Overcoming the Addiction of Pornography

 

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Dear soul,

Let me speak to your heart for a moment.. I’m not here to condemn you, or to judge where you have been. I understand just how easy it is to get caught in the web of pornography.

Temptation is everywhere. It’s an issue that we are all faced with. Daily we are enticed by what we see on television, in the movies, or on the internet.

It may seem like a little thing to look at that which is pleasing to the eye. The trouble is, looking turns into lusting, and lusting is a desire that is never satisfied.

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”  ~ James 1:14-15

Often this is what draws a soul into the web of pornography.

The Scriptures deal with this common issue…

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” ~ Matthew 5:28-29

Satan knows our temptations. He uses beautiful images and seductive thoughts to entice us into his web. We become intrigued. Our interest leads us into a seemingly harmless path, until it becomes a stronghold in our life.

Satan sees our struggle. He laughs at us deliriously! “Art thou also become as weak as we?  God can’t reach you now, your soul is beyond His reach.”

Many die in its entanglement, others question their faith in God. “Have I wandered too far from His grace? Will His hand reach down to me now?”

Our weakest moments are when we’re lonely, we’re enticed by our own lustful thoughts. We flirt with temptation when we should flee. “What harm will it do?” we say to ourselves convincingly.

Its moments of pleasure are dimly lit, as loneliness sets in having been deceived. No matter how far into the pit you have fallen, God’s grace is greater still. The fallen sinner He longs to save, He’ll reach down His hand to hold yours.

The Scripture says,  “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  ~ Romans 3:23

Soul, that includes you and me.

Only when we realize the awfulness of our sin against God  and feel its deep sorrow in our hearts  can we turn from the sin we once loved and accept the Lord Jesus as our Savior.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” ~ Romans 10:9

Don’t fall asleep without Jesus until you are assured of a place in heaven.

Tonight, if you would like to receive the gift of eternal life, first you must believe in the Lord. You have to ask for your sins to be forgiven and put your trust in the Lord. To be a believer in the Lord, ask for eternal life. There’s only one way to heaven, and that’s through the Lord Jesus. That’s God’s wonderful plan of salvation.

You can begin a personal relationship with Him by praying from your heart a prayer such as the following:

 “Oh God, I’m a sinner. I’ve been a sinner all of my life. Forgive me, Lord. I receive Jesus as my Savior. I trust Him as my Lord. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

If you have never received the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior, but have received Him today after reading this invitation, please let us know. We would love to hear from you. Your first name is sufficient, or place an “x” in the space to remain anonymous.

Today, I made peace with God...

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgement… Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will return to you..” .Psalm 51: 1-4, 10-13

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How Can I Overcome Pornography?
Pornography is an especially difficult addiction to overcome. The first step in overcoming being enslaved to any particular sin is to know God and have the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.

For that reason, let me go through the plan of salvation. You must admit you have sinned against God.

Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

You must believe the Gospel as given in I Corinthians 15:3&4, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

And finally, you must ask God to forgive you and ask Christ to come into your life. The Scriptures use many verses to express this concept. One of the simplest is Romans 10:13, “for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” If you have honestly done these three things, you are a child of God. The next step in finding victory is knowing and believing what God did for you when you accepted Christ as your Savior.

You were a slave to sin. Romans 6:17b says, “you used to be slaves to sin.” Jesus said in John 8:34b, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” But the good news is that He also said in John 8:31&32, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” He adds in verse 36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

2 Peter 1:3&4 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” God has given us everything we need to be godly, but it comes through our knowledge of Him and our understanding of His very great and precious promises.

First we need to know what God has done. In Romans chapter 5 we learn that what Adam did when he deliberately sinned against God has affected all of his descendants, every human being. Because of Adam, we are all born with a sinful nature.

But in Romans 5:10 we learn, “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”

Forgiveness of sins comes through what Jesus did for us on the cross, power for overcoming sin comes through Jesus living His life through us in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul says in Romans 5:10 that what God did for us that saves us from the power of sin is even greater than what He did for us in reconciling us to Himself.

Notice the phrase “much more” in Romans 5:9, 10, 15 and 17. Paul puts it this way in Romans 6:6 (I’m using the translation in the margin of the NIV & NASB), “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

I John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Putting the two verses together, our sin nature is still there, but it’s power to control us has been broken.

