(Click to listen to an audio recording of this article, read by the author)
The Bible says, “Flee youthful lusts”. You are young, so this commandment is especially for you. But in reality it seems impossible to keep – the temptations just seem too strong. Too strong for God, even?
Like all other human beings, you were born with a nature that wants to do your own will, contrary to God’s will. The Bible calls this nature your “flesh”. If you follow the inclinations of your flesh – your lusts – you commit sin. Sometimes it feels as if you can’t help it. Your thoughts are constantly drawn in directions you know aren’t pleasing to God – to complaining, criticism of others, sexual immorality, greed, discouragement. The list goes on. You begin to wonder where God is in all of this, and if He really cares about you.
Jesus was tempted like we are
As a matter of fact, in God’s Word, the Bible, we can read about His enormous love for us human beings. We can also read about His enormous hatred against sin and its consequences – so much so, that He sent Jesus, His only Son, to earth as a human being, in order to save us from our sins. Jesus inherited the same flesh as all other people, but by obedience and faithfulness He denied and put to death the lusts that dwelt there, so He never – not once – committed sin.
We can read how Jesus was raised from the dead as proof of this enormous victory over sin and death, and is now in heaven with God, His Father.
And then the Bible tells us that God has sent us the Holy Spirit, to guide, help and strengthen us, so we also can walk in Jesus’ footsteps in our life situations. It’s written that all those who do so also overcome sin and death in their lives, and Jesus is not ashamed to call them His brothers! (Hebrews 2:11) One day, we read, He will return in the clouds to fetch all of His brothers and sisters, to spend eternity with Him in heaven.
The “way of escape”
That is God’s plan for us, but in the meantime you’re still being tempted. Back to those youthful lusts, the temptation that seems to overpower your thoughts and your body completely, so you feel you can’t resist. Impure thoughts, discouragement, anger, criticism, vanity – the lusts rear their ugly heads in a seemingly endless stream. You feel as if you can’t avoid sinning.
Let’s see what the Bible says. “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13. The way out is the way that Jesus showed us. When He was tempted, He “offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear.” Hebrews 5:7.
As a Christian, a follower of Jesus, isn’t this exactly what you should also be doing? How desperate are you to be free from your youthful lusts? Have you prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so you have strength not only to deny, but totally overcome the lusts?
The Holy Spirit will show you the sin in your flesh. And He shows you what to do: you have to hate the lusts; you have to resist them and flee from them. Your mind must never agree or give in to the lusts. As long as you are in a battle against the sin that is revealed in the temptation, you haven’t sinned! The Bible calls this way that Jesus showed us suffering in the flesh, and it’s the only way to become free from sin. (1 Peter 4:1-3)
Obedience of faith gives results
God is Almighty, and that also means He can give you all the power you need to be an overcomer, but you have to want to, and you have to obey Him, which means taking up a fight against your lusts. This is called the obedience of faith, and these are the works that accompany your faith, and make it real. It means you have to hang in there. The battle may be hard and long, but God has “given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,” (2 Peter 1:3), and He will never let you down. Believe it! Do it! Experience it!
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Romans 6:1-2.
If you really believe in God, and in His Son Jesus Christ, why do you still sin? There is actually no reason to do so!