Devotional Pornography Uncategorized

Porn: You Can’t Save Yourself

Jesus promises us freedom from sin. The question is, what does He mean by freedom?

CuumAgain78

I have a friend named Brandon whose story goes something like this: He used to party and do a lot of drugs. He slept with a lot of girls and watched a lot of porn. But about two years ago, he became a Christian. At that moment, he stopped EVERYTHING. He hasn’t watched porn in two years. He hasn’t been drunk or abused substances. He hasn’t slept with anyone. He just works hard at his job, loves Jesus, and enjoys his friends.

If your story is anything like mine, it’s way different than Brandon’s.

If I’m honest, I’m a little jealous of how Brandon just cut all his bad habits out of his life and set his eyes on Jesus, because if it was that easy, I would have done it years ago.

My story looks a lot more like feebly praying to the Lord a long time ago, then falling headfirst into a battle with pornography in 7th grade, and not really making much progress since then.

My story looks more like a roller coaster, where I’ve got it under control! swiftly drops into a binging streak and free falling plummet, and I ask myself the question many of you have probably asked yourself a thousand times: If I’m a Christian who takes Jesus at His word, shouldn’t I be free from all my sin? 

I mean, that’s what the Bible says, right?

The answer is a firm eh.

I’ve been taking this class on addiction at my church, and a big part of the curriculum is examining the methods of Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the most successful addiction recovery programs in history. The first week was one of those jarring classes where a lot of what you believed about addiction got flipped on its head, and I made a big realization in my approach to my own battle with porn.

Jesus promises us freedom from sin. The question is, what does He mean by freedom? 

I realized that it doesn’t always mean quitting. In fact, sometimes the opposite. Long-time addicts of any kind will agree that the only way to begin healing from an addiction is to hit absolute rock bottom. To reach the point where you can finally say, “If I have any hope in repairing my life, it must come from a source outside of myself. Because I am empty. I am spent. I am unable to help myself.”

So maybe, when Jesus says He will set us free from our sin, it means pushing us even further into an addiction so we reach that place. Perhaps He wants us to get to the point where we must say, “Jesus, I cannot help myself. I need you. There are zero other options.”

And then after that point, you’ll never look at porn again, right?

No.

Not at all. Recovery is a long process, and I think in many ways, seeing recovery in this light makes the gospel even more real and more wonderful. Because then, every time we slip up and sit before the dim light of the laptop, having just screwed up again, its a reminder of our own helplessness.

It’s a total perspective change. I tend to fill up with shame every time I screw up with pornography, and picture myself drifting farther away from God. But when we think about the gospel as a compass to our helplessness, each screw-up should only point us to how much we need Jesus; how we cannot do it on our own; and how His grace expands even more every time we fail.

We talk about the gospel as Jesus saving us, then get confused when we can’t save ourselves from sin, as if we are the ones who should be doing the saving.

I’ll paraphrase a story from John Z’s book Grace in Addiction:

Imagine that you’re on the deck of a cruise ship late one night and somehow slip off and fall into the water. It’s dark and you can’t swim. You try to yell, but water is filling your mouth. Somehow, someone on board sees you and tells the captain. He slowly turns the ship around, but your arms are getting even more tired. The liner finally gets close enough to you to throw a life preserver near you. With all your remaining strength, you cling to it as they reel you in. Men at the base of the ship haul you over the rails to safety. Your first words after being saved are:

Did you see how I grabbed onto that life preserver like an expert?? Did you notice the strength of my biceps and the dexterity in my wrists? I was all over that thing!

Everyone would think you lost your mind! You just got saved from a situation that surely would have left you dead if not for everyone else on the ship. You were rescued, plain and simple. Z writes:

Sadly enough, some form of the above tends to be our own response to most of the good things that happen to us…While Christians often talk loudly about God’s power and grace, their rhetoric just as often betrays a secret belief that their own initiative and willpower has played a decisive role.

Don’t underestimate Jesus’ power to use your addiction for good. Remember that you’re still in the middle of the story, not the end, and (cheesy as it sounds) it’s never too late to move from a state of hopelessness to a happy ending. More often than not, your story won’t look like Brandon’s, where Jesus magically zaps all your struggles out of your life. But He is good. And He is always moving.

Perhaps freedom in Christ is even deeper than simply no longer committing a certain sin. Perhaps it means that when God looks at us, He no longer sees alcoholics and porn addicts, despite how long it’s been since their last relapse. Maybe freedom means we don’t have to bear the weight of our own sins, even if we are presently battling them, even daily giving in.

Next time you mess up, remember that Jesus is present in your struggle. He’s not there pointing fingers and condemning you, but He is inviting you to Himself.

Inviting you to give up control and let yourself be saved by Him.

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2 comments on “Porn: You Can’t Save Yourself

  1. Wow. Just wow. Your words never fail me.

  2. Preach! I commend Brandon on quitting cold turkey. I find staying busy doing God’s work helps. The temptation is there, but just like God promised, he always gives us an out. I almost watched 2 days ago, but then I remembered God gave free will, and just the thought of the guilt I would have afterward stopped me. I agree with you Ethan, it is a struggle, and also a reminder of how much we truly need God.

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