Lust may deliver the kick of afterburners, but that doesn’t mean we’re automatic victims. Many men choose instead to harness their passions to applied righteousness.
Here are several proven approaches for defeating monstrous temptations.
1. Work on your WANTER.
It comes down to what you want, so pray frequently to want what’s right. The man in Mark 9:24 provides a great model for how to pray: “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’” Borrow his prayer. “Lord, help me to want what’s right!”
2. Take heart.
Focus on your righteousness, not your failures. Proverbs 24:16 says, “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.” If you belong to Jesus Christ, you are a righteous man. Remind yourself of this and rise again.
3. Claim Scripture.
You know this verse — we all learned it: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Memorize that last part. When deceit starts driving you toward lust, quickly ask God to show you that “way of escape” — and look for it. (And pray the “Wanter” prayer!)
4. Band together.
One man against afterburners is flimsy odds. Ecclesiastes 4:12 reads this way: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Confide in close friends and slay the dragon with one another’s help.
5. Exercise your NO muscle.
Practice denying yourself. Start creatively with things like comfort and ease. Be manly. One guy and his buddy made a point to plunge into frozen ponds and streams a few times each winter. Another guy gives himself a buzz cut in the garage every Sunday, year round, wearing nothing but gym shorts, even when it’s zero degrees. Some friends once carried huge rocks the entire length of their hike through the Tetons — just because it was hard. One of them still has that rock proudly displayed in his desk at work. Have fun with this. Other ways to exercise the NO muscle: Put a filter on your computer. Leave your iGadget in the kitchen at night. Make sober commitments to your girlfriend when you’re thinking straight. Do something hard, just because you’re a man.
6. Do good things.
Ephesians 4:28 is interesting. It reads: “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” Replace what’s harmful with what’s helpful, good, and redemptive. Actually do things for people. Doing good is a fabulous antidote to doing bad. Here’s a good question to ponder — How do men bring good into the lives of women?
7. Cultivate Love.
Love, not willpower, is the true source of victory. You are ten times more likely to shun evil out of love for someone than out of willpower. So, cultivate love. Your girlfriend. Your wife. Your kids. Your friends. Your Lord. Pick someone, study the definition of agape love in the Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, and practice loving someone. Love makes afterburners look like smoldering twigs.