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3 Ways to Look and Not Lust

by Carl Thomas on September 11th, 2018 in Favorites, Men, Women, Students, Featured

3ways-to-lookIf you are a guy and have been involved in some sort of accountability group (like an X3group), no doubt the subject of “lust” has come up. In my group on Wednesday mornings we talk about this often.

Usually the conversation focuses on 3 things:

1. What is lust?

2. How do I not lust?

3. What do I do when I lust?

All 3 of these questions could make for their own post, but for the sake of brevity I rather just focus on the second: How do I not lust? Or, more specifically, How do I look and NOT lust?

But before I do I would like to clarify what lust is and isn’t:

Lust IS NOT looking.

Lust is letting your mind wander to sexual thoughts AFTER looking.

You see, lust is not this thing that just happens.
It’s not spontaneous.
It’s not random.

Lust grows.
It’s in many ways organic.
And it has its own lifecycle.

So when you or I look at an attractive person, we aren’t lusting… but it’s at that moment when the lifecycle can start to unfold.

So, with that being said, here are 3 things you can do to make sure your looks don’t turn into lust (and no, I’m not going the whole “bounce your eyes” route either):

1) Count your “looks.” Around here at XXXchurch, we have a saying:

Look once, you’re human; look twice, you’re a man; look three times, you just disrespected your wife.

Now before you get all legalistic, realize that we don’t really boil lust down to the exact number of times you “look.” But the point here is simple; if you keep glancing and looking, chances are you aren’t doing it because you admire that individual for their personality. Most likely you’re continuing the looks because you get some sort of pleasure from what you see.

Simply put, this is a discipline and it takes practice. But if you are conscious of how many times you eye up someone, you’ll also be more aware of the when the lust monster starts knocking at your door.

2) Follow up your look with an action. Okay, so to be clear, not ANY action will do. There are, of course, some actions that would be really inappropriate or maybe even land you in jail.

What I’m talking about is more of a spiritual thing. When you see that “hot” lady jogging by in her form-fitting shorts and top, don’t just look and let your thoughts get taken over by something unhealthy. Be more intentional. This is what the Bible means when it says to take your thoughts captive.

Maybe pray for her (and not because she’s some sort of “Jezebel” wearing tight clothes—she probably isn’t). Or think about how that woman is someone’s daughter or wife and deserves respect, not objectification. Or just recognize that a moment of decision has arrived and you are deciding NOT to lust but rather to think about something else.

Remember, lust has to grow. You can kill that growth with some solid intentionality.

3) Give glory to God. What? Wait a minute? Give glory to God for the “hot” jogger I just saw?

Yes. Exactly.

The Bible tells us to glorify God in all things and give him glory for all things.

This means…

You glorify God for what happened in church on Sunday.
You glorify God for the promotion you just got.
You glorify God for the beautiful sunset you just witnessed.

And yes, you can glorify God for creating the beautiful jogger who just ran by.

Don’t be a legalistic tool and think it’s impossible to see an attractive person and appreciate their beauty without being some sort of perv. You can.

Remember … looking is not lusting. Lust doesn’t just happen; it’s cultivated. 

Next time you see someone who hits a “10” on your hotness scale, take a minute and say, “Thank you God for creating that person.” Then, move along and continue with your day.

I hear so many Christians bemoan about lust and how visual distractions are all around them.

It’s true; you will always see beautiful people. Sometimes wearing clothes that leave less to the imagination. But remember:

Lusting isn’t inevitable. Lust is a choice.

You can stop lust by killing it at the root.

So next time you see someone who’s looking good, remember these three steps:

1. Count the looks.

2. Be intentional with your thoughts

3. Say “Thank you Jesus!

If you do these 3 things and go about your day, you will halt lust in its tracks. Because the “battle of lust” begins where it dies … in your mind.




  • Rj

    Lost me with the last part. That makes no sense. I wouldn’t want my wife seeing a hot male and thanking God for him.
    I wanted a site that would help with these issues but putting MORE thought and actually praying for a hot woman who passes me for a few seconds just seems like a bad idea all around.

