In a book I wrote several years ago called 101 Freedom Exercises: A Christian Guide for Sexual Addiction Recovery, I outline several exercises to help men get and stay free from lust. The following is a summation of some of these exercises, as well as a few more I have learned along the way.
- Pray for the other person. I have professionally used this exercise successfully for years. When a person becomes an object of lust for you, you can change your thoughts so they instead can become a person by giving them a relational context to God and others.
Here is a sample prayer:
God, I know You love and died for this woman and that You desire a relationship with her. I pray that if she doesn't know You, that You will reveal Yourself to her so she can know You for eternity. I pray for her husband (or future husband), that he will be a man of God, full of Your Spirit and wisdom. I pray for her children (or future children), that they will know and serve You all their days. I pray for her parents, that You would encourage them and bless their daughter.
Now if all you do is pray them into the kingdom, how many women do you think the enemy is going to present to you? The self-defense arts teach one early on how to block a punch. If the enemy throws you a temptation, or your flesh just happens to kick up, pray and you will walk away feeling successful instead of guilty.
- Follow the one-second rule. In sex addiction recovery, there is a one-second policy: Don't look at a woman longer than one second. Living in the television and computer age, men can learn to scan a woman in less time than that. Regardless, keep your gaze very short. And remember, you aren't under any obligation to check out each woman who walks by.
- Stay accountable to someone. I find that if a man walks in the light in the area of lust he is less likely to struggle. James 5:16 says, "Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." It's great to confess your sin of lust to Jesus (1 John 1:9), but that will only get you forgiveness. Most of us who struggle with lust need healing. You'll only attain healing if you humble yourself before another man.
Something powerful happens when you humble yourself before another man. I purposely say "man." Don't wimp out and try to do this only with your wife. Man to man, be honest with a brother in the Lord and you will see lust decrease tremendously. If you have an accountability partner like this, it can scourge the seed of lust that would otherwise bring a future harvest of sin and death. Accountability works! (See Eccl. 4:10.)
- Keep a lust log. Some men in an accountability relationship keep a "lust log." This is simply a piece of paper you keep in your pocket. Each time you lust or objectify a woman, put a mark on the paper. Check in daily for 100 days with your accountability partner as to how you are doing.
Some competitive friends even make the man with the highest score pay for the lunch of the low-scoring man each week. You'll be amazed at how quickly you can stop lusting when there is free food on the line!
Lust is a learned intentional behavior. You can unlearn lust. You can follow several admonitions of the Word of God to battle this lust. You can walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16) and not gratify the desire of sinful nature. You can use Romans 12:2 and transform your mind with Scripture. God's Word is a great tool to have at your disposal in this battle.
Moreover, we can fill ourselves with God's divine power, given to us in salvation, so that we don't follow evil desires according to 1 Peter 1:3-4. I also like the verse in Colossians 3:5 (NIV): "Put to death [or mortify] therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immortality, impurity, lust, evil desires."
How do you put to death your earthly nature? A pastor once gave me an excellent explanation on how every morning he kills himself. He gets in the prayer closet and asks God to strangle anything of his flesh, to destroy any sin patterns today. He asks God to fill him with the fruits of the Spirit, the fear of the Lord, and the power and might listed in Isaiah 11. I think it's a great idea and I use it regularly too.
Hopefully, as a man, you have taken up the fight against lust. You're in this fight whether you personally have a problem with it or not. If this is not something you struggle with, it's a guarantee other brothers in Christ around you do, and you have a responsibility to help the body of Christ. Use these practical steps to gain freedom and overcome the enemy's attacks.
Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books, including Sex Men and God. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com, on hisFacebook, by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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