to Chris' 12 hour summation of years of JP II's teaching, but I'll try.

As I have analysed what happened through that teaching, I conclude that among other nuances the change in my thinking was to see clearly what it means to be a person created in the image of God as a body and a spirit in one cohesive being. Fundamental was the understanding that other people, being in the image of God, are worthy, nay fundamentally entitled, to be treated with the dignity commensurate with being in the image of God.

Heavily entwined in all of this is the idea that the incarnation was always part of God's plan. That the incarnate Jesus (even post resurrection in his glorified state) is a mysterious combination of Spirit and Body. This causes me to elevate my body away from the "shell I am waiting to escape in the next life" to being an integral part of who I am which will be glorified and redeemed in the next life, but not thrown away. Thus my body needs to be treated with dignity.

Suddenly my body was not something "bad" from which I was waiting to be freed, but it was part of the image of God in which I was created as a person, which was created "good".

Somewhere in there, washed in the Word of God, my mind was renewed and my heart was changed in a dramatic way. I no longer desired to be "that man" who used other people, including my wife, for his own selfish gratification. I began to see people differently; I began to see myself differently; for the first time in my life I was comfortable in my own skin. I just didn't want to do that any more. One day, I realized that somewhere over the previous 6 months I had been set free.

I finally realized what JP II was getting at when said words to the effect of: Freedom from the law is not freedom to break the law, but freedom to conform to the law in all it's meaning because I no longer desire in my heart that which is contrary to the law. (And with Paul I then concur, "the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good." - Rom 7:12).

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I love seeing scripture being alive and relevant - not that it is ever dead or irrelevant, but its easy to forget just how alive and just how relevant. –  Jeff Aug 26 '11 at 23:46
"...freedom to obey the law in all it's meaning because I no longer desire in my heart to break the law." This just blew my mind. –  styfle Aug 27 '11 at 2:08
+1 I'm actually listening to this right now (nearly done with CD 10). I whole-heartedly agree with this answer. It is a very good series and definitely is something that more people should check out. I personally have experienced the kind of thing described in the series, as you have. Just simply trying to stuff things down and ignore them will set you up for failure. Giving it up to God does work and works beautifully. I believe it to be the only real way to overcome sinful desires in general. –  Ben Richards Sep 2 '11 at 14:58
wow, I see that as a full circle, back to what it was like being a kid...amazing. –  Greg McNulty May 22 '12 at 21:29

When you fight against sin you rely on your own strength. When we rely on our own strength we turn away from Christ. Instead we should focus on turning towards Christ. Basically when you fight sin you focus on the sin instead of Christ. This explains why the more you fight it, the stronger it gets.

Instead focus on what you want. Man cannot serve two masters. We sin in our lives when we are not focused on Christ and His teachings. It is typically harder to sin while humming a hymn or reciting scripture.

More good comes from the study of Christ than the study of sin. It is logical if you think about it, but it is not our first impulse.

The process is as follows:

1. Find scriptures or hymns that mean a lot to you in your quest to turn away from sin and memorize them (or parts of them).
2. When you feel yourself turning away from Christ then recite those scriptures and hymns.
3. Look for more opportunities to study Christ and His Teachings. Learn more of Him. (I think this site is a good way to do that too!) In learning more of Christ, try to be like Him.
4. Pray for help and guidance. Pray for strength when you feel weak, pray for humility when you feel strong.
5. Find a trusted adviser, friend, pastor, etc. you can talk with. When they are not present call them. When you cannot call them, imagine what they would say.

Not trying to say you don't already do the above, but I would suggest that you make that your focus. Instead of counting the days since your last lustful desires, instead count how many days you have made prayerful scripture study a daily habit. When you find yourself overcome with lustful desires look at how you can improve your relationship with Christ, and how that improvement has made your life better.

My dad always said "When you wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty, but the pig likes it." The same is true of wrestling with sin - when we engage in direct battle with sin we get dirty.

You might also consider studying 12 step support groups. The 12 Steps from Alcoholics Anonymous can be adapted to any sin:

1. We admitted we were powerless over lustful desires—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

A few scriptures to back up what I am saying:

KJV Bible - Ezekiel 33:19 But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby.

It doesn't say "stop being wicked" but says turn form it, and do that which is lawful.

KJV Bible - 2nd Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Be humble: acknowledge you cannot do it alone.

KJV Bible Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Wasn't specifically referring to lust, but the meaning is the same.

Book of Mormon - Ether 12:27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

We all have weaknesses so we will turn to Christ. All he asks is that we are humble and come to Him.

KJV Bible - Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

If you are filled with righteousness then you will not be hungry for sin.

