Dealing With Temptation and Lust

August 18, 2013 under Syllabus 2013-2014

Summary

Nobody will ever be perfect or attain sinlessness while still on this earth, yet it is still a goal for which we strive. The Bible makes a very strong statement regarding this in 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8, “God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. Anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” If lust has not yet gripped your heart and mind, ready yourself through a life lived above reproach to combat the temptations of lust. If you currently struggle with lust, it is time to come clean before God and ask for His intervention in your life, so that holiness can be a mark of your life as well.

Lust is what occurs when our desire for intimacy becomes subordinate to physical desires. In essence, lust attempts to separate the physical from the spiritual — something that cannot be accomplished without spiritual ramifications. Lust creates an illusion of intimacy where there is none.

“The heart has become the battlefield between love and lust. The more lust dominates the heart, the less the heart experiences the nuptial meaning of the body…. The body remains an object of lust and, therefore as a “field of appropriation” of the other human being”

Pope John Paul II

Objective

Demonstrate how the Catholic Church and the Scriptures view the daily challenges of Temptation and Lust in hope of providing a clearer understanding of what faces us everyday as men, fathers and husbands. Shed light on how we can better arm ourselves for battle against these formidable opponents, not only with God’s help, but with help from our spiritual family as well.

Bible Readings

1. 1 Corinthians 10:13

No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.

2. Matthew 26:41

Stay awake, and pray not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing enough, but human nature is weak.

3. 1 Peter 2:11

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

4. James 4:7

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

5. 1 Corinthians 7:2

But for fear of fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

6. Luke 8:11-15

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And they by the way side are they that hear; then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock, are they who when they hear, receive the word with joy: and these have no roots; for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation, they fall away. And that which fell among thorns, are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But that on the good ground, are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.

7. James 1:12-16

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.  Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2339

Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.126 “Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end.”127

2. Paragraph 2351

Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.

3. Paragraph 2847

The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man,152 and temptation, which leads to sin and death.153 We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a “delight to the eyes” and desirable,154 when in reality its fruit is death.

God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings. . . . There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us.155

4. Paragraph 2848

“Lead us not into temptation” implies a decision of the heart: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. . . . No one can serve two masters.”156 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”157 In this assent to the Holy Spirit the Father gives us strength. “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, so that you may be able to endure it.”158

5. Paragraph 2340

Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adopt the means for doing so: self-knowledge, practice of an ascesis adapted to the situations that confront him, obedience to God’s commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, and fidelity to prayer. “Indeed it is through chastity that we are gathered together and led back to the unity from which we were fragmented into multiplicity.”128

Small Group Questions

1. Do you struggle with the opposing viewpoints on temptation held by society and the Church/your faith?

2. What are some of the items or situations that cause you temptation?

3. Do you read books or magazines or watch movies or visit websites that you would not tell your wife about?

4. Have you ever overcome a battle against temptation/lust; if yes, how did you deal with it?

5. Do you have friends or activities that encourage or keep you in situations of temptation?

Accountability

1. Pray a Rosary and/or Chaplet of Divine Mercy for yourself and/or others battling temptation and lust.

2. Pray for strength and God’s assistance

3. Rid your home and computer of any pornographic material.

4. Identify those areas of your life, those environments and people that cause you temptation and eliminate them or escape them.

Recommended Resources

1. Prayers Against Temptation
http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/prayers-against-temptation.html

2. The Lamb’s Supper” – book by Dr. Scott Haun

3. Overcoming Temptations
http://www.catholicbible101.com/overcomingtemptations.htm

4. Fighting the Good Fight: Resisting Temptation http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=5143

5. Prayers For Purity
http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/prayers-for-purity.html

6. Temptation -by Archbishop, Cardinal Henry Edward Manning http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=7066

7. Lust Kills the Soul
http://catholicexchange.com/lust-kills-the-soul/

Author

Graham Galloway

Included Resources

1. LUST VS. LOVE
http://lifeteen.com/lust-vs-love/

By Aaron Hostetter | MARCH 28, 2012

“What color are my eyes?”

Guys, have you ever heard that before from a girl? It’s the carefully laid trap by a girl who knows when she is being looked at in a lustful way. Gentlemen, it can only get worse from there. Contrary to what we might think, there isn’t an answer that will equal a “get out of jail free” card like in Monopoly. Even if you manage to mumble through her correct eye color, chances are she is still feeling hurt from your eyes only looking at her body instead of appreciating her as a person. It’s not only guys who struggle with this sin. Both guys and girls think that something as simple as checking a person out just for their “hot bod” isn’t a big deal. It is a big deal though, and any person can tell you they can feel the difference from when someone looks at them with love or with lust. It’s degrading. You can look at the 9th commandment and think; “Coveting my neighbor’s wife” doesn’t exactly apply to me…. Let’s take a deeper look at it and see precisely why it does apply to you.

IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS

In Matthew 5:28, Jesus says that, “Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

When Jesus said this, it was completely radical, because he revealed that lust (something that happens inside your heart) is a sin just as much as an external action. What we think with our minds and desire in our hearts is a big deal.

“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. ‘The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.” (Matthew 6:21-23)

At Mass on Sunday, we make a public confession and ask for forgiveness for not only our actions but for what goes on in the heart and mind:

“I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words”

LUST WOUNDS LOVE

When you lust after someone, either in physical actions or in thoughts, it wounds your ability to love and be loved. Lust is deliberately inflaming a sexual desire or temptation that naturally comes to you.

Pope John Paul II always said that loving is the opposite of using. Love requires sacrifice, responsibility and a total commitment to the other person. Jesus showed us the model referenced in Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church.”

A quick look at any crucifix will remind us how Christ loved the Church: by laying down his life! So when you reduce someone to an object for pleasure, it excludes God’s plan for love. Bishop Fulton Sheen once said that lust turns love into poison. Lust turns something that is designed to be given away (love) and turns it into something that’s only about “me” and what “I” can get from the other person.

Don’t confuse every lustful thought as a mortal sin. There’s a difference between thoughts that are brought on by ourselves and entertained and ones that pop up and are dismissed. Pray for help in the moment for Jesus to cleanse your mind of the image or thought!

BLESSED ARE THE PURE OF HEART (MATTHEW 5:8)

Just as looking at someone lustfully damages love and tears someone down, looking at someone lovingly affirms their dignity and can build them up. We have to untrain our eyes and hearts from lust and back to love. Purity in the heart is what we should strive for. God can clean the gunk built up in us through lust of the eyes and give us a heavenly vision.

“If, by love and right living, you wash off the filth that has become stuck to your heart, the divine beauty will shine forth in you. Think of iron, which at one moment is dark and tarnished and the next, once the rust has been scraped off, shines and glistens brightly in the sun. It is the same with the inner core of man, which the Lord calls the heart. It has been in damp and foul places and is covered in patches of rust; but once the rust has been scraped off, it will recover itself and once more resemble its ‘original design’ . And whoever is pure in heart is blessed because, seeing his own purity, he sees the ‘original designer’ reflected in the image” ~St. Gregory of Nyssa

Ask God to help you if you struggle with this sin. Here are some do’s and don’ts for the ninth commandment.

HOW TO OBEY THE NINTH COMMANDMENT

Don’t

Lust after another person, either in your thoughts or your actions. This damages your ability to love and be loved.

Look twice. A girl I knew once said, “I know my dad looks at other women. But he never looks twice.” Be the witness when people around you are undressing a person with their eyes. It could change hearts even if they never tell you.

Give up. It can seem like trying to stop a waterfall by cupping your hands under it, but purity is possible in the world today. It’s worth fighting for, and God’s grace is enough for us to do it!

Do

Men, turn lust into a blessing. Praise God for His masterful artistry when you see a beautiful woman, don’t praise yourself and turn it into a disordered lustful reality. Use your bodies to glorify God in whatever you do (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Build up and affirm brothers and sisters in Christ for modesty in dress, speech, and actions. It’s a battle to be pure and we need to hear encouragement in our walk.

Filter what you feed your heart and mind when it comes to tv shows and movies. Know what causes you to sin and get rid of it from your life. “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29).

Pray for your future spouse every day. Place your trust in God to prepare that person to be with you for the rest of your life/bring you to Heaven. Trust Him to prepare you, too!

Scripture to meditate on: Colossians 3:5, Matthew 5:8, Galatians 5:19-21, Matthew 15:19, 1 John 2:16, Ephesians 2:3, Galatians 5:16, Philipians 4:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:7

Catechism on the 9th Commandment: 2514-2527

2. Dealing With Temptation Talk
http://catholicyouthministry.com/dealing-with-temptation-talk/

Wisdom of the Saints:

“Sins that are easiest to amend bring the greatest punishment.” – St. John Chrysostom

“The devil tempts so that he may ruin, God tempts so that He may crown.” – St. Ambrose of Milan

“He did not say: you will not be troubled – you will not be tempted – you will not be distressed. But He said: You will not be overcome.” – St. Julian of Norwich

“No one sins by an act he cannot avoid.” – St. Augustine of Hippo

Relevant Points:

We must remember that God doesn’t set us up to fail and He doesn’t tempt us beyond our control (1 Cor 10:13).

We must change the way we view temptations – from burdens/trials to opportunities for growth/holiness.

Jesus was tempted, too. Go to Him. He knows what it’s like to be tempted.

God’s grace is enough (2 Cor. 12:9).

Temptations help us to understand ourselves and where our hearts truly are

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to identify those areas of your life, those environments and people, that cause you temptation and eliminate them or escape them. It’s not enough to overcome temptation if you repeatedly put yourself in its path.

The devil is not afraid of you, but he is petrified of Christ in you. Avail yourselves of the Sacraments and prayer and drench yourself in the life of Christ and His grace and the devil will flee from you (James 4:7).

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