    • kathy bryan

      I get what you are saying, but take a sec and look from this perspective. If you take a moment and genuinely pray a blessing for that man or woman and their family, several things occur. One, you are connecting with God, two you are not focusing on the person as an object but as one of God’s beautiful creations, three you are interceding for them. Praying for someone else takes the focus off ourselves and places it on them. Quite a good thing to do if one normally has trouble with lust, as lust is about us, not them. Just my thoughts. 😀

      • Nathan Ogden

        I believe you have a very valid point. Rejoicing and thanking can be powerful weapons when combating the enemy. Remember Paul said “We wrestle not against flesh” indicating it is not the person we are contending with but a very real spiritual and many times demonic presence that tries to prey upon our weaknesses in the flesh. The bible tells us to resist Satan and he will flee from us. Rejoicing and thanking God in these instances is a great way to acknowledge God’s grace in the situation and acts as a very effective weapon in spiritual warfare. The Lord told Paul, “My Grace is sufficient” and in these situations it is what gives us the power to overcome the power of sin and to not fall into temptation and give way to the appetites of the flesh. Great article!

    • stephanie

      This is not a men’s only issue and I agree with you that I was not able to thank god or look twice without it spiraling out of control. Many people I know or have known men and women of all ages are the same way, and it is so devastating to try and go this route and fail miserably sinking your own ship repeatedly and then asking God over and over why you can’t kick the addiction. If you have a food addiction (and I believe all addictions stem from things that are missing in your relationship with the lord, ) then you shouldn’t be glancing at luscious plates of food more than once and thanking the Lord for how delicious they are and the ingredients he created that went into them. Lust is much more complex than food, but you can see my point if you try. The only thing that has worked for me is keeping my head down or turned when anything even “could” be a trigger and avoiding them at all costs. My husband is the same way. Why go to the gym if there are triggers there? Dont. And when triggers and temptation stares u in the face and there is no way to avoid it, thank god for sticking with you in this battle, and instead quickly change your mental subject from the hit jogger to your wife or future wife, to how beautiful the Lord is for dying for you and caring about every struggle you endure and sticking by you through every failure, and focus on your purpose in life. For me, once I have stopped to ponder and appreciate the creator himself, the jogger isn’t even hot anymore and I’ve forgotten all about her because God didn’t create us to think life is about visual and physical highs captured at random and he didn’t create her to be ogled and objectified. True beauty isn’t yoga pants anyway, it is mountains and laughter and babies and marriage. People are enslaved and orphaned and murdered every day. When you focus on making the world a more beautiful place and you seek gods face and heart instead of letting the devil whisper in you ear and you flesh take you on. Wild ride of sin, the jogger is about as hot as going to the dmv at that point.

      • Jonah

        Says a woman? Don’t pretend to act like you know the sexual desire of a man. It’s easier said than done and requires much prayer and counseling.

    • tina


  • Katy A

    I’m sorry, as a future wife currently struggling with her fiance’s pornography addiction, this did not ease any of my anxiety. If my fiancé was to see a hot woman and thank God for her beauty, it would not just stop there. I think this article is a bit skewed. As believers, we SHOULD take every thought captive…and if you are a married man or woman and you look at a “hot” person and then Thank God for their beauty or handsomeness, that is risky business in my opinion. Shouldn’t that be reserved for your spouse and your spouse alone? I am a woman, and I think I can speak for countless other women and say that if we say our significant others look at a woman who may be prettier than us in our own opinion, it would devastate us. And then for it to go as far as him thanking God for that woman? To me, that would be a fatal blow. Again, I am speaking from great hurt right now, but as my fiancé reads these blog posts for advice, I am terrified what he will do with this advice.

    • sickofobama

      From an outside perspective, he should not be your fiance. Why are you dealing with that? Stop the hurting by letting go…and let God.

