Unhealthy lust is a denial of God’s sovereignty and an elevation of our own flesh. We are denying God’s will for our purity and saying what we desire is more important than what God desires for us. When one says I can’t stop thinking about this, or can’t stop desiring this, they are choosing to accept that they control the action. The truth is we cannot deny our own flesh without the help of the Holy Spirit. We need His power to overcome our human sin urges, His wisdom to lead us in safe directions that prevent us from being vulnerable and we need His convictions to help us know what behavior and thinking is unhealthy.
We have the choice to choose what thoughts we allow ourselves to entertain and explore. When lost in lust, we allow our minds to pursue fantasy which feeds our lust for various sinful desires. Whether sinful relationships, power, or other sinful desires it is our decision to either continue that thought process towards the sin or to, as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV, take captive that sinful thought and make it obedient to Christ. (“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV) This means not allowing the sinful thoughts that enter our minds to be pursued. When we say we can’t, we are mistaking stoping those sinful thoughts from coming at us, with allowing ourselves to take the initial thought and explore and expand upon it.
An example would be when presented with a visual stimulation such as a an attractive woman with a low cut top on. Our minds immediately develop a thought based upon our fleshly sexual desires. The first thought is a reaction of our stimulated eyes sending the message to our brains that says, “that looks exciting”. We then have the choice to shut down that line of thinking or allow it to continue. Example in this case might be to begin to imagine touching the breast, or visually imagining what the woman looks like completely naked. The point being that we choose to take it further.
We can’t avoid completely the temptation that will come at us in this world. Even Jesus was tempted. The difference was He did not allow sin to take place. It is not sin to be tempted. It is what we do when tempted that determines the difference between sinful thoughts/actions and righteous thoughts/actions.
The enemy wants you to believe that you can’t stop or to convince you that because you are being tempted you have already sinned, that way he can convince you to take it even farther. I cannot tell you how many times I allowed myself to dig into a deeper hole of sin by choosing to take that next step because, “well, I’ve already sinned so I might as well enjoy it.” It was a choice. I don’t want to admit it is a choice because then I can’t blame it on something outside of my control.
It’s so much easier to believe that we are born this way, or have some defect, some illness that causes us to sin, than to admit that we are willfully choosing sin over obeying God’s commandments for our lives. A person choosing to pursue same sex relationships or otherwise promiscuous sex life, is no different that one choosing to live a life of greed, theft, etc. In all instances we are choosing to allow our temptations to be acted upon thus sinning. We want it to be someone else’s fault because then we deny responsibility for our actions. In the end we have the choice. We always have the choice.
There are those that would try to separate sexual sin from drug addictions etc but an alcoholic always has the choice to not take the sip, just as you have the choice to not allow that thought or sinful desire to be acted upon either mentally or physically. While it is true that chemical dependency is developed and the addiction to drugs or alcohol is then different from sexual addictions, they all begin with choices that we do control.
We try to convince ourselves that just thinking about sinful sexual desire is harmless and not actually committing sin. But it is far from harmless and as it says in Matthew 5:28 NLT, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” To look at someone lustfully is the same as having physically acted out the sinful act. It’s in our hearts where the sin starts not when we engage with another person.
Regardless of the bad choices we have all made there is hope and healing available to us if we choose to pursue it. No matter how far you’ve taken the path of sin and have fallen God can still redeem you and free you from those choices. It all starts with the choice to obey God and submit our lives to Him. We confess our sins, repent (walk away from) our sins and get the help we need to live a live free from our sinful past.
For anyone struggling with addictions and sexual sin, I urge you to find a Christian based 12 step program such as Celebrate Recovery and commit to the process of recovery and freedom from sin. Look for the link on my links page.