What It Takes to Break Free from Lust

From the LYWB.com Team: Hey girls! We’ve dedicated most of our posts this month to love and romance. Because romance and sexuality are God’s idea, the enemy works overtime to twist them. We are hearing from more and more young women struggling with a curiosity toward or addiction to porn. We decided to tackle the subject head-on by inviting our friend Jessica Harris to guest blog on the subject for us. You can check out the first post in this series here and read more from Jessica at BeggarsDaughter.com.

If you’re a girl who struggles with pornography or lust, you might feel a bit lost. It’s not commonly discussed among women, and you might be wondering if there is a way out. If there is, then how do you find it?

You might be hoping for a one, two, three set of directions. Turn left at this light. Pass by the old library, and then turn right. Something easy, concise, and guaranteed to get you out of here. I struggled with pornography for years and tried everything I could think of to get out. I would print pictures off and set them on fire. I would save them to discs and break the discs apart. When that didn’t work, I resorted to harming myself.

If I can just punish myself for this, I’ll stop, I thought. It never worked. I tried so many different physical ways of fighting to break free from pornography, never fully realizing the truth that the battle isn’t actually a physical one. I was looking for a three-step plan to treat the symptoms when what I really needed was a complete heart overhaul to address the cause.

God’s Word says it this way:

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 (2 Cor. 10:3–5).

Ultimately, there is no easy three-step guide to breaking free from something as invasive as lust. It seeps into your heart and mind, tainting how you view life, love, people, and God. It takes time and intention as you root through your life to find the different ways it has been affected by sin. There are, however, some things you can do to help that process along.

1. Don’t go it alone.

Sins, especially sexual ones, tend to thrive in an atmosphere of shame and pride.

I know the idea of telling somebody what you’re dealing with might be terrifying, but confession is actually a powerful tool God has given us in the battle against sin. In James 5:16, we’re told to confess our faults to one another and pray for each other so that we can be healed. Find someone in your life you trust who you can be honest with about your struggles. And remember that this isn’t a one-time conversation but a continual relationship built on transparency and prayer. Sins, especially sexual ones, tend to thrive in an atmosphere of shame and pride. Confession tears these down and gives you the opportunity to set aside your masks, to fight and heal.

2. Don’t make falling easy.

In Matthew 18, we’re given rather extreme imagery of how to handle temptation.

“And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire” (vv. 8–9).

Now, I’m not saying you should gouge your eyes out, but we should be willing to part with things that make it easy for us to struggle. If there is anything in your life that enables you to sin, get rid of it. Make sin the inconvenient, hard-to-reach choice, not the easy one.

Make sin the inconvenient, hard-to-reach choice, not the easy one.

If you can’t seem to use your phone without looking at porn, then you need to make the hard choice of getting rid of your phone. For me, I had to get rid of headphones because whenever I used my computer with headphones I would think, I could watch it right now and no one would know. Is there something in your life that lets you say that? It needs to go.

3. Don’t be passive.

It’s tempting for us to think that once we have an accountability partner and we get rid of all of the things that make sin easy, we can just sit back and coast through life and be fine. When young women find out that’s not the case, they often get frustrated. They think that if they just love Jesus hard enough, He will take the problem away for them. After all, we’re dead to sin now, right?

In Romans 6, we see that yes, we are dead to sin, but we also see phrases like:

  • “Let not sin therefore reign” (v. 12).
  • “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness” (v. 13).
  • “Become slaves of righteousness” (v. 18).

Our choices to sin, even as Christians, are still our choices. We are still in a battle. We still have to be proactive about taking every thought captive and daily surrendering our lives and desires to God.

The journey is not an easy one. Having our minds and our hearts renewed can be a hard, and even painful, process. How does God’s truth encourage you as you fight temptation?

If you’re wanting to start on that journey, Romans 6–8 is a great place to start. I call these the “freedom chapters.” Read them daily for forty days. Commit sections to memory, and let the truth motivate you in your walk of freedom.

