Why Do So Many Men Struggle With Sexual Temptation?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Why is it that so many men struggle with sexual temptation, even in the church?  What can we do in helping others and ourselves in this struggle over sexual temptation?

Help with Temptation

There are many ways that we can resist temptation, particularly sexual temptation.  Job wrote “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1).  I know of a man who when he watches TV he automatically turns the channel when something sexually suggestive comes on.  He does this in an instant so that he doesn’t allow the sexually explicit images to linger in his mind.  He stops it at the source.  This must mean that he changes the channel frequently because so much of what you see on television is steeped in sexually suggestive images.  Sex sells because it stimulates the mind and it also fixes the viewer on the commercial.  Job made a covenant with his eyes…the moment that he saw a virgin or woman who tempted him, he covenanted with himself to immediately look away.  The fact is that we can “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). If you don’t flee then you are allowing yourself to be tempted and if you don’t resist, you will flee to it and when we are all tempted and don’t flee, it leads to sin.

Why Do So Many Men Struggle With Sexual Temptation

Adultery of the Heart

Jesus warns us that whatever enters the eye gate enters the mind and since sin begins in the heart it can lead to lusting in the heart and Jesus warns “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:27-28).  Sin in the heart is just as bad as sin that one commits in a physical way. For example, the Tenth Commandment which forbids us to covet is the only sin that cannot be seen. It hides within the deep recesses of the human heart and even though there are no external commissions of sin or outward sins, the sin of coveting is still sin, even though it’s only in the heart.

Strategies to Resist Sexual Temptation

Jesus spoke in hyperbole or extreme exaggeration when He said “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matt 5:29-30).  Jesus was not saying that we need to literally pluck our eye out because we’d still have one eye to lust with.  What Jesus was saying was to take the most extreme measures possible to prevent falling into sin.  One example would be for a friend to put a password protected filter on another friend’s computer who is struggling with pornography.  To have an accountability partner you can trust is a great way to make yourself be held responsible for your actions.  Is having the Internet or having an unprotected browser worth the risk of being addicted to pornography?  Remember that Jesus said that we can even lust and commit adultery in our heart (Matt 5:28).

Why do Men Struggle with Sexual Temptation?

Part of the problem is that when men don’t immediately look away at graphic, sexual images, they fixate on it…and this allows the temptation to grow into desire and then into sin.  This is because they haven’t made a covenant with their eyes (Job 31:1).  James addresses the problem of sin when reminding us that God doesn’t send us temptations: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:13-15).  There are some important points here that we can apply to avoiding sin.  One is when we are tempted, don’t allow this desire to grow into enticement.  If we don’t flee from temptation, we allow this desire to simmer and grow and this state of desiring leads to or “gives birth to sin” and “when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” because the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).

Men are hardwired differently than women. Generally speaking, women are more stimulated by words than by images. I am not saying that men are that much more susceptible to sexual temptation than women are but men are more easily driven by visual images and these images can more easily produce lust.  This might explain why, traditionally, more men cheat on their wives that women do their husbands and also why more men have addictions to pornography than women do…although that gap is closing fast.

Your Source of Power

One way to overcome sexual temptation is to stay in the Word of God on a daily basis.  We know that the Word has real power (Rom 1:16) “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb 4:12-13). God says that “my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). When we are regularly in the Word of God there is a “washing with water through the word” (Eph 5:26b).

We know from the Scriptures that “everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim 4:5).  So too are we consecrated or sanctified by the Word when we have a regular intake of Bible reading.  Very often when I counsel men who are struggling with an addiction to pornography or lusting after women, I find that their Bible reading is not consistent and sometimes the only time that they open their Bible is during sermons or Sunday school.  When we neglect consistent, regular, daily Bible reading, we are neglecting our greatest source of power because Gods’ Word mixes with the Holy Spirit to produce effectual change and we have already read that the Word of God has power (Rom 1:16), it is alive, living, and active (Heb 4:12), and it always accomplishes what God wills for it to do (Isaiah 55:11) so why wouldn’t we want to tap into the greatest earthly source of power that there is?  The Holy Spirit combines the Word of God to make effectual changes in the human heart so we should take advantage of it.

Conclusion

If you have never repented and confessed your sins and placed your trust in the Savior, you have no such power source from God.  When a person is born again (John 3:3) they become a new creation in Christ and the old things, the old man (and woman), passes away (2 Cor 5:17).  Without this new birth, you are still in your sins and powerless to resist the devil, the flesh, and the world.  Why not place your faith in Jesus Christ today, if you haven’t already done so?  There is no better time to do this than at this very moment (2 Cor 6:2) because there is no guarantee that tomorrow will even come (James 4:13-17) and once you die, you face the judgment of God (Heb 9:27).

