This weekend I had the privilege of speaking at a seminar with two other pastors called Pure Life: Cleansing the Heart of Sexual Lust (Click here for the audio – session 1, session 2, and session 3). One of the other pastors, Keith Palmer from Grace Bible Church in Granbury, TX, spoke on the nuts and bolts of how men can and should battle sexual temptation. One aspect of his message that I thought was particularly helpful was his counsel on how to battle the lustful images that so often enter into our hearts and minds.
At least for men, our temptation to lust is frequently associated with images, even when we aren’t looking at a sexual image in the moment. Because we live in a sinful world, our minds remember images from days past or even from years past, and in all actuality, we don’t even have to see a real image in order to lust because our imaginations can simply manufacture them on their own. So, how can we battle the onslaught of unrighteous images?
Keith reminded us of the principle of “put off/put on” found in Ephesians 4:22-24:
…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
If we want to move forward in our pursuit of holiness for the sake of Christ, we must replace unrighteousness in our minds with righteousness; we cannot simply stop thinking about sinful things and hope that all will be well. So, Keith’s prescription was simple: replace unrighteous images with righteous ones. When your heart attacks you with a sexual image, then replace that image with an image of… let’s say…your kids. Or images of how you serve in whatever ministry you are currently active. For me, I often think of the different aspects of my wife’s beauty, both physically and spiritually. This helps me to think of the ways in which God’s gift to me in her are better than what my flesh wants.
What righteous images will you use?