The following post was written by Joe Dallas an author, speaker, and program director, Genesis Counseling, a pastoral counseling ministry in Tustin, California
If you are serious about maintaining moral purity in your life, these practical tips for staying consistent and focused are written especially for you.
Tip 1: GET REAL
Recognize that sexual temptation is unavoidable in our sex-obsessed culture. Erotic images on billboards, films, television, and a thousand other stimulants are bombarding you daily. Being a Christian does not exempt you from temptation — the godliest of men can fall prey to it. The first step toward maintaining sexual integrity is to get real. Admit to yourself that sexual temptation is a problem that you have to reckon with. Remember John’s warning: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8, KJV)
Tip 2: GET SERIOUS
Sexual sin ravages everyone connected with it. What you may not know is that every sexual fantasy you entertain, every flirtatious conversation you keep up, or every second look you indulge in is the seed for AIDS, adultery, a broken heart, a shattered life. Get serious. If you are entertaining lust, you are dancing on a cliff. Take concrete action now while you can. “When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:15, NASB1).
Tip 3: GET READY
If you really believe an earthquake is coming someday, you prepare for it by developing an emergency plan. If you really believe sexual temptation is both common and can become lethal, you will make an emergency plan for it, too. Decide in advance what to do when you are tempted: how to distract yourself, whom to call, how to escape close calls. Even the apostle Paul admitted: “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27, NLT2). Can you really afford to do less?
Tip 4: GET CONNECTED
Sexual sin thrives in the dark. If you are caught up in any sexual vice, one thing is certain: The secrecy surrounding your behavior is what strengthens its hold on you. However ashamed you may feel about admitting your problem to another person, the reality is this: You cannot overcome this on your own. If you could, you would have done so by now. Take a hint from James: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16, KJV). Find a trusted, mature Christian friend in whom to confide. Make that friend a partner in your recovery, and never assume you have reached a point where you no longer need accountability.
Tip 5: GET BRUTAL
I believe there is an eleventh commandment somewhere that says, “Thou Shalt Not Kid Thyself.” If you are serious about sexual integrity, you will distance yourself not only from the particular sexual sin you are most prone to (fantasizing, pornography, affairs, prostitution) but you will also distance yourself from any person or thing that entices you toward that sin. Sometimes, even a legitimate activity (certain movies, music or clubs, for example) may be okay for other people to indulge in, but not for you. Get brutally honest about your lifestyle: anything in it that makes you prone to sexual sin has to go. Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12,NKJV3).
Tip 6: GET HELP
Sexual sins are often symptomatic of deeper emotional needs that a man is trying to satisfy in the wrong ways. Repenting of the sin itself is a necessary first step, but recognizing the conflicts or needs that led you into that behavior may be the next step, and require specialized care from a Christian professional. Do not hesitate to seek godly counsel if you are trapped in cycles of ongoing, out-of-control behavior. The answer you need may be more than just “pray and get over it!” King David (who was no stranger to sexual sin) found refuge in Samuel’s wise mentoring (1 Samuel 19:18). If you are willing to seek professional help for taxes, medical care, or career counseling, surely you will be willing to do the same to maintain your sexual integrity.
Tip 7: GET COMFORTABLE
Sexual temptation is not going away. It has been with us since time immemorial, and no doubt it will plague us until Christ comes. So get comfortable with the idea that you will need to manage your sexual desires throughout life. Sexual integrity is a part of the general lifelong sanctification process all Christians go through. “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection!” Paul told the Philippians. “I am still not all I should be” (Philippians 3:12,13, NLT). So learn to love the process of pressing on, not perfection.
Tip 8: GET LOVE
“I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places,” an old song laments. The sexual sin you are drawn toward may indeed be a cheap (though intense) substitute for love. You can repent of the sin, but not of the need the sin represents. So get love in your life: friendships, family, spouse, and fellow believers. A man who truly loves, and knows he is truly loved, is far less likely to search for what he already has in places he will never find it. “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” asked Isaiah (Isaiah 55:2). Learn to be intimate and authentic. This is one of the best ways to protect your heart and your integrity.
Tip 9: GET GRACE
It is not the sinless man who makes it to the end; rather, it is the man who has learned to pick himself up after he stumbles. If your struggle seems relentless, remember this: When you commit yourself to sexual integrity, you commit yourself to a direction, not to perfection. You may stumble along the way, but that is no justification for sin, just a realistic view of life in this fallen world. What determines the success or failure of an imperfect man is his willingness to pick himself up, confess his fault, and continue in the direction he committed himself to. Remember Paul’s approach: “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14, KJV).
Tip 10: GET A LIFE
What is your passion? What is your calling? How clear are your goals? Do you have any fun? The man who does not have a life — a passion, a sense of meaning, an ability to play as hard as he works — is a man with an emptiness tailor-made for sexual sin. Life is about more than keeping yourself sexually pure, as important as purity is. It is about knowing who you are, where your priorities lie, and where you are headed.
If you do not know that much about yourself, you have some serious thinking to do. Commit yourself to developing your life as a good steward of your gifts and opportunities. Make that the context in which you seek to maintain your sexual integrity. Sexual integrity for its own sake is a good thing; sexual integrity for the sake of a higher calling is better. So by all means turn from your sin. But as you do, turn toward a goal-oriented, passionate, meaningful life. That is repentance in its truest, finest sense.