Practical Ways to Avoid Lust Fr. Joseph Gleason for Russian Faith
In the Orthodox Church, there is a battle chest available, providing us with practical ways to resist sin and to actually defeat it. We don’t just tell people to “try harder”. We also tell them HOW. We give them the weapons they need to wage war against sin, and to arise victorious
Everyone knows lust is bad. Everybody tells us to fight against it. But not everyone can tell us HOW to fight against lust successfully. We try, we fail, we try, we fail, we try again, and we fail again . . . and at some point, we realize that we need better advice than just “try harder”.
In the Orthodox Church, there is a battle chest available, providing us with practical ways to resist sin and to actually defeat it. We don’t just tell people to “try harder”. We also tell them HOW. We give them the weapons they need to wage war against sin, and to arise victorious.
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We love helping others and believe that’s one of the reasons we are chosen as Ambassadors of the Kingdom, to serve God’s children. We look to the Greatest Commandment as our Powering force.
Today, we will consider twelve practical ways for Christians to do battle against the sin of Lust. These methods are time-tested and trustworthy. And they actually work:
1) Don’t let your fantasies write a check that your loins can’t cash.
If you are unmarried, do not fantasize about sex. Ever. Guard your thoughts.
If you are married, but your spouse is currently inaccessible, then don’t spend ten seconds thinking about sex. Don’t even think about sex with your spouse. Guard your thoughts.
If you are married, and your spouse is currently accessible, then have normal marital relations with your spouse regularly. This helps reduce the risk of illicit temptations.
2) Fight the birds.
There is a saying: “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest in your hair.” No thanks to the logismoi, the devil can do this to you without your consent. Sexual thoughts will unavoidably pop into your mind. This does not make you guilty.
What makes you guilty is your *response* to that initial thought. The moment an illicit sexual thought pops into your head, immediately “fight off the bird” by distracting yourself with something else, and give that other thing your full attention.
3) Not all distractions are created equal.
Some activities (like jogging or weight lifting) take a lot of physical effort, but very little mental effort. Even while doing these things, your mind can still wander into bad places. Other activities (like writing a theological paper, solving a math problem, or reading a good book), so intensely involve your thoughts that you cannot easily keep thinking about two things at once. As long as you are focused on that math, that philosophy, or that puzzle, the thoughts of sex go away for a while. If you try jogging or working out and that doesn’t help, then try distracting yourself with something more mentally intense.
4) Confess it immediately.
Call someone godly who you trust (especially a priest), and say, “I’m getting tempted again.” It is amazing how confession totally breaks the power of the Enemy, and makes him go away for a while.
5) Immediately go near other people.
When you are standing in the presence of other people, having a conversation with them, it is amazing how easy it is to avoid illicitly pleasuring oneself.