I need some advice. I am 18 years old, male, and, not surprisingly, struggling with lust.

Now my spiritual history- I have grown up in Christian schools. I have gone to church all of my life. I spend a lot of time in the Word and could probably quote chapter and verse for anything that you want to know about Christianity. Those things don't mean a lot in themselves, but I also have a genuine love for Christ and an unquenchable thirst to learn more about Him and to be more like Him.
God is everything to me, and if I am not seeking after Him, I am always depressed and unhappy with my life. Every dream that I have for my life revolves around knowing Jesus better. Now here's where the two meet- and it's not pretty.
 
I literally feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I can spend hours in prayer or in the Word in the morning, and then in the afternoon completely lose control and look at pornography. Or I can spend months completely "clean" and doing incredibly well in my fight against lust, and then I go out with my ex-girlfriend with no lustful intentions whatsoever, and leave feeling ashamed that I was tempted so strongly and that we crossed some physical boundary lines- and we aren't even together!!

I am so frustrated because it seems like no matter how much of God's truth I absorb, no matter how much I pray and ask God for strength, no matter how much I cry out to God for forgiveness, I can throw it all away in the blink of an eye.

I know I should probably have some sort of accountability, but as wonderful as my church is, there is no one that I really feel I can trust in a position of leadership and spiritual authority. Is it completely impossible to win this type of battle without direct accountability? I claim to love God and try to follow Him. My whole identity is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ. But I just cannot seem to get free (or let go) of this lust problem. Please help me.


Answer
I believe that you do need accountability. This verse in James 5:16 says: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." It implies that the body of Christ provides a support group kind of environment and there is power when a group is praying together!

1. Preventing sinful behavior and lust:
Become involved in a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and in a Christian group for men ( Faithful and True or just a Bible study) and you will find support from others struggling with these issues.
Obtain a filtering system on your computer so you can't visit the on-line porn sites.
Call a spiritual mentor for prayer.

Memorize scriptures
which are applicable such as;
1 Cor 3:16-17 "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple." NIV

1 Cor 5:9-10 "I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people- "

1 Cor 6:13-20 "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"-but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." 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 not 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 honor God with your body." NIV

1 Cor 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." NIV

Phil. 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."

Write these on cards, in your palm pilot, iphone or wallet so you can review them through-out the day and when you are being tempted.
James talks about how we are "tempted by our own desires".
Get insight into your triggers so you can make a plan to walk away, distract yourself and pray.
Explore when you have had control over or escaped these temptations. This will help you apply the healthy coping skills that have worked for you in the past which will prevent sinful behavior.

Your online plan: Make sites like Faithful and True; and Pure Intimacy part of your favorites list. Read the articles on these sites to learn more about how to prevent this behavior.
Limit your online time and make your online time important -- important to your learning, to spiritual growth and helping others.

Here are 3 steps to implement when you are tempted:
--Prayer is number one.
--Pick up your Bible and memorize scripture.
--Phone a Christian mentor (male) who can pray with you and for you.

When these steps don't help you then, you need professional counseling and a 12-step or Faithful and True support group for men with sexual addictions. Please contact AACC for a referral to a mental health professional .

Investigate the reasons you are battling these issues. Obviously, this has been a pattern of behavior and sin in your life. This is spiritual battle that started when you were 13. Satan knows your weakness. But, nothing is too hard for the God of the universe to overcome. Mighty is our God and faithful to come to our rescue!!!!! With Christ you can overcome these temptations and sin because His Spirit lives in you! 

Order and read the following books:
False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction by Harry Schaumberg

Every Man's Battle The Path to Sexual Integrity by Stephen Artenburn

Every Woman's Battle : Discovering God's Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment (Paperback)
by STEPHEN ARTERBURN (Afterword), SHANNON ETHRIDGE

© 2002 All rights reserved. Lynette Hoy, NCC, LCPC