    • Jacynthe Rompré Gallant

      If you are not yet married and living this situation I beleive it might be wise to reconsider your engagement. There are many issues in your response. Love in Jésus I pray for you

      • claire

        True but where can you find a man that doesn’t struggle with this? Most all men do

    • Diego

      He shouldn’t be your fiancé yet, right. You should look up just to God (wich is difficult, but incredibly powerful) and stop the romantic dreams because God is the one who should make you dream at this moment. I mean, you know, is the most important relationship you have to run besides no one. But… I understand your frustration as a man. I want you to learn that this article wasn’t meant for your case; what he really needs is a real God in his intimacy and a heart converted to Him… and, of course, the minimal support from others who can help him. Cause, you and he might know, it IS a real problem and he can´t make it alone. Not because he is alone, but because he’s a man, and as a man, he doesn’t have power over sin. I know it sounds simple, but it’s the truth. Believing maybe is the hard part, but Jesus would maybe say the same: he is trapped.

    • Unavailable

      I totally agree with you. I’m gonna marry my best friend in 3 months and he struggled a lot,too. But he’s done everything to put this sin to death and I am so proud of him that he hasn’t slipped for a long time. Is your fiance ready to do everything it takes to get victory over this sin? Because it won’t stop in marriage…

    • It depends on the heart. I know many people who thank God for the food but are not really thanking Him but saying something while grabbing what they can. Similarly, if you are truly in a conversation with the Father then you are recognising that they are His daughter and need to be treated with respect not lust.

    • Christina D E Land


    • trace

      This article is a bunch a crap. Esp the Part, “look twice, you’re a man”!!!
      You guys sure do validate yourselves!!
      As for the part, “thanking God for that person”, why not instead praise God for your spouse!?! This is the dumbest article I’ve read !!
      You notice an attractive person , then move on! Once!!! Not twice!!! Not If you’re Gods man, that’s for sure!! Stop validating men! Men, grow up! Half the hot women we see nowadays could be Transgender . What do you think about that! Not only can you think that’s someone’s daughter, mother , sister… now you might actually be lusting after a hot woman thats really a man! You wouldn’t believe how good they’ve gotten at plastic surgery!!
      X3, I’m disappointed in you. I’m disappointed in all the loop holes you leabe in your protection. Pls. Man up.

      • Tina


      • claire


      • Trinh

        Whaaat?! Stop it please.

    • dxtagger

      Katy, as a man who struggled with pornography and currently engaged, let me first say that the points you bring up are very honest and valid points. I agree with you that a man struggling with lust might do himself harm by thanking God for the beauty of a woman who tempted him to lust, as that could cause him to dwell and fixate on that beauty, leading to something else.
      However, I think the point being made (or attempted) is that in the process of lusting, there’s a part of our heart that’s taken over by the lust and we need to recover that and return it to God. That’s where prayer comes in. Prayer is a very powerful way to take our sinful flesh and reorient it to God. It can even do something much more incredible by taking our lustful desires and reorienting them back to God. I think that’s the point of the praying for the attractive jogger. By taking the object of lust and turning it to an object of prayer, we have effectively linked a desire for lust to a desire to pray, such that over time, our instinctive response to lust is to pray. I can speak of this from experience as during my recovery from pornography, I learned that anytime I felt turned on by any person, object, or thought, I needed to pray for my sexuality. When that person what my fiancee, I learned to pray for our relationship and the sex we would be having we got married in the future. I can honestly say that after a month of doing that, the feeling of being turned on that served as a signal to feed my lust became a warning alarm to starve my lust through prayer. I hope this helps to clarify what I believe to be the intent behind the idea of praying for the jogger.
      Finally, I would like to say that praying for the jogger may not necessarily be what works for other men. Perhaps instead of praying for the jogger, he could pray for his fiancée or wife or girlfriend, asking that the Lord would rebuild their attraction to each other and heal the lust for others in his heart such that the sensation for lust can now be a reminder that his relationship is broken and he should be working on fixing that instead of seeking gratification elsewhere.
      I hope this helps you, Katy.
      God bless you.

