We live in a culture inundated with overt sexual immorality, lustful images, and temptations galore! How do we as Christians handle sexual temptations? How does a believer combat issues such as internet pornography, flirtations at the workplace, lustful glances, sex before marriage, and outright adultery? The Scriptures give us some ammunition to fight this serious battle.
First of all, there is the negative aspect of fighting sexual sin. In other words, there are numerous commands from the Bible which tells us what NOT to do. Allow me to list a litany of Scriptures and let them speak for themselves. I will highlight the key words in bold and italics.
Proverbs 4:14-15 says, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.” Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:3: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” He also exhorts us in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 with these words: “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Again in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 we find Paul’s warning: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.” The writer Hebrews also gives this command in 13:4: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
One crucial tactic for dealing a deathblow to sexual sin comes from the words of Paul in Romans 8:13 when he says, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” In the power and grace that the Holy Spirit provides, we have the responsibility as believers to be putting to death or killing sin at its root. The great Puritan John Owen said this: “You must be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
From these verses we see that the primary tactic for battling sexual sin is to avoid, abstain, turn away, flee from it and ultimately kill it. We must not put ourselves in situations that will feed our desires and passions. We must put guards over our hearts and minds and eyes.
But that is not enough. It is not enough just to “NOT” do these things. The pleasures of sexual sin are very enticing, powerful, and tenacious. The second primary tactic the Bible gives us to combat sexual sin is to replace these temporary and fleeting pleasures with a far more superior and valuable pleasure—namely, Jesus Christ Himself. We must not only expel or get rid of the desires of the flesh, but we must replace them with an intense passion for Christ in where He is the sole object of our affection and desires.
One of the greatest passages that illustrates both the negative aspect of avoiding sin and the positive aspect of replacing that desire with a passion for Christ comes in Romans 13:13-14. It states, “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” The negative command is for us to make no provision for the flesh. In other words, don’t feed these sexual desires. Don’t watch shows that will entice you. Put internet filters on your computer so you cannot surf those websites. Don’t go near that person who flirts with you. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you will be tempted to go too far sexually. Don’t make a pre-meditated attempt to gratify the desires of your flesh.
On the other hand or the positive side of combating sexual immorality, we must put on the Lord Jesus Christ. We must wear Him like clothing. He must cling to us. He must be the chief object of our desire. We must find in Him a greater and more valuable pleasure and desire and passion than we would find in the temporary pleasures of sin. We must find Jesus as all supreme and wonderful. We must expel the desire for sexual sin and replace it with a far superior desire for Jesus to meet those needs.
Most sexual sins that a Christian commits stem from certain needs not being met. These could be needs such as loneliness, boredom, companionship, a desire for intimacy, or a need to be loved. Other times, these sexual sins can come from other sinful attitudes such as bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, a sense of entitlement, or the idea that we have a right to have fun and control our lives.
Only Jesus in all of His sovereign splendor and glory can satisfy us. We don’t find our ultimate satisfaction in a spouse, or children, or a career, or a hobby, or any other relationship. While these things are very important to our lives, our ultimate identity and pleasure and purpose and meaning only comes when we treasure Jesus above all else.
My prayer for fellow believers is that you would be putting to death sexual sin by avoiding it, fleeing from it, and abstaining from it and that also you would replace those desires with a greater, more lasting, more glorious desire—the Lord Jesus Christ Himself