In a loving marriage, sex is an expression of love. In lust, sex is only about the physical pleasure and the desire for it. It’s not about love. And lust cares nothing for marriage.
The Victory in Virtue Series
Part 12: Fight the Vices Part 1 — Gluttony
Part 13: Fight the Vices Part 2 — Sloth
Part 14: Fight the Vices Part 3 — Envy
Part 15: Fight the Vices Part 4 — Wrath
Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Today I present another entry in the Victory in Virtue series. Today is the fifth part of Fight the Vices. This is where we look at the vices we need to avoid as Christians. Today’s post is on the vice of lust.
Now this is a vice that I’m not qualified to educate anyone about. We all have a few vices we struggle with, and this is my main stumbling block. I fight a bitter struggle with the vice of lust and have failed many times. I’ve been struggling and failed recently too.
Since I’m not qualified to educate anyone about lust, I’ve referred to other sources for more info for today’s post. Specifically in the Prayers section and the Fight the Vice section. You can follow the links there to get more info on the topic of how to fight lust.
OK then, let’s get into it.
What Is the Vice of Lust?
Lust. Noun: very strong sexual desire.
Lust. Verb: To have a very strong sexual desire for someone.
That’s the dictionary definition of lust. But is there more to it than having a strong sexual desire for someone? I say yes. Because having a strong sexual desire isn’t a sin on its own. Despite what the people of the world may think, Christianity is a pro-sex religion, and the Bible is a pro-sex book. So when does sexual desire become a sin, a vice?
Going back to my post on the Virtue of Chastity, I had this to say about sexual desire:
Sexual desire is part of who we are as humans, created in His image. But God’s Design is that we only please these desires in a certain way. God is so good, not only did He give us the desires but He also gave us a way to meet them that isn’t sinful—marriage.Part 10: Chastity
Let’s talk about marriage. Paul explains the reasons for Christians to marry in 1 Corinthians 7:1-9, a famous New Testament passage about sex and marriage.
(1) Now, about what you wrote: “It’s good for a man not to have sex with a woman.” (2) Each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband because of sexual immorality. (3) The husband should meet his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should do the same for her husband. (4) The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (5) Don’t refuse to meet each other’s needs unless you both agree for a short period of time to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come back together again so that Satan might not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (6) I’m saying this to give you permission; it’s not a command. (7) I wish all people were like me, but each has a particular gift from God: one has this gift, and another has that one.1 Corinthians 7:1-9 (CEB)
(8) I’m telling those who are single and widows that it’s good for them to stay single like me. (9) But if they can’t control themselves, they should get married, because it’s better to marry than to burn with passion.
So here we have our first condition: God created sex for a monogamous marriage between a man and a woman. Sex isn’t a bad thing at all as long as it’s in that context. And it’s better to get married than to burn with passion. Paul is saying it’s better for Christians to get married than to stay single, fall to temptation, and indulge our lust by having sex outside of marriage.
It follows then that we should have a strong sexual desire for our spouse. A strong sexual desire for our spouse is not the vice of lust. The sexual desires we have for women we’re not married to, now that’s lust.
Here’s our first clue about what lust is. Strong sexual desire for someone we’re not married to. That’s the vice of lust, because it’s imagining and desiring the pleasure of sex, but there’s no marriage context in place. I’ll come back to this in a moment.
Sexual desire for our spouse is not the vice of lust because, in a healthy marriage, there’s love between the two people. The desire for sex comes from our love for our spouse and the strong emotional connection we feel with them. But this gets to the heart of the difference between love and lust. Sex is a part of love, but not the whole thing. But lust is all about sex, and nothing else.
In a loving marriage, sex is an expression of love. In lust, sex is only about the physical pleasure and the desire for it. It’s not about love. And lust cares nothing for marriage.
So we could say the vice of lust is being sex-obsessed. Not caring about love, but only wanting the physical pleasure of sex. When we reduce God’s blessing of sex down to nothing more than physical pleasure, it’s a crime against God’s creation of sex. It ruins sex and its meaning. And this is the devil’s goal in perverting sex. The devil wants to take God’s beautiful creation and ruin it. By making humans care only for the pleasure of sex (lust) and not love, which builds up over time, Satan leads us into sin and ruins God’s creation too. It’s a win-win for him. Here’s what I wrote in Part 10: Chastity.
Fornication: A Parody of the Real Thing
Satan loves to copy what God does. Satan loves to take God’s Design and twist it (pervert it). God intended for man and woman to become one flesh in the ultimate act of intimacy, which of course includes emotional intimacy.