      As someone on the other side of your story, I can sympathize and assure you that there is hope and healing. There is nothing that we can’t overcome with Christ. And if your situation is like mine, your fiance will need you more than anyone in this earth. You are the key to his victory over porn, just like my fiancée was mine. But it will require work and learning how to be in this battle with him. I pray the Lord will provide healing for y’all.

    • Tamara

      Katy A: Are you sure you want to marry this guy who has a porn addiction? Do you really think it will go away when you marry?

    • Becca

      on behalf of katy A I would like to say that there is a possibility that her fiancee has made significant progress in breaking the addiction. most men have struggled in some form …and many of them are also fighting and winning that fight bravely. regardless I think that perhaps her advice for marriage can come from her church family and friends rather than people who don’t know the specifics of her situation. I am neither for or against a strangers marriage 🙂

    • claire

      I agree.

  • I’m guessing most people won’t get point 3. Lust is at its root is taking whereas love at its root is giving. Praying for them (which we recommend) or thanking God for them is changing the heart from taking to giving. Secondly it’s changing the heart from secrecy to openness with God about what’s going on – ie bringing it into the light – which breaks its power.

  • Valerie

    Honestly, as someone who is trying to find help with their 8 year old pornography addiction, this is my first time seeking help like this and the xxxchurch is about to turn me away.

    I am a female, not a male just being a man, I am a woman whose been battling with lust, a pornography addiction, and a spiraling spiritual walk because of this cancerous tumor attached to my soul. I don’t think this disease only attacks people because of their gender and I am disheartened over this websites very genderized way of speaking.

    I am desperate. I want to hand my phone over to family and friends and not panic. I want to attend church and not want to cry. But finding help that tells me my problem is a man’s problem does not help me and for such a forward thinking church, I am disappointed they’re showcasing such an ignorant way of thinking.

    They may not even find my comment, I may be lost to wander and stuck with this tar I can’t wash off but I would love for this church to tell me how I can live peacefully with God again, not as a man being a man but as a person who just wants to be right again.

    • Christine

      Valerie I agree with you! I am a woman that struggled with this! I looked to get a rise but also to see if the person was looking at me which gave me value and fed my ego! What really and truly helped me was when I went back to my childhood (everything from birth to the day I gave my life over to God) and forgave those who hurt me sexually, mentally, and emotionally, but seriously grieve and forgive myself for the wrongs I did as well. When I saw myself as a good, kind, love able person who deserved love and respect, I could look at others that way! For so long I was only a sexual object (how I felt about myself) which I craved and hated at the same time! That’s how I looked at others too! Everything was gauged by sex and looked at through sexual glasses. Now I see myself and the world differently! I love myself! I love my neighbor! I love my spouse! I am whole and healthy! I am loved and valued (NOT just desired)!
      This article does NOT help! It does NOT get to the core of the issue to resolve the problem! Men (and women) looking at others and noticing beauty is not feeling beautiful and desiring to feel that way! A man lusts after a woman because he wants to be lusted after. They look and fantasize that the person they are looking at wants them. That man was hurt, unloved, abused, neglected and only found self value in sex. That man/woman doesn’t like himself. Women are not nice, loving, tender, they are sexual objects that they get nothing but release from because that’s what they have been taught! They want love but can’t even love themselves or see their own value!
      Find your own value! Love yourself! Forgive yourself! And you will see others differently and value them!
      I am a recovering sex addict that was a nude model. I know what and why men and women do what they do! It’s not out of some disgusting monster mentality to hurt their spouse! It’s a broken little kid that was taught sex was love! Sex was the answer! And being sex and desired was the answer to loneliness!!!!

