I really believe that years of us indulging in lust creates strongholds in our lives. We can try to pray them away, beg God to lift the burden off of our shoulders, but the comfort and familiarity soon draw us back in, if we don’t take real steps to break free. It reminds me of the Bible story where the disciples were unable to cast out a particular demon on their own. Jesus had to do it, and they asked him why they couldn’t cast it out. Check out Matthew 17:21 (if your Bible doesn’t have this verse, find another translation!): “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Fast, fast, fast, AND pray, pray, pray. I am indebted to Shellie R. Warren for holding a ‘Masturbation Fast’ last fall. She suggested buying new sheets, which helped change the environment in my bedroom. It worked for me. I know that God doesn’t expect us to jump through hoops to earn his grace, because it’s a free gift. But in a situation where we have created our own snares, I do believe that he wants to see us make a real effort towards lasting change. Are you serious about changing? Ask God to reveal what He wants you to do to get free.

Accountability partners are great for keeping you from backsliding. Confessing that you can’t control yourself, that you don’t have it all together is the first step in getting freedom. Confessing to someone else when you’ve stumbled allows God to use them to speak truth into your life, which shines light into the areas of darkness.

What triggers you to feed your addictions? Get rid of those triggers, if you can. Stop watching R-rated movies. Stop drinking too much and reaching a place where your judgment is impaired. Try to create as much distance from your addiction as possible and don’t minimize your milestones. If you can make it six months without masturbating, that is great! Treat yourself to a reward and celebrate that milestone. But recognize that you now have six months of sobriety under your belt and cling more tightly to God’s renewal and purification of your heart. The months will tick by, and pretty soon your addiction will be more of a distant memory and less of a daily struggle.

I’m not saying you won’t still struggle, but it does get easier as time passes. You will feel closer to God and closer to reaching the end of the race.

I have been single for a few years, and in spite of occasional bouts with loneliness, I try to view this period of solitude as a blessing. I’m being reprogrammed so that I won’t make the same mistakes again when I meet the right guy. I know that when I do start dating, I will set physical and emotional boundaries. I will limit time that we spend alone together. I will consider that my abstinence is a gift to my husband — I can’t give him my virginity, but I can give him several years of abstinence. I will limit temptation as much as possible, because I know how easy it is to yield to temptation in the heat of the moment.

Feeding our addictions is the ultimate expression of selfishness. If you keep indulging in them, you are establishing a poor track record for what marriage requires, which is being selfless. Realize that God wants to trust you with so much more than the fleeting pleasure of an orgasm. Eventually, it will become a no-brainer. You will realize how destructive to your walk with God yielding to temptation is. You will choose purity, not by your own strength, but through the strength that God gives to you. Always remember that you are not your addiction: you are an adopted daughter of God.