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The One Thing SUCCESSFUL Porn Addiction Recovery Has in Common with AA

Last Updated: July 20, 2015

Jon Snyder
Jon Snyder

Jon Snyder is the author of the Mighty Man Manual and founder of Mighty Man Ministries. After battling with lust and pornography since childhood and trying everything under the sun to quit, it was a unique encounter with the love of God and its subsequent lessons that began to unravel a lifetime of bondage and bring about true freedom. Jon now sees these same lessons radically set men free world-over.

“Hello, my name is____ and I’m a _____.”

Have you ever talked with someone who has been through AA or a similar program and has been sober for a while? I met a man recently who struck up a conversation outside a quaint Italian restaurant. One of the first pieces of information he volunteered about himself was his name and the fact that he was an alcoholic with ten years of sobriety.

Later I pondered why so many people who have been through AA start conversations in such a similar fashion. In fact, if you find almost anyone who has been through an addiction recovery group, you’ll find that they introduce and identify themselves in a similar way. Why?

Hello My Name is

These people aren’t just making chit chat. They aren’t overly candid. They aren’t coached to tell people that they are sober for however long it may be. The answer is deeper than that. The answer has to do with identity. People who go successfully go through these behavior groups take on the identity of a person who is walking in sobriety. To violate that behavior would violate their new identity.

I’m not advocating this as the goal for a Christian to find freedom. But the commonality is this: in order for behavior to change, identity also has to change. So whether it is a secular help group or the Bible’s model for change (which I think is far superior), identity transformation is at the heart of lasting behavioral change. You see, you will never act in a way that is contrary to your core beliefs and self-perceptions.

What you DO flows from who you ARE

We wrongly think people take identity from what they do. We think if we change the way we act, we will change the way we feel inside—and that may have temporary effects. But eventually, behavior always reverts and follows a person’s internal beliefs no matter how many tips, tactics, and twelve steps are employed to control one’s actions.

The Bible makes this clear: the heart, a person’s internal core beliefs, is what drives behavior. Proverbs doesn’t say that “as a man acteth in his behavior, so is he.” Rather it says that “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Jesus said the same thing in many different ways:

  • “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35).
  • “It isn’t what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out” (Matthew 15:11).
  • “A good tree brings forth good fruit; a bad tree brings forth bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17).

Proverbs again states, “Out of the heart flow the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). That means that it isn’t your issues that are affecting your heart but the heart that is fueling your issues.

I see so many men who come to our ministry discouraged because they’ve tried this and tried that but eventually fall back into sin. They feel confused and hopeless, jaded to the very idea that real freedom even exists. The truth is that they’ve done things to change their behavior but haven’t submitted themselves to a process where God can change their identity. If you want real, lasting change, your heart, your core identity must change first.

Identity Change was Critical in My Transformation

Something profound happened to me as God began leading me out of a lifestyle of pornography addiction: I began to see myself differently. Prior to that, it was as if a cloud of shame had followed me everywhere. I was always under the weight of it, always feeling as if I was somehow “broken” and not right with God. I lived out of that reality; and I thought that I had to get my act together and stop sinning before God could truly accept and love me. The opposite was true.

As I really started to seek the Lord for freedom and help with this porn addiction with a confidence in His love, I began to see myself as a son of God. I started to believe the truths that the Bible said about me. I began to trust in Jesus’ righteousness in me rather than believe that somehow my sin was bigger or more influential in how God saw me than what Jesus had done to bring me into fellowship with Him.

Something amazing happens when you begin to believe that you are pure, beloved and righteous: you start to act that way.

Something amazing happens when you begin to believe that you bring God pleasure: you want to bring Him more pleasure.

Something amazing happens when you have self-love: you begin to treat yourself as a person of value, not degrading yourself. What’s more? You begin to have love for others and not want to use them as objects.

A New Creation

God doesn’t just clean up the old man when we get saved. He creates a completely new man. This is so important to realize because it is the foundation that gives us real power to change. You see, in Christ, we don’t fight for purity, we fight from purity. Pure is who we are. Pure is how Christ made us; and our dirt doesn’t make the Holy Spirit dirty.

The Bible’s truth is that we are already set free. We need to walk in that truth until it becomes a part of who we are. This is a far better identity change than what AA or any ten step program can give. We are sons of God. We are the righteousness of Christ. We are new creations. We are pure. We are beloved and accepted.

I tell the guys who come through our ministry, “Your starting point will determine your outcome.” ‘

If you start your journey to freedom with the core belief that you are a slave to sin despite the fact that Christ has set you free, there is nothing more that Jesus can do for you because it has already been done; and in your heart you are rejecting it.

But if you start your journey with the confidence that “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it” (Philippians 1:6), and with the confidence that freedom is inevitable because it has already been purchased on your behalf, then you are in a great position to receive all that God has for you and to begin to walk in the steps that bring about this identity change and true lasting freedom.

