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Q&A: How can I overcome my struggle with lust and pornography?

I’m a college student and struggle with lust and pornography. I know this is a sin. I have tried to beat this alone, but it seems impossible. I need help.

You . . . are . . . forgiven. Jesus paid for your sin on the cross. He has made you spotless, blameless, and without any blemish. Rejoice! Right now, God looks at you and says, “You are my child, whom I love. With you, I am well pleased.”

By fleeing to your Savior in repentance, you came to the right place with your burden. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Rest in the fact that you are perfect in God’s eyes because Jesus lived perfectly in your place and became your sin so that you might become the righteousness of God.

You are not alone

All of us have our own sins we battle. You would likely be shocked at the sins that others struggle with as well. The devil wants to make you feel like you are alone in your struggle. He whispers, “Don’t tell anyone. You can do this by yourself.”

This struggle against sin defines the Christian life. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). This struggle against sin and self is part of the cross. It does not mean we will never fail. It means that when we do, we will flee to the cross in repentance. There we find forgiveness and motivation to strive to do what pleases our Savior. In some ways we as Christians will lose every battle in life because we have a sinful nature. But we still win the war because Jesus gives us his victory.

A plan for the future

God is powerful. He can help you overcome this sin! The devil’s lie is that it will always be this way. Consider these thoughts in your fight:

  1. Be forgiven often. God means you when the pastor says, “Your guilt has been removed forever.” Remember your baptism often. It is God’s promise that he always has open arms for you. Taste and touch his forgiveness when he gives himself to you in the Lord’s Supper to assure you of your forgiveness. Read the Word and hear his promises. The gospel is the only thing that can heal you and motivate change.
  2. Start stopping. A fight against sin may not be as easy as “I just won’t do that anymore”—especially if it has been a long struggle. You may fall back into the sin. But then remember that you are forgiven through Jesus and immediately start stopping again. The less you give into a sin rather than let it remain unchecked, the less it will tempt you. The Bible says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
  3. Find someone who will encourage you. Find someone who can encourage you with Jesus’ forgiveness when you fail and celebrate with you when you resist the devil. Confide in a pastor, a friend, or a family member you trust. It would not hurt to use filtering software to help put another curb against temptation.

You took an important step in reaching out. “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). You are forgiven! May God give you strength to live according to his will . . . and he will!

Conquerors through Christ, a ministry of WELS Special Ministries, helps people resist, reject, and recover from pornography use or addiction. Find resources at conquerorsthroughchrist.net

Have a question, ask it here!

Author: David Scharf
Volume 110, Number 9
Issue: September 2023


Q&A Bible study open bible 2023 Dave Scharf

The full armor of God

It’s cute when your child says, “I can do it! I’m strong!” Then you watch as he or she tries to lift something heavy to no avail until you put your hand under the object and easily lift it into place.

Be strong in the Lord

It is not as cute when we say in our spiritual lives, “I can do it! I’m strong!” The Bible makes it clear that our battle is against Satan and his forces, not flesh and blood. If we believe we can win the battle on our own, we will be no better off than the child trying to lift a heavy object without a parent. We must learn from the apostle Paul to confess, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). When we realize our weakness and rely on God’s strength, then we are truly strong.

When fighting a spiritual battle, we need spiritual weapons! Let’s consider the armor of God section of Scripture.

Read Ephesians 6:10-13.

For what reasons is the picture of a battle a good description of our spiritual lives?

Put on the armor!

Each piece of the armor God provides is important. Thankfully none of the pieces depend on our effort but on God’s mighty power.

Read Ephesians 6:14-18.

  1. Paul stresses putting on the full armor of God (vv. 11,13). Glance at the listed weapons. What would happen if each were missing in our armor?
  2. Describe the importance of each piece of armor for our battle. Read each accompanying guide passage for deeper understanding. List an example from your life when each piece of armor has been helpful in your spiritual battle.
    • Belt of truth. A soldier’s belt holds weapons in place and even can protect vital organs like the kidneys. We need God’s truth to combat Satan’s lies (John 8:44).
    • Breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate protects vital organs like the heart and lungs. A strike to this area can be fatal! Our righteousness in Jesus is our greatest protection (2 Corinthians 5:21).
    • Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Rocky terrain requires a soldier to have ready feet always. The peace we have with God gives us that readiness (Romans 5:1).
    • Shield of faith. The ancient Roman shield, covered in leather, was soaked in water to douse flaming arrows that hit it. Satan lobs the flaming arrows of doubt and temptation. Consider the heroes of faith chapter, Hebrews 11.
    • Helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit. The helmet protects the head, another vital part of the body. Certain knowledge of our salvation protects our thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5). The sword is an offensive weapon. Our sword is the Word (Hebrews 4:12)!
    • Prayer. Just as it’s vital for soldiers to communicate with their commanding officer, it is vital for Christians to do the same with their Commander (Romans 12:12).
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