Some help here: 10 Biblical Steps to Restoration After Sexual Sin

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

DocReits September 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Great article Pastor Jack, and a help to all of us in the area of sexual temptation. We are to guard our minds against temptation–Psalm 101:3 says, “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” (ESV)”

Sometimes when we are weak and especially tired we give in to that which makes us feel good for a season. Books have been written on this subject. The ones I think back upon are “Every Man’s Battle” and “The Man in the Mirror”, which are two great resources for men struggling in this and other areas. The point of each is that we must make a conscious decision that we want to be pure. We can’t “let” these images and situations which arise take us by accident or surprise. We must have a game plan in place to deal with them before they deal with us.

As you already pointed out we need to be saved so that we have the Holy Spirit’s help. Next we need to stay in the Word, which you mentioned, but the third important thing we need to do is to pray. Anecdotally, what has helped me the most in this area is “FEAR”. The Lord has made it clear to me through prayer and the reading of the Word, that He will discipline me when I should fail in this area.

Some might think that absurd, but the Word says the Lord chastens those whom He loves and corrects us as His children.

“For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delight(Pr 3:12)”

“For the Lord sends punishment on his loved ones; everyone whom he takes as his son has experience of his rod(Heb 12:6)”

Every time I have sinned in this area God has brought blight upon my home in the form of sickness, usually upon my children or spouse. If I have continued in sin the sickness gets worse the next time. Some would say that it is coincidental and that I am just imagining it, but I would ask how many times lightning can hit the same tree without seeing a pattern?

I have been driven to my knees crying out to God in repentance, not so much for my sin but because of my sin’s consequence..God’s punishment upon my family. It reminded me of David in prayer for his sick child Bathsheba bore him, before the child died, and how David suffered through his other son’s ultimate death(Absalom), at the Hand of God, as a result of David’s adultery. Here was an example of God’s chastisement, upon David’s family, in response to David’s sexual sin.

So what do we eventually get if we continue in sin? For myself, God outlined this very clearly years ago by bringing me back over and over and over again to Proverbs 29:1:

“A person who will not bend after many warnings will suddenly be broken beyond repair”.

This is not the loss of one’s salvation but his physical death or those over whom his covering lies…perhaps including his family. He has gotten my attention. This knowledge of God’s rod has been the greatest help in keeping my mind away from wandering and my eye from looking where it should not look. Is this the best motivation? Should I not rather do right out of love rather than the rod. Yes!… but my belief is that God uses what works, and the rod works on me.

Blessings,

DocReits

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Jack Wellman September 5, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Doc, as is your custom brother, you add something quite important and of course that is prayer. I sometimes overlook the obvious and that is the power of prayer and the Word. To know the God of the Word we need to know the Word of God and there is real power in the Word but few tap this God-power for His Word is active, alive, cuts to heal, and causes to bring about what He wills. My brother, you wrote “I have been driven to my knees crying out to God in repentance, not so much for my sin but because of my sin’s consequence” which just confirms in me that you are yielding to the Spirit and since God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble, no wonder He has poured out His supply of infinite grace upon you brother and I surely thank God for you.

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Anthony Cotton September 20, 2014 at 3:41 pm

This is the one I am having difficulty with.
I wrote a post about two films called “God is Dead”and “Heaven is Real” based on true stories.
God disappeared and I know He does this for a reason?
I don`t know if I was praying right,and I went to gotquestions.org,and it was more or less what you have said.

It always happens when I am sitting on my chair,and I presume it was the Holy Spirit,and this made me think of Hell,and what it would be like but nobody knows what it is like really.
I am writing this I don`t know if I am Making any sense,about a month ago I had quite a few pictures well their is only one thing to do.
I trashed the lot,but within a week I got some more.
I think it`s the Holy Spirit He was more or less saying what you must do.
This lasted for about a hour,and I thought of all sorts,and it is 3 days now and I haven`t done it through the Holy Spirit leading me away from it.
It`s dead easy when He helps you.
I am not addicted to it. The pictures are still on my computer and I am only one click away from them,but has I said I havn`t done it for 3 day`s It can only be the Holy Spirit hugging and tugging me away leading away to something else and the thought`s in my head do something else.
It was that bad I was going to give up all together,but no He is there. I evan thought I was going insane the only place where I can get some rest is bed. Well I will stop writing now?

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