Porn

Insomnia

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” – Romans 7:15-25

Truth has a way of making itself known, and this passage smacks of truth, doesn’t it? These are real questions … without pretense, without hiding. Do you want to do have victory over sin, but only end up failing time and time again? Do you know the evil you should avoid, but you can’t stop doing it?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat across the table from a guy and, after an hour or so of dancing around the issue, he says something like, “OK, so I’ve been struggling with something for the last _____ years. And it’s something that’s common to men ….” I wait for them to fill in the blank, and they usually don’t, so I do it for them. “Porn,” I say, while they nod. It’s staggering. Why are so many men and women falling prey to this destructive habit? And how in the world can we spiritually and practically war against this devastating, seductive sin of lust?

urlIf you are a Christian and have an addiction to pornography, you probably hate the fact that this is your struggle. It feels like death. You feel marked somehow, as if you are different than other Christians. You have a shameful secret. “If they only knew me, knew what I’m hiding, knew what I’m really like,” you think. Just know this before we begin – you are not different and this is not outside of the realm of Christ’s healing. Unfortunately, this sin is common in Christendom, especially among pastors and leaders, but you are not alone and you certainly shouldn’t be isolated. There is hope and healing and restoration available. There is a hope of Rescue in Jesus Christ. Start to wrap your mind and heart around the hope of Jesus, even now. I want you to see the deliverance that is found in Jesus.

If you are a Christian with a porn addiction, you don’t want a porn addiction. You want to be rid of it. You have done, thought, and tried most things to be rid of this addiction, but you are still knee-deep in it. So accept the fact that your best ideas, thoughts, actions, and efforts got you to this place. Your best ideas. Your best efforts. The principle, therefore, is that if your best ideas got you here, how and why in the world would you use your best ideas and efforts to get out of a porn addiction? You can’t save yourself. You can’t. If you could, you wouldn’t need Jesus. But you may still believe you can save yourself from porn, so let me describe the reality of your situation:

The first thing you need to understand is that you talk to yourself and listen to yourself more than anyone else in your life. Paul Tripp talks about this principle – whether in the shower, while shaving, on your drive to work, when sitting at your desk at work … you talk to yourself. Some of you talk out loud to yourselves, while the rest talk to yourself in your mind. My wife is an “out loud” person. I’m an internal talker. And speaking to myself internally sounds a lot like problem-solving and advice. This doesn’t mean you are crazy – it is how we manage and navigate our way through life, how we make decisions, how we interpret our world.

Now, since you talk to and listen to yourself more than anyone and anything else, what in the world are you telling yourself? Some self-talk is harmless and benign (How do I get my “to do” lists done? What do I want to eat? When am I going to work out? etc), but what about the rest of your thoughts (I can’t sleep so I’ll just get on the web. I want accountability, but what will people think of me? There is no victory over this. I’m a failure. I’m useless. God couldn’t love me.). Or maybe your thoughts are more seductive (This is just my thorn in the flesh. This will be my struggle until I die. This isn’t all that bad. All guys struggle with this. I can still have this addiction and be a … good spouse/parent/friend/follower of Christ…). Have you ever monitored your thoughts, challenged yourself, or doubted yourself? Here is the second biblical principle you need to know – Your heart and mind, are lying to you … MORE THAN ANYTHING or ANYONE ELSE. Jeremiah 17:9 says,

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?

The literal translation of this verse in Hebrew says that our heart and mind (in Hebrew, the heart [lev] is the center of human thought and spiritual life) is deceitful above all things and incurable in it’s wickedness. Incurable. Deceitful. You.

Let that sink in.

urlDo you believe that you are your own worst enemy? Because if you do, it shouldn’t surprise you that your best thoughts and efforts led you into a massive porn addiction. This truth should change the way you listen to and trust yourself. If your heart and mind set landmines for you to step on, deliberately attempting to destroy you, you should begin to distrust your heart and mind and best ideas. If I had a person in my life deliberately trying to destroy me, I would get away from them and they wouldn’t get my trust, my vulnerability, or my respect. I would fight them. But since you can’t get away from your deceitful self, you need several things – your heart and mind need to change, and you need to be armed with truths and defenses to battle porn that DON’T rely on your own strength.

Your heart and mind need to be changed. The Bible says that Christians are transformed by the renewal of your mind. Stop being conformed and shaped and molded by the world, and start being utterly changed, altered, and shaped by the regeneration of your mind. Do you feel the weight of that? Your mind needs to change. This is a problem, because you can’t change yourself. You’ve tried. You can’t even change your actions, much less your heart and mind! How in the world is this to happen? On top of being transformed, the Bible also talks about being armed with truths and defenses to battle sin.

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“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:10-13 says,

So you need to have a renewed mind AND you need armor, defenses, and weapons. But they are not all physical – most are spiritual. And not only do you lie to yourself, but the world and the Devil are out there trying to deceive us as well. Do you see the scope of this battle getting bigger? Are you beginning to feel your powerlessness and helplessness, and do you see how masses of physical and spiritual forces are bent on your destruction? Our flesh, the world, and the Devil are bent on destroying millions of young men and women by awakening desires too early and in the wrong context. Sex and desire are good things. Sin bends those desires into bad things with bad results.

I had a porn addiction for years. Can I be honest? I didn’t struggle with it for a long time. When I looked at pornography, I was upset about it or guilty or shameful, but I didn’t struggle, I didn’t war against it. Guilt, shame, and a “pick myself from my bootstraps” attitude would keep me down for a day or two, and then I would sink into a self-hate for months or just shrug them off because porn was “what guys deal with” and it was my “thorn in the flesh.” In reality, I was lazy and foolish – I was in in a wrestling matching and I was refusing to fight or raise my hands. I didn’t “struggle.” I was passive, weak, and lazy. My heart and mind were not being transformed, and I had no armor, no defense, no desire or passion or conviction.url

This word “struggle” in Ephesians 6 is the word “wrestle.” It means to be on the ground, fighting for your life with your bare hands against your enemy. To fight against an enemy with a sniper rifle one thing, to fight someone with sword is a bit more personal, but to be on the ground fighting with your bare hands, struggling for your life in hand-to-hand combat … that’s the picture of desperation, isn’t it? This is the word Paul chooses to use when talking about spiritual warfare.

I’m deliberately trying to make you feel the desperation and severity of your situation. The first half of the Gospel is that you are desperately more wicked and sinful than you ever thought possible. Evil needs to be called evil. Laziness needs to be called laziness. So maybe that phrase “I’m struggling with porn” needs to be addressed. If you are battling your sin, fighting it as if your life is at stake, wrestling it, then you are struggling with porn. You are desperate for change. You are active in the fight. If not, just call it what it is – you are passive about your porn addiction and lazy. You have accepted this sin as an ever-present reality for your life. And that’s horrifying and scary, and I’m writing this post for you. Listen, it’s okay to be struggling and in desperate need of help, but it is not okay to be passive, lazy, dismissive, and flippant about your sin, and it’s not okay to be in desperate need of help but do nothing about it. Accepting defeat is a terrifying thought.

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Before I move on to what biblical healing looks like, you need to figure out where you are. Are you desperate enough to stop trusting yourself, your best ideas, your strategies, your plan to gain victory over your porn addiction? Have you reached the end of yourself? Are you done trying to heal yourself? Or do you still think you can do this on your own? Or even worse, have you given up the fight? Have you accepted the lie that God doesn’t love you or can’t help you or that you will never be rid of this sin?

I have a buddy who was, for years, very high up in the Satanic church in America, and he has since become a passionate, Spirit-filled believer in Jesus Christ. One of the interesting things he told me was that when he “converted” to Satanism, he was told that God could never love him, never accept him, and never receive him since he rejected God so fully. “You had no hope of salvation. God could never forgive this treachery. All you have is us now. You have no hope.” That is a lie of Satan, and it plays on all the right chords of guilt, shame, and despair. It was meant to create a sense of hopelessness and despair in God’s love and provision, so that he could only rely on Satan and his own wisdom for his help and life. But it is a lie. So if you hear this lie, this refrain, have the self-awareness and honesty to know that you are being lied to, tricked, and deceived so that you will stay in a nice, helpless, manageable state. The world, the flesh, and the Devil do not want people to be healed, to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ, to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. They want you to feel like them. Misery loves company. And they want you to stay miserable.

If your heart wants change, my next post will get into next steps. But if you wish you wanted change but you don’t FEEL it and are despairing and don’t know what to do, I have some simple advice for you. Pray for conviction and a desire to change. If you, like the father of the demon possessed boy in Mark 9, want healing but don’t feel or believe Jesus can heal you, cry out to God for help. “Yes, I believe: help my unbelief!” Ask God to convict you, to crush you, to humble you, to make porn sickening to you, to give you eyes to see and ears to hear the Gospel. Ask God to make your sin unbearable and intolerable to you. Ask Him for depth and conviction and passion for His righteousness and holiness. And you know what? He will hear your prayer and will answer you. If you, like Jacob, run after and grab a hold of God and not let go of Him, if you ask God for more of Himself, He will do it. If you desire to thirst for God as a deer in the desert, if you desire the holiness of God, if you desperately want His presence, if you long to commune with the Most High … do not rest until you find Him. Ask, seek, knock. God knows how to give good gifts to His children, and His presence is His greatest gift. “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11.

I said that the first half of the Gospel is that you are more desperately wicked and sinful than you could ever imagine. But the other half of the Gospel is that you are more wildly loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than you ever thought possible. It’s an embarrassment of love that God pours out on you because of Jesus. So there is hope in Christ. That’s for next time.

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