How to Overcome Lust – Part 3: Means (for some)

Overcoming lust is for everyone.  No one gets a free pass—each of us must confront evil desires that “war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

Working our way through Dallas Willard’s VIM template—Vision, Intention and Meansas to how to overcome lust, we now consider the means to this end.  This is where we roll up our sleeves and consider the practical steps required.

We are not all in the same place.  Some—I dare say, many—already know and do what is needed.

This is also where we face a definite fork in the road.

We are not all in the same place.  Some—I dare say, many—already know and do what is needed.

Assume for a moment that this is you—that you are among the “the obedient.”  You understand the vision of not allowing lust to dwell within you as a habitual, life-dominating sin.  You have also successfully maintained your intention to not let it happen.  Whenever tempted, the means that you use is to steadfastly deny and recoil from adultery in your heart.

The big lie is that being obedient in this way—so lust does not take root and settle into your life—is impossible.  In fact, in order to maintain a disobedient way of life, it is immensely helpful—maybe essential—to rationalize that being overcome by lust is every man’s fate.

The truth is that there are many among us who are on the right path—who  know and practice what it takes “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).

For you who live this way, lust is not a big problem.  You have not been in bondage to lust.  Sure, you are constantly tempted and may even occasionally sin in this way—committing adultery in your heart.  If this happens you repent and seek forgiveness. Lust does not and never has overwhelmed you.

A chapter in my book is titled “Is Victory over Lust Unusual?”  Is it uncommon? The short answer is—“No!”  I hope that is your story.  I wish it had been mine from the get-go.

Having spoken to many of you who are like this, I know that my experience, my book and this website seem way over the top—even foreign.  “Why spend so much energy on….that?” Here are three thoughts for you, the obedient:

  1. Don’t stop.  Do not allow lust a foothold.

Stay the course.  Whenever confronted with temptation, keep recoiling from sin.  Do not give lust room to grow or to become entrenched.  Do not stop being vigilant.  Recognize how vulnerable we all are (I Corinthians 10:12).

  1. Let your light shine.

“You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14-16).  Quit covering up.  You need to flood the church and our dark world with light. “Success stories” like yours must dominate the conversation.  Those who are in darkness need you.

  1. Teach your children well.

Young children and new believers need to know.  Save them from grief and confusion. If you don’t show and tell them how to live—getting into the trenches with them—who will? You have been obedient in denying lust.  I urge to go further and to share what that is like—to explicitly demonstrate and teach godly behavior (Philippians 4:9).

Next week: How to Overcome Lust—Part 3: Means (for others)

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