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+1 for that first paragraph. Why depend on my fighting, when Christ's "fight" already put sin to death?! –  Ben Sep 27 '12 at 19:23

I think Paul said it best, "Flee from sexual immorality." (1 Corinthians 6:18) I understand this, and Jesus' comments about cutting off hands (Matthew 5:30, 18:8, etc.), to mean, "Take whatever steps you need to get away from temptation!"

In other words, you won't make it on will power. You need to get away from temptation. Wth respect to pornography, that might require keeping your computer in a location where other people can see you (e.g. a downstairs room) or removing your home internet connection.

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(+1) I couldn't agree more with this answer. In Proverbs we learn about the foolishness of walking down the path where immorality is waiting to ambush us... in Psalms we learn not to set anything unclean before our eyes... in Romans we learn to focus our thoughts on the things of the Spirit and not the flesh... Paul urges us to practice discipline in our lives for the purpose of Godliness. Too often we stumble because we wander down the foolish path, filling our head with stumbling blocks, and then rely on our ability to "resist the Devil" at the last minute. We need maturity & discipline. –  Jas 3.1 May 22 '12 at 21:17
1. If cutting off a body part will stop your sinning, then you should do it.

But will that really work? No! The sin is not the fact that you have a hand, which allows you to masturbate. The sin is that you are lusting after women.

2. "In my opinion it's very likely that masturbation is a sin that leads to death."

Before you start making judgements on what is sin and what leads to death, you should really seek a biblical backing. I would not simply presume that your opinion is correct. Find biblical backing for this.

Here is a good place to start.

3. God has provided us a way to avoid the sin of lust. It's called marriage.

1 Corinthians 7:1-7 addresses this very issue.

1 Cor. 7:2 (NIV)

But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.

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I wholeheartedly agree that amputation is not the answer and marriage is offered as a way to appease lust without sinning. However, I'm hesitant to vote up because this offers little instruction for the young, the single, the handicapped, the "undesirable", those in unhealthy marriages, etc. (Not to mention those who are married and still struggling with lust for whatever reason.) –  Jas 3.1 May 22 '12 at 21:23

The putting off of the old self is only half the equation... or maybe even less than half. We are not transformed by determination or self effort, but by the renewing of our minds. Abiding in Christ--in His presence--is the key, I believe.

Luke 6:45 says, "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart, for out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."

Each of us has both good and bad in our hearts. Yet the thing that determines what comes out, or what produces actions and words, is what is in excess.

If we immerse ourselves in the Scriptures like a sponge in the ocean, if we commune with God in prayer and open ourselves up to Him, if we worship God daily, we will be so filled with that which is good that mastering the desires of the flesh would be much simpler.

A person who is hungry is very susceptible to being tempted by food, but a person who has already eaten has much less chance of falling. In the same way, if our souls and spirits are filled and satisfied and filled "with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abounds", the temptations of this life that promise similar fulfillment will be less alluring to us, because we won't be hungry.

However, if we are not in communion with God and are therefore starving for joy and fulfillment, then temptations that promise (but don't provide) those things will be overwhelming.

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Interesting take on Luke 6... I've never heard that before. I'm not sure whether the context supports it though... take a look at the entire passage and the parallel in Matthew and let me know if you change your mind. Also, if you are hungry I'm not sure "praying more" is going to fix that... at some point you need to eat. (I'm not sure sexual craving is the same sort of thing as hunger, but nonetheless...) Either way, I think your conclusion is sound. –  Jas 3.1 May 22 '12 at 21:32

First, remember that God is the one who created our bodies the way they are. The desires of the flesh are there for a reason. Without hunger we could easily starve to death, for example. And if you were to really analyze it dispassionately, the act of sexual intercourse is kinda slimy and gross. Without the sex drive in place being both strong (to attract us to it) and constant (to help form an enduring bond between two people) it would be a whole lot harder to get us to want to form families and "be fruitful and multiply" as God has commanded His children to do.

The commandment is not to "escape" the desires of the flesh, but to master them. To not let them control us, but to use them for the glory of God, such as by having children and raising them in righteousness.

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In the Eastern Tradition, we are told the following:

1. Lust starts with thoughts
2. These thoughts should not in any case even be entertained, they must be ignored
3. If they are entertained, one must do things to counteract the effects of them
4. Primary in this process is confession (which should be to God in the presence of a confessor) and praying for the grace of God.

You will be tempted to your last breath.

The first answer above also helps, as we should not understand the body as our enemy, nor as evil. The desire is natural, but when it becomes attached to images about others (fantasies) and is directed to an improper end (not to our significant other alone) it becomes sinful.

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This answer is probably close to the Lutheran teaching.

## Accept that there's no way to succeed.

The thing is, while we are already saved, we still fall. We are 100% holy because God has granted us righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, yet at the same time we're 100% sinners. (Romans 7:15-25)

Accept that you will not win sin. Christ already has done that for you. You don't need to. Christ has done it all. Accept that, receive grace.

