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Lustful thoughts


 I am 16 and I am a sophmore in high school and I live in wisconsin. I recently
became christian and I am learning as much as I can to further enhance my
faith. Despite this however I know I am an immoral person. Jesus said I do not
recall the exact verse but said something like "if you look at a women lustfully
you commit adultury" now because of this I know I am an immoral person. The
problem I am having is because of the society that I am faced with I have been
taught seemingly since birth to veiw women in this mannor. I have been taught
that it is ok and a normal thing to go through. Nonetheless I am still breaking
one of the ten commandments everyday. I need help to try to rid myself of
these thoughts or at least supress them. I have tried to fight my temptations
and it is very difficult. Do you have any advice for me to follow?
Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you.
Be in peace and god bless you!

first response


I'm one of the Paraclete team members who helps answer the e-mails
that we receive.  Thanks for taking the time to write us and pose this great
question.  I have some thoughts that may be helpful, and you may hear from
some others on the team as well.

Ron, the verses where Jesus is talking about looking at women lustfully is
found in the gospel of Matthew.  Have you read that whole passage before?
You can find the exact verse you are referring to in Matthew 5:27-28.

27"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery. 28But I tell
you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed
adultery with her in his heart."

Chapters 5 and 6 from the gospel of Matthew are great reading.  Here Jesus
is pointing out something about us, as people, that is vitally important to
remember: the motives of our heart matter to God.  This was radical thinking
at that time (and still is today), because Jesus was totally changing the
image of what the people at that time were told was "being religious", which
was modeled to them through the Pharisees and Sadducees (the church leaders
of that time - if you will).  In fact, much of the gospels (Matthew, Mark,
Luke, and John) show Jesus arguing with the Pharisees and Sadducees.  He
didn't think much of their religious "activity".  He even called them "white
washed tombs", hollow, empty, all show and no substance (Matthew 23:26-28).

The illustration Jesus uses about looking at women lustfully shows us that,
in God's eyes, our thoughts are important to Him, even more than our
actions.  God wants you to give Him your "heart".  Have you heard people say
that before?  Usually what people mean when they say that is that God is
interested in the inner parts of you.  He wants us to let Him guide us and
teach us how to be the kind of person He wants us to be, from the inside
out, not from the outside.  When our "hearts", that deep inner part of us,
slowly over time starts to listen to God, and relies on ourselves less, we
begin to give God our hearts.  This is difficult, as you have found out,
because we are constantly battling with ourselves (what the apostle Paul
refers to as "the flesh") and what our spirit, inside, is really longing for
(closeness to God).

I've heard that Ray Steadman once said something like "When we become a
Christian, everything changes and nothing changes."  I like to remember that
at times when I struggle with this too.  I'd like to tell you that is gets
easier.  But, the honest truth is that it doesn't.  I've found this true for
almost any man I've meet.  I'm 35 and married, and I still find myself
struggling the same way that you do.  So, what are we to do about this?  Am
I just a big bucket of lust, a totally immoral slime ball, who God just
happens to be "putting up with"?  Sometimes I feel like such a flake that
I'm sure that God, one of these days, is going to just give up on me and
leave.  Have you thought the same king of thing at times?

When I being to feel this way, I remember why I like reading the Bible so
much.  It's honest.  The people in the Bible struggle with the same things
you and I do, and they write about it.  This is a great relied to me!  For
example, I remember this part from the apostle Paul, who talks about
struggling the same way you and I do:

Romans 7:14-25
"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to
sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but
what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the
law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin
living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful
nature.[3] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it
out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not
want to do--this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it
is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there
with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another
law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind
and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What
a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be
to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful
nature a slave to the law of sin.'

You've asked a great question in your e-mail.  If I can summarize you, you
are asking "How in the world am I going to make it as a Christian when I see
myself breaking the rules all the time?!?"  Is that kind of what you are
saying?  Yes, I agree with you that our society has told men, subtly but
insistently, that women are not really people, but objects.  Look at the
beer commercials on TV, or how women are portrayed in movies, in magazines,
etc.  It's not really fair is it?  It's not fair to the women who don't
match up to that false image (the "perfect woman"), or to the men who are
told that "the ultimate" is to "have a woman like that", yet this fantasy
woman doesn't exist (which our society won't admit).  Yet there it is, so
what do we do, as a Christian man, trying to "make it" in our society?  Well
I think the answer isn't to "try harder", or to suppress the thoughts.  You
know that too already, I think.  What we need to do is to have a heart
transplant surgery, so to speak.  When we understand what our hearts really
want, not what our society tells us we think we want, then we can ask God to
show us how to go for the things we really want.  This takes a long time,
but is sometimes called our "Christian walk".

Have you ever read the book of Romans in the Bible?  The PBC web site that
you were on has lots and lots of free stuff on it, much of which come from
Ray Stedman, the founder of PBC.  I've found that his studies in Romans were
excellent, and really helped me understand Christianity and also helped me
answer many of the same question you have.  If you would like to read Ray's
comments on Romans, they can be found here:


There's lots to read here, but is well worth it.  I encourage you to read
this too!

It is great to hear that you have recently become a Christian.  I hope
that you can talk about these things with someone that you know has been a
Christian for a while, like your parents, maybe the pastor of your church,
or another friend.  We Christians need each other to talk with and pray for
one another. Do you have someone to talk to near you?  Is there a youth
group that you can hang out with?

Man!  Looking back, I've blabbed on and on too much, I think.  Feel free to
write back if you want to.  Hopefully you will hear from others on the
Paraclete team with more insight too.

God bless you!

