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It is almost impossible in the Western world to escape sensuality. Sex is on the television, in the movies and in our music, on the side of buses, during halftime shows, in our books and in glossy close-ups at supermarket check-out. Sex is all around us in the mall, dripping off every beer commercial, and two stories high on our billboards. Sexual sin is walking around our high schools, flaunted across our universities, and hiding in our churches.

And of course, sex is on the internet. Pornography and sex-related sites make up 60 percent of daily web traffic. Of internet users in the U.S., 40 percent visit porn sites at least once a month, and that number increases to 70 percent when the audience is 18-34 year old males. Half of hotel room patrons purchase pornography from their rooms. 90 percent of 8-16 year olds with internet access have viewed pornography online, and the average age of exposure is eleven.

The seventh commandment is not just broken in this country; it’s being smashed to pieces.

And sexual sin is not just an “out there” problem. Any pastor will tell you stories about how sexual sin has destroyed people in his congregation. None of us are immune from the dangers of sexual immorality. In a Christianity Today study from several years ago, 40 percent of clergy acknowledged visiting pornographic websites. Another survey found that 21 percent visit regularly. Yet another survey at found that 50 percent of pastors reported to viewing pornography in the previous year. And then there’s the underlying issue of the heart. The seventh commandment doesn’t just forbid adultery and pornography. It forbids every action, look, conversation, thought, or desire that incites lust and uncleanness.

So how in the world, in this world we live in, and with our sex-saturated hearts, can we obey the seventh commandment?

Let me suggest fifteen passages of Scripture that can help us fight lust and the temptation to sexual immorality.

1) Proverbs 5:18-19 “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” This may seem a strange text for fighting sexual temptation, but married couples need to know they have delight at their lawful disposal. We need to know that sex is good, intimacy is good, bodies together in marriage are good. Good, glorious sex is spiritual warfare for the married couple.

2) Lamentations 3:25-27 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” This a verse is for singles. Granted, this passage isn’t talking about waiting for a spouse. It’s about waiting on the Lord. But that’s the point: the Lord is good to those who wait for him. He knows what you need. The preceding verses tell us “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” Don’t think “How can I live without sex for another year or decade or two decades.” Think about today. The Lord has given you grace for this day and he will give you grace for the every subsequent day in which you follow God in the midst of unmet desires.

3) 1 Peter 3:15 “In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Before you take a second look or dress yourself so that others will, think: “Will this make me more ready to talk to someone about Jesus?” Sensuality deadens the spiritual senses and makes us less courageous and effective witnesses for Christ.

4) 2 Peter 3:10-14 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…Therefore…be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” Do you want to be cheating on your husband, masturbating, or watching Game of Thrones when Christ returns?

5) James 1:14-15 “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” This passage helps us understand how temptation works and reminds us that feeling tempted is not necessarily the same as sinning. Temptation beckons us to do what we should not do. That’s not sin. When the desire is nurtured it conceives and gives birth to sin (sin in the flesh or sin in the mind). Sin then grows and matures and leads to death. It is not lust to be attracted to someone or notice he or she is good looking. It is not lust to have a strong desire for sex. It is not lust to be excited about sex in marriage. It is not lust to inadvertently notice a woman bathing on the roof. It is sin to keep noticing and start scheming. Stoke the fires of this lustful passion and it will bring forth death. Just ask King David.

6) Hebrews 2:17-18 “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Jesus was tempted, not as we are from a sinful nature. But there were external voices calling him to sin. Let us not underestimate the real nature of his temptations and undercut his sympathy and his ability to help. Jesus was hungry in the wilderness. He had a desire, a want. He was enticed to make the stones bread so he could enjoy the pleasure of food. But he told the devil, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Matt. 4:1-3). In our moments of sexual temptation, we need to think, “Flesh does not sustain me. Jesus does.”

7) Romans 14:21 “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” As Christians, we want to help each other avoid sin, not lead one another into it with flirting, coarse joking, and immodest dress.

8) Matthew 5:27-30 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” We are not good fighters.  We make excuses. We don’t get radical. We pray a few prayers, feel bad all the time, tell a friend to ask how we’re doing once in awhile and that’s it. We need more decisive action than that. Avoid the movies, get rid of your internet connection, don’t kiss before marriage, throw out your t.v., tear out your eye—whatever it takes to battle lust. There are too many whole-bodied people going to hell and not enough spiritual amputees going to heaven.

9) Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” There are often temporal consequences for disobedience. It could be STDs, baggage in marriage, a guilty conscience, getting mired in a deeper addiction, distraction at work, a pornography fetish you pass on to your children, destroying your family, your marriage, or your ministry. There are also eternal consequences if you give yourself over to this sin. Galatians 6:8 “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

10) 1 Cor 6:15-20 “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!…Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” We need a theology of the body: the body is good, but it’s not yours. Jesus didn’t just die to ransom our souls. He also died for your body. It belongs to God. It is a member of Christ’s body now. Surely, we don’t want to employ Christ’s body in some sexual escapade or his eyes in viewing pornography or his mind in sensual fantasy.

11) 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Cultural liberalism says, “Just be yourself.” Self-help doctrine says, “You can find a better you if you just dig deep enough.” Moralism says, “Be a better person.” The Bible says, “You are a new person by God’s grace, now live like it.” “Be who you are” is the gospel motivation for holiness.

12) Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” No one fights a war by himself, and no one will have victory over sexual sin on his own. You need to talk to others about your struggles and listen just as well. Be honest. Ask good questions. Don’t just confess and feel better. Repent and change. Don’t just sympathize; admonish. Follow up with your brothers and sisters. Pray and remind each other of the gospel.

13) James 4:6 “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” God always gives more grace. So keep coming to him with your sin and all your commandment violations. Confess like David in Psalm 51 that you have sinned against God. Confess that God is the most offended party as a result of your sin. And then believe like David in Psalm 32: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity.” We will never experience growing victory over sin unless we are quick to turn to Christ all the times we fail.

14) Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This has been the most helpful verse for me in fighting lust and the temptation to sexual immorality. We need to fight desire with desire. Satan tempts us by holding out something that will be pleasurable to us. We aren’t tempted to gorge ourselves on liverwurst, because for most of us, it doesn’t hold out the promise of great pleasure. But sex does. Pornography does. A second look does. The Bible gives us many weapons to fight temptation. We can tell ourselves it is wrong, it is sinful, it will lead to bad things, it isn’t what I should do as a Christian. All of those are helpful. But the one weapon we rarely use is more pleasure. We need to fight the fleeting pleasure of sexual sin with the far greater, more abiding pleasure of knowing God. The fight for sexual purity is the fight of faith. It may sound like nothing but hard work and gritting your teeth–the very opposite of faith. But faith is at the heart of this struggle. Do we believe that a glimpse of God is better than a glimpse of skin? Do we believe that God’s steadfast love is better than life (Psalm 63:3)? We’d probably sin less if we spent less time thinking about our sins, sexual or otherwise, and more time meditating on the love and holiness of God.

15) Ephesians 1:19-21 “…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” The great power that created the world, and saved us, and raised Jesus from the dead–that same power is now at work in you. We must believe that God is stronger than sexual temptation, sin, and addiction. If you believe that God brought a dead man back to life, you should believe that you can change. Not over night usually, but from one degree of glory to the next. Work out your salvation from sexual sin with fear and trembling, for God’s power is already at work within you.

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37 thoughts on “15 Ways to Fight Lust with the Sword of the Spirit”

  1. In the 24 years of counseling 1000s of sexual sinners from across the U.S., few attack the problem so accurately and biblically as you have. I pray many read your post

  2. Keith Lancaster says:

    Over my almost 40 years of living out the Christian faith, I am constantly puzzled that when the topic of sexual temptation is brought up, why Psalm 51:10 “create in me a clean/pure heart” is almost always omitted. This has been a constant plea in my prayer time. It is a must have request in this battle that we all share in. The simplicity, wisdom and depth of this prayer is amazing.

  3. Brian Bentley says:

    …by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.” Proverbs 16:6b. Sort of in line with Matthew 5:27-30. Praising Him for your labor Kevin.

  4. Curt Day says:

    Though the Scripture verses are good, the beginning of the post overlooks something about lust. To illustrate that, we need to read the following from I John:

    15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[d] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

    If we think of lust only in terms of sex and sexual sins, we will let many dangerous sins fly in under the radar. People lust for other things in addition to sex.

  5. David says:

    Wonderful, I will share with the saints. God bless you!