When people indulge in all the sex they want, with whoever they want, they destroy the emotional aspect of sex. And the emotional aspect is most important. Sex is about love, it is love, and it’s an ultimate expression of love. Taking love (an emotion) out of sex is a perversion of sex, and what results is not real sex. What results is fornication, which is merely satisfying our sexual desires for physical pleasure. Fornication removes the emotional pleasure that healthy couples enjoy. It’s impossible to have the kind of strong emotional connection we can have with one person (a connection that can only be built over time) with many people, and certainly not someone we just met!
Removing the emotions, love, from sex is a crime against sex. Having as much sex as we want cheapens the whole act of sex. Sex should be something incredibly special. Now it seems to many like nothing more than a weekend routine. That’s a sad thing to see. And the irony is that the people having as much sex as they want, with whoever they want, don’t understand that they know nothing about sex. They don’t know what sex really is; what it can be and what it’s meant to be. Such people don’t enjoy the ultimate emotional pleasure, and are only able to enjoy sex on a physical level (fornication).
Lust in the Mind
Besides reducing sex down to nothing more than physical pleasure, lust has a vital mental element too. If our thoughts are full of lust, we’re “burning with passion” as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:9. We can’t stay like this for long before falling to temptation. We must stop this problem at once, or suffer consequences. We must fight the vice of lust in our mind.
If our thoughts are full of lust and sex, the vice of lust is in our mind. These lustful thoughts are displeasing to God.
Thinking about committing a sin is the same to the LORD as doing it (Matthew 5:28). Even worse, thoughts lead to actions. If we don’t battle the lust in our thoughts, soon enough we will act on them. To the LORD it was already bad enough that we were thinking about sin. If we don’t battle the vice of lust in our mind, it gets even worse.
Here’s what I wrote on this topic in Part 10: Chastity.
We’ll always be surrounded by temptation in this world, especially sexual temptation. Seeing things that cause sexual temptation is unavoidable. But continuing to think about what we saw is within our control; we can do that or not do it.
If we allow lust in our thoughts, we will keep thinking about lust and it will lead to actions. Those actions could be everything from a casual hookup to adultery (if married) or even to masturbation (which is sin). We can’t control what thoughts pop up in our mind. But we can agree with those thoughts and allow them, or we can reject them.
We must reject thoughts of lust, sex, adultery, and so on. If we don’t reject those thoughts right away, it means we’re agreeing with them. If we agree with those thoughts, they’ll fill our mind and take over. Soon we’ll be obsessed, and eventually we’ll cave into temptation and commit a sin. It could be adultery, it could be something else, but it’s going to be a sin.
Remember what the Savior said: If we even look at a woman with lust, we’ve committed adultery in our heart. We must clean up our hearts and minds! If we allow lust in our hearts and minds, our sin of the mind will lead to more sin when we can no longer resist temptation.
(28) But I say to you that every man who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart.Matthew 5:28 (CEB)
Thoughts lead to actions. We must keep the vice of lust out of our hearts and minds.
Sex is meant for marriage. Our thoughts and our actions must reflect that we understand this. A strong sexual desire for our spouse is not a sin. But to avoid the vice of lust, we must be Faithful and devoted to our spouse like we are to the LORD. We must not tolerate even the thought of sex with anyone else. And we must not have sex outside marriage.
Marriage is the key. Remember Hebrews 13:4 … respect marriage!
(4) Marriage must be honored in every respect, with no cheating on the relationship, because God will judge the sexually immoral person and the person who commits adultery.Hebrews 13:4 (CEB)
For the first time, we’ve reached a vice that has no Spiritual element I know of. John of the Cross says nothing about Spiritual lust in Dark Night of the Soul. I’m not going to go making stuff up so I can have something to write here. It could be that lust has no Spiritual element.
That makes sense though, doesn’t it? The vice of lust is of the flesh. It’s all about the flesh, and sensual pleasure. There may not be a Spiritual element to it.
If anything, Spiritual lust could be the strong desire for Spiritual pleasures, like what I wrote about for the vice of gluttony. Check out the post on the vice of gluttony, and check the part about Spiritual gluttony. Maybe that vice of Spiritual gluttony could be the vice Spiritual lust in some cases. The two would be quite close, in my opinion.
What’s the Antidote?
There’s at least one Virtue that can cancel out any vice. There is no vice that can’t be conquered.
The antidote for the vice of lust are the Virtues of Chastity and Self-Discipline.
