Question: How Can We Control Our Sinful Desires?

Answer: Even after we have believed in Jesus Christ as Savior, Christians still have sinful desires. Each of us is painfully aware of this. The good news is that the Bible tells us that we must control our sinful desires. The following things can help us achieve this goal.

1. We Should Run From Sinful Situations

Sometimes we have to run away from the situation. For example, for the problem of lust, we are told to flee the situations. When Paul wrote to Timothy he instructed him to act in the following way.

Shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22 NRSV).

There are certain situations where we must physically leave in order to keep ourselves from sinning. Running away is something we must sometimes do.

2. We Are To Put To Death Our Old Nature

The Bible commands us to suppress those desires that are sinful. We are to put them to death. Paul emphasized this in his letter to the Colossians.

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry (Colossians 3:3-5 NASB).

The old nature needs to be constantly put to death. This is something which we must continually work at.

3. We Must Keep Our Mind Occupied With Godly Things

One way in which to control our sinful desires is to keep our mind occupied with the knowledge of God. Paul wrote about the spiritual weapons available to us through which we can achieve victory. He said.

With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5 NLT).

In a similar manner, Paul told the Philippians to think of good things. In fact, he stressed the necessity of this. He told them.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

Good things should be occupying our minds.

4. Prayer Helps Us Control Our Desires

One effective way to control our sinful desires is through the act of prayer. Jesus told us to do the following.

Stay awake, and pray that you won’t be tempted. You want to do what’s right, but you’re weak (Matthew 26:41 God’s Word).

We are to stay awake and pray. In this way we will be able to resist temptation.

Paul also wrote something similar. He said we are to worry about nothing because we are to pray about everything.

Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks (Philippians 4:6 God’s Word).

The Bible emphasizes that prayer will help us control our sinful desires.

5. We Must Get Rid Of Certain Things

We may need to get rid of certain things in our lives that might cause us to sin. Paul wrote to the Romans.

Let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to you as the clothes you wear. Then you won’t try to satisfy your selfish desires (Romans 13:14 CEV).

If there are things in our lives that are keeping us from becoming more Christlike, then we should get rid of them. There is no question about this.

6. We Must Discipline Ourselves

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the need for self-discipline if we are to win the race in which we are running.

So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:26,27 NRSV).

Our bodies need to be under the control of the Lord, not our sinful selves. This takes work, it takes discipline. In the end, victory will be ours.

This sums up how we can control these sinful desires which still plague us. Fortunately, the Lord has provided help for us. It is necessary that we bring these desires under control.

Summary To Question 11 How Can We Control Our Sinful Desires?

While we who have believed in Jesus Christ have new desires and goals when we become Christians unfortunately our sinful desires still remain with us. Indeed, as long as we are living in these bodies we will have to fight these evil thoughts. Fortunately, there are a number of things that the Bible encourages us to do to keep our sinful desires under control.

To begin with, we should run away from certain situations. This includes the area of the lust, or the strong desire, of our old nature. When confronted with these situations the best thing we can do is get away from the temptation. Run.

The Bible also says that we are to suppress those parts of our old nature that cause us to sin. The old nature has been defeated by Jesus’ work on the cross. It is our responsibility to apply that victory over our sinful desires.

We need to keep our mind occupied on things above. If we think of heavenly things we won’t be thinking about our sinful wants.

An effective weapon in this fight is prayer. It can help us achieve victory over the desires of the old nature.

Basically the believer should get rid of all things that cause us to sin. To do all these things takes time and effort. In other words, discipline.

These sinful desires we have can be controlled but we must want to do it. God has given us all of the necessary resources but the ultimate choice is ours.

This question is from my forthcoming book “Winning The Spiritual War”


Don Stewart is an internationally recognized Christian apologist and speaker. He graduated cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary and the International Seminar in Theology and Law in Strasbourg, France, as well as from Biola University. Don is also a best-selling and award-winning author/co-author of over seventy books. [ read more ]


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