Jeremy Lelek writes:
Would we ever tell a married man who struggles with lust that we are going to take him through a therapeutic intervention where he will become solely attracted to his wife? Would we raise his hopes that upon completing therapy he will not wrestle with attraction towards other women ever again—that his lust for others will be eradicated from his heart? I certainly would make no such promises, and the Bible doesn’t either! Such reasoning would be akin to telling a counselee that because he has counseled with me he will never experience depression, sadness, anxiety or fear again. This logic completely denies the brokenness in our hearts caused by depravity.
As counselors, when our efforts are primarily aimed at symptom relief or perfect or right conduct then we are completely missing the mark, and likely hurting those we serve. We inadvertently create a system of redemption that is centered in experiential management of sin rather than the full and complete work of Jesus Christ. . .
The Hope of the Gospel
The Gospel and Christian Life are about God: When I counsel those struggling with homosexual attraction, one of the first things I want them to do is trust God. Now when I use the word struggle, I am referring to a person who has not accepted homosexuality as being morally right, but who daily fights against these desires wishing they didn’t exist in the first place. By the time such individuals reach my office, they have promised themselves 100s of times that they will never lust after a man again or look at homosexual pornography again or engage in other homosexual activities again. Such promises are always broken, leaving them in a cycle of shame and condemnation. Since they are unable to completely eliminate their sin, they often turn from God. It is not unusual for me to tell such a person, “Look to God’s faithfulness not your own.” Jesus knows the burden of sexual temptation and He has profound sympathy for anyone whose hearts are captured by this issue (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:14-15). He is also committed to saving and transforming His own into children of glory (Rom. 8:28-29; 1 Thess. 4:3).
Does this mean that He has promised to remove all sexual affections or any sexual affection completely? No. As a matter of fact, the Bible tells us that there is a war raging in our hearts that will not rest until we see Him face to face (Gal. 5:16-17). What God promises is His presence and faithfulness (Heb. 13:5). His presence to hold you through this stormy life until the day of resurrection (John 6:37-40). His presence as your Helper to walk wisely while empowering you to resist sin (John 14:16-17). His presence to give you self-control (Gal. 5:22). His faithfulness to not allow anything to separate you from His love (Rom. 8:37-39). His faithfulness to complete His work of redemption in your life (Phil. 1:6). Very often it is in the presence, not the absence, of our sinful struggles where the beauty and value of God’s presence and faithfulness are magnified. The struggle is frequently an occasion for rich abiding worship!
The Work of the Gospel Enables You to Hear and Obey God: When Paul is addressing the Corinthians regarding sexual sin he doesn’t tell them that if they just believe, God will remove all their ungodly sexual temptation. Instead, he assumes the possible presence of such temptations and writes things like, “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18a) and “…for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). When the author of Proverbs is counseling his son, he doesn’t treat him as though he will not wrestle with sexual temptation, but offers wisdom when such imminent temptation arises. Concerning the adulteress, he warns, “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house…” (Prov. 5:8), “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes…”(Prov. 6:25), “Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray onto her paths…” (Prov. 7:25).
The inference of both Paul and the author of Proverbs is that sexual temptation is a possibility, and the ways to combat such longings are fleeing, resisting, and living to the glory of God! The ability to walk by faith comes through the hearing of the Gospel (Rom. 10:17) and the supernatural awaking of our hearts to want God and His ways (Eph. 2:4-8). Upon such awaking, Jesus works in us (over a lifetime) to create hearts that are zealous to do what is good and holy (Titus 2:11-14). He saves us then progressively enables us to glorify him in our lives and bodies through obedience. Healing may not be universally characterized as the complete elimination of sexual temptation from the human heart, but by hearts that are transformed and empowered by His grace to obey (from the New Self) when sexual temptation seeks to grip us (from remnants of the Old Self).
You can read Jeremy’s entire article here: