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11. Strategy Eleven: Battle from Home

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Whether in sports or war, there is something called home-field advantage. For an athletic team, the home crowd and familiarity with their field or gym gives them a distinct advantage over an opponent. In war, familiarity with the terrain and access to all of one’s resources is a tremendous advantage over an enemy.

Living in the world is like living in enemy territory. Satan is the ruler of this world, and therefore, the world culture is immoral. Christians are constantly bombarded with sexual images and suggestive material from every direction. However, though residents of this world, Christians also reside in Christ. It’s wonderful to see how Paul expresses this dual residency when talking to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 1:2, he says, “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus.” They are located in Corinth and, at the same time, located in Christ—God. This is where we must war from—our positional relationship with God.

In describing, not so much our war with the world system, but our war with our sinful nature, Paul says, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Gal 5:16). He says live—make our home—in the Spirit and we will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Not only do we have the world attacking us with lust, but we also are attacked from the inside. Our nature lusts after and desires the things of this world. But Paul says that we can have victory if we make our home in the Spirit—our relationship with God.

How do we do this? We do this by doing what the Spirit wants us to do. When we are walking in obedience, meditating daily on God’s Word, constantly worshipping, fellowshipping with the saints, and serving God, we will win against our flesh.

Paul describes the fruits of this abiding relationship in Galatians 5:22-23. He says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” When abiding in the Spirit, one will produce the fruits of the Spirit which includes “self-control”—the ability to control one’s lusts.

I have learned to look at my illicit sexual desires this way. If I am struggling with a wandering eye and lust, then it is a warning that I am not living in the Spirit as I should. I look at it as hunger pains. Hunger pains are signals to our brain that it is time to eat. Similarly, we should look at our battle with lust in the same way.

If we are losing this battle, then it is a warning signal for us to increase our time with God—abiding in his Word, prayer, worship, and fellowship. God promises that if we live in the Spirit, we will not satisfy the lust of the flesh. This is a battle that we can win.

Personally, in the early stages of pastoral ministry and marriage, I fell back into a struggle with pornography. One of the ways I dealt with this was by implementing a partial fast into my weekly schedule. After church on Sunday, about midweek, I always felt more vulnerable—not just to lust but also to depression. Therefore, I started fasting every Wednesday for several years. I would fast until after lunch to allow myself to focus on God. At breakfast and lunch, I would spend more time in the Word and prayer by skipping those meals. During that season, I had to increase my disciplines—making my home in the Spirit—so I would not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

This is true for each of us. God has given us a promise that we can have victory against lust and any other sin if we make our home in the Spirit of God. This can only be done through discipline since we live in a world system that is anti-God and with a flesh that rebels against him as well. We must through discipline make our home in the Spirit—our relationship with God. Paul told Timothy, “discipline yourself unto godliness” (1 Tim 4:7). We must do the same.

Are you fighting from home? If we are not abiding in the Spirit, we will surely abide in sin. There is no middle ground.

Reflection

  1. Why is it important for a believer to live in the Spirit when battling lust?
  2. What type of disciplines should we practice in order to consistently live in the Spirit? Are there any ways God is calling you to increase those disciplines?
  3. How have you experienced losing the battle when not abiding in God?
  4. What other questions or thoughts do you have about this section?
  5. In what ways can you pray in response? Take a second to pray as the Lord leads.

Copyright © 2015 Gregory Brown

Related Topics: Sexual Purity

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