As men and women work to restore their wounded thoughts, emotions, and spirits, many still encounter significant temptation, particularly when they go online. While it is best to avoid all temptation (we are told to flee from it!), necessity requires some to use the Internet for work-related and other tasks. Even with proper behavioral safeguards in our lives—accountability relationships and technical measures—life in a fallen world guarantees that all of us will be tempted at some point—if not often.
As our faith matures, we become better equipped to identify temptations and avoid them. While we will always have temptations, a transformed life in Christ moves us through the mere avoidance of sin to the redemption of our desires.
Christopher West, adjunct professor of sexual ethics at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, paints a vision of this redemption in the following story:
Two bishops were walking down the street when they noticed a scantily-clad prostitute coming toward them. As she passed, one bishop turned his head and said to the other, “Brother Bishop, avert your eyes.” The second, bishop, however, did not look away, but stared intently at the woman as she walked by. When she had passed, the first bishop turned to his companion, only to see tears in his eyes. “Why didn’t you turn away?” asked the man. “Such beauty,” said his companion, “to be consumed by the lusts of men.”
Which of these two did the right thing? They both did. The first bishop knew that he would lust after the woman if he looked—and rightly turned his eyes. He knew it would be wrong to dishonor God’s creature in such a way. The second bishop, however, was able to see beyond the lustful desires of the heart to the intrinsic beauty, worth, and dignity of the woman—and rightly wept for how she was being used and abused by others.
The redemption of our desires does not occur instantaneously, but is part of the Holy Spirit’s greater process of sanctification in our lives. As you journey along this path, consider using the following resources to protect yourself and keep your eyes fixed on the Author of our faith.
Prayer for Purity of Heart
Lord, help me to accept and receive my sexuality as a gift from you. Grant me the grace to resist the many lies that distort this divine gift and help me to live my sexuality according to the truth of self-giving love. Grant me purity of heart so that I might see the image of your glory in the beauty of others, and one day see you face to face. Amen.1
Prayer for the Redemption of Sexual Desire
Lord, I praise you and thank you for the gift of my sexual desires. By the power of your death and resurrection, untwist in me what sin has twisted so that I might know and experience sexual desire as you created it to be—as the desire to love freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully. Amen.2
Prayer in a Moment of Temptation to Lust
Lord, thank you for the beauty of this person whom you made to be loved—never to be treated as a thing for my gratification. I renounce any tendency within me to use this person for my own pleasure, and I ask you to set my desires aright. Amen.3
Prayer for Restoring God’s Design
Lord, I confess my mind and conscience is corrupted. I claim to know you, but, by my actions, I deny you. Lord, I am unfit for your kingdom as I am. The Psalmist said, “Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.” I ask you, Lord, to restore me to the kind of life I was meant to live, including using my body “in a way that is holy and honorable.” Amen.4
Prayer for Transformation of Sinful Desire
Lord, I number myself with those of your ancient Church in Corinth, which consisted, in part, of the sexually immoral, adulterers, male prostitutes, and homosexual offenders. But you are a God of Hope and transformation, for you told these Corinthians, “And such were some of you.” I, too, have been washed and set aside for you—made whole by the redemptive actions of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. My identity is no longer captive only to my sexual focus or orientation; my identity is in your Son, Jesus Christ. You say, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” Lord, wash away my old, sinful self and renew me in your Spirit to be a new creation. Amen.5
Prayer for Purity of Body, Mind, and Soul
Lord, this physical body is a member of your Son—your temple—your dwelling place. It is not my own to do as I please. You have bought me with the high-priced passion of your Son. When I unite myself with you, I am one with you in spirit. Help me to concentrate on your holiness, peace, faith, a love that permeates all things, and “to be in union with those who call on” you “with pure minds.” Amen.6
We invite you to make a ‘Sacred Space’ in your day, and spend ten minutes, praying here and now, as you sit at your computer, with the help of on-screen guidance and scripture chosen specially every day.
Select Bible Verses
For Blessing in Unsettling Times:
1The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
For the Renewal of Life in the Spirit:
Romans 8: 1-17
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. 5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. 12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
For Trusting in God’s Eternal Love:
Romans 8: 28-39
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 John 1:5-10
5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.