May God help us to be wise and loyal,
Unlawful sexual activity is extremely difficult to curb, especially once a habit is developed. But, we know it can be curtailed, because God requires our self-discipline:
You should know, the temptation you are suffering is not unique to you. These temptations are "common to man". Also, you should know that God does not want us to yield to sin (Genesis 4:7; "you should rule over it"). He "is faithful", in that He does not abandon us to being overrun by these sins (Ephesians 6:10-18; II Corinthians 10:3-5). In fact, He not only wants us to overcome, but He has also provided ways for us to overcome it, "the way of escape". We will examine a few verses that outline this way to escape temptation.No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but 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. (I Corinthians 10:13)
You need to know that you can and will succeed, if you take the right steps in God. May I suggest that you should focus on taking steps on four spiritual "fronts"?
- Replacement and Placement
Most people think they overcome sin through sheer will-power. However, experience shows this is overly simplistic, optimistic, and naive. Instead, we must recognize how incredibly weak we are:
Once we realize that in all suffering there is temptation, and in all temptation there is a form of suffering, then we can apply this passage to our difficulties of overcoming sin and temptation: We take advantage of God's grace and strength by first recognizing our own weakness. As long as we think we are strong and we can overcome sin, we are doomed! We must accept our frailty, and then we will be ready to accept God's unconventional strength, which challenges our faith:And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:9-10)
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light [Read Ephesians 6:10-18 here]. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:11-14)
We must awake from our spiritual, sleepy unconsciousness to the mechanics of our sin. They key here is, "Do not put yourself in a situation, where you are tempted to sin." For example, think back to occasions you stumbled, especially those where you originally intended not to sin. ... Were you in a certain place? Was it secluded? Dark? Private? If so, then stay away from those places! Were you listening to music, watching movies, or looking at anything else that would encourage you in this sin? If so, then stop consuming those kinds of media. Were you hanging around friends that talk about, dream about, and look to participate in sexual immorality? If so, then change your friends.
Think about this another way: If you were to surround yourself with best possible environment to overcome this sin (music, movies, friends, work place, etc.), what would it look like? Would it look like your chosen environment?
In short, think about the influences and environment that fosters you to sin.
The primary deception, among other lies, is that we tell ourselves, "I can handle it." In other words, we believe we are strong. But, go back to II Corinthians 12:9-10. It is only when we give up the charade, confess our weaknesses, put on the armor of Christ (Ephesians 6:10-18), and plan for the battle, that we are strong. Do not set yourself up to fall by counting on strength that you do not have! "Make no provisions for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." It's like a chess game. You have to plan several moves in advance.Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." (I Corinthians 15:33)
Let's put this another way:
Do not get as close as possible to the line, thinking you'll turn back at the last minute. Again, recognize your human weakness and stay as far away from the temptation as possible! Don't flirt with the danger. If you do begin that process, realize that you already made up your mind to sin, and it is just a matter of playing it out.Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (II Timothy 2:22)
Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. (I Corinthians 6:18)
Here's the irony. You are strong by recognizing your are weak. You overcome by never entering into the battle! You win by "escaping". Be like Joseph (Genesis 39:6-12). As much as you have control, stay as far away from the environment, media, and people that cause you to sin.
Self-Examination - Spiritually questioning ourselves is a critical part of realizing our weaknesses and planning around it. Have we really decided to be a Christian? Or, is our hearts like these people:
Jesus is not telling us to give up, if we are not ready to make the necessary sacrifices. Instead, He is telling us to sit down, and prepare ourselves to make the sacrifices. Ask ourselves, "What am I willing to give up for Jesus?" Getting back to our last point, "What may I have to give up for Jesus?" ... And finally, "How will I give up these things for Jesus, so I do not continue to sin?" Question yourself. Examine yourself (II Corinthians 13:5)."If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it -- lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26-33)
But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62)
Commitment - Once you realize your weakness, and examine yourself, you will know what you must do. Then, it comes down to commitment. ... Not in the back of a car, but in the quiet of your mind, you prepare yourself not to sin by determining concrete steps to avoid the temptation. This is the first test of your will and commitment, planning ahead.
Here's an easy test: Once you have decided to end this, and you have decided how you will avoid temptation, tell your boyfriend your exact plans. Will he agree? Will he share your concerns? Will he support a good plan? Or, will he try to coax you out of your determination? His reaction will determine, whether he should stay or go.
