This is the second part of a two-part series on how to confront sexual sin. In this week’s post, we will discuss a few suggestions on how the Bible can be practically applied in the life of someone who is wrestling against sexual sin.
Whether you are helping someone, or you are the person who is struggling and cannot seem to overcome this sin, this post is for you. If the latter is the case, I strongly urge you to connect with a biblical counselor (https://biblicalcounseling.com/find-a-counselor/). I also highly recommend having a trusted friend or mentor walk with you through this process. You may not have had this type of conversation before. Now is the time. It will be raw, take patience, require hard work, and be discouraging at times. But God has known you (Jeremiah 1:5) and your deepest, ugliest parts before you were born. He is committed to striving for your sanctification (Philippians 1:6). Since you are reading this blog, I am assuming you are ready to join Him in this process.
The following outline is borrowed from Phil Moser’s five stones in his booklet, Strength for the Struggle: Biblical Strategies for Standing Against Sexual Temptation. The five key points are: Humility, Integrity, Loyalty, Responsibility, and Accountability. Let us look at each point, keeping in mind how to help someone battle sin or how to apply these principles in your personal battle.
“To walk in humility is to recognize that you cannot win the battle with sexual temptation in your own strength.”
Rather than a dependence on the Lord, there is a manufactured comfort people try to receive from their indulgence. They believe they have control to create their own world formed around desires that make them entitled to feel good. Thoughts such as, “This week was hard with school, and I deserve a break,” begin to form. They indulge in their desires, also believing they can live with consequences. As James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Moser says it well for those who practice humility: “Humble people lack the sense of entitlement that makes them vulnerable to temptation. They do not presume upon their own spiritual strength. They deny themselves credit for past successes. But, most importantly, they do not believe they have the wherewithal to stand against sexual temptation on their own.”
Practical Step: Learn and teach humility. Consider doing a Bible study on the life of David, noting where he was acting in humility and where he was not. Ask: “What were the results?”
“To practice integrity is to make a commitment to transparency during temptation, and to confession after sin.”
Someone who is living a life of pornography and masturbation lives a double life, and, in essence, a lie. They are afraid of what the consequences would be if they were to own up to their sin. When there is not confession, over time, this can be pictured as their bones “wasting away” (Psalm 32:3). However, owning up to sin is acknowledging the reality of their brokenness. There is blessing in acknowledging our sin before the Lord instead of hiding it – because, when we confess, we find God’s readiness to forgive (Psalm 32:1, 5).
Practical step: How often are they practicing acknowledging their sin before others? Leaders can wisely create an opportunity for students to see this modeled well.
“To desire loyalty is to love God by using your body for his glory, not your temporary pleasure.”
When engaging in temptation, there is satisfaction for a time – otherwise, people would not keep returning to it. Yet, it lasts for a few moments and only leads to deeper enslavement to that desire. Since sexual sin is related to relationships, other people are affected. There is an endless desire to receive what makes a person feel good, transferring unrealistic expectations to others around them. Someone who is loyal will be unmoved by outside pressures and inward desires. When working with a person who is enslaved to inward lusts, encourage them to find a new, unmoving loyalty in their relationship with God and others.
Practical step: Study God’s attributes to reestablish love for Him and eventually deeper loyalty.
“To exercise responsibility limits your opportunity for temptation because you are preoccupied fulfilling your commitments.”
Many people find they are most prone to give in to temptation during free time. Joe Schenke, the director of biblical counseling at Word of Life Fellowship, teaches three words in what he calls, “The Perfect Storm of Temptation” – Desire, Opportunity, and Time. When someone’s mind starts to wander during downtime, there is the opportunity to give in to their desires. The goal is to help them learn to steward their time responsibly.
Practical Step: When there are opportunities at the church to serve, bring them along. As you are able, have them help out in your home and family (mowing, cooking, fixing the car, watching your kids, tagging along on church visits, etc.) These are practical ways they get to practice responsibility while also seeing this done well by someone else. The main goal is to get them to live for others instead of themselves.
“To live with accountability is to guard your vulnerabilities through the Word and fellow believers.”
In his book, Moser explains why we need accountability from the Word of God and from other believers. Psalm 19:8–13 is a notable example. Consider doing a study of this passage with your students. Encourage them to look up each keyword and discover applications. Hold them accountable. As the Holy Spirit brings conviction through the truths of the Word, He also brings His people alongside to confirm those truths.
Practical Step: Heath Lambert’s book, Finally Free, lists valuable points about effective accountability. Effective accountability does not rely exclusively on accountability, is involved early rather than late, involves someone with maturity, involves someone with authority, should avoid explicit details, places the responsibility for confession on the person with the problem, and must actually hold people accountable.
There is much more to say on this subject. The hope is that this post will bring connections to mind and help you take next steps, leading ultimately to Christ.
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.”
– Jude 24–25
If you would like to pursue additional resources on this topic, click here for more resources.
Lambert, Heath. Finally Free. Zondervan, 2013.
Moser, Phil. Strength for the Struggle: Biblical Strategies for Standing Against Sexual Temptation. Biblical Strategies, LLC, 2015.
Anna Van Horn is an intern at the Word of Life Center for Biblical Counseling in Pottersville, New York. She is originally from northeast Indiana. In 2015, she began her freshman year as a student at Word of Life Bible Institute in Hudson, Florida, and she finished her sophomore year in New York in 2017. She stayed on campus after graduating, serving in the academic department and as a resident director. Recently, she completed a Bachelor of Science in counseling ministry with Clarks Summit University; she is currently finishing her third year in the Biblical Counseling Internship (BCI) with Word of Life.