So maybe it is time for you to embrace the truth that the Bible has to say about you. If Jesus is your savior, then with confidence you can say, “Hello, my name is ______, and I am not a porn addict; I am a son of God.”

If you need additional help, my book, The Mighty Man Manual, may be a great resource to guide you through the steps in Christ for real heart change and lead you into a relationship with God that brings about true and lasting freedom. Visit www.mightymanmanual.com for more information.

  • Comments on: The One Thing SUCCESSFUL Porn Addiction Recovery Has in Common with AA
    1. john d. on

      Thank you very much for this.I was a porn addict and joined celebrate recovery from January through may of 2015.But something just didnt feel right about it.I wouldfeel depressed after the meetings.Reading this put words to what the Lord was trying to tell me.Thanks so much and God bless you!

      Reply
    2. Ed on

      I liked your article Jon — it is what I believe myself and what I teach my nineteen year old son. The only clarification I might make is this:

      Our identity in Christ permanently changed when we allowed Christ to embrace us and perpetually cleanse us. We are not trying to effect identity change within ourselves. We are ‘in Christ whether we are conscious of it or not. The role of the Holy Spirit and good teaching is to to “wake us up” to the unalterable truth that we are forever changed and transformed and that we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies right now. We are heaven-ready right now no matter behaviors or mind-sets that we struggle with. Otherwise, we’ll be forever waiting for things to change in us that have already been changed.

      Reply
    3. JeremiahP on

      Yes! Our identity as a new creation is critical to managing sin and resisting temptation, and Romans covers this really well. I am in Celebrate Recovery, which is a Christian version of the usual Anonymous programs, and even has a 12-step recovery program that is based on scripture. We are children of God, they stress, and we glorify God by repenting of our sins. Many of the addictions confessed there are different from the usual programs: anger, laziness, etc. I am glad that I am able to have a mutli-pronged approach to killing my sin, including counseling. If I had CR by itself, I would be completely frustrated, because there is little prescription on a regular basis for what you need to DO. Covenant Eyes, other websites with articles, counseling, and accountability groups are all important to your individual recovery and relationship with God.

      Reply
      • JeremiahP on

        Oh, and I’m 103 days clean from nudity and porn, but I’m starting to focus more at the root behaviors, the battle for the mind, avoiding all sensuality, triggers, absolutely no masturbation, etc. That’s another issue I have with CR, is that they don’t teach as much about those concepts up-front, you have to learn it from sites like these.

      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I’ve heard that from several people who attend those groups. Do you suppose it depends a lot on those who are organizing the group?

      • Hank on

        Same here for CR: Don’t doubt the sincerity,but it was week after week of ‘work the plan,because the plan works’, followed by an hour of depressing defeat…not sure I will return. I had a hundred plus days of absolute victory. Unlike anything I had ever experienced in 69 yrs! It started with a wakeup call from the mercy of God,via my wife,who thru tears said “this thing is not about us anymore,its between you and God”. At three the next morning,I am awake and staring at the ceiling and in my mind is the phrase “all the vain things that charm me most”… (Google it)…I’ve walked in mercy and grace,stumbled along the way,but I am a child of I AM and He never changes. My desire is to be charmed most by Him straight into eternity.

    4. Ron F on

      Identity, and who I am in Christ as a Child of God has been a big part of my on-going recovery. It was important for me to have a program like CR to go to for the weekly support from other men. I also had issues from being a survivor (not just a victim) of sexual abuse, and from the stress of living in a dangerous environment overseas. As I worked through the steps in CR it was really important for me to have a good Christian counselor who assisted me to bring into the light these things that had been bothering me, some of them since I was 4 years old. The counselor also helped me work through some of the PTSD issues I had from being overseas in dangerous places. Then actually working through the steps with my CR sponsor and with my CR small group helped a lot
      At the CR I attended we always started our shares with, “Hello, I’m Ron, I’m a child of God–or a follower of Christ, and I’m recovering from sexual addiction” or something like that. We had a lot of guys that were also attending AA or SA or some other groups, and they might say other things, but the leadership always stressed that our identity is tied into who we are in Christ. Today I do a lot of reading about our identity in Christ, I use journaling (basically a conversation between me & God) and Scripture prayers among my tools–including Covenant Eyes and ‘walking in the Light’ with my wife and accountability partners. CR probably wouldn’t have been enough for me, but it was a great help in setting direction and keeping the focus on God and His word.

      Reply
    5. Jeremiah P on

      I’ll be honest. I thought that I understood this, until I realized that I hadn’t taken care of a number of things where my heart is damaged, and where I found some faults in the way that I view God in the midst of my struggles. When ask God, “Do you even care about me at all?” in the midst of the most difficult hardships (and you are just stuck there), you have to realize you do not trust God’s love enough to move past the most basic step of realizing the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement for your sins. I am beginning to realize that there are particular truths that must be set in stone for any real healing and freedom to occur.

      Reply

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