Obviously having the Virtue of Chastity is about having the strength, Wisdom, and Piety to not have sex outside of marriage. Besides that, it’s also about keeping a clean mind, one free of lust. If we keep our thoughts free of the vice of lust, we’ll think about sex much less and we won’t desire it so much. If we have a strong Virtue of Chastity, the vice of lust will have a very hard time infecting us.
Next, the Virtue of Self-Discipline is all about controlling ourselves. Not only controlling our actions, but our thoughts too. With the Virtue of Self-Discipline, not only can we keep ourselves from committing sins that come from lust, like adultery or fornication, but we can also stop lust where it starts: The thoughts in our mind. If we have a strong Virtue of Self-Discipline, we have what we need to fight the vice of lust. All we need after that is the will to fight, the will to be more Chaste.
So these are the Virtues that counteract and conquer the vice of lust. But our most potent weapon against lust is prayer. So let’s now move on to some prayers we can use to guard against the vice of lust, and fight it in our own lives.
Prayers against the Vice of Lust
There are many prayers we could pray to combat the vice of lust. The best ones of course will be the ones we create ourselves—the ones that come straight from the heart. Remember: When we pray we aren’t trying to say the right combination of words to unlock something in Heaven. No, that would be magic, which is an abomination to the LORD. Prayer is much simpler. Simply tell the LORD what you want, what you need, what’s on your mind, what’s bothering you, and so on.
Praying for help in fighting a vice is the best way to fight it. So here are a few short, simple prayers to combat the vice of lust that you can try adding to your prayer routine.
Since I struggle so much with the vice of lust, I can’t honestly tell you myself how to pray against it. So today I’ve linked two prayers from other websites, and one from Part 10: Chastity.
Help Me Fight my Mind
I first posted this prayer in Part 10: Chastity. I’m posting it again now, because it’s still useful for fighting the vice of lust.
Lust is what leads to fornication, adultery, and other violations of the Virtue of Chastity. This lust starts in the mind. If we seek to fight lust, we must fight it in our mind when it first arises.
When we go out in the world, we’re going to see many things that tempt us. This world is full of temptations, sexual temptations being the strongest. We can’t control seeing or not seeing the temptation. For example, it’s out of our control if we see a beautiful woman at the store, because her actions are not under our control and our paths just happen to cross then. We can’t control encountering temptation, but we can control our thoughts and our mental reaction to temptation.
When we see something that tempts us, whether it’s a delicious-looking donut or a beautiful woman, if we choose to keep thinking about it we’re making a choice. We have the choice to keep thinking about whatever tempted us. If we choose to keep thinking about it, we’re going to lust over it. We’re going to torture ourselves with thoughts of getting it. And if it’s something that’s easy to get, like the donut, then we’re going to go out and get it. Our thoughts will turn to action, because we didn’t stop thinking about it.
We have to train ourselves, through Christ’s power, to stop thinking about a temptation after we see one. We have to train ourselves to keep our thoughts Chaste. This is a bitter struggle, because once we try to reject lust from all our thoughts, the devil will give us a hell of a fight. He will then relentlessly bombard our thoughts with lust. Take that as a sign we’re on the right track. When we try to go in a Holy direction, the devil opposes us.
We have no hope of winning this mind war without the help of the LORD Jesus Christ. So in this quick prayer, we ask Jesus for His help in keeping our thoughts pure, knowing that impure thoughts soon lead to impure actions. Check it out:
LORD Jesus, please help me in my battle against lust. I know that lustful thoughts lead to lustful actions, and that sins in the mind are the same to You as committing the sin itself. Please help me in my battle to control my thoughts, please grant me the strength to reject thoughts I know are sinful no matter how tempting they are. Please grant me the strength to purify my mind, so my actions will be more pure too. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Prayer Against Lust
I’ve posted prayers from Christianstt.com before. Today I’m posting their Spiritual Warfare Prayer Against Lust. You can find it HERE.
It’s a nice, quick prayer; it gets right to the point. It asks the LORD for help battling temptations, for cleansing ourselves of lust, and for deliverance from Satan.
Again, you can find this prayer HERE.
Exalted Creator, I bless Your holy name. I give You all the praise, honor and glory You deserve, for You are Holy and Righteous. I come before You, gentle Saviour, seeking Your help in battling temptations. Cleanse my mind, my body, my soul, of all lustful desires. Deliver me from the evil one, Yahweh. Protect me from his deceitful lies.
A Warfare Prayer Against Lust
Here’s a prayer from another WordPress blog called Jesus Truth Deliverance. This is a Spiritual Warfare prayer, so it fights against the spirits of lust in the name of Jesus. It’s longer, but it’s a good prayer if you’re struggling with lust.