      • MaggieMay

        Please try a real group with proven track record. Try SLAA (sex and love addicts anonymous)and SAA (sex addicts anonymous). These S groups are $1 a meeting. Meet real life people who have kicked sex addiction. There are mixed groups and single gender groups in person and on the phone. I am not a sex addict but have found recovery here in SLAA. I got a sponsor and am so much better today. I hope this gives you another avenue.

    • MaggieMay

      Valerie…there is hope. Please go online to either SLAA or SAA. SLAA tends to have more women groups. Safe place to connect with your higher power and work the 12 steps. Please try a real group with proven track record. Try SLAA (sex and love addicts anonymous)and SAA (sex addicts anonymous). These S groups are $1 a meeting. Meet real life people who have kicked sex addiction. There are mixed groups and single gender groups in person and on the phone. I am not a sex addict but have found recovery in SLAA.

    • Al

      Valerie, your comments are right on. This lust is not specific to a male, of female. It is a problem for us sinners. We are humans living in a fallen world. Pray about it, seek help, know that you with Christ are Bigger, and Better than any worldly problem.

  • Concerned Someone

    I have had it with X3. I really and truly have. I would NEVER recommend this blog or the software to anyone with an actual porn and lust problem. I have already uninstalled it from my PC. What a waste of time and money thinking you are in this to help people. You are NOT in this to help people. You are raking in the CASH! And you are using a laundered and watered down set of Biblical principles to do it. How sad. This article is a huge disappointment, as are many of the articles I have come across on here. May the Lord protect those who come here for help and shine His truth on a subject that is ripping apart families and homes today.

  • curious

    I appreciate the article, but i have one issue with it.

    “Or think about how that woman is someone’s daughter or wife and deserves respect, not objectification.”

    A woman is respectable not because of her relationship to another person, but her relationship to God. God created us with the intention to respect each other regardless of gender. Women should be respected because they are human – to say anything else is just a form of objectification. And what if she doesn’t have these relationships? Does that make her any less respectable?

    It may seem petty, but you are working to make men and women into people in the eyes of the lustful. Please don’t encourage the idea of a woman being an object in any way.

  • Christian guy

    There is a fine line between looking and lusting and the definition of lust as what you do AFTER looking makes sense and is helpful.

    – “Count” your looks (i.e. be mindful of why you look)
    – Take positive action after looking
    – Glorify God
    – Lust is NOT inevitable! It’s a choice.

    The DETAILS in how to live out these main points can be a source of debate and miscommunication.
    – For example, giving God thanks for a beautiful person as one would give thanks for a beautiful sunset:
    – GREAT if done as a quick momentary prayer. A problem if that thanksgiving feeds idolization and infatuation.
    – GREAT for single men like me (I say a quick prayer and move on). Sounds like an issue for married men and women.

    Thank you guys for this resource and source of discussion!

    • MaggieMay

      Please try a real group with proven track record. Try SLAA (sex and love addicts anonymous)and SAA (sex addicts anonymous). These S groups are $1 a meeting. Meet real life people who have kicked sex addiction. There are mixed groups and single gender groups in person and on the phone. I am not a sex addict but have found recovery here in SLAA.

    • tina


      • Jonah

        Alright, you fool, stop the trolling. It is impossible not to “look” unless you have a blindfold over your eyes. Secondly, I would like to see you pluck out your eyes for any of your sins too.

        • Trinh


  • Stephen

    Wow i have to say as someone that is handleing a 30 year porn addiction this is the biggest bunch of bs going and i would even go as far to say the person writing has either not gone through this or is justifying their own reasons to look. There are four things happening here that is not right. first by looking at this ” hot women “, some one is window shoping and made the choice to look before the woman even came into view. One has to question why the person looked ? As an addict we should always be questioning what trigged this. The look was not spontanious but a choice. A goldly and normal person would have not even noticed the woman in the first place . Secondly lets get real if some with a porn addiction has even looked past this girls eyes and face then lust probably has allready occured. To have even noticed what the woman is wearing has probably already stimulated a lustful or sexual response. Thirdly to say you can look twice is a bit like telling an alcholoic you can take one sip. Looking once is human but not to look or even notice this woman as more than just a person who happens to be running is godly. Lastly i think praising god in all things is right but what should happen here in this case is praising god that i dont have to look or lust and. Or praising god that i have been blessed with a wonderfull spouse that loves me even though i have dragged her to hell and back.

