There are many practical ways to avoid temptation. But we also have to know how to do battle when temptation has us in its grip. I want to teach you how to combat the lies of lust with the truth of God’s Word. My goal is to do more than just suggest a few memory verses —I want to help you develop a conviction that Scripture is the only weapon that can successfully fight off lust when battling temptation.
Can you imagine how foolish it would be for a soldier to go into battle without his weapon or for him to let it fall into disrepair? As Christians, it’s just as foolish for us to fight lust without the only offensive weapon God has given us.
Battling Temptation With the Sword of Truth
Ephesians 6:17 calls the Word of God the “sword of the Spirit.“ Your Bible is no lifeless book. It has power. When you read it, speak it, and memorize it, the Holy Spirit uses it against sin like an offensive weapon. Hebrews 4:12 says:
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
And 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Scripture cuts through the confusion and hazy half-truths that our sin generates. It reveals our wrong desires. It rebukes our apathy. Plus, it corrects our selfish human thinking. It unmasks the deception of sin. It points us to God’s goodness and faithfulness when we’re tempted to forget. In addition, it trains us in righteousness. It counters the false promises of lust with God’s true promises.
Since the day I was tempted by the catalog in the trash, I’ve learned that I can’t reason with lust or argue against it with my own opinions. I can’t put my fingers in my ears hoping to drown out its lies. And I’m definitely not going to last long if all I can answer is, “I’m not allowed to do that.” I need an authority greater than my own. I need the very words of God. Hand-to-hand combat with lust doesn’t work —I need the sword of the Spirit.
What are the specific lies your sinful desires tell you? Identify them and then go to God’s Word and find passages that specifically address those lies. I’ve compiled the following list of Scriptures that I hope you find helpful. Don’t rush though these. Consider the times you’ve been tempted by these lies; then let the truth of the Bible transform your perspective.
LIE: Lust is not big deal.
“For Lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. It is a devastating fire that destroys to hell. It would wipe out everything I own.“ (Job 31:11-12, NLT)
LIE: A little sinful fantasizing won’t hurt.
“To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.“ (Romans 8:6, ESV)
“Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.“ (Galatians 6:7-8, ESV)
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.“ (Romans 13:14, ESV)
LIE: Taking radical action against sin isn’t necessary.
“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.“ (Matthew 5:29-30)
“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.“ (2 Timothy 2:22)
LIE: God won’t mind a little compromise…
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:5-6)
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed. Because these are improper for God’s holy people.“ (Ephesians 5:3)
LIE: It’s my body. I can do what I want with it.
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body. But he who sins sexually sins against this own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.“ (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
LIE: I can’t control my sex drive.
“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. 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.“ (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6)
LIE: Looking at a few pornographic pictures won’t affect me.
“Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate your with her eyes. For the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread. And the adulteress preys upon your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” (Proverbs 6:25-27)
“I will set before my eyes no vile thing.“ (Psalm 101:3)
LIE: I won’t experience any consequences for indulging in my lust.
“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)
“The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.“ (Hebrews 12:6)
“After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.“ (James 1:15)
LIE: People get away with adultery.
“For the lips of an adulteress drip honey. And her speech is smoother than oil. But in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death. Her steps lead straight to the grave.” (Proverbs 5:3-5)
“Keep to a path far from her. Do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich another man’s house. At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent.” (Proverbs 5:8-11)
LIE: God is keeping something good from me.
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the LORD God is a sun and shield. The LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.“ (Psalm 84:10-12)
LIE: The pleasure lust promises is better and more real than God’s pleasure.
“You have made known to me the path of life. You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.“ (Psalm 16:11)
LIE: Fulfilling my lust will satisfy me.
“I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion. Therefore I will wait for him.’ The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.“ (Lamentations 3:24-26)
“The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied.” (Proverbs 19:23, ESV)
LIE: Too much purity will keep me from seeing and enjoying beauty.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.“ (Matthew 5:8)
“For the LORD is righteous. He loves righteous deeds. The upright shall behold his face.“ (Psalm 11:7, ESV)
“Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty. They will see a land that stretches afar.” (Isaiah 33:17, ESV)
Isn’t Scripture incredible? Are you feeling its power as you read? Having the words of God engraved on your heart is the key to a life of purity. Psalm 119:9-11 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word… I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Since lust can attack you at any time or place, you should be prepared wherever you are to fight back with Scripture. That’s why I encourage you to commit the preceding list of verses to memory. Start by choosing one or two. Write them down on a card and place it where you’ll see it —in your Bible, in your car, or on your computer. Review them several times a day. After a week pick a few more. Keep going till you have them all hidden in your heart.
Renewed Strength and Faith to Fight
In times of temptation, reciting several of these verses can be a wonderful deterrent to sin. I’ve found it helpful to pray them back to God. I use them to talk myself out of the deception of lust. Sometimes I even shout them. As I’ve done so, I’ve found renewed strength and faith to fight.
This article comes from the book, Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), written by Joshua Harris, published by Multnomah. This book discusses the fact that lust isn’t just a guy problem — it’s a human problem. And unless we honestly confront it, lust will destroy our relationships and our lives.
Joshua Harris, author of the runaway bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye, calls a generation bombarded with images of sexual sin back to the freedom and joy of holiness. This book — straightforward without being graphic —speaks to those entrenched in lust or just flirting with temptation. Honestly sharing his own struggles, Harris exposes lust’s tactics and helps readers create a personal plan for fighting back.
This was excerpted from the book, Sex is Not the Problem (Lust Is) © 2003 by Joshua Harris. Used by permission of Multnomah Publishers, Inc. Excerpt may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of Multnomah Publishers, Inc.
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