Focus on the Family

Lust vs. Normal Sexual Desire

Why would God plant within a man the uncontrollable urge to look at every attractive woman and then say, “Oh, by the way, lust is adultery and adultery is sin. Good luck!” If lust is a sin, why did He create me with sexual desires?

We can understand why you might be feeling discouraged and frustrated if you’re having trouble controlling your sexual desires. But God hasn’t set you up for failure.

Don’t confuse normal sexual attraction with lust

Sexual attraction is natural. When a good-looking female walks by and a man notices (something that happens pretty regularly), it’s not necessarily the same thing as lusting after her.

Lust involves a choice and an act of the will. To a certain extent it’s a conscious decision to pursue a desirable object instead of simply allowing it to pass on by. It’s a willingness to give in to natural impulse.

That’s what happened when David, after seeing Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop, went the next step by sending messengers to bring her to his palace (2 Samuel 11:3-4).

Good news: self-control is possible

The Bible makes it clear that personal self-control is possible. Check out Galatians 5:16-25, Titus 2:11-14, 1 Peter 1:13-15, and 1 John 2:15-17.

A man can learn to let sensory stimulation bounce off him without taking root in his mind and heart. It’s like this long-shared adage: You can’t keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair. That’s what it means to overcome lust.

Will it take commitment and discipline? Absolutely — perhaps more for men than women. But struggle, discipline, commitment, and growth are all part of what it means to live as a Christian in this world. That’s the process of sanctification.

If you’d like to talk about this more, call us for a free over-the-phone consultation. Our licensed or pastoral counselors will be glad to help in any way they can.


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When Good Men Are Tempted

Overcoming Sexual Brokenness (resource list)

Overcoming Lust

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