How to Overcome Lust – Part 4: Means (for others)

Today we conclude our study of how Dallas Willard’s VIM template—Vision, Intention and Means—can help us in overcoming lust.   As we have seen, each of these elements plays a vital part in the process.

Last week—in the first of our two part discussion of the Means—we considered those who live their lives in consistent obedience to Christ’s directive about lust.  We noted that their practice is to abstain from adultery in their hearts.  The Means by which they overcome lust—a task all are called to—is that they steadfastly resist temptation.  There are many who live their lives this way.  If this is you, I salute you and urge you—again—to share your story.

God has provided the means of escape.  He intends for you to become free.

However, many—perhaps even you—have a different story.  Instead of being able to resist temptation, you allow adultery in your heart on an ongoing basis.   In fact you cannot stop.  The Bible describes this as being a slave to sin and you are this way because of your history of willful sinning (John 8:34).

God has provided the means of escape.  He intends for you to become free.

Paul’s direct answer to those who are a slave to sin comes in the form of a rhetorical question:

“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)

There you have it.  You need to present yourself as a slave of obedience to God’s Word and not to sin.

It is in God’s Word that we find the comprehensive solution—the Means—for overcoming lust.  Frankly, there are no shortcuts to becoming a slave of righteousness (Romans 6:18).  There is no magic bullet—one sure technique—that will set you free, though some imagine this to be so.

  • For example, some believe that all one needs to do is to flee temptation (1 Corinthians 6:18).  However, by itself, our willpower is no match for unending temptation.
  • Others expect that offering up fervent prayers for forgiveness is the answer (1 John 1:9).  Again, this—by itself—will  not set you free.
  • Still others believe that memorizing and meditating on Scripture (Psalm 119:11)—my favorite weapon—is the key. Even this—by itself—is insufficient.

More examples come to mind.  None should be neglected.  However, over-reliance on any technique causes us to trust in ourselves or our abilities rather than in God.

God’s plan for you is multi-faceted and comprehensive.  He has richly equipped you for the purpose of battling lust.  He has provided a vast arsenal—the Means—for you to overcome.  Lust “wars against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11)—it is not a small thing.  Do not neglect any of the weapons He has made available for you to win this war.

Remember that God is looking for total transformation—not to merely strip you of this one sin.  Instead of a slave to lust, become a slave of righteousness.  Entering into this battle—overcoming lust—is exciting.  You will see God working and changing you in unexpected, radical ways.

 

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