In his great wisdom and love, God created man and woman, made them sexually compatible, and placed within them a (strong) desire to become one flesh through sexual union (Gen 2:18-25). Fundamentally, sexual desire is God-given and therefore good. Experienced in its proper setting, sexual intimacy between a husband and wife is a beautiful expression of love, and one of God’s greatest earthly blessings (Prov 5:15-17; Song of Solomon). What isn’t good is perverted sexual desire, an affliction which we all must bear in some measure this side of the fall and this side of eternity.
In his mercy, however, God gave us his Son so that we might be forgiven of all our sin (including lust) and receive new, effective power against it. Through redemption in Christ, God renews, reclaims, and transforms our sexual desires. Due to regeneration (Titus 3:4-7), the gift of a new heart (Ezek 36:26), and the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom 8:13), we now have the capacity to behold each other in the beauty of sexual purity (1 Thess 4:1-8; cf. Matt 5:8), valuing each other as whole persons rather than mere sexual objects who exist for our own personal gratification.
Lust Doesn’t Disappear at Conversion
I still remember when God first saved me from a life of immorality. Up to that point in my life I didn’t think it was possible (or even desirable) to view women with a heart that prized their holiness, their walk with Christ, and saw them as God’s image-bearers. The immediate cleansing of my desires was a welcome relief from the bondage I experienced prior to my conversion.
But as I quickly learned, forgiveness of sin, regeneration, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, do not eradicate all sinful desires (Col 3:5-11). Lust is still potent, although it no longer has the upper hand that it once did (Rom 6:1-19). The onslaught of an enemy that had no plans to fold quietly was, at first, overwhelming. But over the years, as I’ve dealt with this enemy first-hand, I’ve been able to collect several effective resources from Scripture that have helped me (and others) to make progress in the area of sexual purity. The Bible is replete with divinely sanctioned tactics that are designed to help us wage effective warfare against lust, which is ever-seeking to destroy our souls (1 Pet 2:11). It’s my prayer that we will make good use of these resources and make genuine progress in sexual purity.
Although you might occasionally find the word “tactic” used interchangeably with the word “strategy,” these two words are not synonymous. In the context of warfare, a strategy is the overall aim of military engagement. Tactics are the specific plans and practical steps that an army will use to accomplish their strategy. In our case, the strategy is to make genuine progress in sexual purity with biblically-grounded resources. But we will not accomplish this broad strategy if we do not implement tactics that directly serve our greater goal. Establishing our strategy is necessary for helping us know what we are trying to accomplish. Identifying our tactics will enable us to make genuine advances toward our desired objective.
Each of the following articles will discuss one tactic, providing the biblical basis for the tactic and applying it to our lives in practical ways. We will make sure to link every subsequent article to prior articles in this series so you will always have quick access to the tactics we discussed previously. Also, it will be important to keep in mind that these articles are written from a man’s perspective and are, therefore, primarily for men. However, because I’ve sought to root these tactics in Scripture, women should be able to gather some effective weapons to help in their own fight against sin.
Over the next several weeks, you will come to see that I am giving you a lot of weapons for your arsenal. I do not apologize for this, nor do I think it is overwrought. Lust, as you well know, is an enemy that often utilizes a multi-pronged approach to upend our defenses. Our strategy must be just as diverse. I pray that you will find the principles outlined in the following articles effective in your fight for sexual purity.