Secondly, we need to believe what God says about the power of sin being broken in our lives. Romans 6:11 says, “In the same way, count yourselves as dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” A man who was a slave and has been set free, if he does not know he has been set free, will still obey his old master and for all practical purposes still be a slave.

Thirdly, we need to recognize that the power to live in victory does not come through determination or will power but through the power of the Holy Spirit Who lives in us once we have been saved. Galatians 5:16&17 says, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.

They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

Notice verse 17 does not say that the Spirit cannot do what He wants or that the sinful nature cannot do what it wants, it says, “that you do not do what you want.”

God is infinitely more powerful than any sinful habit or addiction. But God will not force you to obey Him. You can choose to surrender your will to the will of the Holy Spirit and give Him complete control of your life, or you can pick and choose which sins you want to fight and end up fighting them on your own and losing. God is under no obligation to help you fight one sin if you are still holding on to other sins. Does the phrase, “you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” apply to an addiction to pornography?

Yes, it does. In Galatians 5:19-21 Paul lists the acts of the sinful nature. The first three are “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery.” “Sexual immorality” is any sexual act between individuals other than a sexual act between a man and a woman who are married to each other. It also includes bestiality.

“Impurity” most literally means uncleanness.

“Dirty-minded” is a modern day expression that means the same thing.

“Debauchery” is shameless sexual conduct, a total absence of restraint in seeking sexual gratification.

Again, Galatians 5:16&17 says, “live by the Spirit.”

It has to be a way of life, not just asking God to help you with this particular problem. Romans 6:12 says, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

If you do not choose to give the Holy Spirit control of your life, you are choosing to let sin control you.

Romans 6:13 puts the concept of living by the Holy Spirit this way, “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.”

Fourthly, we need to recognize the difference between living under law and living under grace.

Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”
The concept of living under law is relatively simple: if I keep all of God’s rules then God will be happy with me and accept me.

That is not how a person is saved. We are saved by grace through faith.

Colossians 2:6 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him.”

Just as we could not keep God’s rules well enough to have Him accept us, so we cannot keep God’s rules well enough after we are saved to make Him be happy with us on that basis.

To get saved, we asked God to do something for us we could not do based on what Jesus did on the cross for us; to find victory over sin we ask the Holy Spirit to do something for us that we cannot do ourselves, defeat our sinful habits and addictions, knowing that we are accepted by God in spite of our failures.

Romans 8:3&4 puts it this way: “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.

And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

If you are really serious about finding victory, here are some practical suggestions: First, spend time reading and meditating on the Word of God every day.

Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Second, spend time praying every day. Prayer is you talking to God and listening to God talk to you. If you are going to live in the Spirit, you are going to need to clearly hear His voice.

Third, make good Christian friends who will encourage you to walk with God.

Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Fourth, find a good church and a small group Bible Study if you can and participate regularly.

Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

There are two more things I would suggest for anyone struggling with an especially difficult sin issue like a pornography addiction.

James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

This passage does not mean talking about your sins in a public church meeting, although it might be appropriate in a small men’s meeting for people struggling with the same problem, but it seems to mean finding a man you can totally trust and giving him permission to ask you at least weekly how you are doing in your struggle against pornography.

Knowing that not only are you going to have to confess your sin to God but also to a man you trust and admire can be a powerful deterrent.

The other thing I would suggest for anyone struggling with an especially difficult sin issue is found in Romans 13:12b (NASB), “make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”

A man trying to quit smoking would be extremely stupid to keep a supply of his favorite cigarettes in the house.

A man struggling with an alcohol addiction has to avoid bars and places where alcohol is served. You don’t say where you view pornography, but you must absolutely cut off your access to it.

If it is magazines, burn them. If it is something you watch on television, get rid of the television.
If you watch it on your computer, get rid of your computer, or at least any pornography stored in it and get rid of your internet access. Just like a man with a craving for a cigarette at 3 am will probably not get up, get dressed, and go out and buy one, so making it extremely hard to view pornography will make it less likely you will fail.

If you don’t eliminate your access, you’re not really serious about quitting.

What if you do slip up and view pornography again? Immediately accept full responsibility for what you have done and confess it immediately to God.

I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

When we confess sin, not only does God forgive us, He promises to purify us. Always confess any sin immediately. Pornography is a very powerful addiction. Half-hearted measures will not work.

But God is infinitely powerful and if you know and believe what He has done for you, accept full responsibility for your actions, rely on the Holy Spirit and not your own strength and follow the practical suggestions I have made, victory is certainly possible.

