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3 Steps to Navigating Temptation

Zion put it well when sharing with his therapist, “If I’m honest, sometimes temptation feels so strong, I don’t even want to resist. I just want it to let it wash over me and carry me wherever it wants to go.”

Temptation—perhaps especially sexual temptation—can be immensely powerful. So much so, it can be difficult to even want to resist. If you have a pattern of habitual unwanted sexual behavior, you have certainly experienced this. The reasons include literal changes to your neurochemistry that leave you feeling your brain and body are on auto-pilot, heading toward the same whitewater rapids and deadly waterfall you’ve been trying so hard to avoid.

Is there hope?

There certainly is. First, there’s hope because you’re not merely your neurochemistry. You have a spirit and soul united with the Spirit of God, who is more powerful than even death. God is near to you and always willing to help you in your moment of need.

In addition, here are three practical steps I’d encourage you to begin practicing. Even if you feel they are not immediately as effective as you’d like, keep practicing them and you’ll see things begin to shift.

Here are the 3 Steps to Navigating Temptation

  1. Admit you’re feeling tempted. Auto-pilot can begin to take your boat because no alarms are going off letting you or others know what’s happening. By acknowledging you’re tempted, you’re turning those alarms on. But here’s the tricky part: It’s important to turn the alarms on the moment you experience even a little temptation, and this feels risky. Most people want to wait a while, just to be sure that the situation actually calls for action. But the longer you wait, the faster the currents and the more difficult to navigate to safety.
  2. Tell an ally. The next logical step if you’re heading toward the falls is to let someone know who can help you. Hitting the alarm does you no good if no one hears it, so tell God and tell at least one other person that you are feeling temptation. The path to unwanted sexual behaviors is always taken in isolation, but opening up to others is the choice to not navigate these waters alone. An ally is someone who knows the truth about your habitual sexual sin and is prepared to walk with you in your recovery. This may be a close friend, another person in your recovery group, or a mentor who has the time to be available to you. No one can be available all the time, so it is best to recruit two to three allies at a minimum. Also, while texting may be a quick and easy way to let another person know what’s going on for you, it is better to make a phone call, or better still to make a FaceTime call or to meet in person. You’ll understand why with the next step.
  3. Figure out what you’re really looking for. Your habitual unwanted sexual behavior is never simply about the physical pleasure of sex. If it were, you would not have risked so much for it over the years. When you’re tempted, you’re actually looking for something deeper than sex—something real and important. In other words, your sexual sin has been a series of attempts to meet a legitimate need in an illegitimate way. If you don’t know where to begin, with your ally’s help, start by asking how you are feeling about your personal identity or worth and how you are feeling about your relationships. These are common areas that can trigger sexual temptation. Once you get an idea of what it may be that you’re really looking for—what you’re truly needing or desiring—you can then take steps to meet the real and important longings you’re experiencing in ways that can actually satisfy.

The Father cares for you, friends. He cares about more than whether you sin sexually or not, but because He cares for you, He wants to help you so you are not repeatedly swept downstream and dashed against the stones. His desire is to help you become a man or woman who can navigate the waters of your life with Him and others, navigating the beauty, pains, and adventure of each day.

If our team can help you, just let us know.

Question for you: Which of the three steps listed above speaks most to you today, and why?

For you,

Josh

7 thoughts on “3 Steps to Navigating Temptation”

  1. Hi Josh,

    This article was really good, because I really felt it spoke about what I feel. I am currently going through a difficult time. I am stressed out due to outside factors and my obsessive compulsive reactions. Things I was looking forward to are now getting cancelled, which is causing me intense upset and stress. At this point, I am also being tempted to fall into sexual sin. I deeply resound with step number 3… because I am probably looking to resolve my need for comfort, support, friendship and confidence through lust, which never satisfies. It is unbelievable what a sucker I can be to still be willing to fall for the sexual temptation even though I am certain they will bring no true satisfaction…
    May the almighty God wash us with His grace, that we may turn our eyes to Him, the true source of all joy and fulfilment.

    God bless you guys!

    1. Hi Luke, thanks for your vulnerability. If I could push into one thing, you wrote about being “a sucker” for falling into temptation even though you know it doesn’t satisfy. You also wrote that confidence is one of the things you’re looking for. When I put those two together, I wonder if thinking of yourself as a sucker isn’t working against what you really need. Can I suggest instead that you are not a sucker, but rather a person like every other person who can be deceived by sin, and a beloved son of God? Be kind with yourself in this process, Luke. Too often, men and women seeking sexual integrity deprive themselves of compassion and kindness in this area, which then leaves them more susceptible to turning to porn for comfort. God desires you to be free because he delights in you, brother.

    2. Josh, thanks a lot for your reply! Yes, I do struggle with confidence, and I probably do way too much degrading of myself through my thoughts and especially words. A friend of mine was telling me: „boast your strengths, not your weaknesses.” Thanks again for all you are doing!

  2. Thanks Josh for this article! I can relate to #3 for sure. I’ve been dealing with alot of sexual fantasy mostly when I’m at home alone at times. Being single can be a challenge for me also. I have realized that it’s important for me to recognize the themes of my fantasies also. It can be for comfort, wanted and desired by a woman ECT.I also realize my wound is the wound feeling Unworthy. Journaling has been a huge blessing for me daily also. Thanks again for this timely article brother. God bless!

  3. Thanks Josh for this article. I love how you address the science, spirituality and relational facts in temptation and dealing with temptation. I so resonated with #3 and the unmet needs driving my temptations. This is one of those new concepts I am exploring. But where I am falling short and where a follow up article would be of lost help is identifying tangible, specific and equally effective steps that actually satisfy. I have not been able to find many that truly compare or are good substitutes. Can. You give some direction and suggestions?

    1. Brad, I apologize for the delay in responding. Thank you for the idea for a future article on specific steps that help to satisfy those places where we’re looking for something. One of the real challenges is that often our deepest desires take time to satisfy, and some will not be fully satisfied until we are with Christ face to face. In contrast, those things that tempt us offer immediate “satisfaction.” This doesn’t seem fair, but it is a reality that saints have faced throughout time. With that said, in my experience at the core of most sexual temptation there is a longing for identity and intimacy. So one thing you might consider is where are the places you can you go to nurture your sense of self-value and to whom can you turn to nurture authentic intimacy in your life? Perhaps a corollary question would be: In what ways do you feel your personal value is lacking and in what ways do you feel you feel disconnected in your personal relationships?

      Does this help?

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