While all believers in Christ have been declared righteous in Jesus and are no longer under God’s just condemnation (Rom. 8:1-2), the power and influence of all sinful desires are not always removed at the moment of conversion. Christians will be tempted throughout the course of their life (Matt. 6:13). Such temptations will include the inclination to abandon and exchange God’s good design for sex for the sexual brokenness offered by the world. Yet, God’s Word promises a means of escaping and resisting temptation, even temptations related to homosexuality.
The following truths represent a survey of biblical steps to help those who struggle with temptations to sexual sins:
1. Contemplate God’s good design for sex
Genesis 2:15-25 and 3:1-11 reveal God’s design for marriage from the beginning. The marriage relationship of a husband and a wife is fundamentally a covenantal relationship. Two become one, both physiologically and emotionally. Sex originates in this covenantal context, consummating the verbal commitment of husband and wife in a complementary physical union. As designed by God, sex is intended to be enjoyed in shameless, heterosexual marital monogamy. Yet, as sin entered the world, God’s good designed was broken and distorted. As we fight the broken temptations that this world offers us, we must think deeply about God’s intention for sex.
2. Consider God’s call to sexual purity
The fear of falling into temptation can be paralyzing to a believer and lead to a refusal to fight the good fight.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, Paul points the people to holiness in sexual morality. The first point that he makes is that the believers in Thessalonica ought to “abstain from sexual immorality,” which essentially consist of any sexual thought or action outside of the context of a heterosexual, monogamous marriage. Whether it is pornography, premarital sex, extramarital sex or any other host of sexual perversion outside of God’s plan in marriage, the Christian is to abstain, to flee from sexual immorality. God’s call to sexual purity is not intended to deprive a person of joy or satisfaction, but rather, to preserve the goodness of sex in light of its divine intention. When God calls us away from sexual immorality, he is calling us to something better! As followers of Christ, we must fight to trust in the goodness of God’s call over against the siren calls of sexual immorality.
3. Count on God’s provision in temptation
First Corinthians 10:12-13 makes it clear that Christians are not exempt from serious temptations. Paul is well aware of such temptations in his churches, especially sexual temptations. Paul, however, is confident that God is more than able to aid those who are fighting temptation. The fear of falling into temptation can be paralyzing to a believer and lead to a refusal to fight the good fight. Yet, God’s Word promises that he is faithful to aid us, even when we are tempted. Christians, thus, must count on God’s provision, believing that he who is in them is greater than he who is in the world.
4. Celebrate God’s grace in Christ Jesus
The gospel of Jesus Christ specializes in taking the sexually immoral, the idolater, the homosexual, the thief, the greedy person, the drunk, the reviler and the swindler and making them into citizens of the Kingdom of God who have been washed, who have been sanctified, who have been justified “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). While it is true that temptation is a common experience for all people, there is real hope in Jesus Christ. Though you fall, by the grace of God, the blood of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit, you may stand up again. Do not believe the lie that God loves you less when you have fallen into temptation. For while our sin does grieve our gracious God, he is faithful and just to forgive all who confess and repent of their sin and trust Jesus for salvation.
In sum, temptation is common to all people. Even Jesus himself was tempted, though he never sinned. Being tempted is not necessarily sinful, but it is very dangerous. This is true even for temptations related to same-sex attraction. Sin threatens to distort God’s good gift of sex in marriage while leading us away from the knowledge of God. Thankfully, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have not only been forgiven of the penalty of sin, but we are also being progressively set free from the power of sin while looking forward to the day when we will be forever freed from its presence. This is true for those who struggle with heterosexual sins and homosexual sins. Christ came to die for all sinners, not simply a particular class or type of sin. Therefore, any who would trust in him possess an unshakeable hope for the future and a promise of escape from temptation in the present through Jesus Christ.