In 1956 five missionaries were killed by the very tribesmen they'd been trying to bring the gospel to. One of those killed was a man named Jim Elliot. He was extremely devout and his motto for living was: 'Only one life, will soon be past - only what’s done for Christ will last.' But, despite his strong love for the Lord, Jim honestly spoke of having also been a man who experienced strong sexual temptations.
Jim's struggle isn't an isolated case. There've been many strong Christians through the centuries who also spoke of their struggle with sexual temptation in this promiscuous world. We mustn’t be surprised then at how persistent temptation and sin can be in our lives. Long ago the apostle Paul wrote some words that show that our struggle with sin is not something that only we go through. What he wrote has important bearing on the subject we're talking about so try and follow his line of thought. He said:
"We know that the law is spiritual - but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave to sin. I don't understand what I am doing, because I don't practice what I WANT to do, but I do what I hate! Now if I do what I don't want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it, for I don't do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I don't want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I'm no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. I discover this law that, when I want to do what is good, evil is present with me! For in my inner self I delight in God’s law - but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 7:14 - 8:2)
Christians have debated whether Paul is describing his own experience as a follower of Jesus, or just giving a picture of a person before and after conversion. I personally believe Paul was describing the conflict that takes place in all believers between the sinful nature we were born with, and the new nature we received when we came to Christ Jesus by faith. Just as our new nature keeps us from plummeting into the depths of sin, so the old nature keeps dragging us back and hindering us in our desire to follow the Lord.
That’s why people wrestling against the attraction of pornography may find that its appeal doesn’t vanish overnight, and they can still be strongly drawn towards it. It’s why they may also stumble again as they seek to turn away from it. The encouragement of Paul’s words is that, even in their struggling state, God has assured them of victory in Jesus Christ. They can take courage from the truth that It is Christ's atonement and not their attainment that makes them acceptable to God.