How Can I Overcome The Temptation of Sin?
If victory over sin is a great step in our walk with the Lord, we might say that victory over temptation takes it a step closer: that of victory before we sin.

First let me say this: a thought which enters your mind is not in itself sin.
It becomes sin when you consider it, entertain the thought and act on it.
As discussed in the question about victory over sin, we as believers in Christ, have been given power for victory over sin.

We also have the power to resist temptation: the power to flee from sin. Read I John 2:14-17.
Temptation can come from several places:
1) Satan or his demons can tempt us,
2) other people can draw us into sin and, as Scripture says in James 1:14&15, we can be 3) drawn away by our own lusts (desires) and enticed.

Please read the following Scriptures concerning temptation:
Genesis 3:1-15; I John 2:14-17; Matthew 4:1-11; James 1:12-15; I Corinthians 10:13; Matthew 6:13 and 26:41.

James 1:13 tells us an important fact.
It says, “Let no one say when he is tempted ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” God does not tempt us but He does allow us to be tempted.

Temptation comes from Satan, others or ourselves, not God.
The end of James 2:14 says that when we are enticed and sin, the result is death; separation from God and eventual physical death,

I John 2:16 tells us that there are three major areas of temptation:

1) the lusts of the flesh: wrong actions or things that satisfy our physical desires;
2) the lusts of the eyes, things which look appealing, wrong things that appeal to us and lead us away from God, wanting things which are not ours to have and
3) the pride of life, wrong ways to exalt ourselves or our arrogant pride.

Let’s look at Genesis 3:1-15 and also at Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4.
Both of these passages of Scripture teach us what to look out for when we are tempted and how to overcome those temptations.

Read Genesis 3:1-15 It was Satan who tempted Eve, so he could lead her away from God into sin.

She was tempted in all these areas:
She saw the fruit as something appealing to her eyes, something to satisfy her hunger and Satan said it would make her like God, knowing good and evil.
Instead of obeying and trusting God and turning to God for help, her mistake was to listen to Satan’s insinuations, lies and subtle suggestions that God was keeping ‘something good’ from her.

Satan also enticed her by questioning what God had said.
“Has God indeed said?” he questioned.
Satan’s temptations are deceptive and he misquoted God’s words.
Satan’s questions cause her to mistrust God’s love and His character.
“You will not die,” he lied; “God knows your eyes will be opened” and “you will be like God,” appealing to her ego.

Instead of being thankful for all God had given her, she took the only thing God had forbidden and “gave it also to her husband.”
The lesson here is to listen to and to trust God.
God does not keep things from us that are good for us.
The resulting sin led to death (which is to be understood as separation from God) and eventual physical death. That moment they began to die physically.

Knowing that yielding to temptation leads down this road, causing us to lose fellowship with God, and leading also to guilt, (Read 1 John 1) should certainly help us to say no.
Adam and Eve did not seem to understand Satan’s tactics. We have their example, and we ought to learn from them. Satan uses the same tricks on us. He lies about God. He portrays God as deceptive, a liar and unloving.
We need to trust in God’s love and say no to Satan’s lies.
Resisting Satan and temptation is done in large part as an act of faith in God.
We need to know that this deception is Satan’s trick and that he is the liar.
John 8:44 says Satan “is a liar and the father of lies.”
God’s word says, “no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
Philippians 2:9&10 says “be anxious for nothing.. for He cares for you.”
Be watchful of anything which adds to, subtracts from or distorts God’s word.
Anything which questions or changes Scriptures or God’s character has Satan’s stamp on it.
In order to know these things, we need to know and understand Scripture.
If you do not know the truth it is easy to be misled and deceived.
Deceived is the operative word here.
I believe that knowing and using Scripture correctly is the most valuable weapon God has given to us to use in resisting temptation.

It enters into almost every aspect of avoiding Satan’s lies.
The best example of this is the Lord Jesus Himself. (Read Matthew 4:1-12.) Christ’s temptation was related to His relationship to His Father and the Father’s will for Him.

Satan used Jesus’ own needs when tempting Him.
Jesus was tempted to satisfy His own desires and pride instead of doing God’s will.
As we read in I John, He also was tempted with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.

Jesus is tempted after forty days of fasting. He is tired and hungry.
We are often tempted when we are tired or weak and our temptations are often about our relationship to God.
Let’s look at Jesus’ example. Jesus said He came to do the Father’s will, that He and the Father were one. He knew why He was sent to earth. (Read Philippians chapter 2.

