Lust:  Where the Battle Starts

Lust.  Our oldest enemy.  The most frequent of all our sexual sins, and quite possibly of all our sins in general.  We can lust after many things, such as power, money, and status (1 John 2:16), but this chapter deals specifically with physical lust.

Before we have sex or do any sexual act outside of marriage, we lust.  When we sin by looking at pornography, we lust.  When we masturbate, we lust.  Jesus said lust is as bad as adultery, and many times we consider adultery the worst of all these sins.  So it's a pretty bad problem that we need to deal with.  And there's no tourniquet for this baby either, because even gouging out our eyes wouldn't cure lust, as we can still lust with just our minds.

Lust certainly is a tricky little devil.  I'm not writing as one who has completely gotten rid of all lust from his life.  I can think of a time when I lusted today, in fact.  I repented of that sin, and I will make a point of avoiding that temptation the next time I'm in that same situation.  But there will always be more and more opportunities to lust, and it will only get worse as society lowers its standards for what women should wear and what media can expose us to.

However, there is hope!  Although Christian men are not totally free from lustful thoughts, I've talked with many guys who have made an incredible amount of progress in their lives over this sin.  And, thank God, so have I.  I do remember a time when my mind was clouded with lustful thoughts practically all day long; now an indulged sexual thought is the exception that stands out, and I usually repent of it quickly and move on. 

There are many clear steps that we can take to run from lust and gain sexual purity, even in our minds.  Remember, Jesus said that He wasn't going to give us more temptation than we could handle and that he would always provide a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13), and that applies even to the temptation to lust.  Here are some practical ways to run away from a lustful situation. 

How to Escape Lustful Situations:

1. Recite Scripture

As always, pray first.  While you're praying, call to your mind some of those Scriptures that you've memorized.  Have them ready and shoot them like darts at your tempting thought, while at the same time darting your eyes or mind away from that temptation.  Like Job (31:1), you should be able to tell yourself, I've made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl!  I've made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl!  Say this over and over again.  Say it out loud if you can!

Find some catchy phrases that will stick in your mind and that will be effective in your life when you use them.  When I was a lifeguard at an amusement park, there was temptation to lust literally everywhere I turned!  I had never seen so many scantily-clad women in all my life, and I was around them all day long!  This was torture on my hormones.  It was either indulge myself all day long, or else find out some ways to run.  And while I did not look lustfully at the women many times, I spent the majority of the time running from lust.  Here's a mind trick I came up with:  Every time my eyes would get drawn to a girl's body, I would scream in my mind, Not mine, don't look!  Over and over again in my mind I said, Not mine, don't look!  I must have said that one little phrase more than 10,000 times to myself over the course of the summer.  And it worked, too!  I was in prayer, praying for my purity, and praying for these people as well. 

If I hadn't done this and had simply indulged my lust all day long, just imagine how terrible the consequences could have been!  I could just see the headlines:  "Nine-year-old boy dies at water park because lifeguard was too busy checkin' out the beach babes."  OK, so I had a lot of added incentive to keep that garbage out of my mind, but the point is still made.  Reciting Scripture or Scriptural principles is a key way to combat lust.