He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One…
Some temptations are like butterflies; we swat them and they flutter off. But others are so intense it seems the army of hell is advancing upon us. I used to travel a lot, and encountered many battles in hotel rooms where the pull to turn on the TV and act out with porn kept coming. Then there were the times I’d hear a couple having sex in the next room. Ugh.
It gets to me. I turn the TV on; “I’ll just flip a few channels.” Minutes go by and my resistance weakens; the waves of temptation roll over me with more intensity than before. I’m teetering on the edge of the cliff… “You’ve gone too far; you might as well go all the way” enters my mind. Every ounce of my flesh is screaming for porn. I want to give in. I want to see what I shouldn’t see. I don’t care about the consequences.
When the battle is fierce and I’m dying to give in, it’s critical that I take a step back and assess the situation. Do I really want to go all the way with porn, have a few moments of pleasure, and then deal with that sick shame hangover for days? Do I really want to do the walk of shame when I get home and tell my wife, my accountability partners, and my support group that I messed up? Do I really want to go to church wearing that lousy, hypocrite mask, while all the Sunday smiles around me make me feel like a freak because no one else talks about this stuff?
It’s like asking the alcoholic if he wants to down a pint of Jack Daniels, knowing he’s going to vomit it all up and be hung over the next day at the office. Toilet, here I come.
I’ve given ground to the enemy, and the pull has intensified. At this point I have to make a choice: am I going to stand my ground and say no more, or take a Peter Pan off the cliff?
I start by pounding the steel stake of truth in the ground. This will upset my screaming flesh, but if I want to walk out of there in victory there’s no other way. The Devil’s lie about “having gone too far” used to get me all the time. Satan would whisper it, I’d agree, and that would be it. Once you agree with the Devil’s lies you’re a goner. The truth was that in many cases, I hadn’t sinned; he wanted me to believe I had. A vortex of pornographic images would swirl in my mind; the thought would come that I had already lusted and thus sinned, and might as well masturbate to porn. But swirling thoughts are not sin, it’s when we embrace them and run with them when we’ve entered the danger zone.
How about when I started flipping TV channels? That was peering over the cliff, but it wasn’t a fall, which would have been ordering a porn movie and taking the next step. The enemy was screaming “JUMP!” but I backed off, by the grace of God. Walking to the cliff was a dangerous, stupid move on my part, and I needed to learn from my mistake for the next time. But it wasn’t a fall.
What the enemy tries to do is cause us to lose hope by believing a lie. He knows which one will push your button, such as “you’re a sex addict; you’ve given in too many times over the years, you can’t win…” or “God doesn’t hear your prayers, you’re all alone…” or “there’s no hope.”
When we feel like giving up, we always have to begin by reclaiming ground with the truth. Compare what God says in His word about you and your situation and the lies that are being planted in your mind, and stand on the truth.
Next, go on the offensive. This involves:
- Turning the TV off
- Going on a walk
- Praying God’s word out loud
- Getting on the phone immediately with a trusted friend, your wife, or your accountability partner and asking them to pray you through the battle. Make multiple calls if you have too
- Turning on praise music
- Worshipping God
Do not wait until you feel like doing these things; if you wait you’re dead. Take offensive action now, even if you have to drag your screaming flesh with you.
Note that none of the above involves fighting with the flesh. Fighting the flesh with the flesh never works. We fight by making simple decisions, getting our focus off lust and on to the Lord, and drawing strength from Him.
Here’s more ammo for the battle:
Temptations do not last forever. They feel like they do, but once we’ve made a breach in the enemy’s defenses he backs off.
Your God is bigger than anything the devil can throw at you. The enemy will do anything he can to cause you to forget this, because once your mustard seed of faith goes live the game changes.
You have a lot of resources. Prayer is powerful. So is God’s word. You have loved ones or friends you can call. The God of the Universe invites you to come to His throne of grace to find help (Hebrews 4:16). God will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6), which means you need only turn to Him for help. You’re not worthless and you’re not beyond the love of God. The enemy wants you to bite on his lies of hopelessness and despair while the Lord wants you bask in the truth. Do so, and the battle is already half over.
We all face battles that drag on for hours (or days) that test our endurance. Keep pressing on; you may be moments from a breakthough. When our strength is tapped out we can lean on the Lord for His; keep seeking and praying. One of the benefits of temptation is that they teach us how to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit on a moment by moment basis.
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Mike Genung struggled with sexual addiction for 20 years before God set him free in 1999. He is the founder of Blazing Grace, and the author of The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction, available at www.roadtograce.net.