Jesus came to be like us and to be our Savior.
Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, and being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.” Satan enticed Jesus to follow his suggestions and desires rather than God’s.

(He tried to get Jesus to meet a legitimate need by doing what he said instead of waiting for God to meet His need, thus following Satan rather than God.

These temptations were about doing things Satan’s way, rather than God’s.
If we follow Satan’s lies and suggestions we cease to follow God and are following Satan.
It’s either one or the other. We then fall into a downward spiral of sin and death.
First Satan tempted Him to demonstrate (prove) His power and deity.
He said, since you are hungry, use your power to satisfy your hunger.
Jesus was tempted so He could be our perfect mediator and intercessor.
God allows Satan to test us to help us become mature.
Scripture says in Hebrews 5:8 that Christ learned obedience “from what he suffered.”
The name devil means slanderer and the devil is subtle.
Jesus resists Satan’s subtle trick to do his bidding by using Scripture.
He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
(Deuteronomy 8:3) Jesus brings it back to the subject, doing God’s will, putting this above His own needs.

I found Wycliffe’s Bible Commentary very helpful on page 935 commenting on Matthew chapter 4, “Jesus refused to work a miracle to avoid personal suffering when such suffering was part of God’s will for Him.”

The commentary emphasized the Scripture which said Jesus was “‘led up of the Spirit’ to the wilderness for the specific purpose of allowing Jesus to be tested.”
Jesus was successful because He knew, He understood and He used Scripture.
God gives us Scripture as a weapon to defend ourselves against Satan’s fiery darts.
All Scripture is inspired by God; the better we know it the better we are prepared to battle Satan’s schemes.

The devil tempts Jesus a second time.
Here Satan actually uses Scripture to try and trick Him.
(Yes, Satan does know Scripture and uses it against us, but he misquotes it and uses it out of context, that is, not for its proper use or purpose or not in the way it was intended.) 2 Timothy 2:15 says to, “Study to show thyself approved unto God,…rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The NASB translation says “accurately handling the word of truth.”
Satan takes a verse from its intended use (and leaves part of it out) and tempts Jesus to exalt and display His Deity and God’s care of Him.

I think he was trying to appeal to pride here.
The devil takes Him to a pinnacle of the temple and says “If you are the Son of God throw yourself down for it is written ‘He will give his angels charge concerning you; and on their hands they will bear you up.’” Jesus, understanding the Scripture, and Satan’s trickery, again used Scripture to defeat Satan saying, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

We are not to be presumptuous or test God, expecting God to protect foolish behavior.
We can’t just randomly quote Scripture, but must use it correctly and properly.
In the third temptation the devil is bold. Satan offers Him the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will bow down and worship him. Many believe that the significance of this temptation is that Jesus could bypass the suffering of the cross which was the will of the Father.

Jesus knew that the kingdoms would be His in the end. Jesus uses Scripture again and says, “You will worship God alone and serve only Him.” Remember Philippians chapter 2 says Jesus “humbled Himself and became obedient to the cross.”

I like what the Wycliffe bible Commentary has to say of Jesus reply: “It is written, again pointing to the totality of Scripture as the guide for conduct and basis for faith” (and may I add, for victory over temptation), “Jesus repulsed the mightiest blows by Satan, not by a thunderbolt from heaven, but by the written Word of God, employed in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, a means available to every Christian.” God’s word says in James 4:7 “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

Remember, Jesus knew the Word and used it properly, correctly and accurately.
We must do the same. We can’t understand Satan’s tricks, schemes and lies unless we know and understand the truth and Jesus said in John 17:17 “Thy word is truth.”

Other passages that teach us the use of Scripture in this area of temptation are: 1). Hebrews 5:14 which says we need to be mature and be “accustomed” to the Word, so our senses are trained to discern good and evil.”

2). Jesus taught His disciples that when He left them the Spirit would bring all the things He taught them to their remembrance. He taught them in Luke 21:12-15 that they should not worry about what to say when brought before accusers.

In much the same way, I believe, He causes us to remember His Word when we need it in our battle against Satan and his followers, but first we have to know it.

3). Psalm 119:11 says “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”
In conjunction with the previous thought, the working of the Spirit and the Word, the memorized Scripture remembered can both forewarn us and give us a weapon when we are tempted.

Another aspect of Scripture’s importance is that it teaches us actions to take to help us resist temptation.

