I’m not a prude. A fact to which my immediate and extended family can readily attest.
I like to have fun, watch movies, hit the gym, go to theme parks, cheer for Alabama football (only while eating wings), and dance in the car with my kids. Unapologetically, I live and minister in a 21st century America as a 21st century American. I drive a car, read from a tablet, and have an unhealthy addiction to social media. I’m normal, I guess.
But there’s a new normal. And it frightens me. Pornography addiction is increasing at epidemic rates. Christians are continually drawn to pornographic images while ministers are afraid to address an issue they too seem to battle. This is idolatry! We sacrifice our purity on the ancient altars of Aphrodite, Ashtoreth, and Venus. This is dangerous! We objectify women (and men) as merely sexual objects and forget that human life is sacred. This is foolish! We willingly worship two-dimensional images and honestly wonder why we have no power with the God of Heaven. Our society is being slowly strangled by this ubiquitous villain. And lest you think I’m being overly dramatic simply google “pornography epidemic”.
Don’t get me wrong! I don’t want to come across as simply an observer who is so far above it all. I too battle lust like every man alive. When I see a beautiful woman, my mind can easily be led astray. When I get a friend request from an obviously fake account, I long to click on the image and take a closer look. I’m an imperfect man who fights this battle with you… daily.
But this is what I’m starting to learn…
We MUST get honest about the DEADLY consequences of unbridled lust.
“Since everyone struggles with lust, the ramifications can’t be that big of a deal.” This, my friends, is a very subtle yet believable lie. Pastor James of Jerusalem stated emphatically, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
Ask King David what happened to his family. Ask King Solomon what happened to his kingdom. Ask the mighty Samson what happened to his power. We sit in a state of perpetual powerlessness and wonder why our schemes and strategies are falling flat. Is it possible that we underestimate the damage of our sin? Would our families be stronger? Would nation be more unified? Would our churches actually be making more of a noticeable difference? I’m asking!
Perhaps not. Perhaps lust doesn’t bring forth sin. Perhaps sin doesn’t bring death. Perhaps James was wrong. Perhaps the power of God that we are seeing is all that we will ever see, and all that we were ever meant to see.
I Corinthians 9:26-27 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
I’m reminded of the haunting proverb, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Friend, we are to GUARD our hearts above everything else, for it will determine the direction of our lives!
Why haunting? Because I get awfully tired of standing guard. I grow weary in the fight and like a boxer who has gone eight rounds, my hands begin to drop. It happens after a long week when I’m completely spent emotionally, physically, and spiritually. My opponent patiently waits for his opening and then jabs at me with sexual image or lustful thought. Many times I’ve been squarely punched – giving in to temptation and suffering the consequences of my sin. But along the way I’ve learned a few tricks that have helped me dodge, bob, and weave – escaping temptation and its outcome.
- Guard the Eye
There are certain images in life and on screen for which a gentleman and follower of Christ ought to train himself to look away. When a woman bends over, a gentleman will bounce his eyes. When immodest image appears, a gentleman will scroll past quickly. A strong man will fight! Yet, too often, we either go looking for sexual content or passively allow softcore pornography to enter our eyes and delve deep into our hearts. Legalism!!! Some will cry! Yet as an overreaction to legalism many Christians find themselves viewing graphic nudity and sexually explicit content claiming they are not affected by these images. To this claim I cry – bologna!
Heather loves dancing! She grew up watching Lawrence Welk every Saturday evening with her parents, dancing along with the graceful images on the screen. So, when Dancing with the Stars debuted on ABC we were sitting there ready to watch. As these beautiful dancers came on to the stage I quickly recognized that this was not a show I could watch without becoming lustful. To me, the women dancing went far beyond beautiful and entered the land of sexual. I forget exactly how it came up but Heather and I began discussing whether or not we would continue watching the show. I chose to be honest with her and let her know that the images were far too much for me to handle. My eye drifted up the slit and beyond. My mind questioned what lay beneath the bulging corset. These images began to enter our holy marriage bed and my mind would drift to women who were not mine to love. IT HAD TO STOP!!!
“But Josh,” you may protest, “that show is innocent and tame compared to excessive nudity and actual pornography available on television and the internet. Why be so strict?” Okay, you have to understand something about me! I am a totally and completely broken individual! I have seen pornographic images that plague my mind to this day. I have a proclivity toward lust like you wouldn’t believe. Crossing the line of DWTS would certainly lead to rationalizing more graphic content. A little bit of nudity in a favorite show, movie, magazine will lead me into an addiction that will take over my life. I am certain of this: I can’t handle it. Therefore, like Job before me, I have made a covenant with my eyes and don’t want to look upon women lustfully. I’m not being manipulative or sarcastic in the slightest when I say – You know what you can handle! You know when the Holy Spirit of God is convicting your conscience. Just be honest with yourself, with others, and with Him.
- Guard the Mind
II Corinthians 10:4-5 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
It’s believed widely that a man cannot control his thoughts. YES! I would agree to this in regard to the vast majority of mankind. Man is a slave to his low nature. Yet, to the one who has been freed by Christ, you have a spiritual power to pull down strongholds, cast away wicked imaginations, and capture every thought before it captures you. You are not an addict unable to overcome. You are not a deviant beyond the grace of God. You are an adopted child of God. An heir with Jesus with equal access to His Father and His power. Sin doesn’t control you! You, through the redemption of Christ, control sin!
Holy Cow Bro! You’ve got to start seeing yourself the way God sees you! Justified, sanctified, and living victoriously through the power of the Holy Spirit. And that’s not even the good news!
The Good News
The Good News is that God loves you, died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the grave leaving your sins behind. If you’ve been saved, you are technically no longer a sinner who is destined to sin. This is the power of the Gospel! You are FREE to no longer sin.
So, what can you do overcome the temptation of lust? I have found that the most important thing you can do is fall in love with Jesus. A love for God is the only lasting solution to idolatry. When you spend time with him in genuine communion through studying His Word, when you sense his presence in the quiet solitude of prayer, when you feel his energy flowing through you as you administer your gift to the Christians around you – NOTHING this world has to offer can compare. As John Piper says, “Sin is what you do when you’re not fully satisfied with God.” So, seek HIM and you will discover the satisfaction for which you are longing.
Okay. So – pray for me. Because I’ve not yet arrived at perfection. Later today I’ll probably have to delete a friend request without enlarging the image. Tomorrow I will likely have to bounce my eyes away as a beautiful woman walks by. Later this week I’m sure I’ll have to change the channel when sensuality is depicted on screen. I know it’s coming – for me and for you. And with God’s help we will overcome through the power of Christ.
What are your thoughts? Where am I going wrong? Where do you agree? What have I missed? Please comment in the thread below and I will attempt to answer each.
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One last thing. If you are a minister and happen to struggle with an addiction to pornography – this is my invitation to you. Reach out to us at 702-388-7422 and we can help you through this problem with absolute anonymity and complete discretion. Ask to speak with Pastor Josh and I (or one of my team) will help you make and take some actionable steps.
 James 1:15
 Proverbs 4:23
 Matthew 11:28-30
 Job 31:1
 John 8:34-36
 Ephesians 1:5
 Romans 8:15-17
 1 Corinthians 6:11
 Romans 6:4
 Romans 6-8