How does one overcome lust? Do you “know how to” do it?
….that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust”
Paul described the pressing need to “know how” this way—“that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (I Thessalonians 4:3-5).
To help get a handle on this know how, I am borrowing and building on a template called VIM. VIM was explained by Dallas Willard in his insightful book—Renovation of the Heart—and stands for three essential elements needed to bring about change in our lives:
- a clear Vision of where we want to be,
- a solid Intention to achieve this end, and
- the Means to bring it about.
Understanding and applying these three elements will allow you to overcome lust and establish sexual purity in your life.
The first element—having the correct Vision—is the most critical of the three. Unless you have a clear idea (vision) of what overcoming lust looks like you will never get there.
Here is the Vision for overcoming lust that I recommend:
You will be overcoming lust when it does not dwell within you as a habitual, life-dominating sin.
In adopting this vision, here are some things to keep in mind:
1 Don’t confuse this vision with the false idea of seeking sinless perfection. We will continue to sin. In fact, the more we grow in godliness the more we are aware of weaknesses, deficiencies and sins.
2 Lust is not the same as having misdirected sexual desires and thoughts. These will continue and are not sin. The sin occurs when we harness such desires and thoughts to commit adultery in our hearts.
3 Allowing the sin of lust to become established within you is a serious, solvable problem. Do not minimize it. If you are overwhelmed by lust, you need to take immediate action.
4 This is a very practical and workable vision for every believer. It is part and parcel of your life in Christ and the way you are expected to live when God dwells in you.
5 Don’t settle for a lesser vision—like quitting the use of porn. Any vision that is merely directed at symptoms is unacceptable and falls short of what God intends for you.
Are you skeptical about this vision? Like others, this may be because you have adopted the view of the world, which shrugs and laughs off the idea of adultery in the heart. When you adopt the vision of overcoming lust you are affirming that it is possible to obey Jesus. You are agreeing that adultery in the heart is sinful and avoidable. Read here if this is not clear to you.
What makes the vision described above so wonderful and exciting is that it fully lines up with 1) Scripture, 2) God’s will for you, and 3) that for which your spirit is thirsting.
Your soul will eat this up. God will help you accomplish it. It will put a smile on your face. Eliminating the sin that is currently overwhelming you will make fellowship with your Savior a natural thing and your love for Him will grow exponentially.
Do you believe this? Have you made this your vision?
Next week: How to Overcome Lust—Part 2: Intention