One of the most common questions I get from readers is about self-control, specifically how to have self-control sexually.
“I know it’s wrong, but I just can’t seem to control myself.”
“I’m far from God right now because I constantly struggle with sexual immorality, especially pornography.”
“Please tell me: how can I overcome sexual temptation?”
If you’ve recently committed sexual sin, it’s important for you to confess that sin to God and ask for His forgiveness (1 John 1:9, Proverbs 28:13, James 4:8).
But once you’ve done that, what comes next? How can you grow in self-control so you don’t keep repeating the same vicious cycle?
Following confession, the next step is repentance, which involves a change in direction (Acts 3:19).
This change in direction is critical because sexual sin is evidence of our failure to surrender fully to God; on the other hand, self-control is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives (Galatians 5:19-23).
Whether you’re single, married, or in another type of relationship and want to learn how to overcome sexual desires and live in purity, I would encourage you to work toward developing self-control in these key ways.
How to Have Self-Control Sexually
1.)Praise God for His work in your life. The fact that you’re wondering how to overcome sexual desires that fall outside of the marriage relationship is a sign of God’s grace. These aren’t thoughts that occur to us naturally, in our flesh. So rejoice and recognize that God is at work!
2.)Grow deeper in your love for Christ. The more we understand His love for us, the more our love for Him will grow. And the more we love Him and recognize His beauty, the more repulsive sin becomes. So ask God for a deeper love for Him and a desire to spend more time with Him. Cultivate your relationship with Him by reading the Bible and prayer.
3.)Memorize Scripture. God tells us in the Bible that we avoid being conformed to the world by being transformed through renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). Memorizing Scripture is one of the most powerful ways to renew our minds by saturating ourselves in God’s Word.
4.)Remove worldly influences in your life. The most popular pastimes of our culture are worldly and not spiritual. Think about whether there is some aspect of your entertainment or your hobbies or some other way you’re spending your time that is influencing your mindset toward worldliness instead of godliness.
5.)Build close friendships with other Christians. It can be difficult to effectively live the Christian life (especially as a new believer) if we spend most of our leisure time with non-Christians. Their habits, their speech, and their behavior can influence us greatly. Concentrate on developing friendships with other Christians who will encourage you toward living for God.
6.)Build self-control in other areas of life. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), a sign of spiritual growth and God’s work in your life. When Christians lack self-control sexually, it’s often an indicator that his or her self-control is weak in general. Building self-control in all aspects of life is helpful in overcoming sexual temptation. Consider whether you lack self-control in your words, your appetites, your activities, and your schedule, and prayerfully consider how to trust God for growth in these areas.
7.)Confide in a Christian mentor. This might be a family member or another church member or a godly friend. Choose someone who has been a Christian for a longer period of time, and share your struggle with them. Sin that is cloaked in darkness is very powerful; bringing it to the light by sharing it with another Christian can help you defeat it once and for all. This person can counsel you, pray for you, and hold you accountable to live in godliness.
8.)Set up boundaries. Habitual sexual sin can be very difficult to overcome, but implementing safeguards can help. Think about the circumstances surrounding your sexual temptations. What boundaries can you put in place for your relationships, your entertainment, and your technology?
Speaking of technology, you should know that it’s currently the primary gateway of sexual sin. If your household and personal devices are without protection, you’re playing with fire. The most effective tool I’ve found for internet filtering and accountability is Covenant Eyes. Here are a couple of articles where I share my experience:
9.)Pray for purity. This is last on the list. But it’s probably the most important thing. You can’t do this on your own. None of us can!
To help you pray specifically and strategically for purity, I designed this free 21-day challenge. You can find more information here, or simply fill out the form below. Then be sure to check your inbox to confirm that you want to participate.