Lust and fantasy are always symptoms of a deeper problem. The Bible says over and over in various ways that out of the heart flow the issues we face, not the other way around. Sin is the manifestation of something out of order at a much deeper level. This is why we often fight and fight against lust, without seeming to win the war. Then when we see the problem resurface, we feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under us and face discouragement and hopelessness.
Until we deal with the root, sin functions in our hearts a lot like weeds growing in a garden. You pull the weed and think, “That’s the end of that. I got it this time!” Only, it comes back again and again. So what does a wise gardener do? He examines and identifies the weed. Why? Because identifying what type he’s actually fighting enables him to know what will kill the root or how deep to dig in order to uproot it once and for all.
Your heart issues actually work in the same way. So there’s some good news in this. You see, your fantasy and the areas of lust that pull at you are like a window that can help you determine and deal with the specific heart wounds and real issues. So today, you are going to learn how to use the enemy’s own temptations against him so that you can find real freedom in Christ and stop pulling the same weeds over and over.
I’m going to share some of my dirty secrets. I was a porn addict. Anyone who’s ever looked at porn knows that there isn’t just one porn site, one kind of porn, or one-size-fits-all fantasies. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different types or genres of porn, thousands of different perversions, thousands of different things people fantasize about.
One person may look at something someone else fantasizes about and think, “Eew. Why would anyone ever be interested in that?” But they have different heart wounds that find a salve in that particular fantasy; and they may feel the same way about a sin you struggle with.
All sin is a manifestation of a need in the heart we’re not allowing God to fill. He wants to fill every need and to be your “all in all.” God laments in Jeremiah 2:13, “My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of Living Waters, to make for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” God is essentially saying here: their specific sinful acts aren’t the real issue. The real sin is their belief that the sinful acts will satisfy their thirst and quench their soul’s longing, but only I can.
I’ve learned this personally, and I’m going to share some of my personal “temptations-turned-into-testimonies,” so you can see how this works. I’m not proud of these things, but it is who I was, not who I am today. Praise God! At one time, I thought God would or should just deliver me from lust all at once. Instead, He delivered me one wound at a time. Looking back, I’m so glad He did it that way. Each temptation became a window into my heart through which He revealed and healed a deeper issue, thereby becoming a testimony. What’s more, in the process, I fell more and more in love with God. So here are a few of these testimonies.
First Fantasy Example Healed
BDSM fantasies. Yep. Leather, chains, you name it. Hardcore stuff. Not pretty. This may be one of those fantasies that you think, “Why would anyone be into that?” I feel the same way… now. But for a time, this type of fantasy had an almost irresistible draw for me. The moment one of those perverse fantasies started “playing” through my mind, it was like a 10,000 ton runaway freight train that I couldn’t stop… until God revealed and healed the wound.
My wound was this: in my heart (not my head, which “knew better”), something inside me believed that a “good Christian” had to love what God said they should love, had to do what God said they must do; and they had to enjoy it–like doing the master’s bidding. Even though I “knew” God’s ways were best, my heart and carnal mind believed something different: that lust was fun and exciting, while holiness and God-stuff were boring and unfulfilling. I was a slave–having to do what the master said, even though I didn’t really desire to, and I had to be good, obedient, and submissive to His dominion. My true perversion was misunderstanding the ways and nature of God at a heart level. This perverted my relationship with Him and created areas of my heart where He couldn’t be Lord.
The result was a “freedom wound” in my heart to which the devil offered a solution: a perverted counterfeit that seemed irresistible because it created a way to project what I deeply felt onto someone else. This fantasy object became submissive and obedient to my power fantasies. The fantasy projected my own inner God-dysfunction. When I look back now, the connection is so obvious. But the Holy Spirit had to first reveal it to me and then heal it. But after God healed that wound and renewed my mind, guess what? That fantasy lost all its power over me–forever! God wins. Devil loses.
Another Fantasy Revealed and Healed
Here’s another example. I had this perverse desire to take a “good girl” and make her a “bad girl.” Since temptations are a window to our wounds, where did that come from? Here’s what God showed me. That fantasy’s wound was linked to my body image and self-esteem. Growing up, I hated my body. I felt that God made me cruelly, knowing I’d be teased and mocked. In my heart, I felt I was a perversely made creature. So the enemy provided a counterfeit fantasy where I took something beautiful and good and perverted it.