One of these Scriptures is Ephesians 6:10-15. Please read this passage.
It says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age; against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

The NASB translation says “stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
The NKJB says “put on the full armor of God that you may be able to resist (withstand) Satan’s schemes.”

Ephesians 6 describes the pieces of armor as follows: (And they are there to help us stand firm against temptation.)

1. “gird yourself with truth.” Remember Jesus said, “Thy word is truth.”

It says “gird” – we need to bind ourselves with God’s word, see the similarity to hiding God’s word in our hearts.

2. “put on the breastplate of righteousness.
We protect ourselves from Satan’s accusations and doubts (similar to him questioning Jesus’ deity).
We must have Christ’s righteousness, not some form of our own good deeds.
Romans 13:14 says “put on Christ.” Philippians 3:9 says “not having my own righteousness, but the righteousness which is through faith in Christ, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”

According to Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:27 says “we are clothed in His righteousness.”

3. Verse 15 says to have “your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel.”
When we study to prepare to share the gospel with others, it strengthens us and reminds us of all Christ has done for us and encourages us as we share it and see God using it in the lives of others who come to know Him as we share.

4. Use the Word of God as a shield to protect yourself from Satan’s fiery darts, his accusations, just as Jesus did.

5. Protect your mind with the helmet of salvation.
Knowing the Word of God assures us of our salvation and gives us peace and faith in God.
Our security in Him strengthens us and helps us lean on Him when we are attacked and tempted.
The more we saturate ourselves with Scripture the stronger we become.

6. Verse 17 says to use Scripture as a sword to fight Satan’s attacks and His lies.
I believe all of the pieces of armor relate to Scripture either as a shield or sword to defend ourselves, resisting Satan as Jesus did; or because of its teaching us as in righteousness or salvation making us strong.
I believe as we use Scripture accurately God also gives us His power and strength.
A final command in Ephesians says to “add prayer” to our armor and to “be watchful.”
If we look also at the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6 we will see that Jesus taught us what an important weapon prayer is in resisting temptation.
It says we should pray that God will “lead us not into temptation,” and will “deliver us from evil.”
(Some translations say “deliver us from the evil one.”)
Jesus gave us this prayer as our example of how to pray and what to pray for.
These two phrases show us that praying for deliverance from temptation and the evil one are very important and should become a part of our prayer life and our weaponry against Satan’s schemes, that is,

1) keeping us away from temptation and
2) delivering us when Satan tempts us.

It shows us we need God’s help and power and that He is willing and able to give them.
In Matthew 26:41 Jesus told his disciples to watch and pray so they would not enter into temptation.
2 Peter 2:9 says “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly (righteous) from temptation.”
Pray that God will rescue before and when you are tempted.
I think a lot of us miss this vital part of the Lord’s prayer.
I Corinthians 10:13 says that the temptations we face are common to all of us, and that God will make a way of escape for us. We need to look for this.

Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus was tempted in all points just as we are (i.e. the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life).

Since He faced all areas of temptation, He is able to be our advocate, mediator and our intercessor.
We can come to Him as our Helper in all areas of temptation.
If we come to Him, He intercedes on our behalf before the Father and gives us His power and help.
Ephesians 4:27 says “neither give place to the devil,” in other words, don’t give Satan opportunities to tempt you.

Here again Scripture is there to help us by teaching us principles to follow.
One of those teachings is to flee or avoid sins, and to stay away from people and situations which might lead to temptation and sin. Both the Old Testament, especially Proverbs and Psalms, and also many New Testament epistles tell us about things to avoid and flee.

I believe a good place to start is with a “besetting sin,” a sin you find difficult to overcome.
(Read Hebrews 12:1-4.)
As we said in our lessons on overcoming sin, the first step is to confess such sins to God (I John 1:9) and work on it by resisting when Satan tempts you.
If you fail again, start over and confess it again and ask the Spirit of God to give you victory.
(Repeat as often as necessary.)
When you are confronted with such a sin it is a good idea to use a concordance and look up and study as many verses as you can on what God has to teach on the subject so you can obey what God says. Some examples follow:
I Timothy 4:11-15 tells us that women who are idle may become busybodies and gossips and slanderers because they have too much time on their hands.

Paul encourages them to marry and be workers in their own homes in order to avoid such sin.
Titus 2:1-5 tells women not to slander, to be discrete.
Proverbs 20:19 shows us that slander and gossip go together.

It says “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.”

