Thursday, 4 July 2013

Help with Masturbation

"But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body."
1 Corinthians 6:17-20 (NIV)

I struggle with Masturbation, Pornography and Lust. But God had mercy on my soul and loved me so much that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die in my place on the cross. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, my sins regarding Masturbation, Pornography and Lust were apportioned to him, cleansing me of this sin and putting me in right standing before God.

Having said this, it simply isn't enough to live with this knowledge and not to ask the almighty God to help us with particular sins that are a reoccurring problem in our lives. After all, in our journey as followers of Christ our focus should be on getting closer to the model of Jesus Christ.

Typical Cycle:

Lust ------> Pornography ------> Masturbation ------> Shame, Guilt and Regret ------> Period with little temptation------> Back to Lust

If I had the figure for how often I have gone through this cycle I would invest in a spade and bury the number as deep as I could in the earth. If we are then attempting to break this cycle (which I hope we all are) what can we do? 

I would say that the most important thing to breaking this cycle would be centred around the trigger of it, lust. If we tried to deal with pornography or masturbation, it would be like trying to cure a disease by only treating the symptoms (leaving the underlying cause of the disease untouched).

So how do we tackle lust? Firstly, lust is a fleshly reaction. Impurity, inherently part of our sinful nature that can feed on and is exacerbated by visual stimuli. Well if lust is part of our nature, what can we then do about it? Paul addresses this in his letter to the churches in Galatia;

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want."
Galatians 5:16-17 (NIV)

All in all I have come up with a 3 step plan to ensure that I am doing my absolute utmost to avoid falling prey to the clinches of this deadly cycle (I would encourage all of you to follow this, making adjustments where you feel necessary).

1. Pray and commune with God habitually.

2. Don't try and fight it, you're going to just run away!!
Here I am referring to the mental struggle, where we torment ourselves with the conflicting desires of our flesh and the desires of the Spirit. As soon as this happens I find that it is the beginning of the end, and shortly after, I have succumbed to temptation. Sexual immorality has such an overwhelming appeal to our flesh that the best thing we can do when faced with its lure is to run away...look at the example of Joseph. How can we run away from something that is happening in our mind?

This will be different from person to person. If your family or friends are present then go and spend time with them. I find that normal and healthy and social interaction can really quash lust and calm what feels like an oncoming barrage of attack. It may literally mean put your running shoes on and go for a run or walk around your neighbourhood. Watch a deep melancholic movie. Everyone will have to figure out what works for them in this situation, but remember never to leave God out of this process.

When you recognise that your flesh is trying to overcome the progress of your heart and Spirit, ask God for his strength in diffusing the pressure of temptation rather than facing it head on. Slowly by slowly you will hate the thing you once loved, which is such a positive sign of spiritual progress. That is when you will have had victory over sin, but that does not mean your fight with this sin is over. Remember always stay on guard, for the hour of his return is unknown.

3. Keep busy!
Idleness is most often for me the platform by which lust launches its assault from. In periods of extended vacation, when I have a lot of time to myself I find that I am so much more tempted by pornography. The solution to this is keeping yourself busy, come up with a programme for your day if you have to. Anything can be on this programme except for something like lounging around watching TV.

Watching TV isn't bad in itself, there are some good programmes on. It is when we spend the whole day in front of the TV not filtering what we watch that unseen damage can be done. I would liken lust to a tapeworm, and it feeds on anything sensual or suggestive that we see. Without us knowing it, we are feeding and nurturing it, making it bigger, stronger and more powerful. Eventually, like it has come from nowhere, we will be overcome with lust, and it would have been our own fault.

I pray for every one who reads this and would stress that Gods Love is Unconditional! That means he loves us the same if we've just fallen, or if we have been going strong for a while now.
I hope that you may be encouraged by this and take heart in the fact that the majority of christian men struggle with this. The key is not to be naive and never to let our guard down. Treat this very seriously for thats what it is but don't punish yourself if/when you fall. Each time you fall is a lesson, assess what you did or didn't do that may have contributed to your falling and ask yourself what you are going to do differently the next time to avoid this. Eventually you will cover all the bases and by Gods grace be victorious.

Think about your integrity, the purity of your heart and that God sees all you do. God is on your side so don't distance yourself from him in this struggle. God wants to help you and is willing to lead you away from this..take his hand and listen to him. But remember that God will not drag you along this path, God will show you the way but you have to take the steps!!