God healed that wound. Guess what? That fantasy lost its power also! I had literally dozens of fantasies. I discovered each one was a heart wound God wanted to heal. Jesus prioritized His ministry this way in Luke 4:18: save the soul, then heal the brokenhearted, and then set captives free. This is actually a divine order that doesn’t work any other way. God needs to heal the heart so that He can hold a place that is currently under the influence of the enemy’s lies.
What Makes Fantasies Lose Their Appeal
After the first five or six fantasies God healed, it finally started to get through my thick skull: being healed, whole, and happy was way better than having “the freedom” to gratify lustful desires and fantasies. Drinking from God, the Fountain of Living Water, was a satisfying and permanent solution. It was infinitely better than the devil’s cruddy water in a broken cistern that makes promises of enjoyment and satisfaction, but runs dry and leaves you thirsty for more.
This is important to know. Why? Because we have to start broken and run to God when we least want to, while that temptation screams for gratification and seems so alluring and irresistible. We have to learn to say no and trust that the living water from the Fountain is better than the broken cistern’s.
Once I settled that truth by faith, getting free became fun. I started seeing temptation as a blessing! The temptation would come, but I’d say, “Devil, you think I’m dumb enough to fall for that again? Ha! Your temptation just gave me a clue to what God wants to heal in my heart. You won’t make me sin and you’re about to lose your stronghold in this area forever!”
One-by-one, every temptation lost its power over me as the Holy Spirit revealed and healed every heart wound. Praise God! I went from a vicious cycle of falling, feeling shamed and dirty, and sinning again because I felt dirty. But in this path to freedom, I entered into a blessed cycle of life leading to more life. Each wound led to an encounter with God that made me fall more in love with Him, which made me want to seek Him more, which led to more encounters, more love, and more seeking. It only gets better and better. Being a child of God is awesome!
How to Find Healing for Your Heart
So how do we find healing with God? Ten steps? A magic mantra? No, you will need to spend time with Him in prayer. There isn’t a magic pill. God actually wants a real relationship with you. If you only spend five minutes with Him a day, that relationship will be about as deep and “real” as any five-minute relationship possibly can be–only surface deep. But I will say this: you will spend less time meditating and waiting on the Lord for His healing than you spent meditating on and gratifying your fantasies. I sank thousands of hours into porn and fantasies.
So carve out some time for God. Make time with God a part of your daily life. He designed life to only work in relationship with Him, but we have to make it a priority in our hectic lives.
I call this the 5R model of prayerful healing: Repent, Resist, Reveal, Repent, and Restore (Yes, there’s a second layer of repentance for when the heart wound or core lie is revealed).
Start with your last fantasy or the temptation you may be fighting now.
- Repent–This breaks the devil’s “legal hold” on you for the agreements you’ve made with his lies. It places everything under the blood of Jesus so you can come right to the Father’s throne of grace to find help in time of need.
- Resist–Don’t give into temptation. Know the healing will be better than the temporary gratification. Resist the devil and draw near to God like the Bible says in James 4:7-8.
- Reveal–Ask God to speak to your heart and mind and to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened; that you may know the root of this sin. Pray as long as it takes until you know that you know what He’s saying. It may be five minutes, five hours, or it may be your prayer time over five days. But don’t stop short of breakthrough.
- Repent Again–Once you see the connection, repent for the deeper lies your heart has believed about yourself or about God, and repent for any ways this wound has affected your life.
- Restore–Now ask God to show you His heart. Ask Him to fill that space, heal that wound, and show you the proper way to think and relate to Him so He can be your all in all.
What If I Don’t Get It?
Sometimes when it seems like God isn’t “talking” about one thing, that’s a good time to put our agenda on hold and find out what He does want to talk about. Often, some issues are buried under layers of other things that God needs to deal with first. In my own life and in the lives of thousands of men who have come through our ministry to find freedom from lust and pornographic addiction, there were foundational truths that helped their relationship with God and put them in a place to receive heart healing for specific issues once the primary issues were healed.
If you’d like more information about these foundational lessons or more comprehensive teaching on heart wounds and how to find real lasting freedom, the Mighty Man Manual by Jon Snyder may be a great resource to help you on your journey.