Find that as you more see the greatness of God and His deeds, you see yourself ever smaller, ever more sinful. Find that as the sin becomes huge, the grace of God becomes enormous (Romans 5:20).

You will see that as you look at yourself and God more openly and honestly day by day, you will receive help from God to overcome some of your problems. Some you might never overcome. But Christ still has died for you.

Don't accept the lists of tricks that people throw at you (Matthew 23:2-4). They can't help you, only God can.

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Surround myself with good people.

Do good things.

Prayer -- lots of prayer.

Basically, make sure you are always worth of the companionship of the Holy Spirit and he will do a pretty good job of helping you resist (and I would even say avoid) temptation.

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"earn the companionship of the Holy Spirit"? Can't and won't follow you there... –  Jürgen A. Erhard Aug 27 '11 at 12:29
@JürgenA.Erhard what's wrong with that statement? –  JustinY May 23 '12 at 3:07

I chose what I think. I stay away from places where I get tempted easily. Whenever a lustful desire comes up from my nature (my flesh), I deny it and I resist it and pray to God that He will help me not to give in to the temptation:

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Heb 4:15,16

So, of course there is a way to succeed. Otherwise 1 Pet 2:21-23 would make no sense:

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously

(One of these examples is also written in Heb 10:5-7)

And 1 Cor 11:1 where Paul says:

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

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Hi, my name is Chris, and I am an addict. It has been [n] months since I last used...

Seriously though.

There are a couple of things which really helped me. These are three general tools which really helped:

1. Make sure you do not have any latent psychological issues. This is overly simple, but it is really important. I recently adjusted my bipolar meds and suddenly the temptations became far easier.

2. Have something which makes it an effort to view/use pornography. I have parental controls on my primary workstation. Ideally, give someone else the password.

3. Have accountability. I'm sure you've read the plethora of verses which say that a man should not go through life without aid from another. Ideally, have someone able to read the logs of all of your requests. Further, as sin loves to hide in the darkness, sharing this will bring the problem into the light and cut the legs out from under it.

4. Make sure your "free time" is spent constructively and (ideally) away from the source of temptation.

On a more over-arching rule (and I found these to be invaluable for all of my spiritual growth):

1. Find a simple prayer (like the Jesus Prayer). Teach yourself that when you feel the urge to anger, depression, lust, etc. you will say that prayer until you are calm and at peace. Augustine says,

"in Egypt the brothers use frequent prayers, but very short and thrown out rapidly like darts."

2. Do something with your hands. The ancient monks used to make palm baskets for sale. I make prayer ropes and rosaries which I donate to the local church. The actual physical motion makes it not only harder to commit the sin, but there is actually a spiritual aspect to it which is hard to explain.

3. Find some work of mercy which you can do. If it happens to work with the thing you're doing in #2, all the better.

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A lot of the time we get so focused on the negative that we end up reinforcing it. Instead we should look to Christ and focus on the positive around us.

I like Paul's council in Philippians 4:8 where he teaches us to dwell on the virtuous things in life.

• Memorize scripture
• Memorize hymns
• Be busy serving others
• Be busy learning
• Really pray, commune, and talk with our Father in Heaven

This talk given by a Mormon Apostle really helped me learn to choose what I think by immersing myself in the teachings of Christ:

"Worthy Music, Worthy Thoughts", by President Boyd K. Packer

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It has to do with understanding strongholds.....

2 Corinthians 10:4, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds."

John 8:34 ESV, Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

For the first time ever in human history we have easy access to unlimited pornography of all types through the internet. Scientist have been studying the effects of this use and for the first time ever, have quantified and demonstrated how lustful strongholds work - and what we can do about it.

To understand lustful strong holds, start here:
http://www.yourbrainonporn.com/doing-what-you-evolved-to-do

In addition, understand the difference between joy and pleasure:
http://www.innerfrontier.org/InnerWork/Archive/2003/20030623Joy&Pleasure.htm

Isaiah 42:7, "To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house."

http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/bible_verses.php

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I am stuggling with this too.

• This feeling is natural. God created you with this drive. Here the Theology of the Body helped me too.
• Learn to accept this feeling, channel it towards productive things.
• You do not have to act on those thoughts (2. Cor 10:5). They are just there. You think you have to, but God gives you a spirit of power (2. Tim 1:7)
• Just try not to get distracted/bow under those thoughts.
• Do not trust in your own power (Prov 3:5)

If you are in a tempting situation then literally flee.

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This was a help too: theresurgence.com/2012/06/12/temptation-is-an-invitation –  hellectronic Aug 22 '12 at 9:53