By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be molded into Christ’s likeness through persistently resisting and enduring sexual temptation.
May 9, 2024

A Roadmap for Victoriously Enduring Sexual Temptation

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Finding purpose in the struggle strengthens believers to victoriously endure sexual temptation. The Reformer Martin Luther gives this inspirational perspective:

The hatred of the spiritual man increases more and more against the thing which is attacking him. Thus temptation is a most useful thing. Thus also it has dominion over the mortal body when a man yields to it. But temptation becomes a servant when we resist it.

By the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we can be molded into Christ’s likeness under the care of our heavenly Father through persistently resisting and enduring sexual temptation. 

With this motivation, here’s a roadmap for how to do so victoriously. These six steps come from one chapter of the Bible, Luke 18, which covers two parables from Jesus, three of his teaching engagements, and one of his miracles. Open your Bible and read along.  

Step 1: Persistently Go to God (Luke 18:1–8)

In this parable, an unwaveringly persistent widow finds justice from a selfish judge. Jesus shares his charge clearly: “[We] ought always to pray and not lose heart” because our loving God, unlike the judge, desires to give justice quickly.  

When your boss is cruel to you, are you tempted to seek your own flawed justice? Through masturbation you self-soothe the pain as a means of quietly righting the wrong. How quick are you to run to this sinful self-justice? 

In that moment of temptation, your first step to victory is radically persistent praying, with the hopeful assurance that God will answer.

In that moment of temptation, your first step to victory is radically persistent praying, with the hopeful assurance that God will answer. What does your prayer life look like when temptation is crushing you? Have you ever endured temptation where prayer was part of the whole process—even if it cost you a night of sleep, your lunch break at work, or your vegging-out time on social media?  

Step 2: Open Your Entire Sinful, Needy Heart to God (Luke 18:9–14)

In this parable, Jesus presents a tax collector who, through desperate conviction of his sinfulness, humbly and honestly opens his whole heart to the Lord. 

Are you going to God with the entirety of your heart, hiding nothing from him? Does he hear about all your brokenness and suffering, or are you unwilling to enter into certain places of your heart with him? Temptation validates sin through the deception that God cannot help you in “______.” Are you hiding your same-sex attraction from God, thinking he’ll hate you for it or make you deal with it yourself? These lies shut out God when temptation comes, leaving you defenseless. Instead, offer your whole heart to God to hold. He will be merciful and he will justify—and, by that loving care, you can victoriously endure sexual temptation.

Step 3: Like a Child, Expect Fatherly Provision (Luke 18:15–17)

In this passage, Jesus establishes that we are adopted into his royal family through child-like dependence upon him. Christ affirms God as a good heavenly Father who gives good gifts when his children ask (Matt. 7:11). 

Temptation loses its attraction and our endurance grows when we believe the satisfaction found in God is greater than anything temptation can offer. 

  • Do you believe this, or do you doubt God is enough?
  • Do you have Scriptures to preach to yourself about God’s provision for his people?
  • What if you kept a list of all the ways God has provided for you by the computer and set a rule to read it before you go online? Do you believe positioning your heart toward gratitude to God, your Provider, would help you fight temptation to pornography?

Step 4: Abandon All to Follow Christ (Luke 18:18–30)

In this passage, a rich young ruler fails to follow Jesus because he is unwilling to give up his riches.  

What are you unwilling to give up to follow Christ? Realize that clinging to this thing, person, or behavior gives temptation a foothold. Nothing this world offers is worth losing your soul to gain (Matt. 16:26). All we need for life is found in God through Christ (2 Pet. 1:3).

Step 5: Your Suffering Is United to Christ’s Suffering (Luke 18:31–34)

In this passage, Jesus explains his coming death, and his disciples fail to understand the significance of his words. We now have the full revelation of Scripture that explains to us what the disciples didn’t understand.

We can find a faith-induced joy in the suffering of temptation because, through this suffering, our spirits are developing endurance, character, and hope that draw us into closer alignment with God’s unfailing love for us through the gospel (see Rom. 1–5). We can understand and lay hold of this sure promise from God: Because we are united with Christ, when we endure suffering in unity with him, we have the hope of being united with him in his glory. This glory of radiating joy will make our current sufferings under temptation seem smaller than a grain of sand (Rom. 8:17–18).

Step 6: Trust Christ to Show You the Way of Escape (Luke 18:35–43)

Lastly, this chapter ends with Jesus’s miracle of restoring a blind man’s physical sight and forgiving his sins, making him a new spiritual creation (2 Cor. 5)!   

How fast are you to abandon faith in Christ’s provision? When an accountability partner doesn’t pick up the phone—when you pray but the temptation persists—do you say God has abandoned you? Are you quick to turn to sin? 

In enduring sexual temptation, remember that “the same Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11).

Could you be losing the battle to temptation because you aren’t looking at the situation with resurrected eyes of faith? In the gospel, we have a living faith that can endure temptation by persistently moving toward Christ and his provisions of grace. These eyes see Christ as always with you, forever for you, and empowering you with a never-ceasing flow of incorruptible, sufficient endurance for every moment of temptation (1 Cor. 10:13).

Enduring Sexual Temptation: “A Most Useful Thing”

As Martin Luther affirmed, “temptation becomes a servant when we resist it.” In enduring sexual temptation, remember that “the same Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11). Through the Spirit’s work, sexual temptation becomes the context upon which God makes us more like his Son as he strengthens us to persistently resist and endure.

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Keith Seary

Men's Ministry Staff

Keith Seary is on the Men’s Ministry staff at Harvest USA. Keith has a BA in biblical counseling from The Master’s University, which he uses at Harvest USA in facilitating biblical support groups, seminars, church equipping, and one-on-one discipleship. He is currently a member of Immanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Bellmawr, New Jersey.

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