If you’ve struggled with any unwanted compulsive sexual behavior, you might wonder why you can’t seem to shut it down. The Bible tells you to kill that desire right? “Therefore put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustful passion, evil desire, and greediness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5, LEB).
But you have tried over and over again to put to death the desire and it just isn’t working. What if killing desire isn’t working because it’s not what you’re supposed to do?
Let’s look closely at what Paul said we must do. Death in this verse means to destroy of strength or deprive of power. It may have life but it does not control you.
He does not ask us to put to death sexual desire itself; he asks us to put to death immoral, lustful, and evil sexual desire. There is a difference. Sinful sexual desire pursues sexual union selfishly—for my pleasure, my self-expression, my satisfaction. But God’s design of sexual desire is, in essence, the desire to unite your life with another—freely, faithfully, and fruitfully. And this desire is good.
It doesn’t matter what your marital status is, sexual desire is a part of who you are as one created by God. It may be blurred, confused, hidden, or broken in you, but God’s heart is to redeem this good desire, not to kill it.
But too often sexual desire is viewed as an entity unto itself, separate from who we are. This is exactly what Satan wants. He wants us to work hard at killing the good of sexual desire so we end up giving up and abandoning ourselves to sinful sexual desires.
I’ve talked with several women who grew up in Christian homes and heard the message that their sexual desire was bad and had to be killed. So they suppressed those desires and when they got married, they were unable to enjoy sexual intimacy with their husbands because they still believed the lie that sexual desire itself was bad. They were distraught and broken.
As a single person, I know that my sexual desire is a need for true intimacy. I’ve learned to connect with others in an authentic community. In community, I am able to share the longings of my heart. Through the encouragement of my friends, I experience the love and grace of Jesus.
So what do you do when immoral, lustful, and evil desire arises? I’d like to offer a few ways to begin depriving it of its strength and power.
- Start a conversation with God – Be honest with him about what you are experiencing. He doesn’t want you to white-knuckle your way through the desires. He wants to join you in the struggle and allow his power to bring you into victory.
- Take a mental inventory of your day – Was it stressful? Did you get enough sleep? Did you have a recent traumatic experience? These might be indicators of what’s sending your desire in the wrong direction.
- Seek out help to look more deeply at any long-standing misdirected desires. Sometimes our sinful desires can reveal deeper wounds, shame, or self-hatred that God wants to bring into the light.
- Ask the Lord to renew your mind – The Lord wants you to know the good of sexual desire and not to view it as something that needs to be shut down and locked away. It is an integral part of who you are as his image-bearer. He can help untwist any immoral sexual desire from the good desires he’s given you.
- Share your struggle with a trusted Christian friend – Giving others the opportunity to reflect the grace and love of Jesus when facing challenges in life is a way to diffuse the condemning lies of the enemy and experience true freedom in Christ.
Question: How have you viewed sexual desire? Have you viewed it as something to put to death? How could discovering the difference between the good of sexual desire and evil desire make a difference for you?
Your Co-laborer In Christ,