Garret grew up as a Christian and was often told to keep himself pure and not give in to sexual lusts, but the way to do this was never clear. Here he talks about how to get complete victory over all impure thoughts and become free from sexual immorality and all impurity.
“Growing up, I was told not to flirt with, or to date girls, or to have sex before marriage. I knew that allowing impure thoughts was sin and I really had a longing to be free from these impure thoughts, but the way to do this was never clear for me. I was looking for a way to become free of these thoughts but ended up falling a lot and getting trapped in a horrible cycle where I would try to fight but always ended up sinning. I had no help to become free.
“But finally, the way to become free became clear to me. I got faith that God wanted to give me victory over my sins, so I took up a battle against these impure thoughts and by God’s help I began to overcome. I’m not saying I’m not tempted anymore but my lusts are not in control anymore. I’m not controlled anymore by what a girl wears and how a girl acts or every little thought that comes into my head.
“Victory over these sins is not an easy 5-minute solution. If you want to win the battle against your lusts, you have to make a decision and not give up. The battle actually starts in your everyday life, before you are even tempted by impure thoughts.
A pure thought life
“I think the most important thing for keeping yourself pure is to consciously work in your thought life in the daily situations, before you even come into the trials. As it says in Colossians, ‘Think about the things above and not things on earth.’ (Colossians 3:2, CEB.) My thought life needs to be based on praying for the others, seeking God, praying for my own life and filling myself with God’s Word. Not only will this keep me from a lot of unnecessary trials but also, when I come into trials and temptations, I’m already ready to battle those temptations.
“As natural people we are so very weak that it was even a battle just to get faith that God could help me. I very quickly discovered how powerless and weak I was against these thoughts and realised that I had to make a firm decision that I was going to be finished with these sins.
“If I don’t keep to my decision, when I come into the trials then I will definitely fall because I am far too weak. I need God’s help to get the victory and then I need to make a firm decision to set my mind on things above.
“And when I ‘think about the things above’, I am actually growing in love for God. And the only thing that can keep me pure in my trials is how much I love God. When I’m obedient, then that shows that I love God more than myself, more than my own lusts and sinful desires. I’m not just fighting because I want to be free but also because I love God and He hates sin, and therefore I will obey Him and fight against my sin. And then He gives me the power to overcome.
“When I am faithful to obey God and trust His leading and do whatever He tells me, then He sends me the Holy Spirit, who gives me strength to get victory in temptation. But without that I’m powerless to ‘suffer in the flesh’, as it’s written there.
Suffering in the flesh
“‘Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.’ 1 Peter 4:1.
“To suffer in the flesh, for me, means that when I am tempted to look at a girl and lust after her, if I say ‘no’ to my flesh, to my sinful nature, I’m starving my ‘sinful nature’ from that desire and my ‘sinful nature’ is suffering. It’s not being allowed to ‘eat’ what it wants, and it’s actually dying in that area.
“When I’m armed with this mindset, when this is what I have decided to do, then I’m willing to ‘suffer in the flesh’, I am willing to suffer because my sinful nature does not get what it wants. It’s because I have a real hate for sin. Then I’m going to be finished with that sin. If I’ve decided: ‘I will suffer in the flesh. I will not seek my own,’ then I won’t give in to that sin! God will give me strength then!
“And that’s where the fight is. Yes, the thoughts come, but I don’t have to agree with the thoughts. In that way I take up a battle there and I actually get victory over these sins –
A life of peace, joy and victory
“At first there is a suffering but that is nothing compared to the suffering that I’ve experienced because of the sin I had done in my life. At first you may not have very much peace and you don’t feel very much joy, but then you get a little bit of victory, and that taste of victory makes you want more and more! This life is so much better than being a slave to your sinful lusts. I can’t even compare it.
“It’s exciting when you think about all these warriors in the Old Testament that fought all these battles outwardly. But if I think about on the inside – I’m becoming a warrior inside myself, in my thought life. Yes, maybe it’s not outward and something great and brave, but inside it’s very brave to be a warrior. Anybody can give in to their sexual lusts. That takes nothing. But how many people can get victory over it?
“Yes, it costs something to become a warrior, but this life is full of hope and full of joy. With God’s help it is completely possible for anybody who really wants to, for anyone who really wants to be free from his or her sinful lusts. I think that’s very exciting!”