In this last week of dwelling on pornography I want to share practical steps to help men and women be victorious over temptation in this area. These principles apply to all temptations in any area!
The first principle is something not often taught in churches nor by Bible teachers, yet is foundational.
John the Baptist said to replace old habits with new habits. Not just stop doing something, but stop doing it by replacing it with something else. (Matthew 3:8) Replacement is the first principle.
I remember when I was a teen and my mother told me about how she had quit smoking once she got married and started building a family, intuitively knowing smoking while pregnant wasn't good for babies. She said every time she felt like lighting up she instead reached for food (and gained 20 pounds).
Mom accidentally fulfilled a Biblical principle of not just stopping an action, but stopping it AND replacing it. Jesus mentioned in Matthew 5 about 'cutting out or cutting off' the imaginations related to adultery, but the whole of the New Testament completes the thought, teaching replacing old thoughts and actions with new.
This ranges from Romans 12:2 about renewing the mind (thinking new thoughts) thereby entering into a process of metamorphosis in our lives, to Ephesians 4's repeated instructions to give up old thoughts and habits to 'put on Christ'. Over and over we see the only way to truly change our lives is to replace old or sinful thoughts with God's thoughts. Replace one action with another.
The Second Principle: Redirect
There is no other way to teach this than to be transparent from my own life, for I learned this long ago and it has served me well over some 38 years of knowing the Lord and over 33 years and counting of a happy and faithful marriage. I can only speak from the grace given me, but it may help someone.
When a thought comes into my mind about a woman, like when a low cut top reveals more information than I should know when she leans over, I have trained myself immediately to first say to myself 'Jesus loves her and died for her', and then I say a quick prayer that if she doesn't know Him, she would come to know Him, or if she does know Him, that she may be blessed and mover deeper in her walk.
I don't just stop a thought - I stop and then replace the carnal thought with a God thought and redirect myself by thought and prayer. Doing this naturally leads to being able to keep relationships exactly where God intended them to be and not go a step beyond.
II Peter 1:3-4 says that ALL things pertaining to life and godliness have been provided - so look for His provision for your godliness for that moment.
If you are sitting in front of a computer tempted to go to an adult site, ask what should you be doing right now? Cleaning the kitchen? Working in the yard? Calling a friend to check on them? When you ask yourself and the Father right then, What else should I be doing right now? - what springs to mind? Do it without delay. Replace and redirect.
Replace, then redirect, almost in one motion.
Third Principle - Speak it Out
If you get into a silent argument with yourself or a demonically inspired temptation, keeping it internal, that internal wrestling will most often cause you to fall to the temptation. Even if you say it out loud just under your breath, state your will towards God and grace and resistance and you will break your attention - you will be redirecting and replacing by speaking it out. Just a 'You're not going to get me to do that' is often all it takes as you get up and go do something else.
Remember, neither God nor the devil can make up your mind for you. And the devil sure can't read your mind - he is an individual like you or I - but demons that have followed you around since before you knew the Lord, or have been firmly entrenched in your family - know you very, very well.
Sometimes they send out a scatter shot of thoughts, some of which are so weird or perverted you think 'How could I think that!!!?' - that's just a demon suggesting a wide range of things to see if you take one and make it your own. Don't keep thoughts internal, speak out your Godly will and provision for the moment.
Replace, redirect, state your will.
Fourth Principle: Why would I want to break this fellowship with the Lord?
We've all felt that sting in our spirit when we sin, and we ask forgiveness but that bruise in our spirit remains for awhile longer - while (if you are your own worst enemy like I am) - you continue to beat yourself up.
One day I realized I loved the sweet fellowship with the Lord much, much more than I did sin - and I started resisting temptation from a position of victory as a result. Why Satan, would I voluntarily feel that grievance in my spirit, just for a momentary pleasure of sin?
If you do this you will go from resisting in a weak position feeling like a victim being led to the slaughter, to one looking down on the tempter as a prince might look down upon a weaker foe. Suddenly the temptation just isn't appealing because of the focus on protecting and loving the fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
Replace, redirect, state your will, immediately tell the Lord how much you love Him and appreciate Him and His sweet presence you feel in your spirit as you go do something else. You will realize that sin just isn't you. It just isn't you.
I have worked hard to discipline my thoughts to turn to my spirit man many, many times a day just to feel Him down in my spirit (in my chest area, but in my spirit man not my physical body). That Presence I feel inside me is the single most important thing in this life and when I talk (normal conversation) with the Father in an ongoing dialogue throughout the day, that is where I listen for a response.
I am convinced that no matter what we face, when our thoughts are able to shift back and forth between His ever-present Presence in our spirit and the circumstances we must deal with, we will deal with those trials and temptations from a position of strength, indeed, from a certain knowing that we have already won!
I'll cover tattoo's next week...blessings,