Faith Identity Self-Management

Battles and Strength- Winning the Fight for Purity

The text read “24-hour rule, pray for me.”  It came from a young man who has fought the battle for purity and lost repeatedly. His war-weary heart could be felt in the message. Grabbing a coffee the next day, the two of us talked through this latest defeat. “Why can I not stop this horrible use of my body?” You could feel the exasperation in his voice. He could barely look at me, eyes fixed on the table.

Your Battleground

Deep in each of us lies a battleground for our souls. Good and evil duke it out, where evil seems to have the upper hand. Statistics tell the story. The battlefield is strewn with men defeated by sexual forays, either with themselves or others. Shame, guilt push us towards hidden lives; which is the exact ground Satan uses to fester our souls. My own story is riddled with bouts of entrapment; as if there was no way out. I wish I knew about 24-hour rules and pre-emptive strikes when I was in my warrior years. I wish I had a mentor who understood, who came alongside, offering hope as well as a challenge to man-up in areas like my sexuality.

Your Body Matters to God!

There is a malady we face in our Western culture. So much of our thinking is rooted in the Greco-Roman philosophies that downplay the body as purely temporal and evil and elevates thought to an almost deification. Yet, scripture teaches that the very same power that God used to raise Jesus Christ from the dead, will raise our mortal bodies as well. Our bodies matter and that includes our sexuality. Invariably, one’s sexual development begins years before they marry. For many, unfortunately, sexual experimentation runs rampant; sex with yourself, with others. It’s common anymore for young men to have had multiple sex partners, of both genders, by the time they actually marry. And, some of these are people who claim the name of Jesus.

Raising the White Flag

Before you conclude white flags are a sure sign of defeat, think again. I can throw in the towel and relinquish my sexuality to passionate lust like the world promotes, or I can raise the white flag as a dying to self so that the life of Christ can be seen in my sexuality. 1 Thessalonians 4 speaks to the fact that as Christ-followers we are to control our own body in holiness and honor.  This is in contrast to the way people who do not know God practice their sexuality. Promiscuity is their way of life. “For God has not called us to impurity but in holiness.” Notice the difference between sexuality prone TO impurity and sexuality IN holiness. Left to myself, I am NEVER holy. I have no ability to make myself holy. This is why the next verse 1 Thessalonians 4:8 is so important in your battle for purity. “For whoever disregards this, disregards not man, but God  who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” I raise the white flag not in defeat, but in a full surrender of myself to the Holy Spirit who lives in me. He will, supernaturally, redirect my desires such that sex is not a means to medicate self-centered soul wounds, but an expression of the great gift sex is!

The Story Continues

Through consistency in God’s Word, learning what He has to say about our bodies and our sexuality, plus a steady conversation with his mentor, the young man who faced repeated defeats in the area of his sexuality, started to change. Beyond understanding how God created the male body to function sexually, he began to appreciate how his identity as a man matured in proportion to his willingness to yield to Christ. Practically, that meant he figured out his arousal template; what things turned him on lustfully, and how to bring Christ into that point of battle long before he’s facing an imminent threat of doing something sexually stupid. Over time, he sent less 24-hour rule texts. Instead, he had more pre-emptive strike texts. Those are early warning calls for prayer and help to divert more serious forays. This young man also learned how to treat women he was interested in with gentleness and respect. He saw their souls and not just their shapely bodies. It’s not that his sexual desires disappeared altogether as if he became a eunuch. Rather, as he yielded his sexual urges to the Lord, purity became his greater desire. His character deepened and to be honest, women were increasingly attracted to him than to the other “Christian” guys who were more interested in groping.

Two Helpful Texts

Here are two helpful ways for a guy who wants to find sexual victory. I’ve been on both the sending and receiving end of such texts.

24-Hour Rules.  Whether a guy is turned on by viewing porn or lusting after a woman he sees, invariably, he turns to some sort of sexual release; masturbation, heavy petting, intercourse, even same-sex trysts. When it happens, guilt and shame hit and the initial reaction is to cover-up what just occurred. A 24-hour rule is a way to resist Satan’s pull into his dark web. Within 24 hours of falling, text your mentor. Admit what you did and ask for help. The reason 24 hours is effective is the longer you wait, the more you will rationalize your actions as “normal”. They are NOT!  Sometimes I’d receive a 24-hour rule text from a young man. I’d text back “Are you texting me 23 hours and 59 minutes after this happened?” Early on, the answer was usually “Yes” or “actually more like 36 hours”. Eventually, the 24-hour rule texts would come in different, admitting failure. I’d ask the same question. This time, however, I’d get something like “10 minutes ago.”  That’s when I knew the tide was starting to turn for the young man.  I’m not one to celebrate sin, but I do celebrate the change when the 24-hour rule text is sent out.

Pre-emptive Strikes.  In a healthy mentoring relationship, there will be open, honest discussion about sexual temptations and what triggers them. Guiding a young man through a discreet discussion on what arouses him means he begins to see that the temptation to act out sexually wasn’t when the act occurred but long before. These texts will look something like this: “Hey! I just got home from a very long day on campus. I’m exhausted and no one is home. This is not good. Pray for me. I’m headed to Starbucks instead to study.”  Wise move! Now, those are victories to celebrate!  

One young man who was binging on porn multiple times a week had gotten to a point he figured that was his lot in life, forever. In his mind, it was a matter of time before he acted out on a girl, got arrested, and became known as a registered sex offender. Until…  God pursued him to the brink of disaster. He repented. By that, he admitted his sexual struggles to an older man, whom he also asked to be his mentor. Through consistency in God’s Word and continual conversations, using the 24-hour rules and pre-emptive strikes, this young man found his porn use drop to virtually zero. So did his frequency of masturbating. Eventually, he had a natural wet dream (nocturnal emission); something he saw as a significant sign he was winning the battle over sexual impurity.  His love for God increased as well.

You Cannot Fight this Alone

How you deal with your sexuality as a single man will directly impact how you deal with sex in marriage. No one wins this battle alone. There is a reason God calls men into iron sharpens iron relationships. If you don’t have one, get one. Just be prepared. The battle for your sexuality will intensify at first because Satan has his ugly talons embedded in your soul.  As you get things on the table with your mentor, he will be your wingman to help you yield to Christ. Then, and only then, can you win! I’ve seen it happen time and time again!

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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