Living in this hyper-sexualised culture is like walking the streets of a war zone. The dangers are everywhere, often where you least expect, and you can never drop your guard.
What are you doing to resist the devil and fight for sexual purity? I reached out on email and Facebook to a bunch of men to ask what they have found helpful in this fight – this is what they said. Of course, both men and women are engaged in this fight – but I only felt comfortable asking men for their input.
What would you add to the list?
This is such a helpful reminder from John Piper:
It was knowledge of God's Word that equipped Jesus to withstand the temptations of the evil one in the desert. And it is this same truth that will enable us to stand also. Here's some of the passages that men have committed to memory.
Matthew 5:8 is a wonderful reminder to set my affections and desires on someone eminently more beautiful, inspiring and powerful:
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see the Lord.”
Psalm 119:35-37 is a prayer to find delight in God's commands:
“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”
Mark 7:20-23 is a reminder of where this is coming from:
He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
1 Corinthians 10:23 is a reminder to trust that God will enable me to endure it:
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
Hebrews 12:1-2 points me to where I should be looking to instead:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Enjoy Jesus more
One man shared:
“If you are not finding satisfaction in the Lord then you will not be satisfied with anything else, whether that is your wife or your singleness.”
This is good from Jimmy Needham:
Pray each morning
Tim prays this prayer from John Stott:
“Heavenly father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and do the things that please you more and more. Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my Cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day your will fill me with yourself, set a watch over my thoughts, and imaginations and guard me from the attacks of Satan…”
Reflect on the beauty of your wife
One man shared:
“I try to spend time when I'm on my own thinking about the ways my wife is beautiful and how her character conforms with the picture of beauty in the bible. she adorns herself rich in good deeds. in particular, she expends herself fully for our family in very selfless ways. when i think of true beauty in this way, I then ask God that I would be more attracted to her beauty than the false beauty of our porn saturated popular culture.”
“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”
Acknowledge that you live in a pornographic culture
Read a book
There are many helpful books on this theme including:
- Heath Lambert: Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace.
- Jerry Bridges: The Pursuit of Holiness.
- John Owen: Overcoming Sin and Temptation.
- Joshua Harris: Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is).
- Randy Alcorn: Sexual Temptation: Establishing Guardrails and Winning the Battle.
- Tim Challies: Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of Porn.
What books would you recommend?
Join a 12-step program
One man shared about the benefit of joining a Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) group:
“I had close accountability relationships, read some good books, had some good counselling, but it was only after going to SA and starting daily work with a sponsor that I really made progress. Hard to describe exactly why it worked, but I now know many Christian guys who have really grown in their faith through working the steps and being part of the SA fellowship.”
Another friend is part of an X3 Group and has found it very helpful.
Go behind the curtain
Several men shared how they find it helpful to “go behind the curtain” and read about the impact that porn has on those involved. Fight the New Drug has lots of resources in this category. Of course, discretion is advised when exploring this topic and if in doubt, don't.
Know your triggers
Brad Hambrick writes about 19 possible trigger-motives for sexual sin. For example, boredom:
“When boredom is our trigger to sexual sin, then sin has become our joy. When there is a moment to be filled with something of our choosing, we pursue sin to fill the void rather than God or any of His legitimate pleasures. We begin to lose our appetite for godly pleasure like the child who eats sweets stops wanting healthy food. Even as they feel sluggish from the ups and downs of sugary “treats” they fail to connect this to their diet but go instead for another sugar high as the “obvious” solution.”
When temptation knocks – run! Joseph is a great example of what it looks like to flee.
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18
Get an accountability partner
Find a friend to pray for you and keep you accountable. Here are some good questions you can ask them to ask you:
- How are you going at loving and romancing your wife?
- In what ways have you been tempted recently in your mind or with your eyes?
- What practical steps are you taking to to avoid porn?
- What question are you hoping I won't ask you today?
I continue to be convicted by both how necessary this is, but how challenging this is when so many men have no close friends.
Get accountability software
As I've written previously, neither internet filters nor accountability software will “cure” you from the lure of temptation. We don't stop pursuing sinful desires because of filters or software, but because God transforms our heart and gives us new, better desires. But in your pursuit of holiness, accountability software is an important weapon to add to your arsenal against temptations online.
Don't trust yourself
When Paul Washer travels he brings an assistant who is given the instruction: “Don't leave him by himself”.