Sex is awesome. We are at war.
There are 86,400 seconds in a single day, and intimacy is under attack every single one of them.
The gift that is physical intimacy was provided to man and woman by God in His creative design for us, and it has been hijacked by His enemies and perverted into something it was never meant to be. Identity, quick high, substitute for relationship, and pathway to intimacy are just some of the many shapes sex has taken in our culture, and in our world today. The derailing of this train was not subtle, but has since become so ingrained in us as the norm, we may never see different in this lifetime.
The culprit that helped accelerate this, and is so violently,relentlessly, but quietly attacking our relationship with God and each other is this: porn.
An Enemy In Our Midst
I’m not here to convince you there is a problem with pornography; truthfully there is little time for that. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely given it some thought, or you are well aware of the sexual bombardment we face as a people in today’s society. It is everywhere, and we are being told by everyone and everything what physical intimacy ‘is’. We don’t have to look far in our Bibles to see what it isn’t. Nevertheless we are constantly exposed, tempted, and desensitized to sexual practices replacing relationship on a daily basis. And now we have capabilities for unlimited viewing of pornography in the tiny super-computers that fit in our pockets.
These are practices the enemy of God has deployed to keep us so focused on the immediate, or what is in front us, that we slip further and further away from Him in pursuit of sex as just a form of pleasure.
The War Is Won, But The Fight Continues
Fortunately, the war against sin has been won for us by our King. Every swing of the hammers that nailed Him to the Cross was a victory blow to sin and death He delivered on our behalf. This does not, however, mean we can be complacent in our defense against the temptation of sexual immorality; and the best defense, as the old saying goes, is a good offense.
In order to be effective in our strategies for overcoming this sin that destroys intimacy and relationship we have understand a couple of key points:
- Porn is a problem, even for Christians. If 35% of pastors currently serving in the pulpit struggle with pornography, how much more does the average man or unbeliever? We have to start talking about this in Church, because it is a war that is claiming casualties in Church.
- Going to the front line alone may have worked for King David, but we are not David, and this will not work for us. Getting plugged in to a group of men who accept they are at war with the sin of lust will be one of the best decisions of your life, as you will quickly see you are not alone in this fight. When you are losing the battle or the fight, having backup to come to your aid and shower you with grace and truth is the spiritual equivalent to reinforcements in the theater of war.
- Accept extreme, even if the world doesn’t. When I say ‘extreme’ I do not mean violence that harms you or others. I don’t mean violence at all, but I do mean diligence, and boldness. Lock your cellphones down, rid yourself of electronic devices you don’t need, install website blocking or accountability software on your necessary devices. These steps will not change the heart, however they will buy you some time that you should fill with knee-scarring prayer to the Father for strength and tenacity to see the next day through with a pure heart (Psalm 51). Jesus commanded us to be bold when it comes to fighting sin in Matthew 5:29, but we have a lot of options in our armory that we can humble ourselves to use before we get to the eye-gouging.
This is the first part in the series ‘At War: Porn’ and more entries will follow. Until next time, prayers to men and women everywhere who are waking up and fighting these battles…
When you become saved, you are saved by your faith alone, in the forgiveness and grace offered by Jesus Christ alone. These are the fundamental concepts of what is known in Christianity as the reformation, or the claim brought forth in the late 1500’s by a German monk named Martin Luther that countered the group think of the Roman Catholic Church, the thought that salvation could be purchased by financial contributions or works. Jesus Christ is who are you saved by, but what are you saved from?
You are saved from your sins against God, and the just penalty you would otherwise face without the intervening grace and mercy offered to you by Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. But what happens if you sin after you have been saved?
Can We be Sinless?
There’s a ton of debate on this question, that is: can humans be sinless? The short answer I subscribe to is: we won’t be sinless in this lifetime. Sin is so deeply rooted into the hearts of mankind that it seems it’d be impossible to escape it for now, and we certainly could not do so on our own strength.
It takes no time at all to think of the countless sins I’ve committed in my life, and the list isn’t what I would call ‘short’ since being rescued by Christ. The enemy of God, Satan, would love nothing more than to use these sins and the weight they carry to shame you and paralyze your growth in your relationship with Jesus. I know you hear the voice inside your head. It sounds a lot like your voice, telling you that you could never be sinless, you’re too lost, you’ve done too much wrong, and you should abandon any hope in God ever deeming you worthy. But the truth is, it has nothing to do with your worth, and everything to do with the worth of His Son, Jesus, who said your sins are “forgiven”. This is what makes you acceptable to God. That is ‘Grace’.
