From Pastor Tommy Nelson:
You’ll never exterminate sin so that it is never a possibility. If you struggle with anger, lust, or lying; you’ll never get to a place where those things are no longer a possibility. You put to death the deeds of the flesh, but you will never get your flesh to where it does not sin. You must know this first.
Next, you must recognize that we are to struggle. The first time sin is mentioned in the Bible is when God says, “sin is crouching at your door and its desire is for you and it wants to destroy you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7) It helps me to know that if I do not master sin, it will not cohabit with me. It will ruin me. So I always have to be mastering it, buffeting my body and making it my slave.
Another thing that helps me is to know the temptation to sin is not sin. Sin is the following out. When the lust is conceived it gives birth to sin. When sin is accomplished it brings forth the ugly baby of death. So I must make sure the conception does not happen. If I get tempted, I cannot act upon that. I’ll never get to the point where I’m not tempted, but I can keep from acting upon the temptation and not let sin reign in my mortal body.
The longer you go the more you see the results of following the path of sin. When you are young, it is more of a faith proposition. A young person might say, “I’m not going to cheat on my wife because the Bible says that will hurt me.” When you get older and you see the living ruins of men and women who have done that, it helps you to not do it. You can stay away from pornography when you’re young because you know you’re not supposed to do it. When you get older and you see the results of guys who have continually indulged in it, then it helps you. You “rise up before the gray headed” (Leviticus 19:32) because the gray head is in the way of righteousness. Gray headed men have learned that sin doesn’t work. The longer you struggle the easier it is going to get as you see the living desolations of men who have failed to struggle well.
What I try to do is know exactly what the Bible says. The Bible does not speak to a wide range of things, but to the essential things. It has a lot say about anger and dishonesty, lying and lust, and pride and arrogance. The Bible gives me commands. It gives me examples of Samson, Saul, and of Judah early in his life. The more Bible I know, the more fuel I have to be obedient to God. So if you will simply know by faith that God’s way is going to be the best way and learn to struggle well early on, then later you will see that it is a wise way and the path will become easier.
What I would say is to read your Bible continually and have a very clear path of what you know to be true. Do not be worried that you feel temptation, but do not let that temptation conceive into action. Regarding lust, you cannot really lead a righteous life outside of the context of faithful men and women around you. If you are by yourself, you are going to get in trouble. “He who separates himself seeks his own desire.” (Proverbs 18:1) You have to be around faithful men and women.
Know your Bible. Have confidence in the way of God. And learn from the devastation of those who have died under their own actions. The older you get, the more you will see the results of righteousness and the results of sin.
Tommy Nelson is the Pastor of Denton Bible Church and Guest Instructor at the Kanakuk Institute. He is best know for his series on the Song of Solomon.