The Bible’s Viewpoint
How Can You Resist Wrong Desires?
“When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me.”—ROMANS 7:21.
PERHAPS more than any other apostle, Paul worked hard to promote the lofty principles of Christianity. (1 Corinthians 15:9, 10) Still, he candidly made the above admission. He experienced a continual conflict between his mind and his wrong desires. Have you ever felt the way the apostle Paul did? Really, as imperfect creatures, who of us has not experienced that inner conflict?
For many, the battle to overcome wrong desires is especially intense. Some struggle with cravings for immoral sexual gratification. Others are enslaved by an addiction to gambling, tobacco, illicit drugs, or alcohol. When plagued with harmful and unclean desires, how can we resist them? What assistance is available? Will the battle against wrong desires ever end?
Love—The Key to Resisting Wrong Desires
Jesus pointed out the two greatest commandments in the Mosaic Law. The first was this: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” (Matthew 22:37) If we love God as Jesus said we must, should not pleasing Him be our greatest desire? If so, that righteous desire can help us in our fight against even the most formidable wrong desires! This is not just an idealistic theory. Millions of Christians successfully battle wrong desires on a daily basis. How can you cultivate such a strong attachment to God? By meditating appreciatively on his goodness as seen in his creation, in the Bible, and in his dealings with us personally.—Psalm 116:12, 14; 119:7, 9; Romans 1:20.
The second-greatest commandment Jesus cited was: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) The apostle Paul said that love “does not behave indecently” and “does not look for its own interests.” Such unselfish love thus helps us to avoid any conduct that would hurt others. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) How can it be cultivated? By putting ourselves in the place of others and sincerely concerning ourselves with their feelings and lasting welfare.—Philippians 2:4.
What Assistance Is Available?
Because God understands how difficult it is for us to do what is right, he has provided assistance in several forms. Through his written Word, the Bible, he teaches us to hate what is bad and to develop a healthy respect for him. (Psalm 86:11; 97:10) The Bible contains true-life accounts that demonstrate the disastrous outcome of giving in to wrong desires. In addition, Jesus said that if we request it, God will give us His holy spirit, the greatest force in the universe. (Luke 11:13) It can strengthen our resolve to do what is right. Another provision is the mutual support and encouragement we can receive from other Christians who are also resisting wrong desires. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) As these positive influences crowd out negative ones, we are assisted in our struggle to do what is right. (Philippians 4:8) Does this approach really work?
Consider Fidel, who was known in his community as a drunkard. While under the influence of alcohol, he smoked tobacco, gambled, and fought with others. His study of the Bible and association with Jehovah’s Witnesses helped him to overcome those practices. He now enjoys a much better life with his wife and two children.
Someone might ask, ‘But what if I have a relapse?’ The apostle John addressed that possibility. He wrote: “My little children, I am writing you these things that you may not commit a sin. And yet, if anyone does commit a sin, we have a helper with the Father, Jesus Christ, a righteous one. And he is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.” (1 John 2:1, 2) Yes, Jesus’ sacrifice covers the errors of a person who repents and sincerely strives to make changes so as to please God. In view of that provision, what valid reason could anyone have for giving up in the fight to do what is right?
Wrong Desires Will Be Conquered
If we develop our love for God and neighbor and take advantage of God’s assistance, even now we can have success in our fight against wrong desires. Furthermore, God’s Word assures us that this struggle will not go on forever. In the near future, those who take advantage of God’s spiritual provisions will be completely healed, both physically and spiritually. (Revelation 21:3-5; 22:1, 2) They will be freed from the burden of sin and the death that it causes. (Romans 6:23) On the other hand, those who are intent on carrying out unclean and harmful desires will be excluded from those blessings.—Revelation 22:15.
How comforting it is to know that we will not have to struggle with wrong desires indefinitely. They will be completely and permanently removed. What a relief that will be!