You can find this prayer HERE.
Father, I come boldly before Your throne of grace and mercy to find help and strength in my time of need. Lord, Your word says in Matthew 26:41 to watch and pray so that we will not enter into temptation, for we know that the spirit is willing, but Father, I know my flesh is weak. Lord, Your word says in James 4:7 that if we submit ourselves unto You, and resist the enemy, he will flee from us. Lord, I fully submit to You, I resist this lust, I need you. Father, I am weak, but you are made strong in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) So by my faith, I overcome, In You. Being unable to overcome this lust myself, I give the burden to you by faith (Psalm 55:22) so that I am able to withstand the devil and his many temptations, by my faith, my strength, and hope, that is in you. Therefore, Lord I confess that I am strong in You, and in the power of Your might (Ephesians 6:10).
Father, in the name of Jesus, I cast down every wicked, lustful, lascivious, and unclean thought of the enemy in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (2 Cor 10:5). In your strength, I refuse, and will refuse, to allow any thoughts of the enemy to enter in; I cast them from me in the name of Jesus. I completely repent and turn from all lust. Father, I pray that You will cause me to think upon those things which are pure, honest, and of a good report (Philippians 4:8), and I pray that you will not allow my mind to wander into idleness and lust, but that it stay upon the name and person of Jesus.
In the name of the Lord Jesus, I take authority over Satan, every principality, every evil spirit, and every spirit of wickedness in high places. I cut every ungodly soul tie associated with all evil memory recall concerning lust. I bind all spirits involved in the name of Jesus Christ, and render them without power to operate in my life. I cut all lust, and all its triggers off my mind, will, and emotions and I surrender lust and its desires from out of my heart, to you Lord Jesus. In the name of Jesus, I bind and cast off every spirit of lust, adultery, fornication, lasciviousness, and uncleanliness in my life. Father, I surrender my body to you as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and I recognize that my body is the temple of the Almighty Living God, and a dwelling place for His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), and I rejoice in knowing that the blood of Jesus Christ sanctifies, cleanses and covers me.
Again, there are so many ways to pray against any vice. I could go on and on and on. Everyone is always welcome to leave a comment with prayers of their own.
But once we’re done praying, it’s time to act (in the physical world). Let’s move on to that now.
Fighting the Vice
To fight a vice, we must change our behavior and be consistent about that. We can’t do something new a few times and stop there. We must stick with our new ways, turning our back on our old sins. This consistency is how we build up a habit. It’s also how we cultivate and strengthen a Virtue, which are the “antidotes” to vice.
So how can we do that to fight lust? Let’s look at a few practical ideas. And remember: These are only a start! The possibilities are endless. I welcome any comments with good ideas about this.
Here are just a few ideas of how we can fight the vice of lust in our own lives:
- Pray more
- Avoid situations where we’re tempted to lust (i.e., think about where we hang out, etc.)
- Be aware of what entertainment and content we consume, avoiding ones that tempt us to lust
- And other ideas you can think of!
First, I suggest all who struggle with lust watch THIS VIDEO by Mark Ballenger of AGW University. It’s entitled “Straight from the Bible: 5 Reasons You Keep Struggling to Overcome Sexual Sin.” The 5 points he covers in this video give a great “diagnostic” tool for where we’re falling short in our battle against lust. These are:
1) Lack of prayer. A lack of prayer. Not persistently having a relationship with God on a daily basis. Lack of meditative prayer.
2) Not actively crucifying the flesh and walking in the spirit.
3) Not having sex with our spouse.
4) Tolerating sexual temptation too much in our life.
5) Downplaying the seriousness of sexual sin and the importance and blessings of self control.
His first point ties into the first item on my list. We need to pray more, and rely on God’s strength if we want to beat lust. We don’t have the strength to beat lust on our own. Relying on our own strength is a recipe for failure, every time. Prayer is how we interact with God. We need to pray against lust every day, and as many times as we need. This is an area where I fall short. Without prayer, we’re helpless against lust.
The next point is we need to crucify the flesh and walk in the Spirit. I often talk about walking in the Spirit on my blog. Things like prayer, fasting, and self-denial (Self-Discipline) are ways to walk in the Spirit. We need to stop doing whatever feels good, and control the urges of our body. If we don’t do this, we won’t beat lust.
The third reason is for married couples. If a married couple aren’t having sex, one or both of them will be tempted and tormented by lust because their needs aren’t being met.
The fourth reason ties into the second and third items on my list. We can’t control seeing things that tempt us. But if we know certain things, places, websites, or whatever tempt us, then we have the choice to stay away from them. If a website tempts us to lust, and we don’t need to use that website, then we can choose to stay away from it. If we often get tempted to lust when we go to some place, if that place isn’t important for us to go to then we can choose to stay away from it.
If we don’t stay away from the things that tempt us when we have the power to, we’re tolerating sexual temptation too much in our life. If we tolerate sexual temptation, we’ll fall to it.
This ties into the second and third items on my list, above. We need to avoid as many of the situations that tempt us as we can. And we need to watch what entertainment (etc.) we consume, getting rid of stuff that causes us to lust. These choices are within our power; we’re in control over them. So let’s make the right choices.
And the fifth reason is not taking sexual sin seriously enough. Downplaying the seriousness of sexual sin. Sexual sin is incredibly serious, and will cost us our Salvation. Those who engage in sexual sin and tolerate it won’t inherit God’s kingdom. We’ll go to hell instead. Sexual sin is as serious as it gets!! Don’t downplay it!!
In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul explains the dangers of sexual sin:
(9) Don’t you know that people who are unjust won’t inherit God’s kingdom? Don’t be deceived. Those who are sexually immoral, those who worship false gods, adulterers, both participants in same-sex intercourse, (10) thieves, the greedy, drunks, abusive people, and swindlers won’t inherit God’s kingdom.1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 15-18 (CEB)
(15) Don’t you know that your bodies are parts of Christ? So then, should I take parts of Christ and make them a part of someone who is sleeping around? No way! (16) Don’t you know that anyone who is joined to someone who is sleeping around is one body with that person? The scripture says, “The two will become one flesh”. (17) The one who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. (18) Avoid sexual immorality! Every sin that a person can do is committed outside the body, except those who engage in sexual immorality commit sin against their own bodies.
This sin is as serious as it gets. Which means that the Virtue of Self-Discipline, one of the fruits of the Spirit, is as beautiful as it gets. Downplaying the importance of Self-Discipline (self-control) is a dangerous thing to do. Self-control is what we must strive for, what we must aspire to. Self-control must be our goal.
If we downplay the importance of self-control, the fruit of the Spirit that will empower us to resist lust, then we are doomed to fail in our battle.
Once again, I suggest all Readers struggling with lust go watch the AGW University video: “Straight from the Bible: 5 Reasons You Keep Struggling to Overcome Sexual Sin.” The video will explain it much better than I can, with more Scripture too. Please check it out!
It Takes His Strength, not Ours!
If you struggle with lust, you’re not alone. No, not at all. This could be the most common stumbling block and obstacle for Christians trying to grow Spiritually. I struggle with lust myself. I’ve been struggling a lot recently, and even failed. That’s why I felt unqualified to write this post on the vice of lust.
What I am qualified to share with you is my Wisdom gained through failure. I’ve learned that it’s not about how many times we get knocked down, but how many times we get back up. When we fall, it’s OK, but we have to get back up quick. That’s what really matters. If we do, we’re on the right track. We can never lose if we never give up. And we will always win if we never stop.
And we need to pray to Jesus and fight the vice of lust through His power, not ours. We are helpless against this vice. Only Jesus has the strength to defeat it, so we need to pray to Him for His strength, and not rely on ours!
And there’s one more thing we need to remember always:
Jesus loves us! He will forgive us our sins if we REPENT! to Him! THERE IS NO SIN THAT’S TOO BIG FOR HIM TO FORGIVE!!
And in the same way Jesus forgives us, we must forgive ourselves too. We must forgive ourselves, and try again.
This world is full of temptations. We can’t control being tempted when we see something tempting. We’re going to suffer lust in this fallen world, it is what it is.
But we do have the choice not to keep thinking about what tempted us. We have the choice to stay away from situations where we know we’ll be tempted. We have a choice of what entertainment we consume. We can’t control this tempting world, but we can control our reaction to it.
To battle lust, we have to stay connected with God through prayer. We can only defeat this vice with His strength, not our own. And we need to make the smart choices that lead us away from temptation instead of into it. We need to make the smart choices that cause us to grow in Self-Discipline.
And … we must never underestimate the power of the vice of lust, or the severe consequences of sexual sin. Fight the vice of lust! Fight sexual sin! The short-term pleasures aren’t worth the long-term punishment!
The vice for next time is pride. Stay tuned for that and Subscribe to my FREE weekly newsletter with the link below so you’ll never miss a post!!
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Until next time, be strong and do good!
Your new best friend in Christ,
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