Puritan John Flavel on avoiding lust (excellent advice from centuries past)

4 Feb

Passed along from John Pipa’s short essay:

We also need to develop habits that will help guard the heart. In the booklet Impure Lust, John Flavel gave seven directions for dealing with lust:

1. Beg of God a clean heart, renewed and sanctified by saving grace. We must always begin with the heart, for it is the fountain of all else (Matt. 15:19), and God promises to answer our prayers as we pray according to His will (John 14:13–14). We must seek the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.

2. Walk in the fear of God all the day long, and in the sense of his omniscient eye that is ever upon you. How often our behavior is dictated by who is watching. We forget that He sees all.

3. Avoid lewd company, and the society of unclean persons; they are panderers for lust. Evil company corrupts good manners. Remember that this direction not only includes our personal contacts but those we encounter through movies, music, books, magazines, and computers.

4. Exercise yourself in your calling diligently; it will be an excellent means of preventing this sin. You have heard the adage, “Idleness is the Devil’s workshop.”

5. Put a restraint upon your appetite: feed not to excess. This direction does not mean that we may not enjoy God’s good gifts of food and drink, and the pleasure of feasting with friends, but it is a sober reminder that if we pander to our physical appetites in one area, we will be more prone to fall in other areas.

6. Choose a spouse and delight in the one you have chosen. One of the liberating insights of the Reformation is that within marriage, sex is for pleasure and is a God-given protection against unlawful lusts.

7. Take heed of running on in a course of sin, especially superstition and idolatry: in which cases, and as a punishment of which evils God often gives up men to these vile affections (Rom. 1:25–26). Sin inevitably breeds sin.

In these ways, the church may guard her people. Practice and teach these things.

 

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