My memory is nearly gone;
but I remember two things;
That I am a great sinner, and
that Christ is a great Saviour.
John Newton (1725-1807)
English minister and hymn writer
Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief
Saul of Taursus to Timothy
Lust is one of those things that has, it seems, been hit upon and missed in the conversation of the church.
From my experience of news concerning the church, with the scandals of various ministers such as Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, Eddie Long, Todd Bentley, this is a subject that takes a scandal in order to talk about at length, and then only pertaining to the minister in question, and frequently, solutions are not part of the discussions, but rather stuff that turns to gossip masquerading ad denouncing the “false prophet in our midst.”
Many ministers, particularly male ministers, it is said, fight this on a daily basis. I know I have dealt with it every day for the last 25 years (nearly since becoming a Christian). I want you to know tonight, that if you fight lust and you feel like you are not going to beat it, and you feel alone in this battle, you are not alone.
Moreover, there are those of us who are called to classical ministry (ministry that occurs within a church, missionary, bible college, seminary, or church administration context) To those ministers, I have the following to say.
If you are like me, you have felt that the merest mention of your sexual sins (specifically, “looking on a member of the opposite sex to lust after them”) to anyone, even fellow ministers would cause you to lose credibility, standing, credentials with your church. congregations, you are not alone. If you felt you could never do this because you are a minister, ordained and licensed, you are not alone. I am there with you.
I would like to share some thoughts on the subject.
Some time ago, I confessed to my wife that I was fighting lust. She asked me several questions, and one of those questions she asked me stuck out. “Do you enjoy it anymore?” This brought to me a realization.
“No.” I replied. “I do not.”
In the past, I used pornography and stuff as a comfort and unconditional acceptance from the fact that my father abandoned me and my mother did not treat me with a whole lot of grace. Now that I had been married, and had all sorts of respect, love, acceptance, and solid healthy relationships, I still reacted the same unhealthy way when presented with sexual thoughts, images, etc. (call it a knee-jerk response, or like Pavlov’s dog, ring the bell and start drooling).
So, my wife responded, “you know, the point is not that I am angry with you, but rather that I pity and feel sad for you.”
The drug or crutch (in this case of lust) looses its effectiveness, so that the high takes more drug to remain at the same levels, and after a while it looses its appeal.
If you are stuck, I have one major response to give to you. It is simple though difficult, and it requires a major bit of preparation and commitment to Christ to finally succeed. This is the method of deliverance, barring an immediate healing.
You and I put our running shoes on and we must run. Run to the refuge of the Scripture, the refuge of worship, the refuge of intercession, and get on our face before God and ask Him to retrain our minds. We have to ask God to teach us to view brothers and sisters with completely pure mindsets. The will of God, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 is sanctification, that we are set apart from the patterns of this world, that we are not driven and fueled by lust as the First Century Gentiles were, whose understanding and thoughts were darkened by this garbage. We must be driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness that you and I fast, pray, spend time with God in communion that we overcome this ploy of the enemy to undermine the work of God’s kingdom.
AND THIS IS A PLOY!!!!!
The enemy uses lust to undermine authority in the church, to undermine the work of making disciples of all nations. If you and I allow the enemy to hook us with lust, to hook us with the programming of this world, then the church will never fulfill her mission to make disciples. Lust is a major preventer of trust in the church and thus, a major tool the enemy uses to keep us from being wholly discipled in the church. It’s time to put on our battle gear, leave it on, and keep up the fight
Several Scriptures that cover this are found are listed below.
I would like to say this. I will soon be licensed, pending any complications, with the Assemblies of God. If you are in the process of getting licensed or ordained, or even if you are not in that process, but you know God has something special for you, that He has a definite calling for you, and desire to conquer and overcome this problem, as if my desire, then you cannot do it alone. You need someone to pray with you, talk to you, hold you accountable, and do so in a manner that keeps confidence, I would like to suggest a 12-step group called Celebrate Recovery. It has proven to be one of the most effective helps for me in dealing with this fight, since it provides a group of like-minded men, who are willing to pray for me, listen to me, and gives the the chance for an anonymous, Christ-centered, gossip-free environment. It teaches us how to biblically recover from not only things like alcohol and drugs, but also sexual sin, as well as any other probelm we may be facing.
Also, if you need someone to talk with you who will keep you in prayer, seriously, as well as keep you in strict confidence, then you can get in touch with me. I honestly wish someone had done this for me sooner, but I am so glad to have friends with whom I can talk about these struggles, with not only lust, but also anger.
Again, I will be willing to confidentially and faithfully hold you in prayer, and encourage you in your daily walk as you seek to work out your walk with God in this area.
My cell phone number for both calls and texting is 417-522-3000 and my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. I am willing to take calls any time during the day or night, when I am not at work. I have a lot of faith and belief for you in this area, and I have a lot of compassion for men who struggle with lust and sexual sin, especially those of you who, like me, are called to full-time ministry and do not feel supported or willing to trust people in their current network with this potentially damaging information.
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
1 John 2:16 ESV / 45 helpful votes
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.
John 14:15 ESV / 35 helpful votes
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Job 31:1 ESV / 35 helpful votes
“I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
“Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it. And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless, …
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
2 Peter 2:9 ESV / 13 helpful votes
Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Psalm 101:3 ESV / 13 helpful votes
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.
John 8:34 ESV / 12 helpful votes
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Romans 8:6 ESV / 11 helpful votes
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
“You shall not commit adultery.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
James 4:1-3 ESV / 10 helpful votes
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
Psalm 86:11 ESV / 10 helpful votes
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 5:8 ESV / 9 helpful votes
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
John 14:21 ESV / 9 helpful votes
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. …
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. …
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, …
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” …
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; …
And the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. …
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
Then let my wife grind for another, and let others bow down on her. For that would be a heinous crime; that would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges; for that would be a fire that consumes as far as Abaddon, and it would burn to the root all my increase.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: …
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, …
The sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,
That I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;
He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am the Lord your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am theLord. …