Beautiful things happened to me and my family last week. There were so many beautiful experiences that I should be thanking God for. But here I am choosing lust over praise. Here I am lazily choosing ingratitude over meditating on God’s word.
And being single doesn’t help. My mind would wander time and again, vacillating whether this act is indeed a sin or not.
I’m talking about masturbation.
Some days, I’d tell myself, “I’m not hurting anyone.” “My imagination doesn’t even star someone I know from the opposite sex.” “Better to do it this way than to have premarital sex, coz that surely will have regretful repercussions.” But right after the completion of sin, I am filled with shame. There is no peace. Only condemnation.
I know it in my heart that masturbation does not please
It is written in Romans 8: 5-8:
Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
It pains me that I couldn’t get out of it. I neither have the wisdom to resolve the vacillating that has exhausted my mind, nor the power to overcome these desires.
But the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child (Hebrews 12:6). In the following days and weeks, I was bombarded with messages about lust and sexual immorality. God has been so proactive in giving me the wisdom and discipline that I need.
In my Tuesday bible study group, God used the story of Joseph to firmly rebuke me.
Genesis 39 says that the LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered. When Potiphar, Joseph’s master saw that the Lord was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and his master put him in charge of his household and everything he owned, until Potiphar’s wife tried to tempt Joseph into sleeping with her. Joseph refused. He FLED. HE RAN OUT OF THE HOUSE even without his cloak on (Genesis 39:15). And yet he was put into prison despite of his innocence. But even while in prison, the LORD was with him and Joseph found favor in the prison warden’ eyes, and so Joseph was successful in whatever he did. By the end of the story, Joseph became the second highest official in Egypt, next to Pharaoh.
So how did Joseph gain victory over lust? These are the pointers we discussed in our bible study:
- The man/woman of God consistently walks with God.
Galatians 5:16 says, “…walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Prior to this, I was in a week-long vacation with my family where I never really made an effort to meditate on His word. There was no quality time with my God, no intense Bible reading, no intimate prayer time. And when we got back home, instead of saving my time and energy for Him, I chose to waste my time watching movies, thinking lustful thoughts, and reading sexually-inciting articles online.
I was prepping myself for a sure defeat. The only way to overcome lust is to walk by the Spirit, and in order to walk by the Spirit, I should take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)
Indeed, there is a great mysterious power that comes in reading the word of God.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
- The man/woman of God develops a very strong fear of God.
This new revelation brought great fear in me. It made me evaluate myself. Is my fear of God lacking? Is my understanding of what fear of God means right and biblical?
There was a time when all I know of God is that He is a punishing God. I had a hard time looking at the works of His hand with awe and wonder. There was no godly sorrow in me. These was no marveling at the height and width of His great love for me. I can’t go on living with a false knowledge of who God really is.
And I don’t want to live questioning myself time and again if my faith is real. I want to bear good fruit! And someday, I want my Lord and Savior to commend me for winning the race, for standing firm against the devil, and for rising in victory with him every after struggle.
To develop a strong fear of God, read and meditate on God’s word. I must take time to know God intimately if I want to worship Him not because He requires it of me, but because of His great love for me.
- The woman of God is willing to lose all things rather than yield to sexual sin.
Am I willing to lose everything to please God? Joseph lost everything the moment he stepped out of his master’s house. Paul said in Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”
There were consequences when I disobeyed God. Consequences that could have been God’s rewards. And I saw this at work: that in order for God to really get my attention, He would sometimes use my job to discipline me. There were accounts withheld, pitch lost, even good opportunities passed on to someone else…
But if losing career opportunities is what will take me to an everlasting path of sanctification and purity, then so be it. I am reminded of this quote I read a long time ago: God cares more about my character than my career.
But like David when his first child with Bathsheba died, he continued to pray and plea for God’s mercy, so am I in my prayers for God to spare me from the wrath of His discipline.
- The man/woman of God is rewarded for her victory.
The story of Joseph ends with such a motivating plot twist. Pharaoh entrusted all of Egypt to him. He was able to save his family from a 7-year famine. His life was blessed through and through. And who doesn’t want such a happy ending? Who doesn’t want to become an instrument of God’s blessings?
Surely, a few minutes of pleasure isn’t worth giving up a lifetime of God’s favour and blessing.
God didn’t just use our group bible study to get through me. He also used my best friend who is also a Christian to encourage me when I told her about the things that are happening at work and how they all seem like the consequences of my disobedience to God. No surprise, my best friend also used the story Joseph to pacify my heart.
At church, I was a bit startled to know that the message was about sexual immorality. Upping the ante, God also orchestrated for this same verse to come up not just in our bible study group but also at church and it totally settled all the questions about masturbation that have been bothering me all these years.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 1 Corinthian 6:18
God also used the sharer’s testimony to help me identify what triggers my desire to masturbate:
- When I’m alone, idle, and unsure of whether to read God’s word or not
- When I’m physically tired
- When I’m stressing myself out over a problem that is not surrendered to God
I praise God for His mercy and grace. This has been a 360-degree approach to make sure that I will pick up His message. The world has been sinking so deep into sin that when I asked my non-Christian friends about it, they would easily tell how normal it is, and that it promotes good health, and there’s basically nothing wrong with it. But we, Christians, ought to live for a higher standard that Jesus Christ set not to cage us in but to protect us.
All of these lessons led me to recommit my life to my Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST. Only by God’s wisdom and power will I be able to overcome lust. I praise God for His patience and for not letting me go. I pray that my life will embrace this one true great desire, that is to please GOD, and to be more and more like His one and only son Jesus Christ.
May all who read this discover how Jesus loves us, and that we were bought at a price. It cost Jesus his life just so you and I can be in heaven with him someday. Let us then honor God with our body.