Proverbs 16:28 says “a whisperer separates the best of friends.”
Proverbs says “a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who has a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”
2 Corinthians 12:20 and Romans 1:29 show us whisperers are not pleasing to god.
As another example, take drunkenness. Read Galatians 5:21 and Romans 13:13.
I Corinthians 5:11 tells us “not to associate with any so called brother who is immoral, covetous, an idolater, a reviler or a drunkard or a swindler, not even to eat with such a one.”

Proverbs 23:20 says “don’t mix with drunkards.”
I Corinthians 15:33 says “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Are you tempted to be lazy or look for easy money by stealing or robbery?
Remember Ephesians 4:27 says “give no place to the devil.”
2 Thessalonians 3:10&11 (NASB) says “we used to give you this order: “if anyone will not work, neither let him eat…some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all but acting like busybodies.”

It goes on to say in verse 14 “if anyone does not obey our instructions… do not associate with him.”
I Thessalonians 4:11 says “let him labor working with his own hands.”
Simply put, get a job and avoid idle people.
This is a great example for sluggards and anyone who tries to get rich through any illegitimate means such as fraud, stealing, swindling, etc..

Read also I Timothy 6:6-10; Philippians 4:11; Hebrews 13:5; Proverbs 30:8&9; Matthew 6:11 and many other verses. Idleness is a danger zone.

Learn what God says in the Scripture, walk in its light and don’t be tempted by evil, on this or any other topic which tempts you to sin.

Jesus is our example, He had nothing.
Scripture says He had no place to lay His head. He sought only His Father’s will.
He gave it all up to die – for us.

I Timothy 6:8 says “if we have food and clothing we will be content with that.”
In verse 9 he relates this to temptation by saying, “people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

It says more, read it. What a good example of how knowing and understanding and conforming to Scripture helps us overcome temptation.

Obedience to the Word is the key to overcoming any temptation.
Another example is anger. Do you easily become angry.
Proverbs 20:19-25 says don’t associate with a man given to anger.
Proverbs 22:24 says don’t “go with a hot tempered man.” Read also Ephesians 4:26.
Other warnings of situations to flee or avoid (actually run from) are:

1. Youthful lusts – 2 Timothy 2:22
2. Lust for money – I Timothy 6:4
3. Immorality and adulterers or adulteresses – I Corinthians 6:18 (Proverbs repeats this over and over.)
4. Idolatry – I Corinthians 10:14
5. Sorcery and Witchcraft – Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Galatians 5:20 2 Timothy 2:22 gives us further instruction by telling us to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.

Doing this will help us resist temptation.
Remember 2 Peter 3:18. It tells us to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
That will help us discern good and evil, including helping us discern Satan’s schemes and keeping us from stumbling.

Another aspect is taught from Ephesians 4:11-15. Verse 15 says to grow up in Him. The context of this is that this is accomplished as we are part of the body of Christ, i.e. the church.

We are to help one another by teaching, loving and encouraging one another.
Verse 14 says that one result is that we won’t be tossed about by craftiness and deceitful schemes.
(Now who would be the crafty deceiver who would by himself and through others use such trickery?) As a part of the body, the church, we are also helped by giving and accepting correction from one another.

We must be careful and gentle in how we do this, and know the facts so we are not judging.
Proverbs and Matthew give instructions on this subject. Look them up and study them.
As an example, Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a fault (or caught in any trespass), you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

Tempted to what, you ask. Tempted to pride, arrogance, haughtiness, or any sin, even the same sin.
Be careful. Remember Ephesians 4:26. Don’t give Satan an opportunity, a place. As you can see, Scripture plays the crucial role in all of this.

We should read it, memorize it, understand its teachings, directions and power, and quote it, using it as our sword, obeying and following its message and teachings. Read 2 Peter 1:1-10. Knowledge of Him, found in Scripture, gives us everything we need for life and godliness. This includes resisting temptation. The context here is the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ which comes from Scripture. Verse 9 says we are partakers of the divine nature and the NIV concludes “so we may… escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

Once again we see the connection between Scripture and overcoming or escaping the temptations of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life.
So in Scripture (if we look and understand it) we have the promise of being partakers of His nature (with all His Power) to escape temptation. We have the Holy Spirit’s power to gain victory.
I just received an Easter card in which this verse is quoted, “Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” 2 Corinthians 2:16.

How timely.

Galatians and other New Testament Scriptures have lists of sins we are to avoid. Read Galatians 5:16-19 They are “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these.”