  6. Ross Riggan says:

    Love #3. Absolutely do. How much sin in every respect could we avoid if our focus was on kingdom work? I confess I often leave my home without the slightest thought of my Lord’s commission, the very reason I am here. If we were always cognizant of our mission, we would see temptation, sexual and otherwise, for exactly what it is: a trap, a snare, a burden, an attack, a Satanic assassin. More often than not, we are not on mission even though we are in the middle of a battlefield. We are just sitting ducks waiting to be blown away by the next temptation. If we dressed for the day and started our day with a firm resolve to be on mission for Christ, oh how that might change so many things…

  7. Esther says:

    Praise God, right time and sound message.

  8. Dan Byrne says:

    Here’s another one: “Lead us not into temptation” – Matthew 6:13. I used to think that it was a demonstration o spiritual strength to be in the midst of temptation and withstand it. Yet I am not strong enough for that so it would lead me into failure and then guilt, shame and condemnation. Only a few years ago I began praying the words of Jesus in relation to my sin. It took humility to recognize that I am not strong enough to withstand temptation in the midst of it, but thank God my Saviour is wiser than I, and has taught me to pray in such a way that I might seek to avoid temptation altogether.

  9. denny says:

    Thank you for this list. This is a real struggle for me, and I think it is due to the strong sexual imagery of women that has been subtly drilled into my brain all these years. As you stated, we are surrounded by attractive images and videos. These passages will help me stand my guard against their overwhelming presence.

  10. Kathy Baldock says:

    AND — get some counseling by a LICENSED therapist!

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  12. Neville Briggs says:

    It’s an horrendous situation. The church of the pagan Roman Empire faced the same sort of thing.
    All the more reason why we need to facilitate the priesthood of all believers.

    We all need to be ministering to each other constantly.

    The Christian walk is not a solo expedition, I know that because the Bible says so and assures me that the church exists for mutual building up of the members.

    The verses that Mr De Young quotes may well be a helpful guide to thinking about the issue. And as powerful as the Word might be, in practical terms the people need also some established network of supporters to get through the snares of this world. A preacher talking about verses isn’t enough, and a preacher is only one person. The task is too tough for one person ( we know that from the pastor burnouts )
    If my memory is right, there is somewhere in the Bible mention of how a single strand of material is weak, but a number of strands fastened together into a cord or rope has a lot of strength. To me that’s the image of the priesthood of all believers.
    I’ve seen people in the congregation fall away from the faith and I had no idea that they were struggling with anything. We have to have a mechanism for sharing when the church is gathered, not just listening to lectures from the pulpit.

    As Mr De Young has intimated, we are in a dire situation. Action is needed, not just words.
    And the Bible says what the action is. God has given gifted people, pastors and teachers to equip the saints for the works of service ( saints plural), and I take it that the works of service include giving support to our brothers and sisters who might be falling into the temptations of the world.
    So I wonder what is the plan for equipping.

  13. kip says:

    Proverbs 6:27 comes to mind for me.

    Proverbs 6:27-33:
    27 Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? 28 Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? 29 So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished. 30 People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry, 31 but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house. 32 He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. 33 He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.

  14. Wheatie says:

    One of the BEST post on fighting lust I’ve seen in years! Thank you Kevin!

  15. Richard Lobach says:

    Funny I don’t see the gospel on here at all…coulda sworn it should be number one

  16. Richard Lobach says:

    I guess you could maybe stretch out some of those verses that are listed about sanctification and imply the gospel but, sanctification is not the gospel.

  17. Ross Riggan says:

    I see how the Gospel could have been mentioned more explicitly, but I think you definitely have it in 11 and 15 and implied in nearly all of them. 11 states that we are new creatures in Christ. 15 tells us that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us to overcome sin and become more like Christ. That’s the Gospel both in identity and in power. When we realize that we were not made to waste our lives in the sin-sick passions of the world but were chosen to be children of God, children who rightly desire to be like their father, and when we realize that an incredible power has been granted to us to enable the change from the old creature to the next, these Gospel realities definitely motivate us to turn from sin.

  18. Warren Perez says:

    Man this was just what I needed, praise the Lord and thank you for taking the time to share this.

  19. one of the biggest problems when it comes to how the church talks about all this stuff is the shaming language used. A lot of which can be found in this article. It completely ignores the idea of addiction which is not simply dealt with Bible verses. Once we understand this better we will be able to help men and women better. Right now articles like this simply create a legalistic approach to see.

