I grew up in church—my mom made sure of that. But what I knew about God didn’t make it to my heart. As I got older, I chose a lifestyle that was far from godly. I smoked cigarettes and marijuana, drank alcohol, watched pornography, and slept around.

I remember many nights, hearing my mom say, “Robby, you need to turn your life over to the Lord!” Even intoxicated, I knew she was right; but I just didn’t want to do it. To keep my parents happy though, I kept going through the motions—I went to church and even played drums during the service. But during the week, I did whatever I wanted.

Yet, God was tugging at my heart to surrender my life to Him. I remember smoking weed with a friend while watching pastors on television—even then, the Holy Spirit was drawing me to Himself.

One Sunday, when I was 23 years old, I finally gave way to Him. I was playing drums for a special service. Missionary Essie Jones, a longtime member, was sharing the importance of turning one’s life over to Christ, when she suddenly stopped, turned around, and pointed her finger right at me.

“Robby,” she said, “you need to turn your life over to Christ.”

I felt like we were the only two people in that sanctuary. The Holy Spirit in her was speaking straight to my spirit, and I couldn’t turn away from her gaze. I knew it was time to give my life to God. It was time to move forward, to go from knowing about God to knowing Him. I had gone through the motions long enough.

I got up from the drum set and walked toward the altar. As I did, the Lord showed me through a vision how Satan had sought to destroy my life through my relationships. I saw the trap houses where I had hung out, those places where drugs are sold. I saw strip clubs and heard the music. I saw the women I had chased after for sex. And then, God revealed that by immersing myself in a culture that said I could do whatever I felt like doing, I had fallen prey to the enemy, and I was being held captive by him.

I realized that I didn’t want to be Satan’s captive any longer, and I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord that day. I wasn’t suddenly gifted with a deep knowledge of God’s Word; I simply had a revelation that I needed to change what I did and who I did it with. I understood that was the only way I could gain true intimacy with God and stay clear of the enemy’s traps.

I went to my friend’s house, the one I’d hung out with since elementary school. I told him I’d given my life to Christ and that I couldn’t do the things we used to do together anymore. Thankfully, he understood, but that was the last time we hung out.

Not long after, the Lord put on my heart to move to Orlando. I thought God was giving me a fresh start by removing me from the people and places that tempted me. He opened a door for me to attend a prestigious automotive school. I’d always loved cars but never thought I could do anything with them. I certainly didn’t expect to attend there because of the cost of tuition. But then, I received a loan that I never should have qualified for, based on our family’s financial position. Who was I to say no?

I moved to Orlando in faith and found an apartment that provided the first three months rent free! I could see God’s hand at work in my life.

I went to school, joined a local church, and continued to study God’s Word. I bought a Bible and was doing my best to understand it. God led me to an evangelist named Ravi Zacharias. His radio and video teachings helped me have a deeper understanding of God’s Word. God used him to answer deep questions like who created God and why would a good God allow evil in the world? Dr. Zacharias was the only person I had ever heard say, “It’s okay to have questions.” God used him to move me past the milk of salvation to the meat of the Word (1 Corinthians 3:2).

I continued to grow in my faith and tried my best to live according to God’s Word. My actions couldn’t save my soul—only Jesus could do that—but I knew they would keep me in close fellowship with the Lord.

Three months after I accepted the Lord, however, I jumped into a relationship with a girl who I thought for sure was “the one.” We made the mistake of getting intimate, and after that experience, I fell into a deep depression. I believe I opened myself up to this darkness by choosing to walk in disobedience to God’s will.

The experience made me realize the seriousness of following the Lord, and it gave me more of a dedication to God. I never wanted to feel that darkness in my life again. I committed to God that I would remain pure until He blessed me with a wife. It would be a long three years of celibacy.

Before this commitment to God to live in sexual purity, I hadn’t thought much about the devil, but now it seemed I met him around every corner. Everything and everyone that had ever been a source of temptation in my life was right in front of my face. I lived in a constant test.

