What do you do in moments of intense temptation?
When I was struggling with strong and frequent temptations to view porn, a friend of mine gave me this counsel: “If you want to show God you love Him, obey Him.”
His advice was both unarguably true and utterly unhelpful.
I wanted to love God with a love that would choose Him instead of sexual sin. I just didn’t know how to get there.
To me, when I was in a place where I could access porn, I felt like a man in the ocean getting pulled under by a powerful current. Except it didn’t feel dangerous, but more like being pulled by a tractor beam toward something blissfully wonderful and otherworldly.
I wanted to love God and I wanted my sin.
It helped me tremendously when I began learning God knew my predicament and instead of scolding me for not loving Him fully, He wanted to help me. Instead of pulling away from me until I loved Him more than my sin, He was (and is) willing to draw near to me right there, in that place I need Him most.
If you’re finding yourself repeatedly turning to sin instead of to God, you need Him right there, too.
Instead of trying to give yourself to God in obedience, open yourself to God who is giving Himself to you in the midst of your temptation.
How do you say no to temptation when you don’t want to? These three truths about God will help:
- God is with you even when you’re tempted by things that stir your heart away from Him. In fact, if you notice even slightly that you’re facing a choice between following God or not, that’s a sign the Holy Spirit is stirring within you. His power is for you even while you still feel you want to sin. Even while walking on water, the winds and waves may not die down.
- He knows everything about you. So be open and honest with the God who loves you about what’s going on in you, even when it includes things like, “I don’t want to talk with you right now,” or “I feel like I want this sin more than I want You.” Telling Him is simply a way to open these parts of yourself to Him.
- He’s willing to help you even with the parts that don’t want Him. So ask boldly for His help. “Jesus, I don’t feel the desire to stop. Please help me,” or “Jesus, I don’t want your help. Help!” These can be prayers of great faith. Remember, He came not for the healthy but for the sick, not for the righteous but for the unrighteous. If you find sick or rebellious attitudes toward Him in you, He came for you.
The good news of “God with us” means we don’t have to be on our own in battling even the fiercest of temptations. And we don’t have to be alone in battling our love for temptation either.
Leave a question or comment below about what helps you in that moment of choice. I’d love to hear from you.
I find this blog helpful for my own struggle with overeating. Jesus, I want that Help! And I know from past experience He is there. What I had forgotten is that He came for the sick, and my giving in to temptation is sick. He is there in the midst of temptation making”a way out so I can bear it.” Even when I don’t want to have a way out or to bear anything. Thank you!! And this gives me renewed hope today!
Admitting to God “I feel like I want this sin more than I want You” takes lots of honesty, which I sometimes do not have; but God loves our honesty and will come running to us when we are totally open and honest with ourselves and with Him. Thanks for this encouraging reminder, Josh.
Some of what you are saying here sounds too good to be true. I want what you are communicating to be true.
To admit to God that I want my sin in the moment more than I want him, makes me afraid that he will turn and walk away from me. To accept that He will draw near to me in that place… I can’t fathom God loving like that.
Exactly, Mark. As much as I’ve heard (and, to a degree ‘know’) that He is for me and wants to be with me in those foulest moments … my experience overrides and I’m confident He WILL turn and walk away. Or, has already! I appreciate Josh’s reminder that God can handle the struggle better than me. It just seems so UNspiritual to say “I feel like I want the sin more than I want You,” even though that’s the truth. Tragically, the feeling that He’s taken His hands off to allow me to ‘do my own thing’ seems stronger than ever … and the desire to resist seems weaker and weaker.
I find the hard part is not admitting but having him reveal the deeper issue that is driving my action and wanting desire. Jesus wants to deliver me from this habitual sin and he wants me to be knowledgeable of this process. That is really the hard part for me to look at myself and see the broken afraid little boy. Who really wants his Dad to love him! and that is both my physical and spiritual father. It is amazing how we attribute so many actions of our natural father onto our heavenly father? Thanks for the great blog!
