One night as I was witnessing in a chat room, one person seemed especially engaged in the discussion and we ended up chatting in a private message window. Shortly into the conversation she began unpacking her heartbreaking story, which involved sexual abuse and drug use at a very young age. Growing up she had no direction and struggled to find her way and fell into a rather promiscuous lifestyle. When I challenged her about becoming a follower of Jesus Christ she cut me off and told me she wouldn’t stop having sex. I wasn’t talking about sex but about following Christ, yet she understood that to follow Christ meant complete surrender and this was her prized sin. She had been dating her boyfriend for eight years and there was no way she would stop sleeping with him. She added that if she stopped being intimate with him he would leave. I asked what she would do if he left, and sadly she said exactly what I feared she would say: if her boyfriend left her she would kill herself.
Why would this woman become suicidal without her boyfriend? Because that boyfriend had became her god. It’s been well said that whatever your heart clings to and trusts in, that is really your god. Her boyfriend had given meaning to her life. She got her sense of worth and significance not from believing what her Maker said about her in the Bible, but from a person giving her compliments, comfort, and cuddles. In her mind, without her boyfriend she had no purpose for existence. Tragically this woman didn’t realize that the prison she was living in was locked from the inside. She has the key to freedom in Christ, but until she is willing to put her faith in Him and follow, she will never experience it.
When we think of idolatry we think of someone in a foreign land bowing before a statue made of wood or stone, but in fact idolatry is just as popular today as it was thousands of years ago—it’s just taken a different form. In the West, it looks more like the reflection of a mirror. People tend to shape their gods in the fertile clay of their own imaginations—worshipers say things like, “My god is a god of love who would never throw someone into Hell or reject someone for loving another person.” Their idol likes the things they like and hates the things they hate, and in the end, they worship themselves. It’s been said, “God created us in His own image and we’ve been repaying the favor ever since.” Some within the church building have become idol makers, and have decided that their god frowns on sex before marriage but sees nothing wrong with viewing pornography. It’s the “it’s okay to look in the window as long you don’t shop” mentality. As followers of Jesus Christ that kind of nonsense should never be named among us (Ephesians 5:3). A believer’s life shouldn’t be consumed with self-centered stupidity; it should be consumed with Christ. God hates pornography, and as followers of Christ we need to resist temptation and be disgusted by it too. If we do anything less than absolutely hate porn, it reveals idolatry in our hearts.
The Wealthy Man
Ray Comfort shared this profound story: “There was once a delusional but very wealthy man who dreamed of flying like the birds. Although his friends warned him that gravity would stop him from flying, he insisted that he didn’t believe in anything that was invisible. He then used his financial power to rid his country of any thought of gravity. He had it erased from science books and had anyone prosecuted who spoke of gravity and its effects. The day finally came when no one believed in the invisible force of gravity. That was the day the rich man jumped off a 5,000-foot cliff and tried to fly like a bird. His lavish funeral was held two days later. Such is the delusion of those who try to rid our country of any thought of the moral Law so that they can throw themselves into the pleasures of sin.”
On Mount Sinai God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The seventh is, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Jesus later explained the heart of that command:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27,28)
The definition that Jesus gave of adultery involves sexual fantasies. “But it’s natural!” A pig naturally likes to roll in the mud, but his natural desire makes him filthy. All kinds of evil things are “natural” for our sinful nature, but that doesn’t make them right. Lust is adultery of the heart.
“If the world redirected the funds it spends on porn toward helping the needy, we could nearly eliminate poverty overnight.”
God wrote His Law in stone for a reason. It is permanent, and He will judge the world in righteousness by its perfect standard (Romans 2:11; James 2:11). That’s why we all need the Savior. Always keep these thoughts in mind when tempted to violate the work of the Law, which the Bible says is written in your heart (Romans 2:14,15).
There’s a big problem when you type “sex” into a Google search and get back 5,100,000,000 web pages. Porn is all over the place. It’s estimated that the porn industry rakes in over $10 billion a year (not million, billion) in the US alone. (That doesn’t include the many skin-filled PG-13 and R-rated blockbusters that aren’t considered “porn films.”) If the world redirected the funds it spends on porn toward helping the needy, we could nearly eliminate poverty overnight.
The Bible says, “Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids” (Proverbs 6:25). Porn not only drives you into lust and captivates you, but it also warps your whole thinking process. Porn is a bully that won’t just steal your lunch money; it will take your good sense too. Porn is a brainwashing boot camp. It reconditions your mind to see the opposite sex through perverted lenses.
“Porn is a brainwashing boot camp.”
Here are a couple of ways that porn wrecks you:
- Porn kills your walk with God. God hates sin. You can’t serve two masters; you’ll love the one and hate the other (Luke 16:13).
- Porn tricks you into seeing sex as just a physical act. Sex is so much more than skin on skin. Sex is extremely spiritual and actually fuses two people into one (1 Corinthians 6:16,17).