It was crazy—before I gave my life to Christ, I had aggressively sought relationships with women. I’d viewed pornography since I was ten years old. I had an appetite for fast and easy women, but those relationships didn’t always come easy.

Well, they didn’t, until the day I told God I would avoid them. After that, women were coming after me and blatantly asking me to have sex!

I worked the late shift at a convenience store near a popular nightclub strip. Women would come to the station to gas up their cars before they went clubbing and give me their numbers. Over and over again, I’d have to say no to their advances and throw their numbers away. One night, I decided I’d had enough. I took the trash out behind the store and vented to God by the dumpster.

“Lord, why does this have to be so hard? Why do I have to keep resisting the same temptation every single day?” Surely I’d passed this test by now.

I can’t tell you how many times I knelt down on the pee-covered bathroom floor at that store. How many times I cried out amid the stench—“Oh God, keep me strong! Help me to keep saying no!” I knew I didn’t want to go back to who I had been before, but I couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t  just keep these women away from me. Why did I have to keep resisting?

I didn’t get an answer from God that night, but He did give me the strength I needed to continue to say no. He reminded me that these women were traps from the enemy, and recognizing the enemy’s tactics helped me stay strong. During this time, I learned the importance of respecting my flesh. Just because I was a Christian, that didn’t mean I could put myself in any situation and say, “I trust You, God, to get me out of this mess and keep me strong.” No—I had to be wise.

Being wise required me to actively set up boundaries that would keep me from further tempting myself. The devil tempts me enough with his devices—why would I want to add more temptation through disobedience? I had to restrict myself from watching certain television shows and movies and from going places where women were presented promiscuously. I knew I wasn’t strong enough to see a woman’s thighs and resist temptation. I knew I’d want more. So I protected myself by refusing to allow sexual images into my mind. This required dedication and a strong desire to be pure.

To resist any temptation, you must start with a desire to be whole. Desire matures to faith. Faith matures to belief that you can and will be whole. Beliefs, acted on daily, become reality. I set out to starve the evil desires within me. I would not feed them anymore, because I knew whatever I fed would grow; whatever I starved would die.

God walked with me during this time, but it was still hard. Every day, my flesh wrestled with an enemy who taunted me with the things I wanted most. And every day, I had to resist them, over and over again.

Resisting temptation is never easy. The Bible tells us that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7). Resist, in its original Greek form, means to put up a fight, to strongly oppose one’s adversary and refuse to give ground. Resisting isn’t for sissies! It’s an act of war, and that war may last awhile. You must be prepared to fight no matter what the enemy throws against you. But as you fight, you can rest in this truth: in Christ you will have the victory (John 16:33).

Some people are delivered from strongholds immediately; I was not. My deliverance from sexual immorality was a process; it was something I had to walk through.

For so long, I had defined my worth through the relationships I had with women, even if they were only one-night stands. Those encounters made me feel important and complete. Now I understand the danger of allowing a person or thing to define your value or make you complete. Only God can do those things. Only when you are complete in Him and know your value in Him can you have a healthy relationship with another person.

In God’s time, I met a beautiful woman at church. She was on the praise and worship team, and I could tell that she was a humble, God-fearing woman. My pastor encouraged me to call her, but I wanted to make sure that was God’s will first. I didn’t trust myself to make this decision on my own. I had made those mistakes early in my walk with God, and I knew I didn’t want to make them again.

God affirmed our relationship, and she became my wife. God used my time of celibacy to make me into the husband and father I am today. I’m glad we didn’t take any shortcuts.

Are you tired of resisting the enemy? Are you begging God to remove the temptations that try your soul? I’ve been where you are. Let me encourage you today.

Keep resisting in the strength God gives you. Keep fighting. Do whatever you have to do to protect yourself from the traps of the enemy. With God, you can defeat whatever taunts you. Do your part to stay pure, and God will help you do what you can’t. He will honor your commitment and help you stay strong, and He will give you huge blessings in the end. †