second response

I'm a member of the paraclete forum, and I thought I'd give you a response
to your message.  Most of us in this forum are older believers, and nothing
that you're going through is that awfully shocking or "uncommon" to all of
us.  We are all lugging around a body that is prone to error, and we all
experience the culture around us, with incredible pressures to conform to
the "world".  I think you'd have to be very unusual (to say the least) or
totally numb not to notice the incredible allure of sex.
I certainly believe that you're being sincere about your desire to be
obedient to Jesus.  So, the first step in understanding this issue is to get
to know Him.  Jesus died on the cross to provide salvation, and most of us
understand that in this way:  we have been saved from the penalty of (past)
sins; we are being saved from the power of sin (today); and will be saved
from the wrath to come (future).  It is a process, and we can't get overly
down on ourselves for messing up from time to time.  We sometimes need to
forgive ourselves for being fallible human beings--that isn't an excuse to
go nuts, though.
You are young and going through tremendous physical changes.  It sounds like
you have a normal body, normal brain, and so on.  So don't punish yourself
for that.  But, by learning about Jesus, drawing closer to Him, He can teach
you how to deal with actual sin.  His illustration about lust in the heart,
hatred (= murder in the heart), coveting (= stealing), and so on, was to
teach the religious people of His time that simply keeping a bunch of rules
doesn't mean that you are truly loving God--that is a matter of the heart,
too.  We cannot earn salvation by keeping the law.  (That's why the
Pharisees always had to stay away from "sinners," and why Jesus was
criticized because he did hang out with sinners--basically, normal people
like you and me.)
For one thing, we are all doomed (every single human being) if that's what
it takes because we are all sinners.  We have all sinned and fallen short of
the glory of God.  Jesus' death on the cross means that we are free from the
penalty of the Law for our sins because He has already paid the
price--death.  Nevertheless, we grow in our ability to make good choices,
and we can only do that with the help of our best friend, Jesus (with God,
all things are possible), and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (No one
becomes immediately perfect and sinless when they accept Jesus into their
lives.  Not all of our problems go away in an instant.)
If you have committed your life to the Lord, then you should know what I
mean, so far.  But, always remember it is a process.  We learn discipline by
walking as closely as we can with Jesus.  We can commit (or do) sin (sins of
commission); but we can also sin by not doing the right thing (sins of
omission).  We have to learn how and when to do the right thing.  Regarding
sins of commission, He has promised either (a) a way to escape or (b) power
to overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13, 14):
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is
faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but
with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to
bear it.  Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
(Also, read the book of Romans about Paul's struggle with sin.)
I've always told my sons that old computer cliche, "Garbage in, garbage
out."  Sometimes we certainly do have to "flee idolatry," and I'm sure you
know what that implies.  We can't avoid seeing beautiful girls/women walking
around.  Over half the human race is female.  I wouldn't recommend trying to
gouge out your eyeballs, though, as some have done in history.  But, you
don't have to stare forever, or go looking through magazines or on the
internet for porn sites, either.  Fill your mind up with good things, with
Bible verses; your brain can call on them when the temptations come.  We are
to hide His Word in our hearts, just like David the Psalmist taught.  Even
then, we may make mistakes and stumble or fall.  That's when the grace of
God comes in.  As in the above, "God is faithful..."  You learn to put your
faith in Him more and more.  He will deliver you from the power of sin, even
right now.  If your intent is to follow Jesus, then follow Him, not the
redhead with the belly-button ring.  And, remember, following is
discipleship--it is an active process that you do.  Surround yourself with
other believers; as part of the family of God, we support each other.
(One of the ways we know when our brothers or sisters are having trouble is
when they stop coming to church or their fellowship drops off.  If you feel
bad about yourself, then you're not quite as likely to look for a brother or
elder to talk to.  But, that is the exact time that you need to seek our the
help that the Body of Christ is designed to give.  Find a pastor or older,
responsible brother in the Lord to get to know, someone strong, trustworthy,
and fatherly.  I recommend that strongly.
We also know that God put the sex drive in us, so it is not a bad thing or
something inherently evil.  Anyone who tries to make sex seem evil is
appealing to your flesh (your carnal, human nature) just as much as the
person who tries to tell you that you can do anything that you want.  Both
extremes are not Biblical.  If you look at the Song of Songs, you can't help
but notice that it is a love song between a bride and bridegroom.  Sex
within the parameters that God sets is a joyful thing.  It is fulfilling and
downright fun.  But, it can only be good in God's eyes within the confines
of marriage.  (So, premarital sex and extramarital sex is always wrong,
harmful to all involved, and will be sin by definition.  All sin can be
forgiven, though.  God is faithful, even when we blow it.)
The bottom line for sure is that He called us while we were still sinners.
God knows us better than we will ever know ourselves.  He knows we need His
grace, His forgiveness, and His unconditional love.  We never want to hurt
anyone who could love us like that!  We avoid sin and situations that could
lead us into sin because we want to show our love to Him, we don't want to
hurt Him, and we want Him to be pleased with us.  When He sees us stumble
and fall, it hurts Him, just like it hurts an earthly mom or dad when a
child does something stupid or mindless that hurts others or even just the
child him- or herself.
I can't imagine anything better in this lifetime than to hear Jesus say,
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  But, we don't do the good and
right thing to earn salvation or to be better than everyone else.  I will
always remember where I came from, and what I was like when Jesus came into
my life.  Yes, you're a sinner.  Welcome to the human race.  It is what you
do with that knowledge that sets you apart from all those who do not know
It is very likely that you will be married one day.  Pray that God will lead
you to that right woman.  Pray that He will lead her to you.  Pray that He
will teach you both how to be faithful by first being faithful to Jesus.  I
promise you that if you do (and remain faithful to Jesus), you will find
that a healthy spiritual relationship with Jesus and your bride-to-be will
provide you with the basis for a healthy emotional and physical
relationship.  Don't be in a hurry; you may need to learn many lessons
before the time is right (according to God).  Wait on Him, and seek Him.
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these
things will be added unto you."  Jesus knows exactly what you need a whole
lot better than you do.
 (teacher, and father of three grown sons)
P.S.  Feel free to ask questions or e-mail me or the other forum members
whenever you like.