Jump Start # 2346
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
A young Christian father asked me one evening if we could talk. He was very open, frank and got right to what was on his heart. It was sin. He was addicted to porn. He admitted it. He talked and I listened. He has told no one about this, especially his wife. No one in the congregation he attended knew about this. He was active, teaching Bible class and on the radar down the road to be one of the shepherds leading the people of God. But there was this problem.
He knows it’s wrong. He knows what Jesus said in the great sermon about lusting. He knows all the verses that I would share with him. He doesn’t like where he is at spiritually. He feels like a yo-yo. Up and then down. He knows that if he doesn’t stop, sooner or later, he’ll get caught. He fears that his wife would leave him. He knows that it is just a step from watching porn to engaging in real sexual activity. He doesn’t want his kids growing up and having to deal with these demons.
I’ve talked with far too many who have this sin in their lives. This guy was the sharpest. No apologies. No justifying. No blaming others. No trying to convince him that it’s wrong. He’s there. He knows. There are times that he is just weak and he succumbs too easily to temptation. We talked about prayer. We talked about what movies he watches. We talked about what he does to unwind. We talked about what he does when he’s on the road and traveling. He understands grace, forgiveness and the love of God. He wants to put this sin out of his life for good.
The more he talked, the more I thought he could help others because he understands the nature of this sin and he knows what to do. For him, it was a matter of doing it. “How do I do what is right and I know what is right, but temptation seems so strong?” That was the dilemma for him. His mind knew, but his heart wasn’t there. His emotions and feelings were driving his life. He at times was on top of the world. Then there were moments when he felt like the worst of all sinners. If you caught him in a good moment, you’d never know about this. Upbeat. Positive. Full of energy. But on the downside, he could be withdrawn, quiet and miserable on the inside. His friends never knew of this issue.
He asked me to write a Jump Start about this. He asked me to use his story. He felt like it might help others and he knew reading about himself in print would help him to see clearly where he was.
Here are some of my thoughts:
First, when someone pours their heart out to you like this, don’t be the first to go and tell others about this. Confidence is shattered when that happens and often things turn worse rather than better. I’ve known of situations when that happened. Someone seeking help pours their heart out. That person runs and tells the elders, who in their haste to get rid of a problem, immediately withdrew from the person. He gave up because he felt others gave up on him. Today, that guy never darkens a church door. Solomon tells us that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. Recognize those times.
Second, addictions are easy to fall into and very hard to get out of. This is true of all addictions. Gambling, drugs, alcohol, porn, compulsive spending, eating disorders—there are some common themes that run through all of them. The instant pleasure and gratification are substitutes for a weak faith and the need for approval, success and personal satisfaction. That’s at the heart of all addictions.
Those who have not experienced addictions have a hard time understanding why a person would even start. And, worse, from the outside perspective, the solution seems so simple, just stop. Many, like the young man who talked to me, would love to, but he just doesn’t know how. Sometimes a lack of patience and seeing someone fail time and time again, makes families and brethren want to wash their hands of the whole matter and be done with that person. Come back, when you are straightened out. The addict hurts more than just himself. He hurts all those around him. He often pulls those around him into co-dependency or silently supporting the addiction.
For some addicts, professional help is a must. Be careful who you see. Check their credentials and understand their philosophy about treatment and addictions. But don’t look to counselors as your Savior. They are just one of many tools to help. The greatest help must come from your faith and your Lord. Those early Corinthians were homosexuals and drunks and going to temple prostitutes. Yet they changed. They did this without A.A., exit counseling and other things. Faith in Jesus must be powerful.
Third, to break the cycle, changes have to be made. When Jesus said, if your eye offends you, pluck it out, He was defining radical change. Keep Satan at bay. Keep him outside of your heart. Go to bed early. Read some good literature. Be around others. Pray often. Changing the environment, not only eliminates the opportunity to be tempted, but it puts days, and then weeks and then months between you and the sin. You look and realize that you can get by without sinning. You can defeat these things.
Fourth, study up on your sin. There are all kinds of powerful books written from the Biblical perspective about these addictions. Find them. Read them. Understand the nature of temptation. Weed out the problems in your heart.
Fifth, get strong in the Lord. That’s the word of Ephesians. Put on that full armor. With what God supplies you can resist ALL the flaming missiles of Satan. You can stand firm. You can conquer. On your own, probably not. But with God, all things are possible. I saw a guy the other day, his arms were as big as my waste. I didn’t have to ask him if he worked out, it was obvious. I knew he was strong physically. He put in the time. The same happens spiritually. You must put in the time. You must make the choices. You make the sacrifices. And, then something special happens. People notice. People come to you for advice and help. Why? Because they see in you what they wish was in them.
There is no magical verse that makes all of this go away. It is a fight. It is a struggle. There are many good days and then there are some days that we don’t like. Onward we must keep going. Stronger and stronger, and farther and farther away from this world we must pull ourselves.
Paul said we make it our ambition to please the Lord. Ambition. If you wanted to make the honor roll and that was your ambition, guess what? You’d go to classes. You’d go to classes when everyone else seems to be skipping. Why? Because you have an ambition. If your ambition was to retire with money, then you will not live paycheck to paycheck. Why? Because you have a goal and an ambition. And, if your ambition is to please the Lord, then you’ll not do what everyone else is doing. You’ll put in safe guards and be transparent about your ways. Why? Because you want the Lord to be smiling down upon you. You want to please Him.
We finished our talk. We hugged. I promised him that I would write this and that I would check in on him. He promised me that his ambition was to please God. One day at a time. Don’t live your entire life now. Just get through today. Get through it well. Get through it with prayer, hope and the Lord. Take on tomorrow, tomorrow. When you fail, beg for God’s mercy. He is good. Pick yourself up. Look and see what tripped you and why? Determine to watch for that and keep your eyes open.
Addictions are ruining this country. Porn is killing the church. It’s time leaders understood this and dealt with this in real, practical and helpful manners. It’s time to be honest. It’s time, like my new friend, to seek someone to talk to who will help. These things will not go away immediately. Most wars take time. Most wars have a heavy cost attached to them. Most wars are intense. But this war, with God’s help, you must win.
Share this with others that you feel could use some help.