We’ll pick up this conversation tomorrow with a final post in this series. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you.

About Author

Guest Blogger

HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, we’re not trained counselors. If you’re seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as they’ll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate. We may edit or remove your comment if it:

  • * Requests or gives personal information such as email address, address, or phone number.
  • * Attacks other readers.
  • * Uses vulgar or profane language.
  • mel

    Hi there. This is a really helpful post. I would like to ask, is it the same with watching porn if I were to read fanfiction with sex scenes in them? I realized it’s a really hot topic and am actually a bit caught up in reading these fics. A lot of girls are especially caught up with gay fanfiction these days, what with all the new gay pairings coming up from anime or movies. Is it wrong to read them? I do tend to visualize the scenes when reading, but don’t really experience intense arousal from them. I actually have a pleased feeling after finishing a fic, and this leads me to read more. Is it wrong to read gay fanfics? Is it wrong to read stuff with any sex scenes in them? Sorry if this question disturbs some people, I just really want to know how to handle this issue. Anyone is welcome to comment and offer advice:)

    Thanks,
    mel.

    • Morgan

      I used to read those kind too (not gay ones, though) only I did get arousal which is why I was kinda addicted for awhile. I do think it’s wrong to read such fanfics (or anything for that matter). If it doesn’t pass the Philippians 4:8 test, it’s probably wrong, and especially if it’s something the Lord doesn’t like then it’s definitely wrong. Just my two-cents 😁

    • Hi, Mel! You are definitely not alone in this. Fanfic is a huge thing. There are two things I want to encourage you to consider- possibly three.

      First off, we are given really clear instructions in the Bible to think on things that are pure and praiseworthy.

      “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

      So the short answer to all of your questions is that it is not God-honoring for you to read those things, but I want to speak to some of the underlying questions within your questions.

      I think it’s really important to separate love and sex. As Christians, we are called to love each other. There are many men and women who I “genuinely love” and get along with really well. Doesn’t mean that sex is part of that relationship. That’s an unfortunate distinction that we are missing.

      We feel like “love” is always eros (erotic, sexual love) when it’s not. We kinda blur the line between a God-honoring, self-giving love, and lust. Two people can love each other without ever being sexually intimate. If you look at the story of David and Jonathan in the Bible, they clearly loved each other, not in a sexual way but in a very genuine, sincere way. So the problem with the fanfic isn’t that two guys are getting a long really well and hanging out with each other. The issue comes with the addition of eros (sexual love) and yes, I would encourage you not to read content that is sensual at all just for the protection of your own heart and mind.

      If you look back at the questions you asked, you can already see where you could easily begin to excuse “real life” homosexuality. You say homosexuality is a sin, “but in the stories…” what happens if you meet a couple like that in real life? If you start to justify it in your imagination, then you can’t stand against it in real life. Either it is pure and God-honoring or it isn’t, and if it isn’t in real life, then it isn’t something you need to be filling your heart and mind with. There could very well be other aspects of the story that are making you feel pleased and those aspects can probably be found without the added sexual element.

      I would encourage you to stop reading stories that contain “sex scenes” at all- homosexual or not. It’s not helpful for keeping your mind focused on things that are pure and praiseworthy. Try to find similar writing styles that don’t have the sexual undertones that fanfic is full of.

