A popular pastor has warned that lust is like a "mosquito bite" in that the more it is scratched, the more it itches, and that getting married does not fix the problem.
Pastor Vlad Savchuk of Hungry Generation Church of Pasco, Washington, which has over 200,000 followers on Facebook, was a guest on Tovares Gray's "Godly Dating 101" podcast for a July 7 episode titled "Victory in The Battle Against Lust & How to Date Biblically."
Savchuk shared how he was bitten at an Independence Day weekend picnic by several mosquitos. He compared the itchy experience to battling the sin of lust.
Savchuk, who with his wife serves as lead pastor of the Assemblies of God church founded in 2003, said that when a mosquito bites the body, it starts to itch, and the itch tends to send a message to the body and mind that "if you scratch me one time, I won't itch again."
"The minute you scratch it, it just itches more, and that's how lust is. The more you scratch it, the more it itches, the more it wants. It never gets satisfied until you bleed to death. And that's why the Bible says, 'walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh,'" Savchuk said.
"The Bible doesn't say, 'if you walk in the Spirit, that it won't itch.' It just says you will have the power not to scratch the itch and then it will go away. Because as you crucified it, you ignore it, you walk away from it. It dies until the next day, and then it gets resurrected again. And then the process begins again. But, the more you do it, it becomes a habit, and walking in purity becomes a lifestyle."
Savchuk noted that young Christians who struggle with lust should first recognize that they aren't alone in their battle. He added that everyone has "private battles" and "everyone can be equipped to win them."
"There's this misconception that 'once I get married, that all of my private battles will just disappear because now I'll have pretty much unlimited amount of sex and it's going to be all legal and moral and right.' But in reality, lust doesn't get conquered with having access to more sex. Lust, it's this thing where if it doesn't get crucified, it gets intensified," Savchuk said.
"And so we have to overcome [lust] privately. It's like the lion and the bear that David faced privately before he fought Goliath. Marriage will have its own Goliath problems. Marriage will have a lot of challenges. And so, if you do not come into marriage already having victory over lust, it will make marriage, which is already challenging, it will make it even more challenging."
Savchuk encouraged young adults not to waste their single years by trying to date as many people as possible. Instead, they should spend time growing their faith, he said.
"One of the best areas you can prepare yourself is definitely in your relationship with God and figuring out who you are and what you want to do with your life," Savchuk said.
The pastor considered "establishing purity in your thoughts" the most important, especially "in your mind, in your eyes and as well as in your life."
"Whatever we feed grows. Whatever we starve, it dies," Savchuk noted as he referenced Galatians 6:8. "'Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.'"
Savchuk believes some people have "deeper issues that discipline and delight in God will not solve and they will need deliverance" because they have "allowed the enemy to have a foothold in their life" for too long.
Savchuk says this often plays itself out in the person's life through a demon or demons, which takes a spiritual hold that goes beyond just the issue of lust.
"A lot of times, these demons, they pretty much grab an area of our life, and now it's under [Satan's] control. … People ask me sometimes: 'Well, how do I know if it's lust or if it's a demon?' It's very simple. When the demon gets control of your life, you don't have control in that area," Savchuk said.
"And when the person comes and says things like 'I can't control myself,' 100% they have a problem now that's more spiritual than just physical. And it doesn't mean that they shouldn't practice self-control, but now they need prayer against the spiritual forces."
Savchuk recounted how he was exposed to pornography as a child and was addicted to pornography as a teenager after he migrated to the United States from Ukraine.
"Pornography would find me, and I would start battling with lust," he said. "It was around that time I started to step into youth ministry as a youth minister. So like, publicly, I'm supposedly growing with God. [But], privately. I am being beaten by this thing."
Lust creates deception, Savchuk continued, which makes many people think they can face the battle privately, and that is never the case.
"You got to bring it into the light," he stressed, noting that he went to his uncle, who was also his pastor, for help with his struggle. "I dragged this thing into the light, and that was when it started to lose its power. But I was still addicted."
Savchuk remembers being "desperate for freedom," which led him to fast and pray for seven consecutive days. He said his fast resulted in God freeing him from his porn addiction.
"I felt the Holy Spirit reveal to me that I opened the door to the influence of the enemy. And I [knew I had] to repent and renounce that and really command that thing to go," Savchuk said.
"Nobody prayed for me for freedom. I kind of experienced this through deep repentance and taking authority and commanding the enemy to leave. I belong to Jesus. My mind belongs to Jesus. I do not want to have this in my life. This has to stop."
Savchuk said he had a "holy rage" come on him during the fasting, with a "sense of relief."
"Temptations were still there. The only difference now was that I was in control because the Spirit gives us self-control," Savchuk said. "If somebody is battling and [they're] noticing: 'I went to the accountability group. I already confessed that. I memorized the verse[s]. I disconnected the social media apps. I installed all kinds of apps. I've done all of that.' You know, maybe you have a spiritual problem that you need somebody to pray with you."
"Just lead you through the prayer of renouncing. And it's very simple. Identify the first time that you were exposed. Ask God to repent of that, close that door and just command that enemy to go. … And you will begin to walk in victory."