- Porn feeds you the wrong image of the opposite sex. Porn trains you to focus on the outward, instead of the inward. Instead of seeing someone as an individual created in the image of God, you’ll view that person like you would a piece of chocolate that you want to satisfy your ravenous appetite.
- Porn weakens your self-control. You don’t train yourself to deny the flesh, you feed it, and like a hungry leech it will always want more. Instead of having the mentality of a disciplined athlete, you find yourself with the mindset of the grossly obese—with an appetite trained to give yourself over to offers of pleasure. For the single, porn-world trains you to compromise on Friday night date world.
- Porn increases your appetite for illicit sex. The natural endorphin high associated with lust has an addictive euphoric, drug-like effect. Like cocaine, the more you lose yourself in it, the more you crave it.
- Porn devastates marriages. Many a spouse has felt deep hurt and a sense of betrayal and inadequacy because of their mate looking at vile images. Porn undermines the trust and exclusiveness of the marriage bed and is the secret acid that has eroded many families.
Lust is like a little child with a stick of dynamite. Mesmerized by the flickering wick, he holds on to it tight. It dazzles him and gives him a great sense of wonder and pleasure. But if he doesn’t get rid of it quick it’ll kill him. You have got to kill lust, before it kills you. The Bible lays this wisdom on us:
Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
“Obey God and guard your eyes like you were guarding a loved one from an armed attacker.”
Get your mind off the junk and start chewing on the nutritious. Go out of your way to put good influences into your mind. Watch clean movies and listen to quality music. Obey God and guard your eyes like you were guarding a loved one from an armed attacker. That means no porn or movies that have inappropriate sexual scenes in them. Here’s the test: Would you watch it in front of grandma? If not, you can be certain that it doesn’t glorify God. Take to heart Job’s words: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman” (Job 31:1, NLT).
Starving the Beast
Wanting to stay pure while still watching dirty things on your phone is like throwing sticks onto a campfire while praying, “God, please extinguish these flames.” It’s stupid. If you really want the fire to go out, stop feeding it. If you want to keep your thoughts G-rated, stop loving evil. Stop shoveling lust fuel into your mind. The Bible says, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22, NLT). Check a family review before you watch a movie. Get accountability software installed on your smart phone if it’s causing you to do dumb things. No longer communicate with someone who inspires you to stumble. Change the channel. Push away that steamy romance novel. Do what you have to do.
God takes lust very seriously. Shortly after Jesus said that lust is the same as adultery, He went on to say:
If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29,30)
Do you get it? It’s a really big deal not to lust. It can make the difference between Heaven and Hell! I don’t think God actually wants you plucking out your eye or hacking off your hand to help you quit lusting. Jesus is using hyperbole, an exaggerated example to make a very important point stand out. No sin is worth going to Hell for. Take drastic measures not to lust. If that means putting your computer in the living room, asking a spouse to unsubscribe to a certain magazine or catalog, or skipping a popular movie that everyone is talking about, do it. Cut the heart out of this sexual beast. Take the gas out of the tank and the car won’t run. Lust will loosen its hold on you when you get provocative imagery out of sight. The Bible says, “Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied” (Proverbs 27:20). You will always hunger for more. You have to starve lust or it will eat you alive.
The Lustful Break Up
The Bible tells us to “hate evil, love good” (Amos 5:15). Some hate AIDS but love illicit sex. That’s wrong. We should hate the sin too. If you hate the fruit, hate the root. Hate sin, not just its consequences. That’s what God commands. We should hate evil enough not to join its side.
“If a dirty thought pops up, lock it up. Don’t let that criminal thought roam around freely in your mind—immediately throw it in prison and walk away.”
Ignatius said, “It is impossible for a man to be freed from the habit of sin before he hates it.” Obey God and hate the evil of lust. After that it’s really just a matter of being practical. King David said, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” (Psalm 101:3). Follow his example. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Here are some methods of “escape”:
- Learn to “bounce” your eyes. When you see something arousing, look away.
- Don’t do double-takes. When someone attractive walks past, don’t check the person out.
- When a lustful thought visits, change the channel. Don’t invite the thought to stay. Think about something else. If a filthy thought enters when you’re lying down at night, open your eyes and shake your head.
- Don’t watch junk with lusty stuff in it. Avoid the temptation entirely.
The Bible says we should be “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). If a dirty thought pops up, lock it up. Don’t let that criminal thought roam around freely in your mind; immediately throw it in prison and walk away. Don’t let it hang out in your living room, kick it out and think of something else that honors God.
“Capture your thoughts before they capture you.”
The beautiful thing about our minds is that we get to choose what we dwell on. You can’t always stop random thoughts from popping up, but you can choose what you mull over. It’s been said, “You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair.”
It can be hard to think clean, but with God’s help you can do it. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Memorize that passage. With God’s help you can crush lust. Capture your thoughts before they capture you.