There are defensive and offensive strategies for overcoming lust. An example of a defensive strategy is taking a cold shower, turning your phone off, or calling an accountability partner in the heat of temptation. The goal here is to protect you from yourself and from your environment in a moment of weakness. Offensive strategies, though often overlooked, are equally important. Filling yourself with the right knowledge, like the Word of God, is an example of an offensive strategy. Psalm 119:11 says “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
Pastor Vlad is author of Break Free: How to Get Free and Stay Free. The focus of his book is finding freedom from entangling habits of sin, including sexual sin. I have transcribed a short YouTube clip in which Pastor Vlad talks about the importance of general spiritual development in the fight against lust. When we spend quality time with God, our relationship with him grows. And a strong relationship with God empowers us to overcome in every area of life–including the area of sexual purity.
Pastor Vlad’s first language is evidently not English, so I did my best to transcribe the sermon as clearly as possible. If you like the clip, he has published a lot more content on YouTube on the topic of purity.
And usually people–that’s what they do–when they come to church, they begin to follow Christ. They’re like “I need to clean up my head. I need to clean up my life.” That’s not where it starts. If you start there, your victory will be short-lived. Everything starts with the spirit–your spirit inside you.
What does it mean to start with the spirit? That means that your spirit must be strong. For your spirit to be strong, it must be developed. Your spirit, like every muscle in your body, does not get developed on its own. Once you develop it, then it will develop you. Once you grow it, then it will grow you.
How does your spirit get developed? It gets developed when you connect yourself with the higher Spirit. Your spirit doesn’t get developed “[holy sound].” [By doing this] you’re going to attract other higher spirits that you’re not going to be happy with. And then you’re going to lose your spirit, your soul, your body, and everything.
The human spirit can be developed under one condition: if it’s under influence of a higher spirit. That higher spirit is your choosing. Either a spirit of depression, a spirit of fear, demonic spirits, or Holy Spirit. But you and I choose. My spirit must come under influence of the higher spirit, which is the Holy Spirit, and then my spirit gets strong. When my spirit gets strong, my body and my head and my mind become a servant–obedient servant. When my spirit is weak, when my spirit is broken–there is a verse in Proverbs that says “a merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
What this means is this: when a human spirit is weak, their body will suffer. When your human spirit is weak, your health will deteriorate. When your human spirit is weak, your mind cannot be controlled. “A merry heart does good.” Actually, your spirit is a medicine to everything else in your life. And if you read self-help books they say the same thing. The only problem is in every help-self book, the challenge is you develop your spirit by focusing on your spirit. Christ tells us we develop our spirit by linking it to a higher spirit–the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit begins to influence your spirit, something happens. Your spirit becomes a medicine to your body, to your mind, and to everything in your life. You can control your thoughts after that because your spirit is developed.
How do you develop your spirit? You make time for a connection with the Holy Spirit. That connection cannot be done when you’re doing your makeup, and that connection cannot be done when you’re eating your breakfast. That connection has to be done when you are undistracted. The connection that brings you closest to the Holy Spirit is when you have the fewest distractions.
And those fewest distractions happen usually in the morning before the sunrise. Before everybody wakes up to tell you something about the idea, to send you emojis, before the Snapchat, before people upload the latest Instagram pictures, before Facebook, before anything–you wake up 15, 20, 30 minutes earlier before anybody else. It’s still dark–there is a really good feeling when you wake up before the sun comes up. It gives you this boost, it makes you feel like a champion, even if you didn’t do anything–you just woke up. Something happens to your spirit when you wake up a little bit earlier and before you eat breakfast, before you do anything, you get a cup of water and you go into you room.
Why is a cup of water important? Because it wakes your body up. And you take time and recognize in that moment that inside is a spirit, and you speak and connect with the higher spirit–the Holy Spirit. And you say Holy Spirit, I welcome you. Holy Spirit, I love you. Holy Spirit, let this day be under your supervision. Something happens–you walk out of that feeling 9 feet tall. You walk out of that a giant. Something happens with your mind. In that moment during the day, your mind becomes your best servant. You tell your mind to do this, it does that. Your attitude is strong, you’re full of cheerfulness. You’re full of joy. Every problem is under your knees. You walk around strong.
What happened? Your spirit got connected with the higher Spirit, and it became a medicine to your body and to your mind. You cannot overcome lust if you start with the mind–[you have to begin with your spirit] under [the] influence of the Holy Spirit.