get many letters asking me how I overcame sexual sin in my life. It wasn't easy I can tell you. But the best advice I can give someone is one that is generally overlooked by many Christians.
The advice I am referring to is found in Romans chapter 6. The fundamental premise in the apostle Paul's teaching in this chapter is the Christian's identification with Christ's death, burial and resurrection. The reason this is often overlooked is because many preachers don't like to preach it. "Dying to self" is not a very popular subject today in the churches. We would rather hear sermons that are "positive" and cater to our fleshly desires for worldly abundance and prosperity. But God's Word has to be applied in its entirety - negative and positive, if we are to follow the true Christian faith.
If we are going to live a life pleasing to God and enjoy the fullness of His blessings we need to consider the importance of reckoning ourselves dead unto sin.
"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." - Rom. 6:11,12
Why is this important? Because it is the key to being able to overcome any kind of besetting sin. If we do not understand the overcoming grace that Christ purchased for us on Calvary, we are destined to fail trying to do it on our own strength.
Receiving Christ's Power To Resist Sin
When we accepted Christ as Savior and were immersed in the waters of baptism, we publicly proclaimed our identification with His death, burial and resurrection. As a result, we received the grace and power to overcome sin and live a new life. "Then why do we still sin?", you may ask. "Why do I still feel like I am a slave to my carnal lusts and passions?" The problem, my friend, lies with us - not with God. We still have a free will and must learn to make the right choices. Daily we are faced with the decision to continue to obey our old nature or obey God. When we choose to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit, we receive power to overcome.
In the area of sexuality, for instance, we are continually bombarded with sexual temptation through television programs, movies, internet pornography, billboards, personal relations, and so on. But if we choose to say "no" to these temptations, Christ backs us up with the grace to continually get victory over them. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit He guides us moment by moment and warns us of upcoming pitfalls. When temptation and danger presents itself, the Lord is ready to succour us if we will call upon His help and strength. The problem is that many times we make the wrong choices. When we are tempted, we yield ourselves to our sinful nature instead of God's new nature. Both are struggling to have dominion over us but only one can succeed. The choice is ours.
In light of what the scriptures teach us about this, we realize that we have no one to blame but ourselves when we fall back into sin. Christ has provided everything we need to succeed in the new life, if we will chose to yield ourselves fully to Him.
However, the Bible warns us that Christians can return to sin and become its slave once again if we persist in making the wrong choices. The apostle Paul warns, "Now ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" - Rom. 6:16. If a believer repeatedly gives himself to sexual sin, he will in fact become a slave to that sin resulting in spiritual death. Jesus confirmed this when He proclaimed: "No man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24). We cannot serve a holy God, while we continue in living impure lives.
It's not easy to overcome sexual sin.
Sometimes its downright agonizing. Many days I would pray for hours at a time until the desire would go away. Other times I would have to fast in order for the strongholds to be broken. But eventually through God's grace I was able to achieve victory. Not because I am any better or stronger than anyone else, but because I was willing to pay the price of reckoning myself dead to sin and alive unto God. The apostle James described the process very concisely; he said:
"God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." - James 4:6-10
In conclusion, overcoming sexual sin requires more commitment than most casual Christians today are willing to commit. It takes genuine humility, spiritual intimacy with God, self sacrifice, and faith in His promises of victory. Although Christ lived a sinless life, he was tempted like any other man but without sin. Those who truly identify with His life, death and resurrection are promised the same ability to overcome as they allow Him to reign in their hearts and lives.
"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." - James 5:16
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Gal. 5:1
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."
- Gal 5:16-17
"I can do all things through Christ which
strengtheneth me."- Phil 4:13
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon