Defeat Lust & Pornography
Defeat Lust & Pornography 3 minute read

Did I Just Lust After That Woman?

Last Updated: April 9, 2024

Not too long ago I received an e-mail asking a specific question about lust. The man asked:

Hey Luke,

Personally, God brought me to a brick wall some years back with my porn addiction, and showed me that it had had to end, period. It felt like God hit me with a two-by-four, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He delivered me.

I have not been so successful in the day-to-day comings and goings. I can be over-scrupulous I think, which can make outings a real nightmare of self-scrutiny: “Did I just lust after that woman?” I’ve heard numerous strategies to dealing with seeing beautiful women in day-to-day life, but none of them seem to stick.

It’s not that I’m imagining myself in sexual situations with these women, and many times it’s not even a look that is intense or long-lasting.

This habit is still with me, especially when I’m tired or depressed. It functions just like an addiction. I guess you could call the addiction “curiosity”: trying to discover who the most beautiful woman is in a given place or day.

I just don’t really know a way forward.

I’ve talked to a lot of men with this problem (myself included). I believe, like David Powlison says, sexual sin is mastered at different levels. We might overcome pornography addiction but then we move to an even deeper battle of how we see women (or men) in general.

Here was my reply:

First, I want to suggest to you that asking, “Did I just lust after that woman?” is a good question to be asking. It at least shows you care about holiness. Only a heart made alive by the Spirit of God does this. So when you find yourself asking the question, let that be a trigger to remind you: The very asking is a sign that God is at work in you. Let that be a point of rejoicing for you.

Second, allow yourself the freedom to recognize the thin line between looking and lusting, but keep the two separate, nonetheless. The fact that an attractive woman has caught your eye is as natural as the day is long. “Lusting,” however, is more of an actual craving, a coveting of something. The move from looking to lusting can be a very quick one, but it is very counter-productive beat your conscience down with false guilt.

Instead, when an attractive woman crosses your path, and when you find your eyes lingering, use it as an opportunity to remind yourself of the truths of Romans 8. In that chapter Paul tells us the Spirit in us is alive because of righteousness, but the body is still dead because of sin. As long as we live in these mortal bodies, there will always be a beachhead for sin to exist in our lives. By the power of the Spirit, we can keep from indulging the flesh, but the body is not renewed until the resurrection when Christ returns for his people. Until then we “groan” in our mortal bodies for the day of Christ. Each time you see an attractive woman and feel the pull to keep looking, let it remind you of your ultimate longing, the day when Christ will totally vanquish sin. Thank him for the renewing work he has already done by awakening your soul to the truths of the gospel and giving you a new heart.

Even as I type this, I am prompted to ask myself, “Yeah, okay, but what about defeating the lust once and for all?” In reply to my own frustration, I need to remind myself that as Christians we live in the overlap of the ages: the present age and the age to come. We will and do experience freedom from the power of sin, but we do not yet experience freedom from the presence of sin. Until that day, our experiences of temptation and sin (both ours and those we see around us) are meant to be a catalyst to draw us to our ultimate hope.

Somewhere in the struggle, the more we do this, the more we will find our hearts draw toward Christ and less toward the images of women around us. Though the struggle is real and always present, the struggle becomes more and more a window for the eyes of our soul to treasure the redemption Christ has bought for us.

  1. Alastair McLachlan

    Thanks for sharing this article, this is really helpful.

    I am someone who has used porn in the past but who God has delivered me from it!

    I can really identify with that issue of feeling beaten down in your conscience for noticing someone of the opposite sex who is attractive. I think i could be experiencing that now in a situation but im not sure.

    i stopped training at a local gym due to fear that seeing women their would cause me to lust. Reading Disciplines of a godly man prompted this. Its a circuits class where everyone completes tasks in rows e.g., i am in a row of three or four people, and there is a row of three or for ahead of me. This means i find it difficult to divert my eyes away from the woman there, i am trying to look away at the lights or other parts around the gym. I don’t want to look at the woman there with lust and attending the class is not leading me to have sexual thoughts about them. But i have noticed body parts that are attractive to me. Im worried ive looked at these parts more than once in a session (never for long though, and then i always try look away!)

    At the moment, i have been staying away from the class as my conscience is not allowing me to do this and i can’t do it for the glory of Jesus therefore. Im not sure though if this is just false guilt, given that the looks don’t last long and that the class is not leading me to have sexual thoughts.

    I am finding this really tough as a Christian. The church i am part of is in a deprived community and i feel that the gym is one of the only ways i can make connections with unbelievers in the community. I have good relationships with the people there and i fear losing them.

    I wondered, if anyone has been in a similar situation to this and could kindly advise on this?

    Its causing me lots of anguish!

    • Thanks for reaching out. I think, from a biblical standpoint, we can say that “noticing” does not equal “lusting.” However, we also need to be aware of the deceptiveness of our hearts, and make sure we’re not giving a foothold to the enemy. We have another article that offers some more guidelines, I recommend you check this out: https://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/looking-vs-lusting-part-2/

      I’m praying right now that God gives you wisdom.