  20. Myron Heckman says:

    An article that speaks to today’s environment so well.
    Two to add from Ephesians;
    1) Counter lust with thanksgiving. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” Eph 5:3-4
    2) Realize that lust is deceitful. “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” Eph 4:22

  21. Ross Riggan says:

    Paul, your comment is a very interesting one to me. Your concern for those experiencing an “addiction” is definitely a point to consider. How we consider it will be very important. The struggle will be to deal with sexual sin both compassionately and Biblically. I have not read every comment, but I have read several and of course the actual post by Mr. DeYoung and nowhere in my opinion was “shaming language” used. The fact is sin is sin, and sexual sin is condemned in the Bible. The Bible speaks to this issue, so we would be wrong not to consider and obey what it says. We would be wrong not to use the motivations the Bible offers in our struggle against sexual sin. Also, there is nothing legalistic about calling sexual sin for what it is. God does want us to identify and repent of sin. If this article was calling for skirts to be measuring a certain length or if certain styles of clothing were being condemned, you might have an argument here for legalism. Yet, this article definitely leaves the fine points of decision to the individual conscience while at the same time coming down hard on sin which we should always do.

    But what about addiction? Is there such a thing as sexual addiction? Or is using the word “addiction” just a cop out, a way to say we aren’t really responsible for our sins? Does the Bible speak to addiction? Is there a fine line between sin and addiction? Much could be said here and many others could say it better, but let me take a shot at it. I do believe that people can arrive at such deep levels of dependence upon certain things that abandoning them is fraught with great difficulty. The “thing” may be a sin itself, such as in the case of pornography. Or the “thing” may be alcohol which is not inherently sinful but dependence on it is. I think it is right for people like Kevin DeYoung to raise the Biblical banner in the fight against sexual sin in articles like this one. I do not think that it would be appropriate for Kevin DeYoung to write this article and shove it into the hands of a member of his church who is failing morally and say, “Read this and stop sinning.” I don’t think he would ever do that. Some people get into sin deeper than others do, even to the point where it is only with great difficulty that they are able to abstain from it. Don’t get me wrong: sexual sin is difficult for most people, but again there are some who have dug their pit deeper than others. It is only with great love and truth and honestly time, that they are able to climb out of that pit. For us to go to that individual person who is deep in sin, and thrust this article in their hands and demand they stop sinning would in my mind be a great disservice to them. Not that pointing out their sin or pleading with them to stop is a disservice, no, that is actually life and grace to them. But if we merely sound off truth without coming along side people and walking with them through this dark time and place, we have not fully loved them. Bring the Biblical truth to bear. Do not wink from it for a moment. But bring along patience and love and a firm resolve to get down into the dirty details of their life and help them out of this pit. Some sin issues in life are very apparent and the level of intensity required to fight those sins are not as high. Simple Bible verse reminders from posts like this are helpful in the day in and day out fight. Yet some sin issues for people go deep, very deep and the idea of simply just thinking right about it, while completely heading in the right direction, will not be enough. That is why pastors and brothers and sisters in Christ must be willing to “cut to the chase” and deal with the tough issues specifically. It’s personal, it’s uncomfortable, it’s embarrassing even shameful, but we will not be able to help people if we are unwilling to take the time and ask the hard questions. A quick disclaimer: I am not advocating details that are unimportant and may only serve to further tempt both the struggler and the helper. Yet, sometimes details and openness is necessary to really root out the deep set sin in our lives.

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  23. Of course, a blog post is not a sermon. Generally a brief outline from a sermon. Which it seems Kevin has done.

    And of course Ross you are right, you just can’t throw a list of 15 verses and expect them change over night. And of course only God and God alone can change the heart and behaivor of any one.

  24. anaquaduck says:

    Late to class on this one

    God gives us His Spirit, yet we can choke it or snuff it out instead of maintaining it if we are not careful.
    1 Thess 5:19.

    Far from being legalistic we are being called to exercise our faith, not let it slob or sloth around.

  25. Reid says:

    I try my best when tempted to recognize what the lust/actions truly are: EVIL/SIN. Context is Joseph fleeing Potiphar’s wife.

    Genesis 39:9b “How can I do such great evil and sin against God?”

  26. Tom says:

    Where is the gospel mentioned in your article?

  27. Alejandro Gonzalez says:

    Thank you

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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