“I didn’t set out to look for pornography. But I got on the Internet and an ad popped up. Something snapped, and I just clicked it open.”—CODY.*
“An attractive girl at work started flirting with me. One day she suggested that we go to a hotel to ‘play around.’ I knew exactly what she wanted.”—DYLAN.
“I CAN resist anything except temptation.” This famous quip well describes how some people view temptation—deep down they relish it. Yet others regard temptation as a persistent foe that they would dearly love to defeat. What do you think? When faced with temptation, should you yield or resist?
Of course, not all temptations lead to big problems. Sneaking that extra cookie, for example, will hardly ruin your life. But yielding to other enticements—especially those leading to sexual immorality—can bring tragic consequences. The Bible warns: “Anyone committing adultery . . . is lacking good sense; the one who does so brings ruin on himself.”—Proverbs 6:32, 33.
If an immoral temptation comes knocking, how should you react? The Bible answers: “This is the will of God, that you should be holy and abstain from sexual immorality. Each one of you should know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4) How can you cultivate that strength of will? Consider three steps that can help.
Step 1: Guard Your Eyes
Feeding our eyes on sensual images will only fuel improper desires. Confirming the link between seeing and desiring, Jesus warned: “Everyone who keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Using vivid hyperbole, he urged: “If, now, your right eye is making you stumble, tear it out and throw it away from you.” (Matthew 5:28, 29) The point? To resist temptation, we must act decisively and not feast our eyes on provocative images.
To illustrate: Imagine you glimpsed the blinding flash of a welder’s torch. Would you keep on staring at it? Of course not! You would turn away or shield your eyes to protect your sight. Likewise, if you glimpse erotic imagery—in print, on the screen, or in the flesh—quickly look away. Protect your mind from being infected. A former pornography addict, Juan, says: “When I see an attractive woman, I often feel the urge to take a second and a third look. So I force my eyes to look away, and I tell myself: ‘Pray to Jehovah! You absolutely need to pray now!’ After I pray, the impulse soon fades.”—Matthew 6:9, 13; 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Consider, too, the faithful man Job, who said: “I have made a covenant with my eyes. So how could I show improper attention to a virgin?” (Job 31:1) Why not make a similar resolve?
Try this: If you glimpse erotic imagery, quickly avert your eyes. Imitate the Bible writer who prayed: “Turn my eyes away from looking at what is worthless.”—Psalm 119:37.
Step 2: Guard Your Thoughts
Because we are all imperfect, at times we may struggle with wrong desires. The Bible states: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin.” (James 1:14, 15) How can you avoid being caught in such a downward spiral?
When you experience wrong desires, remember that you can choose how to respond to them. Fight those desires. Tear them from your mind. Refuse to dwell on immoral fantasies. A man named Troy, who was hooked on Internet pornography, says: “I fought to purge wrong thoughts from my mind by focusing on positive thoughts instead. It wasn’t easy. I had many relapses. But eventually I learned to control my thinking.” A woman named Elsa, who struggled with immoral temptation as a teenager, recalls, “By keeping busy and praying to Jehovah, I was able to keep wrong thoughts at bay.”
Try this: When you are plagued with immoral thoughts, immediately stop and pray. Fight wrong thoughts by filling your mind with “whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well-spoken-of, whatever things are virtuous, and whatever things are praiseworthy.”—Philippians 4:8.
Step 3: Guard Your Steps
When desire, temptation, and opportunity converge, trouble can easily follow. (Proverbs 7:6-23) How can you avoid becoming a victim?
The Bible wisely counsels: “The shrewd one sees the danger and conceals himself, but the inexperienced keep right on going and suffer the consequences.” (Proverbs 22:3) So guard your steps. Anticipate situations that could trigger problems, and avoid them. (Proverbs 7:25) A man named Filipe, who overcame his addiction to pornography, states: “I put the family computer where everyone could see it and installed Internet filter software. And I go online only while others are around.” Similarly, Troy, mentioned earlier, says: “I avoid watching provocative movies and mixing with people who talk crudely about sex. I don’t want to put myself in harm’s way.”
Try this: Honestly evaluate your weaknesses, and plan ahead to avoid situations that could expose you to temptation.—Matthew 6:13.
DO NOT GIVE UP!
What if, despite your best efforts, you weaken and give in to temptation? Do not lose heart and quit trying. The Bible says: “The righteous one may fall seven times, and he will get up again.” (Proverbs 24:16) Yes, our heavenly Father encourages us to “get up.” Will you accept his loving help? Then never tire of turning to him in prayer. Build your faith by studying his Word. Strengthen your resolve by attending Christian meetings. Take heart from God’s promise: “I will fortify you, yes, I will help you.”—Isaiah 41:10.
Cody, mentioned at the outset, states: “It took great effort to beat my pornography habit. I had many setbacks, but with God’s help, I finally succeeded.” Dylan, also mentioned earlier, states: “I could easily have had sex with my workmate. But I stood my ground and told her ‘No!’ It feels great to have a clean conscience. More important, I know I made Jehovah proud of me.”
When you stand firm and resist temptation, you can be sure that God will be proud of you too!—Proverbs 27:11.
Names in this article have been changed.