I first started looking at porn when I was about 10 years old. I was immediately consumed with looking at, looking for, and accumulating my own private stash of porn. Along with this was the discovery of self-gratification and all forms of impure thinking.
I was so consumed with lust that at one point, my goal in life was to become a male prostitute. I had read a book about older, lonely rich women who would hire ‘young studs’ to have sex with them. As a young teenage boy, I felt this would be the ultimate calling, to have all the sex you wanted AND get paid for it.
For 8 years, I was totally consumed with porn and learned how to hide and deceive and misrepresent my true identity to my family, my friends, and the world.
New Life in Christ
Just before graduation from High School, I became a follower of Jesus. While at an evangelistic music concert, I heard the gospel and understood it for the first time. The idea that my sins could be forgiven was truly GOOD NEWS. When I went forward and asked Jesus to come into my heart, the cleansing and forgiveness that I received was truly ‘soul’ refreshing and life-giving.
Within two months of making this decision to follow Jesus, I raised my right hand and swore an oath, becoming a Midshipman at the US Naval Academy. Shortly after that, I ran into a group called The Navigators, an international, interdenominational Christian organization that specializes in helping new Christians to grow spiritually.
One of the disciplines that I immediately learned was the importance and necessity of memorizing scripture. The first few verses I memorized were Psalm 119:9,11, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. . . . Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you.” The concept of scripture memory was spelled out in this verse, the laying up of God’s word in my heart.
Other passages of scripture talk about the discipline of scripture memory. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God is telling the children of Israel how to walk in obedience to Him after they entered the promised land. Referring to the scriptures, God said,
Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
This writing of the scriptures on the doorposts of your house, binding them upon your hand, talking about them 24/7, having them ‘upon your heart,’ keeping them as ‘frontlets between your eyes’ . . . all speak about memorizing scriptures. So I started memorizing the scriptures.
The Battle For Holiness
But even though I was now attending Bible studies regularly and growing spiritually, I was still looking at porn daily and frequently masturbating. Yet somehow I knew that one of the keys to getting and staying pure had to do with scripture memory. I just couldn’t connect the dots. As I continued to grow and continued to memorize Scripture, God started opening my eyes and ‘connecting the dots’ between sexual purity and scripture memory.
God showed me a physical picture of my ‘Navy world’ and related it to the battle to get pure and to stay pure. It occurred to me that I was like one of God’s ships. He has named me and commissioned me with a purpose. My mission and the mission of all his followers is to ‘go and make disciples.’
A picture of holiness emerged. A ship in the water is a good thing. Water in the ship is a bad thing. A Christian in the world is a good thing. The world in the Christian or a worldly Christian is a bad thing. The picture of a floating warship is a good analogy of a Christian who is walking in holiness. A warship that is floating and functional, one that is not on fire or in the process of sinking, is a threat to an enemy. God designed us for war. We are to ‘fight the good fight.’ Satan has declared war on us. Jesus came to ‘destroy the works of the devil.’ As his followers, we too are to be engaged, fighting against the evil one as Satan launches attacks against us.
God as the Master Designer did not leave us as defenseless, floating hulks. He outfits his ships, gives his people weapons to use in this battle. All Navy ships are equipped with a variety of weapons. The cruiser on which I was stationed had guns for shore bombardment. We had anti-aircraft missiles. We had torpedo launchers to attack submarines. We had 50 caliber machine guns to fight pirates or other attacking boats and ships.
The Word as a Weapon
Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” We are to be men and women of the book. Everything we do needs to align with the written word of God. These words—the scriptures—are to be our weapons of offense and defense in the battle for holiness. In the great passage on the armor of God, found in Ephesians 6, the only offensive weapon is “take . . . the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.” God’s word is also described as “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” God says through Jeremiah in 23:29, “Is not my word like a fire, and like a hammer that breaks the rock into pieces.” God’s word is a hammer, a flame-thrower, and the sharpest scalpel in the world. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 summarizes the whole concept: “though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
One of the first tactics or keys to getting pure and staying pure is to immerse yourself in scripture memory. Key verses of scripture are the first and primary weapon to use when under attack from the evil one. They are the foundation for rebuilding a mind that has been stained and defiled by porn. Understanding and applying scripture recalibrates our inner man to align with truth. We know that if we believe and obey the truth, that we can get free and stay free from the chains of bondage to sin.
If you lived during the times of Robin Hood and were going to battle against the sheriff and his evil forces, how many arrows would you want to have in your quiver? Would you want only one? How about having only two arrows? No, you would want as many arrows as your quiver could hold. I find the same principle holds true for spiritual warfare. I want as many verses in my head that my mind can absorb. Each memorized verse is like a re-usable spiritual bullet. Without weapons, a ship is a just a floating target. However, if a ship is armed and trained in using its weapons, it becomes a threat to the enemy.
Most Christian men who struggle with impurity and porn will continue to struggle and live in defeat until they start to ‘arm’ themselves with the weapons that God has given to us to successfully fight and win the war.
Water is in the Ship
First Peter 2:11 says, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” Our souls are under attack, both individually and collectively. Promises Keepers recently noted that 85% of men between the ages of 18-30 are struggling with porn. One Christian women’s magazine reports that 28% of women report struggling porn. There is an assault being mounted against our whole civilization, targeting our God given sexuality. As we are tempted, fall and consume porn, we open up the hulls of our ships and start to sink. We become worldly, acting no different than the world around us. According to the book unChristian, purported followers of Jesus are looking at porn at the same rate as non-believers.
The battle to get and to stay pure starts with a commitment to hide God’s word in our hearts. “How can a young man keep his way pure?” This question was asked thousands of years ago. It was as pertinent and relevant then as it is now. The answer then was the same timeless answer as it is for us today. “. . . By keeping it according to Your word.”