Recently, I preached a sermon addressing the subject of Lust and Pornography that so pervades our culture. I’ve heard lust described as seeking to fulfill a God-given desire in a godless way. No doubt in our sex-fueled society, the sin of lust is prevalent.
George Barna research provides details regarding the prevailing challenges of pornographyand sexting.
I’ve counseled couples where a spouse has been controlled by lust which has decimated the intimacy and honesty in their marriage. I’ve spoken with a wife whose husband has been viewing pornography for the nearly 30 years of their marriage. And I’ve experienced the conviction and sorrow at having to confess the lust in my own life. Lust is not an isolated issue. It is a pervasive poison that is never satiated. If left alone, lust leads to perversion, infidelity, brokenness and even abuse. But there is hope. You do not have to remain bound or controlled. I’m not naïve enough to think that a single blogpost will solve your sins (or my own). But we all have to start somewhere. Following are three antidotes to the poison of lust in our lives.
Receive and apply the gospel. You cannot tame lust. You cannot overcome it by being better. Covenants, promises, deals and commitments will not tame lust. You will not overcome it by “doing better, being better, getting stronger, etc.” Lust is an internal, spiritual enemy that is stronger than you are. You need Someonestronger than lust. You need Jesus and his gospel. You need to know that Jesus came, suffered, bled and died for your pornography addiction, your masturbation, your innuendos, your crossing the line with a girlfriend or boyfriend, your fantasies, your graphic romance novels, your incessant desires for sexual thoughts, etc. Jesus died on the cross for all of these sins, all of your sins and all of my sins. To receive and apply the gospel, we must confess (agree with God about our sin) and repent (turn from our sin to Christ).
“Sexual sin is predatory. It won’t be ‘healed’ by redeeming the context or the genders. Sexual sin must simply be killed. What is left of your sexuality after this annihilation is up to God. But healing, to the sexual sinner, is death; nothing more and nothing less. …I think too many young Christian fornicators plan that marriage will redeem their sin. Too many young Christian masturbators plan that marriage will redeem their patterns. Too many young Christian internet pornographers thing that having legitimate sex will take away the desire to have illicit sex. They’re wrong. And the marriages that result from this line of thinking are dangerous places. I know, I told my audience, why over 50% of Christian marriages end in divorce: because Christians act as though marriage redeems sin. Marriage does not redeem sin. Only Jesus himself can do that.” – Rosaria Butterfield, whose book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert,
The fact of the matter is that God’s expectation for your sexuality and mine is unalterably clear—He expects holiness. We need the gospel. The gospel teaches us that while we cannot be holy, God sent Jesus to be holy on our behalf. Jesus succeeded where we failed. Jesus was pure where we were impure. Jesus was clean where we were soiled. Jesus was impeccable where we were ruined. Jesus, in his glorious, pure and holy state became sin for you and for me. He paid for lust, pornography, adultery, fornication, and all other sexual sins on the cross. And the gospel teaches that when we repent and turn to Jesus in belief, he forgives our sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Not only did we need the gospel, but we still need the gospel. The gospel is the primary means for addressing lust in our lives. The gospel teaches us to humbly ask forgiveness. It teaches us to believe in Jesus Christ to forgive, redeem and free. It teaches us that we must be willing to give all of ourselves over to Christ.
Pursue accountability. The sin of lust dominates society today because it stays hidden. Satan will tell you that you have to keep it hidden, you can deal with it on your own, you can face it privately, you can keep it in the dark. Trust me, things hidden in the dark will one day come into the light. You cannot keep it hidden forever. Your spouse will find out. Your parent will find out. The only way to address the sins in the dark is to expose them to the light. It is a lie of the enemy that you are by yourself in this fight. You have help. You have people who love you and support you and care about you. You need to bring your sin into the light, find an accountability partner, confess, repent and shine a light on the sin. Remember this, you cannot bring into the light what God does not already know. Do you realize that if you confess your darkness, Jesus already knew it—already died for it—already provided your forgiveness? Don’t be afraid of admitting your sin. Pursue accountability. Find help.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:16
Do Whatever it takes! Identify triggers and replace habits. To overcome your lust, it is wise to put action steps into place. You need the gospel and you need accountability, but you also need to change habits.
- What are the triggers that incite lust in your life?
- Is it late nights surfing the web?
- Is it streaming mature content on your television?
- Is it going to bed at a different time and in a different place than your spouse?
- Is it reading erotic literature on your e-reader?
- Is it fantasizing about that work colleague or old flame who appears to be everything you wish your spouse was?
Identify your lust triggers. By the help of the Holy Spirit, change your habits. Maybe you will need to let your spouse control the code to the internet at your home. Maybe you need to cancel television altogether. Maybe you need to install covenant eyeson your tablets, computers and smartphones.
“Keep as far as you can from those temptations that feed and strengthen the sins which you would overcome. Lay siege to your sins, and starve them out, by keeping away the food and fuel which is their maintenance and life.” – Richard Baxter
Parents, you are responsible to your children for the opportunities you give them or things you protect them from. If you have a child/teenager with access to a computer, tablet or phone, take time to create accountability measures for them. Many in-home routers have built-in security and password measures. These can be used to shut off the wi-fi at a certain time or after a certain time. You should know what your children are doing/looking at on their phones. While they’re in your home, their purity is your responsibility. Have candid, age appropriate conversations with your children about sex and lust. Above all pray for them.