The Bible tells us to take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). But how do we do this with sexual thoughts?
I used to have a serious problem with lustful thoughts; I couldnít make them stop, and I didnít know how to interrupt them so that they didnít linger and turn into adulterous images in my mind. Thank God, the Holy Spirit showed me over time how to deal with these thoughts in a godly manner.
Iíd like to share with you what the Lord showed me about taking captive these kinds of thoughts. In the beginning of my walk with Christ, I tried to visualize these thoughts being chained up or locked up behind a jail door, but this didnít help. I had a picture in my head, but there was still lust in my heart. I condemned myself for having such unrestrained thoughts in the first place, and I felt ashamed that I couldnít manage to control them.
I prayed for help, and the Holy Spirit showed me over time how to really take my thoughts captive.
First of all, I had to accept that each human being is born with the potential for sexual thoughts, feelings and activity. There is nothing shameful about that Ė read ďThe Song of Solomon.Ē God deliberately used sexual imagery to showcase His love and desire for spiritual union with all human beings. According to Psalm 139:14, we are ďfearfully and wonderfully made,Ē and that includes our potential for sexual love. We have nothing to be ashamed of simply because we have feelings that God has built into us as adult human beings.
I had to realize that, as a woman, finding a man to be attractive is not a sin, and it is not shameful. Allowing that thought to linger and grow into a fantasy, however, is. Remember that Jesus once told the crowd, ďI tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heartĒ (Mt 5:28). If you are alive, you have the capacity to feel sexual feelings, but you need to avoid letting those feelings turn into mental adultery. Temptation is not sin, but nurturing temptation and letting it take root is.
When I find myself attracted to a man, I donít panic. I donít try to shut it out or deny it because Iíve found that doesnít help. I acknowledge it, and sometimes I joke with myself about that feeling being proof that Iím still alive. The Holy Spirit showed me that I need to be honest with myself if I am to mature and grow in self-control. But amazingly, what the Spirit showed me to do next is start thanking God (silently) for the way He has blessed this man whom I find so attractive. I thank God for this manís nice physique, for his obviously radiant health, his handsome face, his overall charisma. Then I pray other blessings according to the Holy Spiritís direction.
And then, I pray for this manís wife. I may not know him or his wife, or he might not even be married, but I ask God to bless his wife, to bless their marriage (present or future), and then I thank God for the opportunity to bless this person.
By this time, several wonderful things have happened. First, I have chosen to obey God instead of obeying my flesh. This pleases God greatly: ďObedience is better than sacrificeĒ (1 Samuel 15:22 & Acts 17:11). Having a heart which is willing to follow God blesses Him, even if we are not perfect. Second, I am turning the situation over to God instead of trying to resist temptation in my own strength: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalms 46:1). Third, Iím praying, thanking God for someone elseís blessing, and calling down blessings on someone else, stepping out of my flesh and being selfless, things which make my spirit stronger and my flesh weaker. And last but not least, I am communing with God, keeping that spiritual channel open, and getting myself showered with the joy of His presence and favor. Thatís so much better than wallowing in lust, guilt and shame.
You canít help but receive blessings when you thank God and praise Him, regardless of the situation. Satan, the enemy, wants to keep you feeling bound and ashamed instead of grateful and joyful, but if you turn a situation of temptation over to God, you will reap benefits you canít even imagine. And if you do it consistently, you will keep reaping the rewards of obedience.
I pray that everyone who reads this little article will learn to shed unnecessary guilt and will gain more and confidence in Godís promises and blessings.