I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. 3 I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. – Psalm 101:2-3 NLT
The story unfolds like a modern-day screenplay. A member of the royal family has an affair with a commoner’s wife, then conspires with a hit man to have her husband murdered. The entire affair is covered up until one persistent reporter pursues and exposes the truth. We discover it’s not just any royal family member who’s guilty, but the King himself. This is, of course, the story of King David and his adulterous affair with Bathsheba recorded in 2 Samuel 11-12. David’s moral downfall resulted from his failure to control and overcome his lust for another man’s wife.
Lust can be defined as a strong craving or desire, often of a sexual nature. In the New Testament, the word for “lust” almost exclusively refers to sexual immorality. Lust is a self-centered desire that violates God’s standards of purity.
Today’s world is filled with sensuality almost everywhere you look, which means that the struggle against lust can be daunting. For the follower of Christ, the battle against lust is not just a personal one but a spiritual one as well. If you are to win the battle against lust, you must enter the fight with a wholehearted effort to win, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. Here are four keys to defeating lust.
1. Prepare Your Heart. The Bible confronts the issue of lust with a straightforward approach. Jesus taught in Matthew 5:28, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus’ words emphasize that the battle against lust begins in your heart. The heart is the soil where the seeds of sin are rooted and begin to grow. You can protect the desires of your heart by deepening your love and commitment to God. This means you accomplish freedom from lust by first offering a prayer of forgiveness to God for past failures. Then keep your heart pure by spending time reading and memorizing Scripture and seeking God’s guidance in your daily walk.
2. Refocus your thoughts. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” To overcome lust, it’s essential to not only keep your heart pure but also to change your way of thinking. Philippians 4:8 encourages you to think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy, and will help redirect your thoughts away from impurity. By changing your focus on wholesome thoughts, you can create a strong foundation to counteract the temptations of lust.
3. Choose your friends wisely. Overcoming lust is not a battle to be fought alone. Ecclesiastes 4:12 reminds us, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” It’s important to surround yourself with like-minded people who will come alongside you in this process of defeating lust. Having accountability from friends, pastors, or a support group will help you triumph over the grip of sin.
4. Watch what you watch. Proverbs 4:23 advises, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Guarding your heart means limiting what you expose yourself to—from the media you view to the company you keep. Setting strict boundaries is critical and always a good decision in a world where explicit content is so easily accessible. This may involve filtering online content, avoiding situations that trigger lustful thoughts, and keeping healthy relationships that encourage purity.
Through prayer, renewing your mind, getting support, and guarding your heart you can embark on a journey towards purity that honors both yourself and God. Remember, the power to overcome lust doesn’t come from your own strength, but from the grace and guidance of a loving and merciful God.
1. Read Psalm 101:2, Galatians 5:16, 2 Timothy 2:22, and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5. How does each verse relate to the issue of lust? What is the overarching theme that runs through each verse?
2. In what situations do you find yourself struggling with lust? What can you do when you find yourself in those situations? Who can you reach out to for help?