Following this in verses 22&23 is the fruit of the Spirit “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

This passage of Scripture is very interesting in that it gives us a promise in verse 16.
“Walk in the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
If we do it God’s way, we won’t do it our way, by God’s power, intervention and change.
Remember the Lord’s prayer. We can ask Him to keep us from temptation and deliver us from the evil one.
Verse 24 says “those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.”
Note how often the term lusts is repeated.
Romans 13:14 puts it this way. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” This sums it up.
The key is to resist the former (lusts) and put on the latter (fruit of the Spirit), or put on the latter and you won’t fulfill the former.
This is a promise. If we walk in love, patience and self-control, how can we hate, murder, steal, be angry or slander.
Just as Jesus put His Father first and did the Father’s will, so should we.
Ephesians 4:31&32 says let bitterness, wrath and anger and slander be put away; and be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. Correctly translated, Ephesians 5:18 says “be ye being filled with the Spirit. This is a continuous effort.

A preacher I once heard said, “Love is something you do.”
A good example of putting on love would be if there is someone you don’t like, whom you are angry with, do something loving and kind for them instead of venting your anger.
Pray for them.
Actually the principle is in Matthew 5:44 where it says “pray for those who despitefully use you.”
With God’s power and help, love will replace and displace your sinful anger.
Try it, God says if we walk in the light, in love and in the Spirit (these are inseparable) it will happen.
Galatians 5:16. God is able.

2 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be sober, be vigilant (on the alert), your adversary the devil prowls around, seeking whom he may devour.”
James 4:7 says “resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Verse 10 says God Himself will perfect, strengthen, confirm, establish and settle you.”
James 1:2-4 says to “consider it all joy when you encounter trials (KJV divers temptations) knowing it produces endurance (patience) and let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

God allows us to be tempted, tried and tested to create patience and endurance and completeness in us, but we must resist it and let it work God’s purpose in our life.

Ephesians 5:1-3 says “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”
James 1:12&13 “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”

IS TEMPTATION SIN?

Someone has asked, “Is temptation in and of itself sin.” The short answer is “no.”

The best example is Jesus.

Scripture tells us that Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice, completely without sin. I Peter 1:19 speaks of Him as “a lamb without blemish or defect.”

Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”

In the Genesis account of the sin of Adam and Eve, we see Eve was deceived and tempted to disobey God, but even though she listened and thought about it, neither she nor Adam actually sinned until they ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

I Timothy 2:14 (NKJB) says, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression.”

James 1:14&15 says “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

So, no, being tempted is not sin, sin occurs when you act on the temptation.

Is It Wrong to Have Sexual Relations Outside of Marriage?
One of the things that the Bible is very clear about is that adultery, sex with someone other than your spouse, is sin.

Hebrews 13:4 says, “marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

The word translated “sexually immoral” means any sexual relationship other than one between a man and a woman who are married to each other. It is used in I Thessalonians 4:3-8 “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.

The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.”

Is Masturbation a Sin and How Do I Overcome It?
The subject of masturbation is difficult because it is not mentioned in an unmistakable way in the Word of God. So it is possible to say there are situations in which it is not sin. However, most people who masturbate regularly are definitely involved in sinful behavior in some way. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” To look at pornography and then masturbate because of the sexual desires caused by the pornography is definitely sin.

Matthew 7:17&18 “Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” I realize that in context this is talking about false prophets, but the principle would seem to apply. You can tell whether something is good or bad by the fruit, the consequences, of doing it. What are the consequences of masturbation?

It distorts God’s plan for sex in marriage. Sex in marriage is not for procreation only, God designed it to be an extremely pleasurable experience that would bind the husband and wife together. When a man or a woman reaches climax, a number of chemicals are released in the brain creating a sense of pleasure, relaxation and well-being. One of these is chemically an opiod, very similar to the derivatives of opium. Not only does it produce a number of pleasing sensations, but like all opiods, it also produces a strong desire to repeat the experience. In essence, sex is addictive. This is why it is so difficult for sexual predators to give up rape or molestation, they become addicted to the opiod rush in their brains every time they repeat their sinful behavior. Eventually, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for them to really enjoy any other kind of sexual experience.