  • Tiana

    Hey Mel. Leviticus 15:22 says “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” I know you might not support homosexuality in real life, but what if someone who was contemplating becoming a Christian knew that you were a Christian and they saw you reading those books. They might be like “oh, she’s a Christian, and she reads books like that.” and they might start reading them, and then they might start acting on them. In my personal opinion, i think it is wrong to read those books. But, thats just my opinion. I’m currently going through the LYWB Bible Study right now, and today’s study was about how only God can give lasting fulfillment. So those books might give you a pleased feeling afterwards, but only God can give you true fulfillment. My advice for you would be to #1. Stop reading them for awhile, and whenever you feel like reading one, pick up your Bible instead and see if the Bible gives you an even more pleased feeling. If you like love stories, read through Song of Solomon. And #2. Pray about it. Ask God if He wants you to continue reading these types of books. And then really listen. Don’t listen to what your flesh desires, but really listen to what God desires. My favorite scripture is Galatians 5:16. It says: “So I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” So those are my tips for overcoming this. Hope it helps! God Bless, Tiana

  • Liz

    Hello Mel, I read your question and thought of Philippians 4:8. I encourage you to seek to honor God above all other desires you may have – including the desire for entertainment. Here’s the verse: “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” Love & prayers as you seek Him above all else

  • Hannah Minix

    I love this article! Do you have any ideas on how to share with someone when you are not connected with anyone? I don’t go to church, I am homeschooled, and I take care of my disabled parents. I don’t talk to any one but them on a regular basis. I am only 17. I am kinda at a loss with this one.

    • Hannah,

      That is really tough! I think I might be more concerned about you not feeling like you have a social network at all. Do you have any older women in your life you look up to? Even someone just a couple years older, or an aunt? And can you find a way to get to church??

      Having a social network (the real life kind not the online kind) is so helpful for navigating life in general. Especially at your age it would be important to have one! Getting plugged in at church is important and can help a lot.

      • Hannah Minix

        No, I don’t have anyone older than me. My step sisters are involved in a dispute with my mom, so they don’t call anymore. I never speak to anyone other than my Oma on the phone actually. My father has been disabled since I was 8 and I have taken care of him ever since. My brother and I have no means to get anywhere by ourselves, and my father and mother will not go to church around here. They don’t go to small Baptist or really any churches. I have no one to ask to take us either. This is a hard circumstance for me to deal with. The only time we leave the house is when we go shopping. Our family basically abandoned us 🙁 I do feel alone a lot, but am trying to lean on God for comfort.

        • Victoria

          I am praying for you today, Hannah. Caring for your parents is so Christ like! I’ll pray that God provides a way for you and your brother to have a Christian support group!

          • Hannah Minix

            Thank you! That is such a blessing!

  • Michael Suzuki

    I like what you said about not going about it alone. Sanctification through reading God’s Word and fellowship are essential. Sanctification is not done alone; it requires the whole Body of Christ. Proverbs 18:1 talks about the isolated man seeking his own desire.

    Battling lust starts with knowing about the provision of Christ on the Cross to free us from the power of sin. God will give us a way out no matter what the temptation. Some great verses about the mind are Colossians:3, Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, and Philippians 4:8. why fight lust? – Our motivation, hope, desire to obey Christ. We are a new creation pursuing God for His Glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

    Can we Fight lust? Yes, our position in Christ Enables us to fight. We are free from the Power of sin

    How do we fight lust?

    1)Be sanctified by the word. It is a double edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) showing our sin and edifying. It is armor against spiritual warfare.

    2)Discipleship (matthew:28)- We are commanded to disciple each other teaching others the principles and commands to live a life worthy of our calling. Ultimately it comes from the heart.

    Practical actions: Romans 13:14- Make no provision for the flesh. Cut it out. Sometimes this requires radical action. Put off put on principle (Ephesians 4:22) Put off the deeds of the flesh and put on. Accountability (covenant eyes) Stay in the word

    The result: Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) God will draw near and the devil will flee (James 4:7) We wont be vulnerable to sin. We will be useful for ministry- instead of unusable. The Holy Spirit will be working to give us assurance of salvation. We will be more conformed to God’s revealed will for us and what he wants for our lives. Our prayer life won’t be hindered. Our theology will drive our actions centered around God’s Will so that we are conforming to Christ’s character more and more every day out of our heart because we have been Justified (Galatians/Romans) and now have a new nature (2 corinthians 5:17) striving toward obedience, and God’s Will through Christ. Christ is in us! (Galatians 2:20)