      Blessings,

      Keith

    • Alastair McLachlan

      Thanks for your kind reply

  2. Blessed

    This is exactly what I’m going through right now, because I was into immorality (pornography and masturbation) to be specific, and other sins. But when the GOSPEL stroke me i was exposed to my sin of masturbation. To God be the Glory, the Lord Jesus Christ delivered me and ever since then i have been struggling with how i sees the opposite gender (young or old) even men and animals, Glory be to God and thanks to the author of this article. It has lifted off a very heavy burden off my mind. Thank again, I have even saved it as PDF file to always read along with the the WORDS OF GOD!

  3. Sam Warajeski

    There is a distinct differences between men and women. Men often look at the physical appearance if a woman. That can easily let to the sin of lust. Women are drawn to the man as a provider /companion
    Let me explain I often her woman say Bill us such a nice guy, I wish my husband was like him Bill is so driven and successful my husband is driven to watch football. If Bill ever gets devoiced I am going to trade up.
    Lust is not only sexual it is wanting something or someone you don’t have.
    One last thing woman who wear clothing that shows off their body are guilty of being a stumbling block. You know that men are going to be looking at you as a sexual object. It is nonsensical to say that’s not my problem, they need to deal with it. If you are an attractive women and your wearing a low cut blouse, 95% of all men 12 years to 105 years old will notice and take a second look. The other 5% are blind.

  4. It is a fine line between appreciation for a healthy body and lust, but that said, we acknowledge the problem !
    The way forward may be partly in wanting to please others or self exam that Psych encourage, but lets thank Jesus for suggesting that even better help can come from Him at one with God.

  5. Freed

    I am so happy to find this article. It’s a blessing.

    Men who desire to be holy and pleasing to God will of course need to face the fact that lust is a struggle. God gave us eyes. If we take an open-minded look at how Adam responded when he saw the first-ever woman in the history of the universe, we will realize that it’s normal for a man to be attracted to a woman. We need to realize that before man fell into sin, he already had a natural,God-given attraction to a woman. God was happy with that design.

    Sadly, sin corrupted the beauty of such an interaction and dynamic, and introduced the ugly perversion of lust. What was once an innocent, natural, God-given desire to appreciate God-made beauty was challenged (let me use that) with a perverted version that separates the beauty of a woman from the beauty of God. Separated from that purity and innocence, sin effectively gave men “eye-filters” that paint women as objects of lust.

    What was once beauty to be honored in God’s presence became beauty to be lusted after by a heart marred by sin.

    Gentlemen, Christ has redeemed us. He has restored us to God the Father as His children. We are no longer slaves to sin that we will never be able to look at women without lusting after them. We are able to look at them innocently, simply because Christ’s shed blood has purchased us from the dominion of sin and Satan. We are no longer slaves to sin.

    Ladies, I cannot expect you to understand what men go through. You’re not the one given that kind of burden. In behalf of the men, I am sorry for the lustful treatment you have experienced. I would like to ask you, though, to pray for your brothers in the Lord. Instead of seeing men, especially those that admit they need help in the fight for purity, as “pigs” who “can’t stop lusting,” pray for them to be like Christ.

    I agree with many of the comments. I understand that women have been subjected to the lusting of men since man fell into sin. I understand that it’s not easy for women to be depicted and seen as objects of lust and sin. I hate that. I get angry at that. God made women in His image, and He wants them to be loved and respected. For that matter, I will never allow anybody to look lustfully at my wife.

    One thing I ask, dear sisters, is that instead of labeling us men as “lust-driven,” pray for us that we’d be “love-driven.” Christ was able to interact with women without lusting; and that’s just what we want to be like – like Christ Himself.

    Gentlemen, my brothers, keep on seeking the Lord. Let us hide His Word deep in our hearts that we will not sin against Him. Let us live according to His Word so that we could keep our ways pure. Let us deny ourselves the sinful pleasure of lusting after someone we find attractive and look to the One who can please us even more: Jesus Christ. He is beautiful, and His resurrection makes us beautiful too.

    I am not perfect like you, brothers. I also struggle with the issue at hand, but I’d rather fight the good fight of faith than just allow my flesh to win over me. I urge you, let us cherish the freedom that Christ purchased with His blood. Let us use our freedom to love our respective wives (if married). Let us use our freedom to do what God pleases.

    God bless us all.

    • Daniel DeLuca

      The reason for much of this struggle, is that we have imposed man-made restrictions on men, that Jesus never intended. Jesus was pointing out the fact that it is wrong to desire another man’s wife. That is all He was saying, and yet we have blown this one verse out of proportion to cover ALL women, whether they are single or married, and that is wrong. In addition, we have Christian leaders going around claiming that it is somehow wrong for a woman to look at a man, which is not found anywhere in Scripture!!!

  6. Forgiven

    This also got an irresistable side effect that you will be insanly fall in love with God. You will truly see how much of a father is he to you.

    For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things coming, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

    • Daniel DeLuca

      I have come to love God so much more, now that I understand that His decrees are not what is so burdensome. It is man’s mistranslations and addition to Scripture that is burdensome. Seriously! One mistranslated word in the Sermon on the Mount, has created this entire doctrine that a man cannot desire any woman. In reality, Jesus was speaking about desiring the wife of another man, but our translators missed that. Anybody can go the the Greek online Bible and see clearly what it states.

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