Masturbation produces the same chemical release in the brain as marital sex or rape or molestation does. It is a purely physical experience without the sensitivity to the emotional needs of another that is so critical in marital sex. The person who masturbates gets sexual release without the hard work of building a loving relationship with their spouse. If they masturbate after watching pornography, they see the object of their sexual desire as something to be used for gratification, not as a real person created in the image of God who is to be treated with respect. And although it does not happen in every case, masturbation can become a quick fix for sexual needs that does not require the hard work of building a personal relationship with the opposite sex, and can become more desirable to the one who masturbates than marital sex. And just like it does with the sexual predator, it can become so addictive that marital sex is no longer desired. Masturbation can also make it easier for men or women to be involved in same sex relationships where the sexual experience is two people masturbating each other.

To sum this up, God created men and women as sexual beings whose sexual needs were to be met in marriage. All other sexual relations outside of marriage are clearly condemned in Scripture, and although masturbation is not clearly condemned, there are enough negative consequences to cause men and women who want to please God and who want to have a God honoring marriage to avoid it.
The next question is how can a person who has become addicted to masturbating get free from it. It needs to be said up front that if this is a long standing habit it can be very difficult to break. The first step is to get God on your side and the Holy Spirit working within you to break the habit. In other words, you need to get saved. Salvation comes from believing the Gospel. I Corinthians 15:2-4 says, By this gospel you are saved…For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” You must admit that you have sinned, tell God you believe the Gospel, and ask Him to forgive you based on the fact that Jesus paid for your sins when He died on the cross. If a person understands the message of salvation revealed in the Bible, he knows that asking God to save him is essentially asking God to do three things: to save him from the eternal consequence of sin (eternity in Hell), to save him from slavery to sin in this life, and to take him to heaven when he dies where he will be saved from the very presence of sin.

Being saved from the power of sin is a very important concept to understand. Galatians 2:20 and Romans 6:1-14, among other Scriptures, teach that we are placed in Christ when we accept Him as our Savior, and that a part of that is that we are crucified with Him and that the power of sin to control us is broken. This does not mean we are automatically free from all sinful habits, but that we now have the power to break free through the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. If we continue to live in sin, it is because we have not taken advantage of everything God has given us in order that we might be free. 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV) says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

A critical part of this process is given in Galatians 5:16&17. It says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Notice it does not say that the flesh cannot do what it wants. Nor does it say that the Holy Spirit cannot do what He wants. It says YOU are not able to do whatever you want. Most people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior have sins to want to break free from. Most of them also have sins they are either not aware of or they are not ready to give up yet. What you cannot do after accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior is expect the Holy Spirit to give you the power to break free from the sins you want to break free from while continuing in the sins you want to hold on to.

I had a man tell me once that he was going to give up on Christianity because he had begged God for years to help him get free from his addiction to alcohol. I asked him if he was still having sexual relations with his girlfriend. When he said, “Yes,” I said, “So you are telling the Holy Spirit to leave you alone while you sin in that way, while asking him to give you the power to break free from your addiction to alcohol. That won’t work.” God will sometimes let us stay in bondage to one sin because we are unwilling to give up another sin. If you want the Holy Spirit’s power, you have to get it on God’s terms.

So if you masturbate habitually and want to stop, and have asked Jesus Christ to be your Savior, the next step would be to tell God you want to obey everything the Holy Spirit tells you to do and you especially want God to tell you the sins He is most concerned about in your life. In my experience, God is often far more concerned about sins I am oblivious to, than He is concerned about the sins I am worrying about. Practically speaking, that means sincerely asking God to show you any unconfessed sin in your life and then daily telling the Holy Spirit that you are going to obey everything He asks you to do all day and evening. The promise in Galatians 5:16 is true, “walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Victory over something as entrenched as habitual masturbation may take time. You may slip up and masturbate again. I John 1:9 says that if you confess your failure to God He will forgive you and also purify you from all unrighteousness. If you make the commitment to confess your sin immediately when you fail, it will be a strong deterrent. The closer to the failure the confession comes, the closer you are to victory. Eventually, you will probably find yourself confessing the sinful desire to God before you sin and asking God for his help to obey Him. When that happens you are very close to victory.

If you still struggle, there is one more thing that is very helpful. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” A very private sin like masturbation should not ordinarily be confessed to a group of men and women, but finding one person or several people of the same sex who will hold you accountable can be very helpful. They should be mature Christians who care deeply about you and who are willing to regularly ask you hard questions about how you are doing. Knowing a Christian friend is going to look you in the eye and ask have you failed in this area can be a very positive incentive to do the right thing consistently.

Victory in this area can be difficult but definitely is possible. May God bless you as you seek to obey Him.

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