  • mel

    To Jessica, Liz, Tiana, and Morgan (and anyone else who’d like to chip in about my question 😁) :

    Thank you all for the wonderful advice. I’m touched by all of your loving answers and your willingness to help me. I’m on a journey in 2017 to get closer to God in everyday life, and you guys gave me great words and encouragement for that. I’ll admit that getting over fanfic is still something I have to work on, maybe i’ll look up lists of Christian books to read or go back to my classic novels that i left on the shelf a long time ago😅 I still have to brush up on running to God’s word everytime temptation comes, and you gave me wonderful verses on which to start. I’m so thankful to God for girls like you, thank you again! God bless and best wishes for the future❤

  • Judah

    hi!i don’t struggle with porn, but w/ lust, except not the typical kind. i have found myself lusting after guys and girls. i am ashamed.i feel dirty. i think homosexuality is ok, but me? what has happened to me?

    • Judah

      i can’t bring myself to tell anyone but my mom, and i still feel sooooooooooo alone.

      • Hannah Minix

        You are not alone, Judah. God is with you, and you are definitely not the first to experience this. It is just another form of sexual sin. Sin is sin. Do not feel hopeless, because that is where the devil wants us. You can tell God everything, and ask Him to help you overcome this. I will pray for you. We are never in this alone.

        • Judah

          thanks so much hannah ! u have no idea how much it means to know i’m not alone!

          • Hannah Minix

            Yea, don’t ever think that you are going through life alone! You are never unreachable! I will pray for you!

    • Betty

      Yoiu are a bisexual.. that is why you are lusting after giirls.

    • Judah,

      This is actually a very “typical” lust. In fact, there isn’t a “typical” lust. This can happen when we blur the line between love/friendship and sex. The culture we’re in right now puts sex almost as the least intimate of the loves and it messes things up. We start to view all relationships sexually because we see sex as the gateway to the relationship itself when it is supposed to be the other way around. It can be very confusing and frustrating. You are certainly not the only one who struggles in this way- not at all! The “steps” toward freedom are the same for you as they are for all of us.

      • Judah

        thank u so much jessica!! i i really needed that!! i need to b constantly reminded that i’m not alone, and will be revisiting your comment when i’m discouraged.

  • Mae

    I truly appreciate your guidance with this. We all have or will struggle with some sort of lust at some point in our lives, because God created Sex to be enjoyed. So naturally, we are drawn to either being a part of it or just watching. Unfortunately, the enemy likes to twist Gods gifts around and her uses them to turn us away from God. I have been caught in this trap for many years. I apologize for the length of this…May I share my story with you?

    I have been with the same man for 7 years. Both of us were raised by God-fearing families. However, we both were backslidden from when we were teenagers and for most of our relationship, we were not saved and pretty much acted as a married couple without a marriage. We went through every relationship hell that you can think of, and ended the relationship after 5 years. We spent a year a part and we both ended up at the same church unintentionally. We each re-dedicated our lives to Christ. We stayed separated though, and during that time apart we focused on Christ alone and building the kingdom. We ended up dating again after a year of being split , and after much hard work and prayer, we have been back together for two years and are engaged to be married. What God has done in our lives is amazing, something that we never thought could be done.

    When we first got back together, we were in agreement that we would be obedient with our bodies and continue abstinence until marriage. Well, that didn’t go so well. In the beginning we did pretty good. But for two years, we have faced such a rocky road. We stay abstinent for months and then we fall. Then we get back up and we go strong for another month or two and then we fall again. Ive been living with his mom and he stays In a separate apartment because we both know that living together is not an option and would make this even harder. But I can see that I am spiritually suffocating myself. I’m losing the will to fight because no matter how hard I try, or how many times we actually pass the “test” and we don’t give in, there’s that one time out of 30 that we do fail. We are trying to push the wedding date up so that we can stop having to fight this battle but we also know that this comes down to self control. Neither of us struggle with porn and I don’t spend all day thinking about being intimate with him…it’s not like that. What makes it hard for me is that we were together for so many years and were intimate with one another before that it makes it SO easy to just give in. It’s familiar and we’ve done it so many times, and then trying to stop altogether seems impossible.