Steadfast commitment requires prayer. Meditation on God's Word, prayer, and self-examination strengthens the soul and help us overcome the weakness of our bodies. ... I have agonized over what to say to you, because I want you to succeed. Even though I have said a lot, much more could be said. You will have to spend time reading this note multiple times until you fully understand it, but more importantly you will need to spend time studying each Scripture, understanding all the many ways it applies to you, examining yourself in light of each verse, determining how you will implement what you have learned, and praying to God for help and strength. Spend time studying and in prayer."Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Mark 14:38)
Replacement and Placement - These are they keys to overcoming sin: Realize your weakness, and make the necessary sacrifices to avoid the temptation and not set yourself up to fall. However, there is one more critical and often overlooked point. Please consider this parable, which makes the point:
Jesus used this illustration to warn the Jews of His day, who had overcome idolatry and various pagan practices; however, they had not accepted God's true religion. They did not accept their Messiah. They emptied their heart of one form of evil, but they failed to fill the void properly. ... Similarly, you need to not only empty your life of this sin and the influences that foster it, but you also must fill your life with good responsibilities, good friends, and good influences."When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation." (Matthew 12:43-45)
Each person's life is surrounded with opportunities to serve those in need and to share God's Word. How many of your friends are not Christians? Can you talk to them about being converted? Do you know any aged people, who need day to day help, just cutting grass, fixing meals, running to the grocery, shuttling to the doctor, etc.? Do you know any children that are disadvantaged? How about children who have busy parents working busy jobs? Be a good example to others and spend time helping them. Once you overcome this sin, get busy helping other people. Just be careful that you do not try to become a teacher too quickly. You need to first overcome your own weaknesses:Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
You must replace this sin with righteousness. You must replace evil influences with good influences. You must replace evil thoughts with good thoughts. Don't just empty. Replace! The good with which you fill your life and your heart will help to ward off the evil from ever coming back and taking up its old abode."And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
Are you a member of a local church that is zealous in following the Scripture? Where do you go to worship? Can you find an older, godly woman that will help you get involved in good habits with good people? All of these will help strengthen your commitment and help you overcome temptation.
Finally, there is a place for this activity - in marriage.
I hesitate to offer this advice, especially not knowing you or your situation. ... You should never hurry marriage. Too many people are desperately seeking marriage, and so they marry the wrong person, because they are tired of waiting or they fear they may never get married. I have seen and continue to see that happen far too often. Hasty, rash, or desperate marriages rarely turn out well. After thinking on that critical warning, please carefully consider this verse:Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4)
There is a good that can be achieved in putting off marriage. Independent time allows a person to focus on work that needs to be done or persecution that must be overcome. In writing the above instruction, Paul was concerned about a great persecution and spiritual need of his time (I Corinthians 7:6-7, 25-40). Unfortunately, many young people today put off marriage for something much more mundane - earthly careers.... But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. ... But this I say by way of concession, not of command. Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn. (I Corinthians 1:2-8)
If you are putting off marriage merely for some earthly reason, then carefully consider reversing that decision. It's not worth it. ... Incidentally, you can be married and go to college. My wife and I married, when we were 21 and still in college. Times were tough. We did not have much. But, we were happy.
That being said, DO NOT rush into a marriage just to escape this sin. You think your life is difficult now? There is no suffering like being bound to an ungodly or uncaring person for the rest of your life. Most of the cases, of which I know, where people marry simply because of self-control issues, result in either divorce or life-long sentences of absolute misery.
(BTW, this is the advice I could not have given you, if you were 16 years old, or so.)
As I said, the advice is simply in essence: Remove opportunities and influences in your life that foster this sin. Fill your life with good opportunities and influences. However, I realize it is easier said than done. Spend time meditating on these Scriptures and examining yourself.
Forgiveness? It is amazing that God loves us so much and is willing to forgive us so much, but He does:
Think about David, Peter, Moses and other great saints, who committed terrible sins, but yet found forgiveness. Just remember, forgiveness does not mean there will be no earthly consequences. Again, think about David, Moses, Peter, and other great saints, who found forgiveness, but yet still suffered severe consequences. You must stop this yesterday, before there are life-long consequences -- beyond what you already know.If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
You will be in my prayers. I sincerely pray this helps. Please let me know what you think.