Have you ever heard a message that pulled you up by your bootstrap–that made you see something in a whole new light? After hearing it, you think, “Yes! Thank you, Jesus! This must be the missing piece of the puzzle. This is what I needed to never go back to pornography again!”
Then you go in the strength of that word for a few days and weeks, only to have that bubble eventually burst, leaving you feeling deflated and discouraged, questioning, “What happened??”
Unfortunately, we can get fired up by various words and revelations without them really causing true heart change. They excite us for a time and put fresh wind in our sails. But enthusiasm, excitement, pep talks, whatever you want to call them, are often based on emotion and eventually wear off.
Zeal, God’s zeal, however, isn’t based on feelings or emotion. It is rooted in something much deeper. It doesn’t wear out or cool off, but rather produces the same energy needed to drive sin out of your life and overcome temptation…for good. Why? How? Zeal comes from heart change–it is a reflection of God’s love in you.
God’s Zeal Is Radical
Numbers 25 tells the story of when the Israelites began to fall into sexual sin with the Moabites until something radical happened. The high priest’s grandson, Phinehas, saw a man taking a woman into his tent. He grabbed a spear, burst into the tent and impaled them both in one mighty thrust. God said, “He was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them [all of Israel]” (Nu. 25:11).
It is sobering to remember that every sexual sin we’ve committed online and allowed into our hearts and homes was punishable by death (see Leviticus 18). And God hasn’t changed how strongly He feels about sexual sin.
God’s Zeal Is Rooted in Love
Thankfully, under the new covenant, we now have the ability and authority in Christ to tear down spiritual strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4) and renew or transform our minds by God’s Spirit (Ro. 12:2). We don’t have to physically attack people who fall into sexual sin. Thank God! But we should attack and drive out this sin with the very same zeal and fervor we saw in the Old Testament. God is still zealous for our freedom and for the freedom of those in the industry, whether they realize they are enslaved or not.
God is the most zealous being in the universe because He is the most loving being in the universe. Jesus modeled God’s love working through zeal when He drove the money changers out of the temple. When Jesus saw these men with dishonest scales in the house of God cheating God’s children, His anger was kindled. He violently drove out sin that should not co-exist or be tolerated in God’s house. God’s zeal and anger are always targeted at anything that hurts His children, the objects of His great love.
Growing in God’s Love to Grow in God’s Zeal
David, a man after God’s own heart, was also radically zealous for God. It is no coincidence he had a radical understanding of God’s love and mercy in a way that few Christians today can even relate.
Even after falling into a lustful affair with Bathsheeba and murdering her husband to hide his sin, David remained confident in God’s unfailing love. He wrote, “Blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven […] Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him […] I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Ps. 32). What crazy confidence! David didn’t wallow in guilt and shame. He didn’t hide from God until he felt like maybe God wouldn’t be as angry. He didn’t offer sacrifices or trust in his works (Ps. 51). He had the confidence that God’s mercy was bigger than his sin–that God’s goodness was bigger than his immorality.
We all need to take a page out of David’s book until we trust in God’s love so completely that it changes the way we see everything. David’s secret to knowing God’s love wasn’t really a secret. He made time in his life to meditate on God’s word so that his heart and God’s heart were in tune with one another. He had a deep relationship with God that changed the way he saw life. When others saw a giant that they could never defeat, he saw an opportunity to destroy the works of the devil in a fight that he couldn’t lose.
Changing the Way You See Your Giants
God didn’t design life to work apart from a relationship with Him. When your understanding of His love goes from mere head knowledge to experiential heart knowledge, as it did with David, you will change the way you see your giants.
When I was still struggling with lust, I remember hearing one of those messages that got me fired up. It was about how these girls are someone’s daughter. It clicked with me, but again, that new way of seeing didn’t last and the passion faded away.
Why? Again, enthusiasm is based in emotion. What emotion did that revelation produce in me? Guilt. I thought, “Boy, yeah. I shouldn’t look at her that way. I don’t want to be a creep. What if she were my daughter…” But that emotion and understanding only took me so far. Now that God has changed my heart, that truth goes much deeper.
A transformed heart sees the same stimulus, the same girl, through a different lens. The old heart says, “Hubba, hubba… Oh wait, I really shouldn’t think that because she’s somebody’s…” But when the heart is tuned with God’s, it sees her as He sees her–through love. That same temptation causes our heart to break for her. We zealously desire to cover her and protect her rather than desiring to uncover and use her.
Related: How I Fight Porn Images in My Mind
Same girl, same truth. Different heart. In the one case, it takes effort to not stumble on the lust in our heart. In the other, God’s commandment isn’t burdensome as John the beloved wrote in 1 John 5.
God’s Love for You
God loves you too much to not hate this sin that is so far beneath who you’re called to be. He hates this thing that steals your time, energy, and calling. He detests this thing that is perverting your thoughts–literally making you see and think like the enemy. God hates how this sin trains your mind and soul in lust, stealing the beauty of purity from your life, and if you’re married or may be in the future, sowing dissatisfaction into your relationship while setting up idols that are unfair for your spouse.
God hates that we should see His daughters and reduce them to mere objects, reinforcing their own issues and sacrificing their souls on the altar of our own gratification. Love fully formed produces a zeal to protect and cover these daughters as if they were our own. We don’t have to fake it. What’s more, it produces a zeal to cherish and protect our own soul from the ravages of the enemy.
Related: Women Are Daughters, Not Objects
You are a son of God. You have the right and destiny to think like He thinks, to see yourself as He sees you, to see others the way He sees them. You don’t have to stay stuck in sin forever. Those who say, “Well, you’ll always have to deal with this temptation and fight this sin,” need to actually read their Bible. Who the Lord sets free is free indeed. As we see Him, we become like Him. We don’t merely have to fight temptation; rather we can overcome it in Christ! Do not fear. It is the Father’s pleasure to give you His Kingdom (Lu. 12:32).
If you’d like more information about heart change through the love of God, the Mighty Man Manual by Jon Snyder may be a great tool for your recovery. It lays out a God-designed pathway to freedom by first helping men get rooted and grounded in love, relating to God, free from shame, and abounding in grace. It then gives practical steps to overcome temptation, culminating with the healing of heart wounds, and helping men become established in their true identity as sons of God so that real, lasting freedom becomes the byproduct of a life in right relationship with God.