    I’ve prayed about this for the past 2 years that it’s been going on. We’ve fasted. We’ve talked with our pastor & pre-marital counselor and other Christians. They’ve all brought us to the word but it just feels like no matter how much we read what the word says about it, no matter how much we pray, no matter how many boundaries we set up to avoid being in that situation, and no matter how many times we DONT give in, the sin finds us and we get caught in the trap one way or another. I don’t want to continue to be disobedient to God. I have felt myself separating from him already. I also don’t want to enter into a marriage like this.

    I read almost all of the blogs from this site on the daily and I’d like to take your advice and read Romans 6-8 every day for forty days. But what else could you recommend for my situation?

  • Rahab

    What if there is no- one that I can trust to tell?

    • Hannah Minix

      Hey, Rahab, I have definitely been where you are, and I know how alone that feels. I haven’t really told anyone about my lust, but I am beginning to see God as my greatest friend and Comforter. I tell Him everything. Perhaps one day I could find someone I trust to tell, but until then, I will continue to bring this before God. You are not alone Rahab. You are loved. By your sisters in Christ, and by Christ Himself. I will pray for you! God bless you!

      • Lizbeth

        ikr same here right now only God can be trusted

        • Hannah Minix

          Yea He has never failed me!!!

  • Morgan

    My biggest problem is my less than pure thought life. It’s like those OCD intrusive thoughts that when you try to ignore them they just get worse. I have no idea what to do about. I keep praying but it seems like I’m too demanding and needy. I’m too much of a “mind your own business, deal with your own problems” kind of person I guess. Then I still get tempted to do the dirty “m” word (masturbation). I used to when I was first introduced to porn when I was really little, and only a few slip ups after that. I never give in, but I hate myself for even being tempted. And I hate myself for not being able to control my thoughts. I know I shouldn’t hate myself, but I do (okay hate might be a bit of a strong word, but you get the idea). I told God, too. I feel like an icky perv. Then I felt guilty for ranting to God about it, and felt like I drove Him away (which I know is ridiculous). I keep begging Him to help me, but He seems silent. Sometimes I feel high (not like drug high) and other times I feel low. I wish I could crawl out of my skin and run away to a beach. I even have a mental picture of that beach I want to disappear to. Then I feel mad that God even created me. Then I get mad at myself again for feeling sorry for myself. Then I feel like God doesn’t care because I feel like I’m just wallowing in self pity. So yeah, I feel like I’m in quicksand with no help. Not sure what to do.

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      Morgan,

      Thanks for sharing a bit of your struggle with us. The battle you’ve described is not unusual. In fact, choosing to follow Jesus places us on the front lines of the battle against the world, our flesh, and the devil.

      As followers of Jesus, we engage in the battle from the position of Victory–the victory Christ won over sin and death. We fight as one who is loved by God, forgiven of sins ( past, present, future ) through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The same power that rose Jesus from the grave really does live within us. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3).” “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

      Check out this short clip on our battle-stance, Morgan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p0fH8TDL5I).

      You won’t win this battle by trying to forget or by trying not to think “ negative thoughts”, Morgan. You’ll need to engage the lies with the Truth of God’s Word. You’ll need to do what 2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs, “ Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

      This two-part series and blog post will help you do that: (https://www.reviveourhearts.com/series/your-thought-closet-makeover-jennifer-rothschild/) and (http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/the-battleground-of-your-mind/).

      Praying for you to experience the beauty and freedom that is yours in Jesus, friend.