    • Just me

      thank you for giving me hope for my relationship!

    • Todd Dina Johnson

      Very well said! Thank you!

    • tina

      Absolutely correct… WELL SAID

  • Nicholas

    i used to struggle with pornography,but then the Lord said i was stronger and I havent had any more isssues. its been a year and a half and thats powerful since the pornography was handed down from my father to me. idk how far that went back either.

    ive been married for a year now and my wife and i are going to have a baby in a few months.

    the thing is that i still have a wandering eye from time to time. i am asking Daddy God to make me stronger again, take me from glory to glory. i am his beloved and he knows my heart. God will make me stronger and i take joy in knowing that. he doesnt give bad gifts to his children that he cherishes. he asks us to ask in faith and stand on his promises that he is a good Papa that longs to answer the requests of his sons and daughters.

    wives i encourage u to pray for your husbands. ask HSpirit to teach u how to pray for them. partner with the HS who intercedes continually on our behalf. The War Room (movie) gives a great example of this. Watch it!


    As far as the comments above, I read the latter half and triple X church i commend u! Big thanks for speaking truth to those who will listen, AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!! Hallelujah

    your brother in the Lord, Nicholas

  • MaggieMay

    Please try a real group with proven track record. Try SLAA (sex and love addicts anonymous)and SAA (sex addicts anonymous). These S groups are $1 a meeting. Meet real life people who have kicked sex addiction. There are mixed groups and single gender groups in person and on the phone. I am not a sex addict but have found recovery in SLAA. I have a great relationship with God, my Higher Power that I did not think possible three years ago. XXXchurch may work for some. For me, SLAA and CODA have been indispensable in my life. I have found without God I am nothing.

  • Me, a figther

    Fight the new drug.

  • Just me

    As a wife I am disrespected the moment my husband takes a ‘second look’. There are plenty of beautiful women out there and if he’s constantly abusing God’s grace by taking second looks he’s abusing me too. Men and women both have to learn to change/control their thoughts. There are plenty of situations where we have to look at beautiful people and the way I see it, not being able to control our thoughts while looking at them is giving up on the relationships that really matter. The news woman, the singer at church, the secretary at work… c’mon. these people are beautiful and I can’t imagine that continuously ‘thanking God’ for them is what God intended… They have their own husbands to do that. Captivate those thoughts people and replace them with your spouse, IMMEDIATELY.

  • Victorious man

    Some good points but 3 is in error . letGod take you from lust . it’s all Him or nothing .

  • Tamara

    This article is somewhat helpful, about 4 on a scale of 10. I really object to the part that said to thank God for the hot jogger that passed by. Sort of reminds me of the man who said, and I quote: “God sure made some beautiful bodies.” Need I say that he had/still has a porn addiction? Also think the advice to “think twice, you’re a man” is baloney. Looking once is sometimes impossible to avoid. That should be THE END. PERIOD. There’s no room for twice.

  • Joe

    Is looking at a girl but not wanting sex but tinking they look good a sin

  • claire

    I can get the idea of looking is not lusting in theory but in reality men who struggle with porn should not look a second time. I personally think you men are putting yourselves on the level of digs and animals with the primal response and that is an insult to God who created man in His image to rule the earth. yes this world us fallen , but men are not primal animals like dogs. So, How about suggest that men give thanks to God for creating their own beautiful spouse and not the hot jogger?

  • claire

    The man should thank God for creating his own beautiful wife instead. You men keep putting yourselves on the same level as dogs etc with this primal bs rationalization. God created man in His image not a dogs.

  • claire

    Women look too. Women are VERY visually stimulated more than you men know. The older women get the more so.

    • Trinh

      The older women? How come?

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