Paul didn’t just tell Timothy to flee from the bad stuff; he followed up with a charge to pursue the good stuff! So the second step is to Come to Christ, replacing your old desires for sin with new desires for the pure and holy pleasures God wants you to enjoy.
We all know that “just say no” doesn’t work for long. Cutting out deeply rooted sin is no easy task, and old habits die hard. Your willpower is a finite resource that is quickly used up in the struggle against temptation.
Instead of joyless self-denial, you need what theologian Thomas Chalmers called “the expulsive power of a new affection.” Think about it: how can you get all the air out of a glass? Easy, fill it with water instead. So how can you get rid of filthy, sinful desires? Replace them with good, beautiful, and holy desires!
Never leave a vacuum in your heart; it will quickly fill up again with all those old lusts of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Having seen pornography as the repulsive evil it is, turn your attention to the goodness and beauty of God in Christ. Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
By continuing to embrace your new identity in Christ and deny the old sinful passions, your desires will be transformed. The soul that awakens to enjoy God will begin to see sinful desires as empty counterfeits to the lasting pleasure and joy of knowing Him.
The more you draw near to God, the easier it is to say “no” to lust and sexual immorality. And God Himself will draw near to you: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8)
COME: Drive out lust by drawing near to God
The word COME spells out four key tactics to apply this second step in your life:
Confess: Acknowledge Jesus as Lord and ask Him to forgive your sins.
First, confess that Jesus is Lord. Confess means to acknowledge or agree, and the Bible says that “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Acknowledge that Jesus Christ is your Master, your King.
Believe the good news that Jesus died on the Cross as the perfect sacrifice for your sin and rose again to ensure your salvation (Romans 4:25). You cannot save yourself. But no matter what your sins have been, in Christ you can be forgiven and made new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Second, confess your sin to God. Lay it all before Him in prayer and humbly ask for the forgiveness, believing His promise: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). You also need to confess your sin to your spouse and to others, but we will address that under Step Three, Share with Others.
Confession is not a one-time event; it should characterize your life as a Christian. Keep confessing Christ as Lord. Keep confessing your sins. Keep repenting and believing!
Obey: Submit to God and embrace His wise commandments.
As a Christian, you belong to Christ, having been purchased by His precious blood. Jesus is Lord, not only of your heart, but also of your mind and body. God’s claim on your life has very practical implications, as the Apostle Paul wrote:
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6:12–13)
In other words: obey God, not sin! No excuses. Agree with God that his commandments are good and right (Psalm 19:7–11). Submit yourself to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). In the power of the Holy Spirit, strive to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
Meditate: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
Read God’s Word daily and meditate on it throughout the day (Psalm 119:97). This means thinking about what you read and spending time understanding and applying it to your life. Saturating your mind in the Scripture is a powerful way to guard against sin (Psalm 119:9–11) and renew your mind (Romans 12:2).
Meditating on Scripture is especially helpful to fight temptations that arise out of boredom. Instead of “killing time” when you have nothing to do, fill your down time with God’s Word. Open the Bible and spend time reading in it, or simply recall Scripture in your mind and prayerfully reflect on it. Consider setting an alarm or writing well-placed reminders for yourself to practice this tactic effectively.
A. W. Tozer insightfully wrote that “faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God.” Scripture teaches this as an essential mindset. “Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1–2).
Singing or listening to “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” is also a great way to meditate on truth throughout the day (Ephesians 5:19). Pursuing righteousness does require discipline, but the reward is worth it!
Enjoy: Cultivate delight in God and His good gifts.
Far better than the fleeting thrills of pornography, God’s steadfast love for his children is a “river of delights” (Psalm 36:8). David said of the Lord, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11).
God is never far away. Draw near to Him by “praying at all times in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18). Like Brother Lawrence, the 17th century monk, you can find enjoyment in Christ no matter your circumstances by “practicing the presence of God.”
Ask God to replace your sinful desires with a desire for what is good, right, true, and beautiful—and choose to “think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Invest yourself into productive, God-honoring pursuits and hobbies, knowing that He “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).