      Grace and peace,
      Carrie
      Lies Young Women Believe

      • Morgan, I am so sorry that I didn’t see this earlier! I responded to another comment but Carrie also did a great job. That “taking every thought captive” is huge (and hard).

  • Justme

    I have the same problem I see others are expressing. We are thinking of lustful/sexual things. So there are no objects to rid ourselves from, or ppl, or places to avoid. During the day, we can force ourselves to stay busy with work or chores, but when we try to slerp, relax, or aren’t 100% engaged in a task our compulsion thoughts pop in again. It’s a way to self Medicate. It’s free, it causes us to produce feel good hormones (instant gratification), it can happen anywhere unnoticed by others, and it helps many of us to fall asleep. Worse yet, I have found most ppl you tell just disreguard your problem. They are non-Christian, and tell you you’re fine…or they’re Christian but they don’t understand what you’re describing and then default to the position of, “Well, you are aware of this and trying so it will be fine.” But it’s not. You have painted yourself into a corner by becoming enslaved by your own mind. I’m not trying to be a contrarian. I honestly just haven’t thought up any, or read/heard any real world advice on this. Should I jump out of bed and do chores until I pass out? During the day, should I just start praying each time? Honestly, I have considered just taking a strong medication to kill any desire. Would that be the equivalent of cutting off the part of your body that son’s? In my case, my brain? I feel awfully defeated here.

    • Justme

      *compulsive *sleeps & *sins
      Do not like autocorrect.

    • Definitely fair questions and you are definitely not alone with them! The battlefield of the mind is crucial in this fight. For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is what I personally titled the post 🙂 And not every post can include every single aspect of the fight. However, questions about thought life are some of the top questions I am asked when I talk about this. Here is what I tell people:

      1. Negative thoughts are still thoughts. If I tell you about a fluffy white kitten and how evil and horrible the fluffy white kitten is. That the fluffy white kitten will claw your face off and will pee on your clothes, it doesn’t matter that I’ve told you the fluffy white kitten is terrible- you’re STILL only thinking about the fluffy white kitten.

      The way to stop thinking about the fluffy white kitten is to think about something else. This is the idea behind Philippians 4:8 when we are told to actively think on things that are lovely, pure, etc. However, there are always those errant thoughts. The ones that come up out of nowhere. I remember being in Bible college, PRAYING, and impure thoughts would just pop up. I would think, “REALLY!? I am praying!!!” Which is where this next point comes in:

      2. Take every thought captive. Our minds are amazing things- able to recall memories and solve complex problems. When we are stressed and our minds are trying to help us figure out how to fix things the solutions we think of will be the ones that have always worked. If you’re used to “self-medicating” (which is a great word choice, by the way) by drifting off into lustful fantasy or even escaping to non-sexual fantasy, then when you get to the place of needing to self-medicate, your brain says, “Oh hey! I know how to fix this” and off you go.

      Depending on how you get to that place- if it’s just whenever you’re bored or if it’s specific emotions that trigger that response, you can try to put safeguards in place to avoid getting to that place. When I was in college, I asked my roommates to stop talking about sex because even though they were having great, God-honoring conversations about it, it was causing issues in my brain.

      If, however, it’s a “first thought” thing- meaning that the moment you aren’t pre-occupied with something else, your first thought is lust- and it’s not triggered by an emotion or a sense of boredom, then what is necessary is to take every thought captive. You DO pray when those thoughts pop up. You call them out. You say, ‘Dear God, right now I am really struggling with thoughts about x,y,z and I don’t want to have these thoughts. I need you to help me renew my mind with your truth and I want to focus on {insert truth here}.”

      For a while, it’s going to feel a bit like exterminating cockroaches. Those thoughts will crawl out of everywhere, don’t ignore them, and don’t entertain them. One by one, take them captive to Christ. The renewal of our mind is part of the transformation of the Gospel and it can happen. So while the second step in the post above may not be applicable, the other two remain helpful.