Thanks Josh for writing/sending this. I will endeavor to remember to speak to Him even when I don’t want him around. And I appreciate Patricia’s insight to apply this same principle to eating too much…
All Adam and Eve needed to do at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was look at the Tree of Life right next to it and remember what they already had. Renewing the mind occurs when we start thinking about what we can do that’s right.
Just as “I feel like I want this sin more than I want you,” I feel like I want to escape Patricia’s advise on eating more than I want God. You see food for me has been at once the same kind of solipsistic compulsion as sexual lust and a substitute for sexual lust. I didn’t want to read her advice because even now, as I write. I want to reach for “junk food” as an antidote. Lord get me from Romans 7 to Romans 8.
Additionally I find all kinds of often silly excuses such as anger for wanting sexual lust or selfish overeating. Anger is a big excuse. I was so angry that I couldn’t edit a typo–my big clumsy fingers punched up a period (above) and I now can’t replace it with the obviously needed comma–that for a solid half-hour I wanted to escape to porn. Can you believe it?
Finally, and this is really my last post of the evening, I feel fit-to-be tied. I can’t look at porn, I can’t go to the refrigerator, and I can’t even edit a post! I am powerless.
I smoke cigarettes. I was delivered for many years. My huband had an affair and I used it as an excuse to start smoking again. I like and hate smoking now. I need to quit. I’m lying to myself. I have to stop.
My grandfather died from smoking. Just a warning.
I pray and then yield to the same temptation. after that i feel like god is not going to help me anymore.
Emelia, if you haven’t already, please reach out to one of the women on our ministry team. We’d love to walk with you and help you begin to experience God’s love, mercy, and faithfulness to you even when you yield to the same temptation.
God bless you Josh. This passage has helped me tonight. It is so true that I believe it will always do so.
I found this super helpful and i already feel like he is helping me thank you so much I really needed this. I hope you are having an awesome day and that your sins are being banished.
Hi I wanted to thank you for this particular blog as I have only just found it! I have the same exact problem! I have struggled with porn since I was 8yo and I am now a 42yo father of 2 beautiful daughters one of which knows of my struggle as I cannot turn to wife cause she simply don’t want to help me…mad yes I understand but I have been paying for mistakes from 10 years ago! So I have turned to my now (23) yo daughter for help and she tries but nothing is strong enough to beat this horrid urge…I feel like killing myself I feel as if there is no hope…I’ve turned to God only to fail him that very same day..it has now been 2 weeks since I have asked him for his forgiveness as I feel as though I constantly fail him and don’t want to bother him..please help
Kenneth, I am sorry not to have seen your post earlier to be able to respond sooner. If you are suicidal, please go to the nearest emergency room, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Regarding your struggle with pornography, please reach out for help from an experienced pastor, counselor, or sexual addiction group. It’s too big a burden to carry alone and too big a burden for your daughter. You can contact either of our offices (Towson, MD at info@RegenerationMinistries.org or Fairfax, VA at infoNoVA@RegenerationMinistries.org) to schedule a time to set up a consultation with one of our staff members. Please do!
Kenneth – I know exactly how you feel. I started this addiction around 10-12 years old and was controlled by it for 20 years. I found a way out that’s working for many people for the past 40 years or so. I wish I had found it sooner. I’ve been in recovery for 19 years now and my life is so much better and is now free from the compulsion. I can always go back to it, but I just don’t want to now because life without it is so much better. Check out my landing page here for a quick rundown of how to get started. It’s completely free except for taking some time and making some sacrifices.
Yes it’s really Godly words of wisdom.
I struggled with the Internet for decades .
The constant peaks and valleys of The numbing ecstasy of giving in to send and then they regret and. guilt
Mercifully God freed me from all of this A couple of years ago and it amazes me every time now how he has strengthened me to step back and look at temptation for what it is .