“Excuse me Pastor, I’m struggling with lust.”
That’s not a statement you hear often. But if Google’s auto-complete function reflects what people are actively searching for (and it is), it’s thus safe to say that many Christians need help in this area.
What is lust?
Lust is one of those words that Christians associate with sexual sin (and rightly so). That’s because, although lust is defined as; a strong desire or craving (as in James 4:2KJV), this strong desire/craving is often negative. That’s why the Apostle Peter admonished believers in 1 Peter 2:11-12 (NKJV) by saying:
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honourable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
Similar scriptures like 1 John 2:16, Matthew 5:27-28, and Job 31:11-12 also use the word lust with a negative undertone. In all of these examples, lust refers to an intense, self-centred desire or craving for a person, experience or object. The Bible calls it the root of all sins (1 John 2:16) and counsels believers to shun it because “…we that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. ” (Galatians 5:24).
Why is lust wrong?
Firstly, lust is wrong because God commands us to love Him with all our heart, mind and soul (Matt 22:37). Hence, anything we lust after becomes an idol that takes God’s place in our heart.
Secondly, as we read in 1 Peter 2:11-12, yielding to fleshly lusts is a slippery slope that leads to ungodly conduct. First, our heart conceives sin, which leads to outward actions that further dishonour our heavenly Father.
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt 5:27-28 NLT)
Sadly, popular culture celebrates lust (specifically sexual lust). Movies, billboards, magazines, the internet, novels, comics, video games and even cartoons are filled with sexually charged words and images. The subtle or overt message they’re all sending is this; if you want to be happy, you must enjoy sex whenever you like and, however, you like.
But you and I know that it’s a lie because God’s word teaches us otherwise.
Lust goes against God’s original intentions. It entices us to think of sex only in terms of how we feel or what we want and not in terms of what God’s full intentions for creating sex are.
Lust is also never satisfied (Ephesians 4:19 NIV). What lust is after isn’t sex, but the thrill of the forbidden (James 1:13-15; Romans 1:24-32). Therefore, when we indulge in lust, our desires only grow and take us deeper and deeper into the depths of sexual sin and perversion.
A friend sends you some nudes he got online. Next thing you’re watching porn, only to become addicted to masturbation.
You start reading light romance novels, which leads you to fantasise about having sex with the main character. Then one day, you discover you’re scouting for dirtier and dirtier movies/novels to make you feel the way ‘you need to feel.’
Lust as I said is a slippery slope that never ends well.
But thankfully, as believers, we can overcome our struggles with lust because…
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”
(1 Peter 2:3-4 NLT) emphasis mine
3 Noteworthy Tips to Help You End Your Struggles With Lust
These tips will help you overcome lust as a Christian, whether you are single or married.
- Meditate on God’s word:
For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].
(Romans 8:5 AMP)
The first time the Holy Spirit showed me this scripture below, it set me free. I realized that the real reason why my flesh seemed difficult to control was that I was setting my mind on the things of the flesh (i.e. things that didn’t build me up spiritually).
If I would commit to giving more attention to the word of God, then my renewed mind and my spirit would together help me overcome the cravings of my body, for as a man thinks in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7).
As I mentioned earlier, God gave us His word to enable us to share His divine nature, escape the corruption in the world and equip us for the good work He created us to accomplish (2 Peter 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). However, the Word will do us no good if we don’t take the time to ponder on it, pray about it and ask the Holy Spirit to grant us understanding
- Guard your heart by guarding your eye and ear gates:
Everything you see and hear influences what you think about. What you think, determines what you believe and what you believe determines what you say and do. Hence, when we feed our minds with sexually saturated materials (whether through what we watch or what we listen to), our sexual desires build up to the point where it’s almost impossible not to act out.
You can’t keep watching TV series and movies or listening to songs filled with sexually stimulating images/words and expect nothing to happen. Romans 8:5 already made it clear, if you set your mind on the things of the flesh, you’ll live according to the flesh. Steer clear from the movies, music, novels, magazines and the rest that fan your lustful desires or celebrate sexual sin. The fewer images your mind has to dwell on the less tempted you’ll be to indulge in what would be sexual sin.
- Set standards and boundaries in your romantic relationship:
This isn’t about being legalistic.
It’s about setting boundaries for your physical relationship so that you honour God and are an example to all believers in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
Physical involvement is progressive; one act leads to the next until we go all the way. Whatever efforts you make to proceed carefully in your expression of physical affection will be in both your interests. If you do get married, then you both can enjoy each other’s bodies as much as you’d agree. But if your relationship doesn’t work out, you both would have done each other a favour by honouring your bodies.
If you found these tips helpful, I’m certain you’d love my FREE eBook titled: ‘SINGLE, CHRISTIAN AND HORNY: 13 Proven Ways to Manage Your God-given Desire for Sex without Feeling Guilty.” Get it NOW by clicking on DOWNLOAD
Author: Ifeoma Nwekwo
About The author
Ifeoma Nwekwo is a Ghostwriter and self-publishing coach dedicated to helping experts multiply their visibility and impact by self-publishing remarkable non-fiction books.
She’s also the author of the critically acclaimed book “Can I be Married Already?!: Biblical answers to the questions that plague your heart because you’re still single”
Connect with her on Instagram @ifeoma_nwekwo
Holy And Horny: How To Handle Sexual Desires As A Single Christian