Often when you give in to the temptation to lust it is easy to say, “I don’t know how that happened.”
But if you’re honest and look back at the moments before you fell, you could easily point to the first step you took towards giving in.
I have found it very helpful to make a list of the common emotions that I experience that tend to lead to a fall. That way every time I feel one of them a red flag goes up and I know to be extra strict on myself as to what situations I let myself into.
Here is a list of 6 emotions that can easily be opportunities to lust:
Perhaps this isn’t really an emotion, but there are just some times where I am really curious about the apparent joys of indulging in lustful desires.
I just get these thoughts sometimes that are hard to shake. “I wonder if the internet has something like…” or “I wonder if that girl I used to know…”
Some of these thoughts are clearly wrong. Others are just a really bad idea, like looking up an old crush on Facebook. But at the root of the curiosity is never a desire to know God more but to get as close to sin without sinning. The hope is to somehow still get pleasure from the sin without having to feel guilty about sinning. This is like hoping to enjoy a brownie just by smelling it so you don’t feel guilty about the calories. But eventually you’ll just eat the brownie.
This is particularly dangerous because it trails back to feeling that God has somehow let you down.
Many times we feel that God has promised things that he actually never has. He never promised deep friendships with people at church, but he commands pursuing them. He never promised a satisfying marriage but he commands seeking to satisfy your spouse. Sometimes when these sort of things don’t happen we turn our disappointment into blaming God.
Whenever we feel like God owes us something he is not giving us, that is fodder for giving in to temptation to lust. Be extra wary of tempting situations when you feel disappointed. Flee them like your life depends on it.
Boredom or inactivity
When you are bored you are off mission. You tend to wander aimlessly, which really means you wander wherever your deeply rooted desires lead you.
We are always in a spiritual war. The harvest always needs workers. You should never be bored or inactive. However that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rest. There is a difference between inactivity and rest.
Biblical rest always involves an active pursuit of joy in God. It is a mich needed gift and command from God. Meditation and prayer are active ways to rest. You can also enjoy a sunset or a good movie or a conversation or a hike. But the pursuit in those things ultimately has to be to enjoy and glorify God.
Inactivity, however, is not something you see as a gracious gift and act of trust. Instead it is a reward you feel you’ve earned. It is an escape, not a revitalizing. A sunset or a good movie or a conversation or a hike turns into a bonus you give yourself for your hard work. There is no thought as to how it can remind you of God’s beauty. Inactivity comes from believing the lie that says if the work with your hands is done then so is the work of your heart and mind.
When you have this earned-rewards mentality then it is all too easy to end up rewarding yourself with lustful indulgences. Beware when you find that you are rewarding yourself with leisure as opposed to being thankful for God-given rest.
Even your closest friends don’t always understand you and the One who does seems far and intangible. And lustful fantasies promise instant feelings of companionship.
Experiences are meant to be shared. Often times we find ourself trying to share an experience—something that makes us excited, afraid, nervous, sad, angry—with someone close to us and they just don’t get it. Even if they try, they just can’t share the experience the way you need them to. This loneliness can be excruciating at times.
Of course, you know that God understands, but he doesn’t respond in any way that involves the five senses. And that’s really what you need. Beware when you find yourself seeking a deep experience of companionship. Lust will promise but it cannot deliver.
Again, this trails back to God. You feel he has not only let you down but wronged you.
He not only seemed to break a promise but he also seemed to actually do something to harm you. Ultimately all anger is anger at God whether you realize it or not. He is absolutely in control of everything in the universe. So either you think he is doing things for your good or for your harm. I do not see a neutral stance to be possible.
Whenever you are angry, remember that it is God who you are really angry at. Immediately flee any thoughts about getting back at him or blowing him off and indulging in lust. Instead, pray your anger honestly to God. Jesus already died for it. He won’t smite you.
With this, you don’t feel like God has let you down or wronged you, but that he is taking far too long to come through on his promises.
He has promised that if you ask anything in his name he will give it. He has promised to complete the work he began in you. He has promised to always give you a way out of temptation. He has promised to grow the fruit of the Spirit in you. If you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord all the promises of God are “yes” in Christ.
But he sure does take a long time to fulfill many of these promises. We may have a good strong longing for these promises, but beware of the temptations that will come. They will promise a shortcut, yet at a high cost and only for a counterfeit.
Make sure when you notice these emotions in your own heart that you immediately flee any tempting situation, desire, or thought. They always sound appealing at first, but they will always leave you empty and guilty. In other posts we will talk about how to not only flee but to fight for faith in and love for God.
What other emotions can you think of that tend to lead you toward a fall?
What are good responses to these emotions instead of seeking comfort in lust?