This is not a free pass to go on sinning. Jesus Christ said “Repent, and believe…”. There is a glaring requirement here besides just believing, and that is to repent. One who freely revels in their sins and gives no regard to their implications usually shows no fruit of a repentant believer in Christ Jesus. Contrarily, one who comes to hate their sins, mourns them when they occur, and strives daily to put the sin to death by praying for the Father’s help and spending time in the word will, in time, usually see the bondage of the accompanying guilt and shame broken, and the sin will hopefully be a distant memory. This process is called sanctification, or to be made holy.
The unfortunate part, for us, is because of the depth of the roots of sin we usually have to fight a war on many fronts. Lust for sex, porn, greed, excess, anger, dishonesty, infidelity, gluttony, envy, and our PRIDE are all faced daily in our culture. Sometimes the fight seems to already be lost before we even realize we are in the midst of battle.
We are told in Paul’s letter to Ephesus, to put on the ‘armor’ of God (Ephesians 6:11) to protect ourselves from the devil’s schemes. The devil will shower you with distraction, guilt, and shame when you’ve been called to follow Christ and still find yourself falling short of Christ Himself (Romans 3: 23). Remember the disciples, each of them with their flaws and faults, were still called by Jesus and sanctified over the course of their life as His followers.
The best way to armor up and protect yourself from the lies of the enemy are to read and pray daily. When you do this you will begin to intimately discover what kind of savior died for you, and His loving nature. One of the best illustrations we have in the Bible, while its origin is disputed, accurately depicts the loving and gracious nature of Jesus Christ when confronting a sinner, an adulteress more specifically. In John 8, after the hypocrites have dispersed and Jesus faces the adulteress, He doesn’t require her to be clean or without sin before He passes His judgment on her, nor does He ask her for some sort of work in return for salvation. He freely offers it to her.
He simply says, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.”
I know the struggle of lust. It’s a battle that seems to have no end, in a war that too often already seems lost. Pornography addictions very often lead to sexual addictions, and compulsive, reckless behavior that destroys families, relationships, and can even end lives. When I realized what I had was not just something “natural”, or that it wasn’t okay “because everyone does it”, I realized it because it was ruining me. It was ruining, even more, a marriage that had been built on lust and no understanding or belief in what marriage was created by God to be.
This life I wanted so badly to escape at nearly 26 years old was the only life I had known since I was eleven years old. It may not be fair to say this filth ruined me, rather, it may be more accurate to say it kept me from ever knowing who I was. I would not know who that person was until I found out who this God was I had constantly rejected pretty much my whole life. What I found out told me it was possible to escape this death grip.
I found out, in the midst of much sel-loathing, guilt-filled regret, and suicidal thoughts that God is a God who loves us, in spite of us. He is a God who fights for us, even when we fight Him, and try to do it our way. When we realize this, who He is, we are faced with who we are: Wretched Sinners. We could not save ourselves or make ourselves worthy to be in the presence of God, even if we somehow possessed the power to do so.
If we could save ourselves, the Jews would have done so when they faced the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Exodus 14), but they couldn’t. God brought them there to show them just that; He is the ONLY way to life. Without His love, our story ends in the Garden when Adam and Eve failed God. It ends in bondage, slavery, and death had it not been for grace and mercy from the Author of Life. He gives life, and He saves life.
God parted the sea, not because the Israelites worshiped Him flawlessly, but so they would really see God for His might, glory, and most of all, His love. He did not ‘fight’ for the perfect people, or for the righteous. He fought for HIS people, in all of their brokenness, doubt, sins, and contentment for less than Him. He broke into their lives when they thought He had forgotten them and hardened their hearts. We are His, not because of what we do for Him, but because HE says we are His.
If God needed us to be perfect before He rescued us, there would be no grace or mercy. If we could be perfect God would not have needed to send His Son to bring us new life by laying His down for ours (John 3:16-17). No, instead, He meets us where we are to save us from ourselves, and to save us from the guilt and shame of our sins. His grace is stronger than our guilt, and His mercy reaches further than any sin I’ve ever committed, or any sin you could commit.
This is the freedom you seek, and the cure for the addiction you feel. This is the Good News of the Christian life. And this is the way out for the man or woman who feels trapped by their lusts. He is the Savior who can make this life you live now a distant memory. He is the only way to life, and He forgives you like He forgave Adam, and He will save you like He has saved the Israel of the Old Testament, and like the wretched sinners Christ has come to save in the New.
Don’t just cry out in your guilt and shame and face another day alone. Cry out to your savior. He WILL fight for you.