“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31
In the war against sexual impurity, what should be our ultimate reason for victory?
The first thing we need to address is that it’s not about you. It’s not about you having victory, or about you winning the war, or even about you being pure. Read our 1 Corinthians 10:31 again. My friend, we will never be successful in finding freedom from our struggles with impurity until our primary reason for wanting it is so that our victory and ongoing purity will glorify God.
As long as it is about us, then we will snatch the glory for ourself when the battle is over. “Look what I did! Look at all that my hard work accomplished! I deserve this victory!” That is precisely what God wants us to avoid.
A great example of this is found in the book of Judges where we read of a man named Gideon. Leading an army of nearly 32,000 men, he’s about to charge the camp of the Midianites—a formidable army of 135,000. Early in the morning, as Gideon stands outside his tent surveying the camp, God approaches Gideon and tells him he has too many men and that he needs to begin the process of whittling down his army until he is left with only 300 men. Talk about poor odds.
Why did God do that? What was His purpose? If we could have listened in to His conversation with Gideon, I wonder if we would have heard something like this: “Gideon.” “Yes, my Lord.” “Gideon, you have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands.” Gideon chuckles, a little surprised that God would show His sense of humor at a moment like this.
Nervously clearing his throat, Gideon says: “Um, Lord? Would you mind repeating that last order?” “Yes, Gideon, you have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. I want you to get rid of the majority of your army.” Gideon tries not to look surprised. The men were already worried about being outnumbered as it is, and rightly so. They would surely doubt his ability to lead such a battle if he sent even a fraction of them home. “May I be so bold as to ask why, my Lord?” “You are to decrease your numbers in order that Israel may not boast against Me that her own strength has saved her” (see Judges 7:2).
Did you catch that? God intentionally shrunk the size of Gideon’s army because He didn’t want Israel claiming glory for themselves after they had won the battle. He knows man struggles with pride. He knew that Gideon and his men would look at their handiwork and accept responsibility for the victory. Never forget that God will always work only for His own glory.
If God is going to help you fight against the beast of impurity and win, it must be on His terms and for His glory (Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; Proverbs 25:27).
It is said of King Hezekiah, “In everything that he undertook…he sought His God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered” (2 Chronicles 31:21). Now, prospering sounds like a good thing doesn’t it? The word here literally refers to enjoying great success. I’m pretty sure I am safe in saying that you would like to enjoy great success in this battle against lust, pornography, and masturbation.
Listen closely, my friend: In everything you undertake, in every aspect of this war, you must seek God’s strength, God’s wisdom, and God’s glory. Only then will you prosper. When it seems that you can’t win this battle, when you feel totally surrounded and pressed in upon to the point that defeat is imminent, that’s a good thing. That means you understand you can’t win. Seek God with your whole heart. It is only through Him that you will find the strength to fight (Philippians 4:13). Only He will provide the victory.
In 2 Kings 6 the king of Syria sends “horses and chariots and a great army” by night to surround the profit Elisha (2 Kings 6:14). In the morning Elisha’s servant…
rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17)
The God of Elisha is our God! The God who surrounded His servant surrounds you. The God who stood ready to help, stands ready to help you! What a great and glorious promise!
Steve Etner is a national men’s speaker, author, and Purity Coach. His latest book The Pure Man’s Devotional Guide is available on Amazon. Steve is also author of Extreme Mind Makeover: How to Transform Sinful Habits into God-Pleasing Patterns of Life. Steve’s conferences, seminars, and retreats focus on what God has to say about the way we think and the impact it has on our behavior. His ministry is focused on helping men develop a Bible-based, Christ-centered strategic plan for purity in their lives, and his goal is for men to have a reignited passion for Jesus.
I don’t agree with Steve Etner’s comment that the only reason we should be pure is to glorify God. That is always the ultimate goal but there are many reasons why I tried to quit porn and phone sex and fantasy. Obviously I wanted to bring glory to God but I was stuck. I realized my life was spinning out of control. I thought I was controlling my addiction but it was my whole life. Yes I confessed many times and repented many times. I was afraid my marriage would end or my children would find out. I hated myself. I felt like the Apostle Paul who said that he battled doing things he did not want to but the things he wanted to do he could not or did not. I felt powerless. That is not an excuse just reality. I needed help and I got that help from a 12 step secular group that accepted me and loved me just as I was. I needed to put plans into action. Accountability only works if I have a plan of action. I can’t just show up at a meeting every week and say I failed. I had to ask why I was doing it and what was I going to do to change. For me it was meetings and breaking the masturbation cycle, the obsessive and compulsive cycle that I was stuck in. If we are not careful doing purity just for the glory of God can become just another source of guilt that I don’t love God enough to quit. Steve Psalm 50:15.
Thank you for your comments! I really appreciate your input. And I agree with you on the critical importance of accountability and having a plan of action. Simply wanting something is worthless until we actually do something about it. It is vital that we have godly people around us who keep us accountable for our choices. That accountability must include loving and accepting us for who we are – that is exactly what Christ has done! Authentic Accountability is one of the reasons I absolutely LOVE and recommend Covenant Eyes! I’m excited to hear that you got involved in a 12-step program and that it truly helped! And I also agree with you that if I “do purity just for the glory of God” that it can become a wrong motivation – a “feel-good” step that once again makes it all about King Me.
Having said all that, please don’t lose sight of the fact that the primary motive of our heart must be to honor God (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17). Only God can give us what we need to win this battle (Phil. 4:13). It is His divine power that gives us everything we need to live a godly life (2 Pet. 1:3). I personally battled against lust, pornography and masturbation for over 30 years of my life. I sought counsel, had accountability partners, attended support groups, read books, and cried my heart out to God. All of those were great things and wonderful tools. I tried hard to change. But only when I changed my heart’s motivation – only when the “why” became God’s glory instead of my personal victory – did real change in my life take place.
My challenge and encouragement to you is to keep God first in every aspect of your life. And again, PRAISE GOD for giving you the victory!
Because of Christ,
YES. I think that this is one major reason why I have failed for so long. My primary desire was to stop hurting/angering my wife, to have a better relationship with her, and to stop all of the pain. I think that the main reason for me is that I am such an analyst (Thomas-like) that I can’t really quantify what it means to “glorify” God. I know we are to magnify Him, lift Him up as Lord of all, above all, supreme. But when it comes to the trenches of everyday warfare, I think that the secret to success is in communing with Him, seeking strength from Him, and then giving Him all the credit for any success. These are mainly guesses, and I suppose I could use some fine tuning, if anyone wants to volunteer more. By the way, the comments need to have an email notification, as it’s hard to search back through the blog posts looking for replies.
I heard it said that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Obviously, obedience to His will is how we glorify Him, but the greatest command of his law provides and window into what he ultimately desires: love. He wants us to love Him for all He is. In the trenches of daily life, delight in Him. When the tempting thoughts come, don’t just flee from the false pleasure of porn—flee to the true pleasure of knowing Him.